Megan Guarnier traded one leader’s jersey for another following the first road stage of the Giro Rosa. The American road champion started stage one in the white jersey of UCI Women’s WorldTour leader. She sprinted to second in San Fior from a group of nine and scooped up six seconds for her efforts. The result catapulted her to the top of the Giro Rosa general classification by eight seconds and into the race’s signature pink jersey.
It’s Guarnier’s second straight year in pink following her six-day run in the maglia rosa last year.
“The team’s performance today was top,” said Guarnier. “Everyone contributed. I’m disappointed with second place, but it’s nice to be back in pink.”
A relatively flat profile in the Giro Rosa technical guide suggested a far easier day in the office than the one that materialised. The calm start to the 104-kilometre stage belied the tough finale. “We had a couple of climbs that were not marked on the profile,” Guarnier noted.
“And the only climb that was marked on the profile was much steeper than we had anticipated, even though we were informed before the stage that it was in fact steep.”
Marta Tagliaferro (Ale-Cipollini) slipped away solo in the opening kilometres of the stage and built up an advantage of two minutes at the mid-point of the race. With the Queen of the Mountain approaching, the peloton ate into
Tagliaferro’s advantage and bridged the distance on the lower slopes of the climb.
“Lizzie [Armitstead] did a massive lead-out into the climb,” said Guarnier. The increase in pace in conjunction with the steep slopes did immediate damage. The peloton broke in two. Forty riders made the initial selection.
Forty became four. Evie Stevens, Kasia Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) joined Guarnier up the road.
“Evie and I were the only ones rolling,” said Guarner. “We got caught from behind by a group of five.”
Three kilometres from the finish, Mara Abbott and Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5), Claudia Lichtenberg (Lotto Soudeal Ladies), Tatiana Guderzo (Hitec Products) and Rasa Leleivyte (Aromitalia – Vaiano) had made the junction. The nine-strong group headed under the flamme rouge with a 40-second advantage. Armitstead reached the leaders in the final kilometre. Guarnier was the first to open the sprint. She was passed by Bronzini just before the line.
“I’m disappointed with second place,” Guarnier said. “I was anxious and started my sprint way too early.”
“It’s very early in the race to be back in pink,” Guarnier added. “We need to take it day-by-day because this is such a gruelling race.”
The Giro Rosa continues on Sunday with a 111-kilometre stage that begins in Tarcento and ends in Montenars. The profile appears relatively flat with an uphill kick to the finish line.