Fighting for bonus seconds: Tiffany Cromwell’s Giro Rosa stage two diary

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In addition to daily race reports out of the Giro Rosa, we have Australians Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) and Lizzie Williams (Orica-AIS) checking in with us following each stage of the 10-day Italian Grand Tour. Stage three was all about the bonus sprints, the classified climbs and the heat. Cromwell tells you about all three in her diary below.

Beyond these daily diaries, Cromwell is also responsible for the #TiffTakeover on Ella Instagram. Follow along there for an extra glimpse behind-the-scenes at the Giro Rosa.


Well, we have seen our first signs of the possible overall contenders for this year’s Giro Rosa as we returned to the motherland of Italy and hit the hills of Treviso. Stage two created a shake-up of the overall classification with eight riders making it to the finish line more than a minute ahead of the rest.

It was a mixed stage today. The first 75km were predominantly flat and the final 45km included three classified climbs over 30km before a 15km mostly downhill or flat run-in the finish.

Summer has truly hit Europe, and it was a scorcher today. With a maximum of 38 degrees Celsius, you can imagine how hot it was out on the road. I don’t think I have stopped sweating all day. It’s good detox for the skin right?

According to our initial team plan, I was meant to go for the three intermediate sprints with bonus second (three-two-one) on offer. If I made it to the final, the team would sprint for me.

If the climbs proved too difficult or the overall contenders wanted to play then we’d look to our general classification hopefuls. Karol-Ann [Canuel] and Alena [Amialiusik] would need to put themselves in the front and play with the big kids.

Talking about the stage prior to the start it was one of those kind of days where you look on paper and think, it will be tough but shouldn’t be too bad. The climbs look manageable. Then you hear rumours floating around about the climbs. “They’re super hard,” someone says. “One of the climbs has sections similar to the Mur de Huy,” says someone else.

This kind of talk always makes you question your day’s equipment selection or your ability to make it over the climbs with the front. It is the Giro, after all. There are always unexpected surprises. Will today be one of them? Ultimately, though, you just need to go out there, trust yourself and your choices, and take the race as it comes.

The opening 75 kilometres of racing was fast as numerous riders attempted to establish breakaways. Every attempt was shut down, and each intermediate sprint we passed had full bonus time available.

The intermediate sprints were my cue to fly into action. I’ve never really had to fight for in-stage bonus seconds in the past, and it’s a whole different ball game to final sprints. They’re not as hectic as there is generally only a few people or teams interested in them, and you don’t use a full lead-out. With less competition, the intermediate sprints should be easier but I learnt today, they’re much more difficult than they look.

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Each sprint proved to be a battle between overnight race leader Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) and I with a few other riders deciding to join in on the fun, too. Coming into each sprint, I always had at least two teammates work with me, which was great.

The first intermediate sprint was a long 350-metre drag with a slight headwind. I came out into the wind a little bit too early but still managed third in the sprint. The second chance to sprint came around awfully quickly. My timing was good for round two, but as I made my jump with 100 metres to go, I was blocked by a race moto on the left side of the road that hadn’t sped up and given us room to sprint. I was forced to stop sprinting and settled for third yet again. I ran out of legs in the third sprint- although I still managed to pick up one bonus second. The goal had been to snag seconds at each sprint. Box checked.

With the sprints out of the way, it was time to think about the climbs. I had heavy legs and a body suffering in the heat, so I knew the next 45km would be tough for me. I was hoping I would be able to suck wheels long enough get myself over each climb near the front.

Prior to the first classified climb, Karol-Ann came to me and asked for help with positioning. It can be hectic getting and maintaining space at the front of the bunch heading into climb. I was happy to assist a teammate, especially knowing I wasn’t feeling 100 percent. My teammates and I helped Karol-Ann find the perfect position, so she could focus on what she does best: climbing.

I managed the first climb well enough, but it was the easiest of the three. As we descended off the top, down a technical descent, I realized where we were and what was coming up. I had raced on some of these roads in a stage of last year’s Giro.

Through the valley and up a non-classified climb, current double world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Liv) created the first real sting to the legs, forcing the pace at the front. It looked like Rabo was ready to start playing their general classification cards.

Boom. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) attacked from the bottom of the second climb of the day- a category two. The lowest slopes were the steepest, and her acceleration immediately split the bunch. That was the last I saw of the front of the race.

I found my group and took any opportunity to get sprayed by water from the roadside crowds. Once over the steepest, part at the bottom, the climb was actually quite nice, although the descent even better.

Technical and fast with a lot of switchbacks, the descents were something I found quite enjoyable, but others not so much. I saw numerous girls getting caught out on the corners and crashing. None of us like to see or hear that.

The remainder of the race was pretty straightforward for me. The final classified climb of the day actually wasn’t too bad. I made it over with my little group, and we rode into the finish together.

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It was a mixed day for Velocio-SRAM. Karol-Ann had a super ride to finish with the front group of eight riders while Alena suffered and wasn’t able to stick with Karol-Ann and company. Alena was quite disappointed after the stage, but I’m confident she’ll bounce back. She’s had an incredible season so far.

As for the rest of my teammates, with our jobs done, we made it back safe and sound. And as soon as the stage ends, it’s time to prepare ourselves for another tomorrow. Stage three is a sprint stage, and you know how my team feels about those.

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