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Marianne Vos (Rabobank) claimed yet another stage victory as she led home the fast-finishing peloton on stage 5 of the Giro Rosa into Cesenatico yesterday. Shelley Olds (Ale-Cipollini) took another podium finish in second, marginally ahead of Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) in third. Specialized-Lululemon rider Tiff Cromwell has been writing daily reports from within the race for CyclingTips — here’s how she saw stage 5 unfold.
Stage 5 of the Giro Rosa was the last chance for the sprinters to shine before heading into the big climbing stages for the final four days of the race. Starting in the town of Jesi where stage 4 finished it was another 118km predominantly flat course heading North along the Adriatic coast up to the town of Cesenatico. The only challenge of the course was the small category 4 climb cresting at kilometre 75; otherwise it was a pretty straightforward day.
Our plan was simple today — we wanted to try again to have a breakaway to target a stage victory. It was all hands on deck to get one of our riders into a move or attack ourselves to create a move. If we weren’t successful and it came down to a bunch sprint then we would set the sprint up for Carmen Small again.
There was a great atmosphere today in the sunny and warm start town of Jesi. Large crowds had come out to cheer us on and seemingly everyone was dressed in pink to celebrate the Giro Rosa coming to town.
After the usual few kilometres of neutral out of town we reached kilometre zero and we were away racing. It didn’t take long at all for the fireworks to start — about two kilometres to be precise — and then it was on like Donkey Kong. The speed was already high with a nice little tailwind but with constant attacks we were sitting on 50km/h in the peloton. When we were attacking I was looking down and we were holding 60km/h on the flat — it was fast.
For the first hour of racing there was barely a point where the pace slowed up along the wide-open road. With a strong tailwind and at times cross/tailwind pushing the peloton along the coast, it was attack after attack after attack. There were points where teams attempted to echelon in the exposed windy sections, but there wasn’t enough of a crosswind to have an impact.
With the constant attacks though we thought something for sure would be allowed to go eventually, but too many other teams seemed to have the same idea of trying to get a rider into the break. The opening hour of racing saw the peloton record an average speed of 44km/h – the stage was flying by.
A short-lived solo attack by Audrey Cordon (Hitec Products) was about the only move all day that gained enough of a gap on the peloton to warrant a time gap being posted. For a brief moment the peloton was happy with the situation as we settled into a pace, until another rider tried to bridge across and then the attacks began again. Cordon was reeled back in and the constant attacks continued but it wasn’t looking promising that a breakaway was going to happen today.
As we approached the GPM — a 1.5km highway climb at about 4% — the pace was still high. Anna van der Breggen (Rabobank) launched a strong attack stretching out the peloton over the top.
After the climb there was a slight possibility of greater crosswinds so a few riders from Hitec Products, Boels-Dolmans and my team Specialized-Lululemon attempted to work together to create an echelon. After a couple of kilometres of trying to establish it in the hope of splitting the peloton, we quickly worked out that there still wasn’t enough crosswind and it was too easy to sit in behind.
All the way until the final 10km of the stage the pace stayed high and attacks continued to fire off the front with the hope of a late break, but nothing succeeded. It was coming down to a big bunch sprint as the trains began to get organised for their final fight to the finish.
It was a pretty hectic sprint; once again it was Orica-AIS who was the first to get organised, hitting the front with about 6km to go. Trixi Worrack, Carmen and I were trying to stick together as I guided us into good position and out of trouble but it was much more of a fight today. With 4km to go we made it to the front beside the Orica-AIS train before Giant-Shimano and Rabo-Liv swamped us and we had to find a way back out of the washing machine in the middle.
Trixi was able to stay with Carmen and look after her for the final 3km, finding room to get back out of the mess whilst I got stuck in there and lost them. The peloton was strung out as we went through a couple of tight turns in the final 2km before turning left into the long home straight for 1km to go.
It was a drag race with Orica-AIS still leading the way at the front with the sprinters just biding their time behind. Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) was the first to jump, giving Vos a final lead out and delivering her perfectly to the line for the stage victory. There were only millimetres between Olds and Bronzini for second place and after a photo finish they awarded it to Olds with Bronzini third.
With four stages remaining Vos still comfortably holds on to the ink leaders jersey. However this could all change tomorrow with a very tough stage with plenty of climbing in stage 6 of the Giro Rosa.
Until next time,
Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile (2.1) Jesi → Cesenatico