Giro Rosa stage 8: Lucinda Brand soloes to victory after late-race crash
Now in its 28th edition, the Giro Rosa is the biggest celebration of women’s cycling on the calendar. With 10 days of hard racing, the Giro Rosa is the only remaining Grand Tour on the women’s calendar, and the win comes with a lot of prestige.
As women’s cycling is become more and more a level playing field, there’s not one top favourite taking to the start. Instead, it will be an exciting and hard-fought battle between teams and riders days in, day out until we reach the finale in Torre del Greco on Sunday, July 9.
Stage eight was dubbed the Queen stage ahead of the tour, and with seven tough days of racing already behind them, the riders surely feared the stage. The peloton splintered up the two climbs on today’s stage, one categorized and one not, with four riders going clear off the front.
Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) was able to take the third Giro Rosa stage win in her career after two stage wins in 2015 — even after crashing in the last 10 kilometres! “It’s really an amazing victory on one of the hardest stages of the Giro Rosa,” she said.
We’ll provide you with all the best shots from the stage and highlights videos as we come across them. Missed the earlier stages of the Giro Rosa? Read our Giro Rosa round-ups of:
Scary stage seven aftermath
While most riders were taking their recovery drinks and hitting the rollers after yesterday’s exciting stage, one rider sadly didn’t reach the finish line.
Valcar-PBM’s Claudia Cretti crashed heavily on the final descent, hitting her head on a guardrail, going down at over 88 kilometres per hour (55 miles). The messages were worrying and Cretti was being operated on last night.
The hospital where she was brought to issued a medical statement just as stage eight took off today.
It said that Cretti suffered severe head trauma, leading to multiple contusions. She’s been operated on to decompress the pressure in her head and to take out a cerebral hematoma.
Cretti remains in a medically induced coma to prevent secondary neurological damage. Her condition is critical and still worrying, but labelled ‘stable’. We hope to be able to bring you some positive news about Cretti soon and will let you know via our social media accounts when we know more.
Giro Rosa Round-up: stage eight
The remaining Valcar-PBM riders, all shaken by the situation, were given moral support by everyone in the peloton when they lined up for the start of stage eight this morning. Because as they say: the show must go on.
The Queen stage was looming for a peloton already tired after seven tough stages this Giro Rosa. The clock was also ticking for Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott), if they wanted to get their hands on the pink leader’s jersey worn by Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans).
Van Vleuten already tried to attack Van der Breggen on yesterday’s climb, but wasn’t able to make the difference. The team said they had some more tricks up their sleeves, so we were eager to see their plans for today.
As the peloton headed to the first, uncategorised, climb of the day, a number of riders flew off the front in an attempt to get away. Arianna Fidanza (Astana) and Romy Kasper (Alé Cipollini) had a brief stint off the front, followed by Annalisa Cucinotta (Lensworld-Kuota). Their adventures at the front were short-lived though.
The first shift was made on the climb. The peloton broke into pieces, the first group comprised of about fourty riders and the second group containing thirty. The gap between the two increased on the descent, at which point Ane Santesteban (Alé Cipollini) escaped and took a thirty second advantage on the first group.
Building her lead to 55 seconds, Santesteban took the maximum points at the intermediate sprint at 86 kilometres. Barbara Guarischi (Canyon-SRAM) and Olena Pavlukhina (Astana) took second and third place in the chasing group behind.
Shortly after, the situation changed rapidly several times. First, a duo bridged across to Santesteban. They were her teammate Janneke Ensing and Lensworld-Kuota’s Tetyena Riabchenko. But as soon as they joined Santesteban, the Spanish rider paid for her earlier solo efforts and got dropped.
Riabchenko then left Ensing behind, who dropped back to Santesteban — where Anouksa Koster (WM3 Pro Cycling) in the meantime bridged across from the first peloton.
A little later, Riabchenko was still the lone leader, but Santesteban and Koster had both dropped back to the first peloton, while Ensing held her ground in the chase. With the QOM climb looming, it looked like many more changes to the race situation would come before the top was reached.
Indeed they did. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) and Koster joined Ensing to form a Dutch trio of chasers.
The QOM climb today didn’t just come with the usual points. As the highest point in the entire race — called the Coppe Cime in the men’s Giro d’Italia — there was prize money to be won there too. Riabchenko took both the maximum amount of QOM points as well as the money, with Brand in second place, having escaped the chase group.
Meanwhile a little further back, Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) escaped from the first peloton, as it became clear that the break had a good chance of staying away until the finish. She was a minute ahead of the peloton as the race entered the final 30 kilometres, but she had left it too late. She never reached Ensing and Koster and dropped back in the peloton a little later.
