Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) won the 2016 Giro d’Italia Femminile – or Giro Rosa – in Italy on Sunday.
It was clear how much winning the race meant to American champion Guarnier after Friday’s 21.9km time trial. After crossing the line and pushing her way through a throng of onlookers, she shouted, “Did I keep it, did I keep it,” tension and effort painted across her face. When her Boels-Dolmans soigneur confirmed she had, the 31-year-old promptly burst into heaving, uncontrollable sobs.
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Though two of the nine stages remained, her performance on the technical and hilly course under the boiling sun of Varazze, on Italy’s Ligurian coast was the one which confirmed her victory. Despite her lead over team-mate Evie Stevens being reduced to just 34 seconds, compatriot Mara Abbott’s (Wiggle-High5) challenge had faded on the twisty time trial descent.
Guarnier first won the maglia rosa on stage one,where her second place and creditable performance on the 2km prologue handed her an eight second lead. However, she lost the jersey to team mate Evie Stevens the following day, only reclaiming it on the demanding stage six to Madonna della Guardia, the day before the time trial.
The team’s tactics had appeared questionable on occasions, with Evie Stevens appearing to attack Guarnier on both stages two and six. Indeed, Stevens won both those stages, taking time from her team mate on each occasion. She also claimed time over Guarnier on the time trial, which she also won.
Having had the pink jersey for much of last year’s race, Guarnier was understandably happy with her victory. “It’s a little bit surreal, it’s been an interesting and hard week. I think the courses have been just great, we saw sprint finishes, hour-long climbs, uphill finishes and a super technical time trial. To be a GC rider you have to be able to do everything and we saw everything this week.”
Though she does not yet have a team for 2017 her excellent results for the Dutch outfit mean Boels-Dolmans would do well to keep her on their roster, despite the recent announcement that last year’s Giro winner Anna van der Breggen will be joining the team for 2017. The Dutchwoman joins the team from Rabo-Liv, the future of which is still unconfirmed, though it is believed the team will continue, though on a smaller scale.
Stevens’ future on the team is also unconfirmed but it is unlikely she will remain with the team for 2017.
The team finished the race with only four of their six riders present. Luxembourg champion Christime Majerus suffered a race ending crash on stage four, and world champion Lizzie Armitstead retired two days later.
Watch: Lizzie Armitstead – the road to Rio
Armitstead went to Italy hoping for a confidence boosting performance ahead of the Giro, but became ill. Team manager Danny Stam was confident all was on track, however. “She’s fine,” he told Cycling Weekly. “Lizzie always has a little bit of problems when it’s longer than six or seven days, she’s not fit, but she’s getting better already.
“We are satisfied with her performance so she is on a good level. There was a conformation that she is where she wanted to be, we ended up in a situation that we had to work more for the overall riders and she could not get the real deep effort that she wanted, but we are in a good way.”
Armitstead will race La Course on the Champs Elysées on July 24, the final day of the Tour de France, but will skip the Prudential Ride London Grand Prix the following Saturday to concentrate on the Olympics.
Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile 2016 – Final overall standings
1. Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels-Dolmans, 22-42-40
2. Evie Stevens (USA) Boels-Dolmans, at 34s
3. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Rabo-Liv, at 1-53
4. Claudia Lichtenberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal Ladies, at 2-33
5. Mara Abbott (USA) Wiggle-High5, at 2-38
6. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Hightec Products, at 3-05
7. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Rabo-Liv, at 6-48
8. Leah Kirchmann (Can) Liv-Plantur at 15-17
9. Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-SRAM at 16-18
10.Ksenyia Tuhai (Blr) BePink at 16-20