The flat stage ended in a sprint finish, Barnes and breakaway companions absorbed by the peloton with 13km to go

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Lotta Lepistö was first across the line on the sixth stage of the Giro Rosa – a predominantly flat stage which provided a welcome relief following unexpectedly steep inclines on stage five’s time trial.

The Cervelo-Bigla rider won from a bunch sprint after three breakaway riders – including British rider Hannah Barnes – were caught with 13 km to go.

The Finnish National road race and time trial champion edged out Sunweb’s fast finisher Coryn Rivera and Italian rider Georgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5).

How the race unfolded

With some riders still smarting from the “hilariously misleading” course profile offered by Giro Rosa organisers yesterday – in which a seemingly flat time trial turned out to contain 30% inclines – the peloton set off on a 116km course from Roseto Degli Abruzzi – finishing in the same town.

The course consisted of four laps of a 27km circuit, with a third category climb and an intermediate sprint on the third loop. The finish was on a long straight, but it followed a fast descent and a collection of junctions.

Temperatures have been well over 30 degrees for most of the race – but seemed to have increased to their highest yet – but the pace hovered at just over 40kph (25mph) throughout.

A headwind on the climb, followed by a tail wind on the descent made for some potentially interesting tactics.

In the first 50km, there were several short lived attacks – mostly controlled by Boels-Dolmans – though Alison Jackson (BePink)’s solo gave her the points in the intermediate sprint, with Janneke Ensing (Ale Cipollini) second and Dani King (Cylance) third.

At 78km, just before the categorised climb, Jackson was caught and the climbers points went to Hannah Barnes (Canyon/SRAM), Soraya Paladin (Ale Cipollini), Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana) and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb).

Soon after, Barnes, Paladin and Bertizzolo broke off the front and launched into an attack – quickly building a lead of 20 seconds, eventually accumulating 48 seconds with 22km to go.

The gap briefly looked like it might hold, before the peloton began to chip away – and with 13km to go they were swallowed.

Race leader Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) came to the fore on the final climb, before second place GC rider Elisa Longo Borghini took over the honours on the descent – preparing the Wiggle High5 sprint train with Bronzini and stage three winner Jolien D’Hoore both in contention.

However, it was Lepistö who launched first over the line, with Rivera and Bronzini close behind.

Van der Breggen maintains GC lead with four stages to go

Podium fun for Anna van der Breggen who has remained in pink (Photo by Sean Robinson/Velofocus.com)

Nine riders, including van der Breggen, finished with the same time, whilst second and third place GC riders Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica Scott) and Longo-Borghini were three seconds in arrears.

Tomorrow’s stage seven covers 142km and looks more rolling. Another intimidate sprint and a flat finish following a fairly tough stage could give Barnes another shot at reclaiming the points jersey she gained after stage four, whilst stage eight is the same length with two more notable ascents.

  1. Anna Van Der Breggen (NED) Boels Dolmans in 11-53-11
  2. Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) Wiggle High5, at 1-03
  3. Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) Orica Scott, at 1-39
  4. Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans, at 3-11
  5. Amanda Spratt (AUS) Orica Scott, at 3-32
  6. Katarzyna Niewiadom (POL) WM3, at 4-02
  7. Karol Ann Canuel (CAN) Boels Dolmans, at 4-22
  8. Shara Gallow (AUS) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine, at 4-53
  9. Sierra Arlenis (CUB) Astana Women’s Team, at 4-57
  10. Claudia Lichtenberg (GER) Wiggle High5, at 5-02