Your guide to the 2016 Giro Rosa, women’s cycling’s biggest tour

by Jeanine Laudy


After a very exciting showdown of the world’s best cyclists in the Aviva Women’s Tour, the women’s WorldTour continues in Italy for women’s cycling only remaining “Grand Tour,” the Giro Rosa.

While many of the stages in the Aviva Women’s Tour this year ended in bunch sprints, the racing in the Giro Rosa is very different. It’s tremendously hilly and some days are simply brutal. For many of the riders, it’s their final fitness preparation before they head to Brazil for the Olympics, where a hilly course awaits them as well.

Some notable teams and riders have chosen a different preparation for Rio 2016 however, with teams like Orica-AIS and Cervélo-Bigla, sitting out the Grand Tour altogether to line up at the upcoming Thüringen Rundfahrt in Germany instead.

While all stage wins will be hotly contested day in and day out, the overall pink jersey is what most teams will ride for, as well as the Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey, as this race forms round eleven in the Women’s WorldTour.

The Giro Rosa in numbers

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1: The 2016 Giro Rosa starts on Friday, July 1, in Gaiarine with the traditional evening prologue.

27: The Giro Rosa (previously branded as Giro d’Italia Femminile and the Giro Donne) is celebrating its 27th edition this year.

10: The racing will take place over 10 days. The final stage will be a 105-kilometer stage to Verbania Pallanza on Sunday, July 10.

9: It’s important to note that because the first stage is a prologue, the second day of racing will be referred to as stage one and the final stage, the tenth day of racing, as stage nine.  Check out the Velorooms preview of the 2016 Giro Rosa, including profiles and short introductions to all stages.

5: After a trip abroad in the 2015 edition, when the first two stages took place in Slovenia, the 2016 Giro Rosa is held completely on Italian soil. The courses will remain in the north, with the women’s peloton visiting 5 northern regions including Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

5: Five is also the number of jerseys up for grabs at the Giro Rosa. More on that below.

857.8: The 2016 Giro Rosa will cover a total of 857.8 kilometers of racing.

23: There are 23 teams scheduled to start on Friday.

138: 138 riders will contest the pink jersey, including past winners Mara Abbott (Wiggle-High5), Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) and Claudia Lichtenberg (Lotto-Soudal). More on that below.

The Giro Rosa in colours

The first jersey-wearers of the 2015 Giro Rosa (from left to right): Roxane Knetemann (Rabo Liv) in green (mountains), Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Liv) in white (youth), Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) in pink (general classification), Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) in purple (points) and Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) in blue (best Italian).
The first jersey-wearers of the 2015 Giro Rosa (from left to right): Roxane Knetemann (Rabo Liv) in green (mountains), Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Liv) in white (youth), Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla) in pink (general classification), Lucinda Brand (Rabo Liv) in purple (points) and Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) in blue (best Italian).

PINK: There are five jerseys up for grabs at the Giro Rosa. The pink leader’s jersey is obviously the most prestigious of the lot. There were three pink jersey wearers in the 2015 edition before the eventual winner Van der Breggen took the leader’s jersey in the penultimate stage.
This year too, the jersey will likely change shoulders a couple of times before the overall winner stakes her claim on it.
Cash prize: The overall race winner will earn €1.050, twice as much as the amount in 2015, but still a small sum compared to the €115.000 for the overall winner of the men’s Giro d’Italia.

PURPLE: The purple points jersey is the sprinter’s jersey. Points are awarded at the finish of each stage, as well as at intermediate sprint points. With the exception of the prologue and individual time trial in stage 5, 10-6-4 bonus seconds are awarded at each stage finish too, plus another 3-2-1 at the intermediate sprints. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) took the purple jersey last year, with Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) winning the points classification in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Cash prize: The purple points jersey winner will also take home €350.

GREEN: The climbers will go after the green Queen of the Mountains (QOM) jersey. Points are awarded on each of the categorised climbs, with more points available on the more difficult climbs. There are eleven significant climbs in total this Giro Rosa. Most QOM points are up for grap in stage 6, with no less than three category-2-climbs and two category-1-climbs over the course of 118.6 kilometers.
Cash prize: The green QOM jersey winner will win €450.

WHITE: The white young rider jersey is for the highest-placed rider overall that was born on or after the January 1, 1993. Rabo-Liv has won this jersey in the last two years, with Kasia Niewiadoma in 2015 and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in 2014.
Cash prize:With the white jersey comes €350.

BLUE: The maglia azzuro is reserved for the best Italian rider, naturally. This jersey is worn by the highest-placed Italian rider in the GC and ensures that an Italian rider will be on the podium every day. Eighth overall last year, Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) won the blue jersey for the second year in row.
Cash prize: The rider that wins the blue jersey after ten days of racing gets €300.

The Teams and Riders

Giro Rosa 2014 stage - 1

Twenty-three teams will start in the Giro Rosa on Friday, but while the teams have started with eight riders until now, they’re only allowed six this year. It means 138 riders will roll off the start ramp in the prologue on Friday evening.

Three past winners are among the confirmed starters: two-time winner Mara Abbott (Wiggle-High5), last year’s winner Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) and 2009 winner Claudia Lichtenberg (Lotto-Soudal).

Abbott finished second overall last year, 1:30 behind Van der Breggen. She is in top form at the moment and is one of the riders that uses the Giro Rosa as final preparation for the Olympics, just like Van der Breggen.

