Four talking points from the 2016 Giro Rosa

Young rider jersey wearer Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) having fun with the hand puppets they've received on the podium.

by Jeanine Laudy


The pink confetti has been swept off the streets of Italy, locals are returning to their day-to-day, and the riders have moved onto the next race or training block. The 2016 Giro Rosa is in books but we’re not done talking about it yet.

The feeling around women’s cycling’s only remaining grand tour, the Giro Rosa, this year was mostly frustration. The best female riders in the world were putting on a show that no one could see.

Sure, the timing is unfortunate as all the attention is focused on the Tour de France but the information and coverage provided by the organisers and TV media was scarce at best. Luckily, the women’s cycling community took to Twitter, as it always does, and with the help of several teams live-tweeting the stages, it was possible for us to follow and report on the event.

You can relive the 2016 edition through our coverage, the Giro Rosa Round-ups here, or simply scroll down to the bottom of this article for the UCI highlights videos of all the stages.

As with any race, there were obviously some things that stood out during the ten days of racing. Here are four talking points of the 2016 Giro Rosa.

1. Boels-Dolmans: teammates or competitors?

GC leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) and teammate Evelyn Stevens ahead of the final stage in the 2016 Giro Rosa.
GC leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) and teammate Evelyn Stevens ahead of the final stage in the 2016 Giro Rosa.

Starting off with the (pink) elephant in the room: things were up at Boels-Dolmans. This became apparent throughout the stages and especially when Stevens attacked her teammate Guarnier in stage 6.

The first sign came when a group of favourites sprinted to the line in stage 2, the first mountain top finish, and Stevens took her first of an impressive three stage wins this Giro Rosa. And while it was obvious she had to fend off Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) to deliver Boels-Dolmans the stage win, GC leader Guarnier got dropped on that climb and lost the pink jersey to Stevens.

When Mara Abbott (Wiggle-High5) wore the pink jersey in stage 6 and both Stevens and Guarnier were able to get away together in the final meters, but surprisingly Stevens then attacked her teammate to take the stage win. Guarnier was ahead of Stevens in the GC and despite arriving six seconds later she still took back the pink leader’s jersey, but questions were raised on social media.

Speculations circled around Rio and the ongoing arbitration case for a TT spot on the US team. Perhaps showing her form would reaffirm her selection. Others guessed that perhaps this was Stevens’ last hurrah at the Giro Rosa.

Aware of his athletes’ Olympic ambitions, it seemed that Boels-Dolmans DS Danny Stam gave his riders the green light to battle it out as long as the pink jersey was safe and stayed within the team.

It all ended up very well for the team, with Guarnier taking home pink and Stevens winning three stages, but that was more in spite of the team tactics than because of it.

Guarnier’s word of thanks after the Giro Rosa was quite telling. “My win wouldn’t have been possible without the selfless work of Karol-Ann, Amalie, Christine and Lizzie. In the final days, Karol and Amalie, who was racing her first Giro, did the work of an entire team, which was really incredible. They worked so hard and dug so deep and had a smile on their faces the whole time,” she wrote on Instagram, clearly omitting Stevens.

2. While most were watching Boels-Dolmans, Wiggle-High5 actually had a fantastic Giro Rosa

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Wiggle-High5 had a rough start in the Women’s WorldTour, not being able to live up to their number one ranking and ending up with just two podium finishes in all of the UCIWWT spring classics. The disappointing performance in the Ronde van Drenthe even spurred Wiggle-High5 to publish a video in which the team and DS Egon van Kessel openly discussed this failure.

Maybe it’s the new DS, maybe the team is finally clicking, whatever the reason, it’s working. Wiggle-High5 walked away from the Giro Rosa with four stage wins. Former world champion Giorgia Bronzini outsprinted the bunch on stage 1 and stage 8. Aussie sprinter Chloe Hosking won the stage 3 bunch sprint, and in the mountains on stage 5, Mara Abbott proved she’s still the best climber and claimed the win as well as the pink jersey.

Additionally, Elisa Longo Borghini got really close to a stage win twice, in stage 2 and the stage 7 individual time trial, and ultimately brought home the green mountain jersey.

3. The ‘new world’ dominated the 2016 Giro Rosa

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Straight from the start, when Canadian Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) won the prologue and took the pink jersey, the 2016 Giro Rosa got a ‘new world’ touch. In cycling, the ‘new world’ consists of Australia, North-America, Asia and Africa — the countries that do not have a cycling history that dates back as long as in Europe.

The pink jersey was worn only by riders from North America, and seven of the 10 stages (prologue included) were won by North Americans and Australians. Bronzini won two stage wins for Italy and Dutchwoman Thalita de Jong clinched a win in the final stage.

This is a promising sign of how women’s cycling is growing across the globe, and with the Rio Olympics just weeks away, we are in for an exciting showing!

4. It may be women cycling’s only “grand tour” but the Giro Rosa pales in comparison to the Aviva Women’s Tour

Riejanne Markus (Liv-Plantur) wins the sprint for second place against Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Lensworld-Zannata), in stage 9 of the 2016 Giro Rosa.
Riejanne Markus (Liv-Plantur) wins the sprint for second place against Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Lensworld-Zannata), in stage 9 of the 2016 Giro Rosa.

Given its unfortunate timing as it coincides with the Tour de France, the Giro Rosa always feels a bit like a side show. While the racing is tough and the courses stunningly beautiful, the price purse –albeit bigger this year– is almost insulting, the broadcasting scarce and for fans and reporters, the race is extremely hard to follow.

Billed as the biggest race on the women’s cycling calendar, it’s sad to see the Giro Rosa so poorly broadcasted and marketed. The Aviva Women’s Tour in comparison, while shorter, is a great example of how a race should be done.

There was so much information, little videos and highlight packages coming out of the Aviva Women’s Tour that for fans, it felt like they could really be part of the race. Meanwhile, with the media attention, fan-fare, deafening crowds and level of excitement surrounding women’s cycling, the AWT is a highlight for the racers themselves as well.

GIRO ROSA AVIVA WOMEN’S TOUR
Days of racing 10 5
Kilometers covered 857.8 kilometers 621.1 kilometers
TV broadcast Occassional live insert in RAI Tour de France;
twenty minute highlights every night on RAI
One hour highlights every night on ITV
UCI highlights package Yes – one to three days after the stage.
(RAI highlights uploaded to YT the same day)
Yes – early the next day.
(AWT highlights video available within hours after the race)
Prize purse Overal winner: 1,050 euros Overall winner: 3,000 euros

Also take a look at these amazing stats of the 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour.

Women’s WorldTour standings after the Giro Rosa

Individual classification
1. (1) Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) – 886
2. (2) Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) – 545
3. (4) Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) – 493
4. (9) Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) – 484
5. (8) Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) – 467

Young rider classification
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) – 36
2. Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) – 18
3. Jip van den Bos (Parkhotel Valkenburg) – 10

Team classification
1. Boels-Dolmans
2. Wiggle-High5
3. Rabo-Liv

Videos

To catch up on the ten day race in Italy, watch all the UCI highlights videos here. We will add the stage 9 highlights video when it comes available.

Prologue

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4

Stage 5

Stage 6

Stage 7

Stage 8

Stage 9

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The next Women’s WorldTour race is La Course by le Tour the France on Sunday July 24.

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