Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini won the opening road stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia Femminile, between Gaiarine and San Fior, in a sprint from a select breakaway group. The former two-time road World Champion outpaced US Champion Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) in the race for the line, with Lithuanian Rasa Leleivyte (Aromitalia Vaiano) third after a powerful display from Bronzini’s black and orange teammates.
“I told the team in the meeting this morning that I would try to be there because I felt okay,” Bronzini said. “I thought maybe in this kind of stage I can be up, and sprint from a little group, so I asked them to look for me; if I was there. And they did, and so I tried to be more smart than the other team and it worked!”
The first half of the stage was notably only for a long, solo break from Marta Tagliaferro (Alè Cipollini) but, as the only climb of the day approached, the Italian was closed down by the peloton.
“The first part of the race was pretty calm,” Bronzini explained. “There was one solo for a long time, and when we went into the last part of the stage there was one part of the road that was dragging up. There were already some riders dropped behind, and there was Liv [Plantur] pulling to stop anybody making another attack, and it was a really high speed coming to the climb.
“It was in a line, Boels also made a lot of speed, almost to make a lead out for Megan and [Evelyn] Stevens. We hit the climb with really high speed and Stevens attacked from the bottom, and the four went away.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini escaped with Boels-Dolmans Guarnier and Stevens, and Rabo-Liv’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv), took maximum points over the top. Bronzini was following, along with teammate, two-time Giro winner Mara Abbott, in a small chase group; Longo Borghini stopped working in the leading quartet, and the two groups came together with just a few kilometres to go.
“I was in the little bunch behind, which was maybe 10 or 15 seconds behind the whole climb, and I was there with Mara,” Bronzini continued. “We came to the GPM like this, and we were maximum 20 seconds; we had a good collaboration with the others, an I told Elisa straight away on the radio not to work, but to wait for us.
“She already did anyway, because she understood that we were coming straight back.”
“When we joined Elisa with 5km to go I asked her to do a piece at high speed, because I didn’t want Boels to keep attacking. In the end I saw Stevens dropped from first position to the back, and I expected her to attack. I waited for her and she went with 1km to go, so I went in her wheel.
“Megan was in my wheel, so Stevens eventually pulled the sprint,” Bronzini concluded. “Megan went out with about 300 to go, and I thought it was a bit early, so I left her to pass me, then I caught her wheel and passed her with maybe 100 metres to go.”
Thanks to her first place over the Sarmede climb, Longo Borghini will wear the green jersey of the Mountains Classification leader in tomorrow’s stage. The ten-second bonus on the line sees Bronzini rise to third in the General Classification, just eight seconds behind new Pink Jersey Guarnier, and she now wears the blue jersey of Best Italian.
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
2. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Rasa Leleivyte (Aromitalia Vaiano)
– but the sailors praise the new boats