Sprinters shine on Giro Rosa stage four as Megan Guarnier keeps pink

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It was an all Italian podium on stage four of the Giro Rosa. Annalisa Cucinotta (Alé Cipollini) proved quickest in Pozzo d’Adda, besting Marta Bastianelli (Aromitalia-Vaiano) and Elena Cecchini (Lotto Soudal) to the line. Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) was best of the rest in fourth place.

“The sprint was quite stressful,” said Cecchini, the Italian national road champion. “It was the last opportunity for the sprinters in this Giro, so every team was trying to bring their fast wheel to the front. I managed to come out from the last corner, 400 metres before the finish, in fourth place behind [Barbara] Guarischi. I waited until more or less 150 metres to jump.”

“I started my sprint because I saw that both Barbara and Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) were not starting their sprints,” Cecchini explained. “I’m not a bunch sprinter, so I just took a risk and tried my best. For sure it was a pity not winning, but I’m happy with my unexpected podium.”

The fifth day of racing saw the women’s peloton set off from Pioltello for two 11-kilometre laps round the start town. Chaos reigned on the opening lap with several groups forming over the technical circuit. By the time the peloton began lap two, the race had settled slightly, and the peloton had regrouped.

Lizzie Williams (Orica-AIS) went on the attack yet again–but this time she had company as German national time trial champion Mieke Kroeger (Velocio-SRAM) joined Williams up the road. Soon Valentina Bastianelli (Inpa Sottoli) bridged across and Silvia Valsecchi (Bepink Laclassica) joined to make it a leading group of four.

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A number of additional riders tried their luck at jumping across to the four-rider escape, but none proved successful. The quartet would gain a maximum advantage of 2:19 with around 45 kilometres remaining in the 103 kilometre stage.

Alé Cipollini assumed responsibility for the chase inside the final hour of the race. Within 10 minutes on the front, the Italian team had halved the gap to the four leaders. Wiggle Honda lent legs to the pace-making, and 24 kilometres from the finish, the peloton had shut down the day’s break.

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“We were attentive to the breaks today but recognized that on another possible sprint stage, it was not really critical for us to use a lot of energy in keeping the race together,” race leader Megan Guariner (Boels-Dolmans) explained. “The team was fully behind Evie [Stevens] and me and took care of us all day.” 

The kilometres ticked down and the situation remained unchanged. With the high pace, late race attacks were discouraged. The sprint trains began to ready for the finale, which included a sharp 180 degree turn at the 1.5km mark. Cucinotta sprinted to her best career result while Cechinni secured a second podium finish in her Giro Rosa debut.

Guarnier finished safely in the bunch and will wear the maglia rosa on Wednesday for the third straight day. The top of the general classification remains unchanged with the American heading into stage five with a two second advantage over Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) in second. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) is in third at five seconds.

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The Giro Rosa heads for the Italian Alps on stage five with a summit finish up to Aprica. What the climb up to the popular ski resort lacks in steepness, it more than makes up for in length. The road rises from the mid-point of the 128.4km stage. As always, Velofocus is your best source for a stage profile (including a climb profile), course map and specific stage details.

“It should be another difficult day tomorrow,” said Guarnier. “With the finish climb starting with 40 kilometers to go, it is unlike anything we have seen so far.”  

“We have been taking this Giro one day at a time,” Guarnier added. “I probably sound like a broken record on that, but each day presents its own unique challenges. We must face them in that moment and not look too far ahead.”

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Expect in-depth, varied coverage of each and every Giro Rosa stage on Ella CyclingTips. We will have daily race reports within an hour of each stage finish, full results and daily diaries from Australians Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) and Lizzie Williams (Orica-AIS). Also check out Ella on Instagram for our #TiffTakeover.

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