Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) won stage six of the Giro Rosa after the breaking away on the 15 kilometre climb towards the summit finish.
The Australian rider attacked with 4km left of the stage and crossed the line 29 seconds ahead of her team mate, Annemiek van Vleuten, to take the maglia rosa – becoming the first rider outside of Team Sunweb to take the honours in the 2018 event.
Third place went to Ashleigh Moolman (Cervelo-Bigla), with 2016 winner Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) chasing at her heels just one second behind.
Pink jersey wearer at the start of the stage, Ruth Winder (Sunweb), dropped off the leading group at around the 10km to go mark, rolling in almost two minutes down on the winner – but her stage five advantage means she still sits in second overall.
How it happened
We’d been expecting stage six of the 2018 Giro Rosa to provide a glimpse into the GC battle we can look forward to over the coming stages, and it didn’t disappoint.
The 114 kilometre stage from Sovico to Gerola Alta featured a fairly flat opening profile, until the last 15km, where the road went upwards towards a summit finish.
A peloton of 149 riders rolled out from Sovico, travelling north alongside Lake Como towards the Dolomite mountains.
A tailwind sped the riders towards the base of the climb, and with temperatures sitting at 26ºC after some hot and humid conditions earlier in the week riders were treated to pretty amicable conditions.
In the opening 10km, several riders attempted to break clear of the peloton. However, the bigger teams weren’t having it – with each acceleration matched and closed down. Not a single break attempt managed to gain more than 20s on the cagey bunch.
Wiggle High5’s leader Elisa Longo Borghini struggled with mechanicals alongside the lake, changing her bike three times before settling back into the peloton.
The race was enlivened with an intermediate sprint in Andalo, with 19km to go – won by Riejanne Markus (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) with team mate Dani King second.
Once the climb began, the fractures we’d been waiting for began to appear within the bunch, with a clear selection made.
The leading group continued to shed riders, until with 10km to go it consisted of just the strongest climbers, including 2016 winner Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) 2017’s second and third placed Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) alongside her team mate Amanda Spratt plus Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), Ashleigh Moolman (Cervelo Bigla) and Shara Gillow (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope).
The group also contained Eider Merino and Victoria Margarita Garcia (Movistar), Ane Santesteban (Ale Cippolini), Lucinda Brand (Subweb), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervelo Bigla) and Sabrina Stultiens (WaowDeals) – and as their advantage grew, maglia rosa wearer Ruth Winder (Subweb) slipped back to hold a 10s deficit with 7km to go.
As the road continued to slope upwards, more riders were shed to reveal a group of six – Guarnier, Garcia, Moolman, Niewiadoma, Van Vleuten and Spratt.
With 4km of uphill gradient left, Spratt put in a decisive attack to separate herself from the elite selection. By this point the remainder of the early lead group – including Longo Borghini – was distanced by around 40s, and the maglia rosa aboard the shoulder of Winder was 1-52 in arrears.
Spratt was able to hold on to her advantage, with Van Vleuten making it a Mitchelton-Scott 1-2, crossing the line 29s later and Moolman in third, 31s back.
The result means that Spratt moves into the maglia rosa though Winder’s stage five advantage means she sits in second place before the new leader’s team mate, Van Vleuten.
Giro Rosa stage six, Sovico – Gerola Alta, 114km,
1) Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton Scott) in 2-57-49
2) Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott) at at 29s
3) Ashleigh Moolman (Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling) at 31s
4) Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans Cycling) at 32’s
5) Ane Santesteban (Ale Cipollini)
6) Victoria Garcia (Movistar Team Women), at same time
7) Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM Racing) at 34s
8) Sabrina Stultiens (Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team) at 35s
9) Sabrina Brand (Team Sunweb)
10) Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling), at same time
General Classification after stage six
1) Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton Scott) in 15-38-44’
2) Ruth Winder (Team Sunweb) at at 30s
3) Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott) at 33s
4) Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) at 40s
5) Ashleigh Moolman (Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling) at 58s
6) Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling) at 1-06
7) Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM Racing) at 1-16
8) Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans Cycling) at 1-49
9) Leah Kirchman (Team Sunweb) at 2-08
10) Sabrina Stultiens (Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team) at 2-31