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by Tiffany Cromwell
July 11, 2015
Photography by Balint Hamvas and Beth Duryea
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
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. The seventh stage of the Giro Rosa took the women’s peloton to the Ligurian coast where the overall contenders did battle in the mountains and Cromwell enjoyed the stunning scenery from the grupetto. All text and images, save the feature image, supplied by Cromwell.
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.
With the sun sparkling over the Mediterranean and a holiday vibe in the air, we hit the region of Liguria for stage seven of the Giro Rosa. So close to where I live, I was very tempted to just keep riding the 150 coastal kilometres home instead of racing my bike today.
It was the shortest stage of the Giro this year at 89.7km, but by no means easy with another day of climbing, including the famous ‘Naso di Gatto’, with regularly features in the men’s Giro d’Italia. Having survived the mountains, the course dropped us back down to the coast for the finish.
With the overall general classification now off the table for our team, our attention has turned towards stage victories. We had a simple plan today: any of us had the option to get into or create an early break and then assess the situation over the first climb and decide if we wanted to play.
Today we had an ‘interesting’ 11-kilometre neutral that involved taking us along two different bike paths along the sea with a few ill-lit tunnels. The scenery was stunning, don’t get me wrong, but at times it was a little bit dodgy in a 120 rider peloton rolling along slowly. We had plenty of holiday-makers taking a break from their sun beds to come up from the beach and cheer us on, including a few too many leather-skinned old men in budgie smugglers.
I was a little bit too motivated today, deciding that I wanted to try and get myself in the early break from the gun. My body apparently didn’t get the message. Someone beat me to the first attack, but I jumped with it and then countered – and when that was caught, I went with a few more attacks. I had put myself in the box a bit as the legs were clearly not great today.
It was a frustrating start. A lot of riders wanted to create a break but Bigla took it upon themselves to drive the pace at the front, killing themselves to keep it together into the climb. It was fast for the opening 20 kilometres along the coast and up the valley into the climb with attacks going left, right and centre. Initially, I followed moves, but nothing was getting more than a few metres clear.
Before we knew it, we were already on the first climb of the day, the ‘Naso di Gatto’ and as an Italian would say, I was ‘kaput’ or dead. My legs really weren’t great today, and it was a hard climb with the peloton quickly splitting into various groups.
After giving all the fight I had left, I slowly drifted backwards and found myself a group to ride with about mid-field, making sure I stuck with their wheels so I wouldn’t be left in no man’s land once we reached the top. As race goes on, you often find yourself climbing with the same people each day when the selections have been made.
Once we reached the top, a sight I was very happy to see, I looked around and realised we had a nice group of around 20 riders. Along with many of my friends from yesterday, I had a few more Aussies to keep me company. They’re always a laugh.
As it was clear we would never see the front of the race again, the stage turned into more of a training ride, which proved rather entertaining. I was one of many talking a lot of rubbish as we cruised through the rest of the stage. The descents were as fun as always, and I found myself wishing I had my GoPro with me because the scenery was absolutely incredible.
We did have a little incident down one of the descents. A girl riding second wheel dropped herself in the apex of a hairpin turn, and we weren’t pushing it either, which left Romy Kasper of Boels-Dolmans nowhere to go but into her. I was the next lucky one in the line, and I almost avoided the crash but, with little room to maneuver, I found myself tangled in the mess, too.
I had slowed down enough and pulled my right foot out in time, somehow finding a spot to place my foot over Romy’s bike – which I had ridden into. The problem was that I still had my left foot clipped into my bike, which was now lying on the ground. I was balanced, almost doing the splits, but I was completely stuck. I waited for Romy to get up, and she had to help me get out of this awkward position. It was all a good laugh in the end, but I would’ve been annoyed if I actually hit the ground and lost skin. Luckily, Romy, who did hit the ground, came off OK.
We made it back to the group without incident before the second climb, which was far nicer than the first one. It was longer but we all agreed to just look after each other up it. I think that was lost in translation by one of BTC-Ljubljana riders who kept trying to surge and force an injection in pace on us. After multiple times of calling out “piano” or “tranquillo” to deaf ears, we finally just said: “If you don’t want to ride with us, then run along.” And off she went on her own.
The best part of today’s race came in the final 20 kilometres. We had an amazing descent off the final climb, back down to the sea. It was one of those descents that you could ride all day. Fast, smooth, good flowing corners–I was in heaven. Naturally, I took to the front. I never went full gas but I did have some fun, enjoying the speed and making the most of having the entire road to ourselves, without the worry of oncoming cars that we experience in training.
Once at the bottom, it was a lovely five kilometre flat ride along the coast to the finish in Loano. We made the most of the stage finishing on the water. It was lycra off and swimmers on for a quick refreshing dip in the sea–the perfect recovery before our transfer to the next hotel.
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