A birthday in Italy: Tiffany Cromwell’s Giro Rosa stage three 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. Cromwell celebrated her 27th birthday sweating through a relatively relaxed stage three. All text and images supplied by Cromwell- with more images (hopefully!) coming soon if she can get that Italian wi-fi to cooperate in the morning.

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.


For me, there is always one special day during the Giro Rosa. And that day was today. Why you might ask? Because, it’s my birthday. For the last eight years, I’ve had the joy of celebrating my birthday every year during the Giro. I turned 20 during my first Giro Rosa –and today it was birthday #27.

Most people would choose a party and birthday cake over suffering in the Italian heat. But I say- what would be the fun in that?

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It was another scorcher today, reaching the mid-40’s by mid-race. We’re definitely in the midst of a heat wave, and we did our best to stay hydrated and prevent from overheating as we travelled from Curtatone to Mantova. It was 127.5km with a few bumps in the first 50km of the race before the course became flat all the way to the finish.

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The plan was pretty simple for us today. If it was a bunch sprint, we would set it up for Barbara again. If there was a breakaway, we needed to have a rider represented and, depending on the situation, we would support the break. For our general classification riders, they just needed to keep quiet and use the day to recover –well, as much as you can recover while you’re melting.

The stage began quite tamely today, and I was happy about that. I like to roll my legs into the stage. I always suffer if it’s all guns blazing from the beginning.

The first shock to the system was a little surprise climb around 20 kilometres into the race. I came into it well out of position, and then saw a 10 percent average gradient sign on the side of the road. I thought to myself, “Where did this little sucker come from?” The Giro Rosa certainly keeps us on our toes.

To make the unexpected ascent event more challenging, I took a bottle part-way up the climb from our soigneur, who gave us an early feed, but with both bottle cages full, I had my third bottle hanging from my mouth as I got myself over the climb before sorting things out. Luckily it wasn’t too long.

As the roads twisted, turned, and rolled up and down, the attacks began to create a break. It was the perfect stage for an escape to succeed if the combination was right. With such a tough day yesterday, the GC teams were happy to take it easy and allow non-GC threats to go up the road. The only thing that would stop a breakaway from being successful would be if there was one team who really wanted a sprint.

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Orica-AIS seemed keen to force as break, as they were the major antagonists here. Eventually Lizzie Williams found herself all alone off the front. I have a feeling she was hoping to have some company out there but the peloton seemed pretty pleased with the situation.

We rolled along for a while but with the only classified climb looming, Carlee Taylor’s Lotto-Soudal team were pretty keen to help her gain more points towards the mountains classification jersey. They hit the front and increased the pace. Unlucky for them, it turns out the kilometres were slightly off.

We kept going and going and going, and by that point, even I was wondering where this climb was. Five kilometres later we found it. Lotto did their thing over the top and at the same time Lizzie was brought back to the peloton.

It didn’t take too long for the next flurry of attacks to begin. Again, Orica-AIS played the aggressors. Eventually a strong move of eight riders went away with most major teams represented.

The situation was good for us as we had Loren [Rowney] in there, although we knew there were a couple of fast sprinters in the break, too. The break gained time quickly, and with the pace in the peloton rolling slowly, I took a visit back to the team car to chat with my sport director, Beth Duryea, about the situation.

Turns out every man and his dog were back in the cars making the most of the lull in the peloton and collecting fresh bottles from their team cars. I had time to kill. Normally, to save energy, you would wait for your car to come up to the front, but I thought that would take awhile. I took matters into my own hands, slowly drifting back through the convoy, saying G’day along the way to some of the teams until I found Beth. She was way down at the back at this point.

I confirmed with her that we were happy with the situation and just needed to sit back, relax and follow any possible counter moves. It was a little hectic coming back up the convoy –almost as bad as being in the peloton at times – and I even witnessed a slight lock up of brakes and kiss of the bumpers amongst some team cars.

Fortunately, I made it back into the peloton safe and sound. The break gradually blew out to five minutes before Boels-Dolmans decided to take control and begin managing the gap for their pink jersey wearer, Megan Guarnier.

For the majority of the last 50km, it was a fairly easy and stress-free race for us. I told my teammates to sit in, look after themselves and contribute to the chase only if there was a chance it could come back to a sprint.

By my calculations, it was clear that the break would stay away to the final. The gap was coming down but not quickly enough for the amount of kilometres remaining. We eventually put a couple of riders on the front to help with the chase to get the gap within one or two minutes. We still have Karol-Ann [Canuel] high on the overall, and we wanted to keep her well in contention to fight for the general classification.

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Up front, Loren looked after herself in the break and had a crack in the final, ultimately narrowly missing out on the podium. She was disappointed with fourth place, which we all understand. It’s hard to swallow coming so close to the podium. The rest of us crossed the finish line in the peloton without any dramas.

It’s another stage down as we look ahead to another possible sprint stage tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m going to eat some well-deserved birthday cake.

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