Breakaways for days: Checking in with Lizzie Williams after stages four and five of the Giro Rosa

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Australian cyclist Lizzie Williams is racing the Giro Rosa, the longest (and only) Grand Tour on the women’s calendar, for the first time this year. And to give you a-behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to race at the highest level and at one of the most prestigious races in women’s cycling, Lizzie graciously agreed to do daily check-ins for the next 10 days of racing -no matter what might happen.

Read all her diary entries here.

Also be sure to check out Tiffany Cromwell’s diary as she is racing and writing about her eighth Giro.

Due to a late night and phone issues, we were unable to chat to Lizzie yesterday. So today we’re making up for it and recapping two days worth of events in one post.

Word of the day: yesterday: “chopped”, today: “tranquilo- it’s Italian for calm and content. I was saying that the latter to myself constantly today in the race because it was so hectic and fast. It makes me calm my mind which helps me take good lines and make smart decisions.”

Result of the day: Stage four: 10th // Read about stage four in the Ella race report. Stage five: 56th // Read more about stage five in the Ella race report.

The racing: on the attack…again and again

Lizzie Williams_Balint_Giro Rosa

Quick stage four recap:

After a massive solo break in stage three, Lizzie went on the attack again in stage four.

Chaos reigned on the first of two 11-kilometre laps around the start town of Pioltello that opened the race with several groups forming over the technical circuit. Lizzie went on the attack on lap two, and she had company as German national time trial champion Mieke Kroeger (Velocio-SRAM) joined her up the road. Soon Valentina Bastianelli (Inpa Sottoli) bridged across and Silvia Valsecchi (Bepink Laclassica) joined to make it a leading group of four.

“We wanted to be aggressive early on. We wanted to get a breakaway to form and, if that didn’t happen, practice a lead-out sprint for Vale [Scandolara]. I was simply doing a dummy attack to set up a counter attack from a teammate but in the end, I got away. Solo. Again!” Lizzie said. “But luckily, within 2k, I had another rider bridge across and by 10k another couple riders joined.”

The four-rider break would gain a maximum advantage of 2:19 with around 45 kilometres remaining in the 103 kilometre stage. Alé Cipollini assumed responsibility, and eventually Wiggle Honda sent riders to the front, too. Twenty kilometres from the finish, the peloton had shut down the day’s break.

“When we got caught, we went about setting things up for Vale. This is the first time our team has done this. It got pretty messy in the sprint but Vale was in good position behind Barbara [Guarischi]. Things went wrong with a sharp corner and in the end, Barbara and Vale ended up at the front with 1k to go, which is really not ideal for two sprinters,” Lizzie said.

“The bunch swarmed and I was coming up on the outside and ended up on the front with about 500 metres to go, so I kind of just rode in so I wouldn’t get caught up in anything, and ended 10th. Overall though, it was a positive day for the team. The lead-out train obviously needs work but it was pretty good for the first time.”

Stage five:

Orica AIS, giro rosa,

“Today was FAST. Again we wanted to get a break up the road, and we were trying really hard for about the first hour but the pace was very, very fast. There was just no letting up. Eventually, Sarah [Roy] went off the front for 5-10k but was brought back.

“We kept attacking but nothing was sticking. Obviously the peloton wanted it to come down to a climber’s race. But a break was forming around the 80k mark and I was in good position so I had to go. So I ended up in a break, again, which wasn’t ideal because I was feeling pretty cooked. But we needed someone in that break.

“A few riders bridged across, and Spratty [Amanda Spratt] was in that group. She was feeling pretty good, so I just spoke to her and asked her what she wanted me to do. Together with some other riders, I was in the front pushing the pace to keep the break going. In the end, Boels-Dolmans put in a massive effort to bring back the break with 20k to go.

“The climb started at 15k to go and that’s where the peloton splintered. We had three girls in the front and Kat [Garfoot] had a go with 5k to go. Unfortunately, she got caught with 2k from the top but she was our top finisher of the day, coming in 14th.

“It was really good to see Kat have a good day because she’s had a bit of bad luck with crashes so far this tour and found it quite stressful on the flats and big bunch sprints. We are coming into the hillier stages now, which suit her.

“For me, my day was over around the 10K mark. I was just done so I just rode into the finish.

“I want to add that ‘downstairs’ looks like a massacre! After six days racing in the heat, wet chamois and constant pressure, it ain’t pretty. And I’m not the only one. Sarah Roy is currently donning a solid nappy rash a.k.a “thunder thigh rubbing disease”.
Good thing my mum stocked me up with nappy rash cream for the year”

Lizzie Williams Nappy cream

Baked goods

“Vale knows someone in every country. She has friends everywhere. You go walking with her anywhere and you’ll stop a hundred times in 100 metres. And Vale always has some sort of cake or biscuits on rotation. Yesterday, her adopted Nonna stopped by with a cake. It was biscottis from her mum the day before.

Speaking of cake, for Gene’s birthday we organised a surprised birthday cake. When we sitting around enjoying the cake, we discovered Kat Garfoot’s secret power: she can eat with her toes! Kat, who’s quite flexible and diligent about her stretching, was able to pick a fork up with her toes, scoop up some cake and bring it to her mouth!”


“Tomorrow’s stage, I reckon, will set up the GC. It’s the hardest stage of the tour with three categorised climbs and technical descents. It’s going to be a really tough day. We’ll be setting up our GC riders and the rest will be survival.”

We’ll be checking in with Lizzie again tomorrow after stage six. In the meantime, there’s lots more Giro Rosa content for you to enjoy on Ella!

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