Second-place Charlotte Kool (DSM) with stage winner Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) after stage 4 of the 2022 Giro d'Italia Donne).

Giro Donne: different day, same podium

Can Charlotte Kool break through for a win against Vos and Balsamo?

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She is used to leading out the peloton’s fastest sprinter, Lorena Wiebes, but at the Giro Donne Charlotte Kool has been given her own chance to sprint for the win in the absence of her compatriot. Kool is an invaluable ‘last woman’ for Wiebes and has led out the Team DSM sprinter to many of her 47 career victories, which requires the 23-year-old to have her own lightning-fast finish.

So far at the Giro, Kool has gone head-to-head with the two fastest finishers in the peloton in Marianne Vos and world champion Elisa Balsamo three times and has come away with two second places and a third, but so far has been unable to take that extra step on the podium. The problem for Kool, is that she is lacking her own version of the lead-out role she plays for Wiebes.

While Trek-Segafredo have a now tried-and-tested lead out with Elisa Longo Borghini playing an unlikely yet effective last woman role for Balsamo, and Jumbo-Visma have improved theirs for Vos, Kool has just one woman assisting her in the lead-in to sprints in the form of 21-year-old German Franziska Koch – also part of Wiebes’ usual train. While Koch has done her best to bring Kool into position, the Dutch rider has been left surfing wheels on her own, wasting untold energy while her rivals are delivered with a few hundred metres to go to unleash their sprints.

Of course, Kool is also nowhere near as rehearsed in taking up the lead sprinter role herself as the vastly-experienced Vos and unstoppable Balsamo. Used to getting up to speed and then dropping Wiebes off to finish the job – which she invariably does – Kool may also be finding her feet when it comes to racing for the finish line rather than a few hundred metres to go.

With an attritional-looking stage on Wednesday, Kool will have to find her climbing legs if she wants to contest the finish on stage 6 before the race hits the climbs proper. Otherwise the Team DSM rider will have to wait until the 10th and final stage into Padova, but she’ll have to go back to the drawing board if she wants to edge out Balsamo, who will be looking for a third stage at this race, and Vos, who will be looking for a 32nd all-time Giro stage win.

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