Brand had increased her gap to the chasing duo to 1’10” by this time, Riabchenko a further 45 seconds to the front. A technically skilled rider and the last part of the race all downhill to the line, Brand took time on Riabchecnko quickly, managing to get within 35 seconds at 12 kilometres from the line.
However, Riabchenko could almost taste the sweet victory, and didn’t give in without a fight. For a bit, the gap plateaued at 30 seconds. But as the race entered the last ten kilometres, Brand caught Riabchenko and the duo continued together, flying to the finish line.
And just as it looked like Brand had this victory in her pocket, she crashed.
— Team Sunweb (@TeamSunweb) 7 juli 2017
Her team reported she was back up on her bike quickly, but now she was once again faced with a gap to Riabchenko. She had to take back eight seconds with four kilometres to go.
Not only did Brand make up the time, she fly by Riabchenko and went solo with two kilometres to go. Brand is known for her gutsy rides and solo attacks, and today was no different. Even with her late race crash, she was able to reach the line solo and celebrate the third Giro Rosa stage win of her career.
— Team Sunweb (@TeamSunweb) 7 juli 2017
“I am really happy with the win,” Brand excitedly told her team after the race finish. “We have fought so hard and have been really close to a result all week, so it’s brilliant to win today on such a difficult stage.”
“When you come close all of the time it only makes you more motivated and hungrier for the win,” she said. “I knew that the final really suited me with the descent so I knew that I had to go for it. I felt really good all day and on the climb I decided to try to get away and chase the other breakaway riders down. I had great support from the team and Adriaan [Helmantel, Team Sunweb coach] all day so it’s really an amazing victory on one of the hardest stages of the Giro Rosa.”
In the fight for the GC, news had come earlier via Twitter (where else?) that Van der Breggen had distanced Van Vleuten on the descent. When further stage results came in, it became clear that Ensing and Koster had been caught by the peloton before the finish line and that it was Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) who finished third on the stage.
Van Vleuten rolled over the finish line in fourth place, which means Van der Breggen eventually didn’t take any time on her rivals. But she also didn’t lose any. That means she remains in pink with two stages to go.
“It was really hard today, I think just the build up of stages and with the heat,” said Orica-Scott sports director Gene Bates. “We planned to be really aggressive on the third climb to try and get away and steal some time but Van der Breggen and Longo-Borghini were too strong and were able to withstand all the attacks that van Vleuten and Spratt did.”
“Hats off to the girls, they really threw everything they had at it, but the others riders were able to hang in there,” Bates said. “We will see how tomorrow goes and really lay it all on the line on the last stage. We have nothing to lose now.”
While the pink jersey remains firmly on the shoulders of Van der Breggen, Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb) had to cede her white young rider jersey to Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla).
“You can’t believe how happy I am,” Uttrup Ludwig said. “It’s something we’ve been trying to get and I’m so happy we’ve achieved this. I hope we can keep the jersey. We’ll fight as much as we can over the next stages.”
“The whole team helped me get into position on the first climb because we went through a very technical village,” she said. “The roads were left, right, left, right, this jersey is a team jersey because the effort from everyone was amazing.”
Stage eight results
- Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb)
- Tetyana Riabchenko (Lensworld-Kuota) + 0:12
- Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) + 1:33
- Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) st
- Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) st
- Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) st
- Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling) st
- Amanda Spratt (Orica-Scott) st
- Karol-Ann Canuel (Boels-Dolmans) st
- Claudia Lichtenberg (Wiggle-High5) + 1:36
Stage nine information
Stage nine: Saturday July 8
Centola-Loc. Palinuro – Polla
The difficulty in stage nine lies at the start, the route climbing from 40 to 550 metres altitude in the first half of the stage. The rest of the stage is ever so slightly downhill, so if the sprinter’s are able to catch on in the first half, we’re looking toward another sprint finish.
The QOM is strangely not located on of the earlier climbs, but on a little climb on the plateau. Shortly after, there’s the intermediate sprint point with bonus seconds up for grabs, so we can be sure for both the sprinter’s teams and teams going for the GC to try and take control after the QOM.
Jersey wearers going into stage nine
Pink leader’s jersey: Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans)
Purple points jersey: Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott)
Green Queen of the Mountain jersey: Tetyana Riabchenko (Lensworld-Zannata), wearing it for Van Vleuten
White young rider jersey: Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervélo-Bigla)
Blue best Italian rider jersey: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5)
Check back tomorrow for the Giro Rosa Round-up of the penultimate stage!