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Giorgia Bronzini denied by late punctures in Giro Rosa stage one
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's former two-time World champion Giorgia Bronzini was denied the chance to sprint for victory in the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia Femminile - the Giro Rosa - by a puncture in the closing kilometres. The flat 117.8km stage between between Giovinazzo and Margherita di Savoia was largely uneventful until it reached the two 15.2km finishing circuits, when the black and orange team suffered its bad luck.
Former Japanese champion Mayuko Hagiwara crashed at the beginning of the second lap, but the real disaster struck when Bronzini suffered her puncture with five kilometres to go. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammates Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier and Charlotte Becker both stopped to help their leader, but then suffered punctures themselves.
"It was all going to plan up to that point," Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling directeur sportif Simon Cope explained. "Mayuko crashed with about 13km to go, but she's okay. The problem's really started when Giorgia punctured with about five kilometres to go.
"Anna stopped to give her her wheel, but then someone hit her from behind and punctured her rear wheel," Cope continued, "and then Charlotte also stopped but got a puncture herself straight away.
"We must have had three punctures in the space of about 200 metres," he added, "and there was no way they were going to get back to the front at that stage."
Lauren Kitchen was Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's best finisher, in ninth place, with Rochelle Gilmore, Emily Collins and Linda Villumsen all finishing in the main peloton. The stage was won by Dutch sprinter Kirsten Wild, racing for the Netherlands National Team, ahead of World champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv/Giant) and Marta Tagliaferro (MCipollini-Giordana). Time bonuses at the intermediate sprints meant that Vos took the Maglia Rosa, however.
Despite the bad luck suffered on stage one, Cope remains optimistic about the upcoming second stage, which will be a far hillier affair but still likely to finish in a sprint.
"We're still looking good for stage two," Cope confirmed. "Giorgia's climbing really well at the moment. There's no way you'd shake Vos on a climb like that, but we're confident that Giorgia can still do it."
1. Kirsten Wild (Netherlands National Team)
2. Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv/Giant)
3. Marta Tagliaferro (Mcipollini-Giordana)
9. Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
14. March 178
photo Cheltenham jockey club
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photo Cheltenham Racecourse
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Slovakian alpine skier narrowly beats Millie Knight to capture gold photo Getty Images