Lung-busting, adrenaline-pumping, fast-paced action: Tiffany Cromwell’s Giro Rosa prologue diary

by Tiffany Cromwell


In addition to daily race reports out of the Giro Rosa, we’re lucky enough to be able to offer you two rider diaries out of the on the only women’s cycling Grand Tour of the season. Australians Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) and Lizzie Williams (Orica-AIS) have agreed to daily check-ins out of the 10-day race. Cromwell’s first piece is below – all texts and images (save one) supplied by Cromwell from Slovenia. Beyond these reports, Cromwell is also responsible for the #TiffTakeover on Ella Instagram. Follow along there for an extra glimpse behind-the-scenes at the Giro Rosa.


It’s July and I’m in Italy with a bike. That can only mean one thing -it’s time for the Giro Rosa, otherwise known as the women’s edition of the Giro d’Italia.

Ok, I lie slightly. I’m actually in Slovenia as for the first time in the race’s history we’ve branched out and the race begins outside the boarders of Italy. We are in the capitol, Ljubljana, a place which I only learnt how to pronounce correctly just recently.

The Giro is our biggest stage race on the calendar. It the women’s version of a Grand Tour with 10 days of racing (no rest days). It’s also one of the very few races we line up with eight riders, as opposed to the usual six.

Let me introduce my Velocio-SRAM team to you. We have a mixed bag of experience this year.

First up, we have our Giro ‘virgins’ Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada), Elise Delzenne (France) and our young German, Mieke Kroger.

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Next up we have our token Italian, Barbara Guarischi. to sort any language barriers with our Belarusian mafia who has made Italy her adopted home, Alena Amialiusik.

Then there’s the Anglophones of Loren Rowney (Australia) and Tayler Wiles (USA) to keep things real.

Finally you have me, I guess I’m a bit of a veteran of the race these days, as I’m lining up for the eighth time. I’ve completed every edition that I have started with a few nice results over the years as an added bonus. [Editor’s note: Tiff is modest. Among the 152 starters, there are only eight Giro Rosa stage winners. Tiff is one of them.]

It’s my first time truly in Slovenia and in the city of Ljublana and I must say, I quite like the place. Picturesque landscape, a thriving city full of atmosphere, bike friendly streets and pleasant people. It’s the perfect city if you’re looking for a weekend getaway. Shame that I don’t have the chance to truly experience it.

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After last night’s impressive team presentation where we were presented roses on stage by well-sculptured male ballet dancers –a nice change to those bikini wearing podium girls at a recent Belgium race– it was time to turn our focus to racing.

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Two-kilometres of lung-busting, adrenaline-pumping, fast-paced action kick-started this years race. Prologues are one of those races, especially when it is an evening race, where you feel like so much preparation goes in for such a small effort.

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The day is spent killing time, going for a little ride in the morning to wake the body up, counting down the minutes until the next time you eat before finally, you arrive at the race location and need to switch into race mode.

I was one of our last riders on, which meant I had plenty of time to put the race head on, ride countless laps to of the course to work-out the perfect lines before it closed and take advice from my teammates who raced prior to my start.

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The prologue is a tough discipline to get right as it’s all in the minor details and every tiny mistake is the difference between winning and losing because time differences so slim. The course took on a t-shape, off the starting ramp into a quick chicane before a right hand turn, a 400m straight into a tight u-turn before a longer 800m straight, a second u-turn then back towards the finish with a fast right hand turn with 50m to go and across the line.

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I’m not one who is good at sitting still, and I didn’t need to start my warm-up until 35 minute prior to my start , so with my teammates busy getting ready, I decided to go for a wander down the street and get a feel of the Friday night city atmosphere. In my travels, I passed a stall where they had a game that said ‘if you have time to waste’, that had my name written all over it. You had to try and crack the puzzle, a wooden star shaped looking object made up of 6 or 8 pieces and you needed to work out how to pull it apart.

I’m always up for a challenge. I had found the piece that was the key to the puzzle and with my competitive nature I wasn’t going to let it beat me. After a few minutes or so, or maybe slightly more I had cracked it and completed the challenge. I took this as me a good sign, and it put me in the right mind-set for a strong race.

The time finally came, I was on the start ramp, music pumping as the clock ticked down.

30 seconds.
20 seconds.
15 seconds.
10 seconds.

Five seconds.
Four seconds.
Three seconds.
Two seconds.
One second.

GO!

It’s full gas out of the blocks, quickly winding the gear up along the straights, then setting myself up into the corners for the exit and straight back up to speed as quick as you can. The race flashes by and before you know it, it’s over.

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I finished feeling happy with my race, thinking that it was pretty smooth with only a couple of parts where perhaps I could have been faster or done something a little bit differently. I was pleasantly surprised though when I found out I had cracked the top-10 in the final results, only five seconds off the fastest time.

It was a nice way to start my Giro. It’s good for the head. but the true racing begins tomorrow with our first road stage, and with bonus seconds on offer at intermediate sprints and the finish, the pink jersey is open for the taking. We’re eager to see what we can do.

Until then!

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