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We’re slightly more than 24 hours from the start of the Giro Rosa. Remember how excited we were about the Aviva Women’s Tour? The Giro Rosa inspires that same sort of excitement for entirely different reasons. While the Aviva Women’s Tour is all about the social agenda and the ‘feel good’ moments and the professionalization of the sport, the Giro Rosa is all about the racing.
The Italian stage race is the only remaining Grand Tour on the professional women’s calendar. During the 10 days of racing, there are stages for everyone –the time trial specialist, the sprinter, the rouleur and the mountain goat. And while the stage wins will be hotly contested day in and day out, the overall pink jersey is the most prestigious in the sport.
As a cyclist, my Giro wins have opened the door for me. That’s really what I am known for and what gives me value.
Personally, they have meant accomplishing something (both times) I never thought possible. When you do an “impossible”, all of a sudden you have to question all the other “impossibles” that you have defined in your life.
It isn’t about any prize or notoriety, the greatest value is in the awe at yourself and those you have worked with for 10 days. It’s like they say about babies -a miracle every time.
About the Giro Rosa
The 26th edition of the Giro Rosa begins Friday, June 3, in Ljubljana, Slovenia with a two-kilometre evening prologue and ends 10 days later on Sunday, July 14, with a summit finish up to the San Domenico di Varzo ski resport.
For the firth time, the first two stages are held in Slovenia before the race moves to Italy for eight days of racing on Italian soil.
It’s important to note that because the first stage is a prologue, the second day of racing will be referenced as stage one (and the final stage, the tenth day of racing, as stage nine).
The women’s peloton will cover 886.4km of racing over 10 days. There are two races against the clock –with the opening stage time trial and the stage eight 21.7km individual time trial –and two mountain-top finishes. Beyond the summit finishes, the Giro Rosa serves up steep mountains on an additional three stages. If you’re looking for maps or profiles of each stage as well as more specific stage information, we recommend checking out this Velofocus preview (scroll down for stage-by-stage info).
As you familiarize yourself with the route, keep in mind what Abbott said about the stages she expects to be the most challenging:
I don’t like to make predictions on this race -to myself or others. Partly because of little pieces of trickery that don’t show up on the maps and partly because of tactics. The hardest days on paper are rarely the ones that show up in the end.
Last year, I think the first stage might have been one of them all, and I don’t think that would have been anyone’s guess! I like to take each day as a single opportunity and worry about the next one once I get through the one that comes before.
The Teams and Riders
Nineteen teams will start the Giro Rosa on Friday, and this is the only race on the calendar in which teams are allowed to bring eight rather than the usual six starters. Velofocus has the most complete start list we have seen.
Two past winners are among the confirm starters: two-time winner Mara Abbott and one-time winner Claudia Lichtenberg. Abbott won in 2010 and 2013, both times racing with Team USA. She lines up with Wiggle Honda on Friday. Lichtenberg, then racing as Claudia Haüsler, won in 2009 with the now defunct Cervelo Test Team. She will be racing with Liv-PLantur at the 2015 Giro Rosa.
In the last five years, only Abbott and Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) have won the maglia rosa awarded to the overall winner –and Vos is sidelined with injury.
Returning stage winners include Abbott and Lichtenberg along with Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda), Evie Stevens (Boels-Dolmans), Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla), Shara Gillow (Rabo Liv), Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) and Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM).
What are they racing for?
There are four jerseys up for grabs at the Giro Rosa. The pink leader’s jersey is the most prestigious of the lot and perhaps the most coveted in the sport. The jersey will likely change hands multiple times over the 10-day race before the overall winner stakes her claim on it in San Domenico di Varzo. The overall race winner will earn €525 (a small sum compared to €115,668 for the overall winner of the men’s Giro d’Italia, and still smaller than the €10,000 given to each of the minor men’s classification winners – points, mountains, youth, etc. For women, they’re racing far more for the glory than the prize money.)
The purple points jersey is typically regarded as the sprinters jersey. Points are awarded at the finish of each stage as well as at intermediate sprint points. Worth noting that time bonuses are up for grabs at these spots as well (3-2-1 for the intermediate sprints, 10-6-4 for the stage finish). The purple points jersey winner will take home €350. Along with the overall victory, Vos also won the points classification last year.
