In stage five of the Giro Rosa, the peloton encountered the first serious uphill kilometers as the race travelled back to the west of Italy. Start and finish were located in Omegna, with a 122.6-kilometer course in between.
Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb) took the win from a lead group of three riders, also taking over the pink leader’s jersey from teammate Leah Kirchmann. The stage shook up the GC, with Megan Guarnier moving up to 13th position as she crossed the line in fifth place.
With the mountains in the second half of the race, the opening kilometers were a chance for the break. It was Luxembourg champion Christine Majerus who initiated the attacking and before she knew it, a break was formed.
“We wanted to race agressively, putting anyone of us in a break,” said Majerus. “I attacked at the end of the downhill and the group was gone. At first, it was a group of four, after a while it got bigger.”
“The gap wasn’t increasing the way I hoped,” Majerus continued. “So it was a hard day at the front. Unfortunately it also wasn’t a smooth riding breakaway, which didn’t make it easier.”
“I had hoped that the break would stick at least untill in the climb, but it didn’t,” Majerus concluded. “So from there on, all I had to do was bring my teammates in a good position at the bottom of the climb, which worked well. As for myself it ended in the grupetto, but that’s fine as I did my job.”
It was up to Guarnier and Karol-Ann Canuel now. They managed to get into the 35-rider group that got formed as the race crossed the top of the climb, with all the GC favourites represented in it.
“The team did an incredible lead-out for me and Karo into the base of the climb,” said Guarnier. “It was very fast and very hectic. But we came over the climb with Karo and me in the front group, which was good.”
During the descend, three riders managed to sneak off the front of the group: Winder, Tayler Wiles (Trek-Drops) and Alice Arzuffi (Bizkaia-Durango). The chase group wasn’t able to set up an organised chase, which allowed the three leaders to ride for the win.
“The escapees went on the rolling part of the climb,” Guarnier explained. “No teams chased the breakaway until about 5 kilometers to go, so Karo and I just had to stay alert and safe for the final.”
The chasing group – or reduced bunch – arrived at the finish line 1’17” behind the three leaders to sprint for fourth place. Marianne Vos (Waowdeals) threw her bike across the line first, with Guarnier taking second in the sprint.
As the race hits the halfway mark, Winder now leads the GC with an 1’18” advantage on the number two, Kirchmann. Guarnier now stands 13th overall. Tomorrow will see the first uphill finish in Gerola Alta, the finish is expected around 3pm CET.