Anna van der Breggen pulled on her sixth maglia rosa following the seventh stage of the Giro Rosa on Thursday. The Olympic road champion finished in the first chase group, alongside all nearest rivals, after a 12-rider breakaway contested the stage win in Baronissi.
“For us, the plan was to let a break with no dangerous riders get away,” said Karol-Ann Canuel. “That was the best scenario for us today.”
The 142-kilometre stage between Isernia and Baronissi was the longest yet of the ten-day Italian tour. It was also the hottest.
“The heat was a challenge today,” said Canuel. “We all drank at least 10 bottles. It was crazy. Everyone today did an incredible job going back to the car to get bottles. That was really important today. Eating and staying hydrated as much as possible was a team effort.”
A subdued opening hour of racing gave way to aggression after the stage’s first climb. Eventually the elastic snapped and a group of 12 riders slipped away. Sabrina Stultiens (Sunweb) was best-placed on the general classification in 12th place, 5:54 behind Van der Breggen.
“It wasn’t a dangerous breakaway, so we were happy to let them ride away,” said Canuel.
The leaders reached the second category climb at Montemiletto 1:42 ahead of the bunch. The peloton split in the break’s wake.
“That was the hardest part of the race,” said Canuel. “The climb was really steep at the end. Anna and Megan [Guarnier] led over it in a small group. Lizzie and I could bridge up a little later after the descent.”
The group swelled to include 25-30 riders in the final 30 kilometres.
“Sunweb and Astana tried to catch the breakaway, but they left it a little too late and the break stayed away in the end,” said Canuel. “It was good for us today. We weren’t that far behind the break when we crossed the line. We could see them. And the pink jersey is safe again.”
The Giro Rosa continues on Friday with the hilly queen stage. The peloton will cover 142-kilometres between Baronissi and Palinuro.
“I think everyone will feel today’s race in their legs tomorrow,” said Canuel. “When it’s this hot, people are extra tired. It was a hard day and tomorrow will be hard, too. We’ll definitely try to relax tonight so that we’re ready to go again tomorrow.”