The green queen of the mountains jersey is for the climbers. Points are awarded on each of the categorised climbs, with more points available on the more difficult climbs. The Giro Rosa includes 12 climbs (GPMs), so that’s 12 opportunities to scoop up points over the ten days. The green queen of the mountains jersey winner will win €450. Emma Pooley (riding for Lotto) won the climbing classification last year.
The white young rider jersey is for the highest-placed rider overall that was born on or after the January 1, 1992. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Liv) won the jersey last year and is eligible for the classification again this year. With the white jersey comes €350 in prize money.
The best Italian rider sports a blue jersey, naturally. This jersey is worn by the highest-placed Italian rider overall -and ensures that an Italian rider graces the podium daily. The best Italian rider takes home €300 along with the blue jersey. Fifth overall last year, Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda) won the blue jersey.
Rabo Liv swept the podium last year as Marianne Vos took her third Giro Rosa victory ahead of teammates Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Anna van der Breggen. Vos is out but Ferrand-Prevot and van der Breggen return, and Ella editor Anne-Marije Rook is convinced that we’ll see Rabo Liv riders on the podium again this year, naming van der Breggen, Ferrand-Prevot and Kasia Niewiadoma among her top race contenders.
While I certainly expect Rabo Liv to challenge for the top step, I wouldn’t necessarily say their presence on the overall podium is a given. Wiggle Honda has Mara Abbott and Elisa Longo Borghini for the overall. Boels-Dolmans has Evie Stevens and Megan Guarnier, the former of whom should excel in the individual time trial. Either Ashleigh Moolman and Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) should feature in the top 10. A top five might be in reach for Moolman, too. Alena Amialiusik (Velocio-SRAM) has had a stellar run of form recently, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on her as well.
You can read more about teams ambitions for the overall and stage win by clicking through to their roster release and race previews at the links below:
- Wiggle Honda
- Lotto Soudal – this one is a video announcement!
How to follow the Giro Rosa
As usual, Sarah Connolly has put together her handy “how to follow” guide for the Giro Rosa. Hop on over to her website for all the specifics. We’ve included the main bits of information below.
As of now, we know we have two opportunities to for live viewing:
- Watch the team presentation on Thursday, July 2, from 9-10:30 p.m. CET (that’s Friday, July 3, 5-6:30 a.m AEST for our Aussie audience).
- The prologue will also be streamed live. That’s Friday, July 3, beginning at 7:30 p.m. CET (4:30AM July 4 for our Aussies).
As of now, it looks the team presentation will be an open stream but the prologue stream will be geo-restricted, but we trust you all have your favourite VPN solution by now.
Beyond the opportunities for live viewing, there are plenty of ways to follow along with the Giro Rosa.
- The official hashtag is #GiroRosa2015.
- Sarah Connolly has her twitter list that includes all the accounts that might have live-tweets during the race.
- The official Giro Rosa twitter account is typically a good source of information, too.
Beyond live updates, you can watch hour-long highlights on RAI Sport 2. Unfortunately, the highlights package is not shown at the same time very day, but you can consult the RAI TV guide –and we’ll do our best to tweet out a reminder to tune-in each day. The Giro Rosa YouTube channel also typically posts a short highlights video daily.
Giro Rosa on Ella
You can, of course, count on us to bring you interesting and engaging coverage of the Giro Rosa over the 10-day race.
Here’s what we’ve got in store for you on Ella:
- daily race reports – uploaded as close to one-hour post-race as possible. These race reports will cover the basic action from the day and include full results and early images
- daily diaries – we’re really excited about these! We have Giro Rosa debutant Lizzie Williams (Orica-AIS) and eight-time Giro Rosa starter (and one-time stage winner!) Tiff Cromwell lined up to share their daily reports out of the Italian Grand Tour. Beyond the daily check-in, Cromwell is also poised for a #TiffTakeover on the Ella Instagram account.
- daily round-up of links in the “Rosa Round-Up” – every (Aussie) morning, we’ll share our collection of the best Giro Rosa links, tweets, images and videos we’ve found.
If there’s anything else you’re specifically looking for out of the Giro Rosa, don’t hesitate the let us know!
The daily Rosa Round-Up:
Like what you see here? Wish we were doing more Giro Rosa coverage? Less Giro Rosa coverage? Doing something different altogether? We want to hear from you. Consider taking our Ella survey to let us know what we’re getting right, where we could improve and who you are. All survey participants who share their email address are entered into our random draw for a Velocio kit.