Storybook season continues for Megan Guarnier with Giro Rosa stage two win and maglia rosa

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Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) won stage two of the Giro Rosa from an elite group of eight riders that took shape over the climbs and descents that punctuated the second half of the stage. The American played off a late race attack by teammate Evie Stevens- employing a similar strategy to the one the pair used to net Guarnier her second national road title last May. With the stage win, Guarnier moved into the race lead, pulling on the iconic maglia rosa.

“Today was quite special,” Guarnier told Ella CyclingTips. “This was the same stage last year – minus the really long climb – where I had an asthma attack that took me out of the GC running. It was a nice day to win for the team, and my teammates were so proud. It is especially nice to win when they work so hard for you all day as well.”

It’s been a huge year for the quietly consistent Guarnier who seems to have found her confidence and footing at Boels-Dolmans in her second season with the Dutch-registered squad. Guarnier wrote her name in the history books in March when she won the inaugural Strade Bianche. The following month she climbed onto her first World Cup podium, finishing in third place at Fléche Wallonne. She snagged her second national road title in May and won the hilly stage one at Euskal Emakumeen Bira in June. The 30-year-old’s fourth victory of the year is her Boels-Dolman’s team 21st win of the season.

“Every race Boels comes to, we look to how we can win,” Guarnier said. “I am not keeping a tally, but I know some people are. We have so many strong points and diversity in our team that we really can play to each individual’s strengths.”

Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv), who has been tipped by many as the pre-race favourite overall, edged out Ashleigh Moolman-Paiso (Bigla) for second place on the stage.

Despite the heat in northern Italy, with temperature creeping into the mid-thirites as racing got underway in Gaiarine, the women’s peloton set off at a quick clip from the start- covering 41 kilometres in the opening hour. The stage could be divided into two distinct parts with the first three intermediate sprints all in the first part of the race and the three categorised climbs in the second.

With bonus seconds up on offer, each of the three intermediate sprints were hotly contested. Overnight race leader Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) pocketed seven seconds out on the road, winning two of the intermediate sprints and finishing second in the third.

When the road rose, Flávia Oliveira (Alé Cipollini) and Carlee Taylor (Lotto Soudal Ladies) slipped away from the bunch. The peloton split over the Pietro San di Feletto, the first of three climbs on the menu.

The leading pair stretched out their gap to 1:51 before the start of the second climb –at which point the peloton shattered and the first elite selection was made. Guarnier, Moolman and van der Breggen had made the cut alongside Wiggle Honda teammates Mara Abbott and Elisa Longo Borghini, Rabo Liv teammates Kasia Niewiadoma and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Sabrina Stultiens (Liv Plantur).

“On the second GPM climb, Van der Breggen attacked,” noted Guarnier. “That is where the first selection happened with only a few riders cresting the top of that climb together.”

Taylor crashed out the of the race lead, leaving Oliveira alone out front. Slightly further behind, the descent between the second and third climbs caused a reshuffle amongst the elite chasers.

“I went away on the first QOM,” Taylor told Ella CyclingTips. “I caught Flavia over the top, and then on the next QOM, I got a gap over the top. I felt strong, so I kept going. I got into a corner that just came back on itself, and I overshot it, catapulting over the guardrail and down the cliff.”

“My bike broke when I hit the rail,” Taylor added. “I slid down the other side through the trees and had to pull myself up and through the wire fencing. Because Flavia and I only had 50 seconds over the top, the team car had gone out of the gap, so I had to wait a really long time. It wasn’t exactly how I imagined my day.”

“I was pretty sore for the rest of the race,” Taylor added. “I feel heaps better now that I have the wounds treated. My arm just got sliced by the railing or a tree, and I have some large lumps and random cuts. The good thing is no road rash- got to find the positives wherever I can.”

It seems that Taylor wasn’t the only rider to crash on Sunday. Following the stage, Audrey Cordon (Wiggle Honda) posted the tweets below, announcing that both she and teammate Anna Sanchis are out with collarbone breaks. The loss of Cordon and Sanchis will be a huge blow for Longo Borghini and Abbott’s general classification ambitions.

Twenty kilometres from the finish, nine riders led the race: Guarnier and Stevens, Niewiadoma and van der Breggen, Longo Borghini and Abbott, Moolman and Karol Ann Canual (Velocio-SRAM).

“On the descent between the climbs the group got a little bigger and then the teams were represented with more riders,” Guarnier explained. “After that Rabo kept the pace high on the final climb. The climbs today were longer than expected and sometimes mid-GPM climb, there were descents which kept things fast as well.”

Oliveira was dropped on the final categorised climb as Rabo-Liv drove the pace. With the final kilometre looming, Stevens launched an attack.

“Evie attacked with one kilometre to go, and the other teams were immediately on her,” said Guarnier, as is shown in the short clip below. “Then as the sprint was setting up she attacked into the final corner and strung things out. As the sprint opened up, I followed until I felt ready to drive to the line.”

“It was a bit of plan and a bit of instinct,” Guarnier noted. “We felt the race. And we raced accordingly.”

Three stages into the Giro Rosa, and the maglia rosa has changed hands following every stage. Guarnier takes the pink jersey from Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv), who finished in the second group, 1:47 behind the stage winner. Van der Breggen jumps up to second overall, two seconds behind Guarnier, while Moolman is third overall at five seconds.

The Giro Rosa continues on Monday with a fairly flat stage. The sprinters should have a chance to showcase their top turn of speed into Mantova. This Velofocus stage preview includes a route profile, map and key stage three details.

Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile (2.1) Gaiarine → San Fior

GUARNIER Megan Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team
VAN DER BREGGEN Anna Rabobank-Liv Woman Cycling Team
MOOLMAN Ashleigh Bigla Pro Cycling Team


BRAND Lucinda



Additional Giro Rosa Reading

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