Lichtenberg, in 2009 racing as Claudia Haüsler with the now defunct Cervélo Test Team, will take to the start with Lotto-Soudal and has Sofie De Vuyst, Susanna Zorzi and Emma Pooley to support her.

Returning stage winners include Tiffany Cromwell, Trixi Worrack and Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-SRAM), Evelyn Stevens and Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), Lucinda Brand and Shara Gillow (Rabo-Liv), Annalisa Cucinotta (Ale Cipollini), Giorgia Bronzini and Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle-High5), Emma Pooley (Lotto-Soudal), Shelley Olds (Cylance Pro Cycling), Amber Neben (BePink) and of course Lichtenberg, Van der Breggen and Abbott.

Women Cycling Fever updates the Giro Rosa rider startlist as soon as riders are confirmed by their teams, so check their website for the most up to date startlist.

Women’s WorldTour

This year it’s not just about the Giro Rosa jerseys, but the Women’s WorldTour classification too. The Italian race is round eleven in the inaugural Women’s WorldTour and once again 120 points are available for the winner of the Giro Rosa, with 25 UCIWWT points for the winner of each stage.

Guarnier is firmly in the Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey, with teammate Armitstead in second place. Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) doesn’t ride the Giro Rosa, but others looking to improve their spot in this classification are Longo Borghini (4th with 411 points), Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur, 6th with 341 points) and Van der Breggen (8th with 304 points).

Niewiadoma, sitting in 10th with 235 points, will not so much be trying to climb in the individual classification, but to further increase her lead in the young rider classification. Numbers two and three in the youngster classification will not take to the start in the Giro Rosa. Number four Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) will, but with Niewiadoma’s advantage in the classification, it looks like she will defend her position with ease and most likely will increase that lead too.

The Contenders

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After a six-day stint in the pink jersey last year, but having to hand over the pink jersey to Van der Breggen in the stage 8 individual time trial, Guarnier is focused on bringing home the leader’s jersey this year. She won the Women’s WorldTour events Amgen women’s Tour of California and Philly Cycling Classic, but skipped the Aviva Women’s Tour in preparation for the Giro Rosa.

Rabo-Liv celebrated the overall victory for the fourth time in 2015, with Van der Breggen taking the win after Marianne Vos won this race in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Teammate Kasia Niewiadoma finished fifth last year, taking the young rider jersey. They jokingly decided it would be Niewiadoma’s turn next, and with Niewiadoma’s wins in the Festival Elsy Jacobs, the Giro del Trentino Alto Adige and both Polish national championships races, she might well be the one taking on the role of team leader this year with Van der Breggen in a supporting role.

Like in the Aviva Women’s Tour, it will probably be a battle between Rabo-Liv and Boels-Dolmans again, with Wiggle-High5 as the dangerous outsider. The black and orange squad of DS Rochelle Gilmore will once again take 2010 and 2013 Giro Rosa winner Mara Abbott, who finished second last year and is selected for the Olympic road race by USA cycling. She has the support of Elisa Longo Borghini, who will go for stage wins herself in this race.

Read more about teams’ ambitions for the overall and stage wins by clicking through to their roster and/or race preview (we will add teams when info comes available):

The Women’s WorldTour ahead of the Giro Rosa

General classification
1. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) – 624 points
2. Lizzie Armistead (Boels-Dolmans) – 537 points
3. Emma Johansson (Wiggle-High5) – 463 points

Young rider classification
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) – 24 points
2. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) – 18 points
3. Jip van den Bos (Parkhotel Valkenburg) – 10 points

Team classification
1. Boels-Dolmans – 2022 points
2. Wiggle-High5 – 1397 points
3. Rabo-Liv – 1031 points

How to follow the Giro Rosa

As usual, Sarah Connolly has put together her handy “how to follow” guide for the Giro Rosa. Please visit her website for all the details.

In 2015, the Giro Rosa provided a livestream of the team presentation and the prologue. Nothing has been announced for this year’s race yet, but if anything comes up, we’ll let you know asap.

RaiSport will provide highlights of the Giro Rosa, with the prologue on at RaiSport 1 at 9:40 p.m. CET (6:40 a.m. AEST the following day). The other stages are on at Rai 3 inside the Le Tour program at 5:20 p.m. CET (2:20 a.m. AEST the following day). We’ll tweet out a reminder to tune in each day.

Sarah figured out where we can watch RAI Sport, which is here from Italy, or here. We trust you have found your favourite VPN solution to use from outside Italy. Also, if you Google RAI Sport, streams usually pop-up.

There are also plenty of ways to follow along with the Giro Rosa online.

RAI will broadcast highlights of the Giro Rosa on RAI 3 right after the live broadcast of the Tour de France, commented by Piergiorgio Severini. We’ll do our best to tweet out a reminder to tune-in each day. Either the Giro Rosa YouTube channel or UCI’s YouTube channel also typically posts a short highlights video daily, which will we include in our reports once they are available.

The Giro Rosa organisers have made a deal with a new radio media partner, Radio Company Easy this year. The radio broadcast should be available on web streaming as well.

Giro Rosa on Ella

Lizzie Williams - 2015 Giro Rosa - Stage 1

You can, of course, count on us to bring you interesting and engaging coverage of the Giro Rosa over the ten day race. Here’s what we’ve got in store for you on Ella:

  • Daily “Rosa Round-Up”: as soon as possible after each stage we’ll bring you a basic report of the stage, video highlights and 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 to let us know!

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