Lizzy Banks took her second Giro stage win in as many starts in Tivoli on Monday. The British rider attacked with Eugenia Bujak (Alé-BTC Ljubljana) with just over half of the 170km stage to go, the pair working well and building a lead in excess of six minutes with around 40km to go.
The final five kilometres were all uphill, though in the closing 1500m it kicked up hard, over 10 per cent before tarmac turned to cobbles in the closing 800m, just inside the city walls. It was here that Banks attacked, dropping Bujak and beating her by seven seconds.
The peloton had whittled the leaders’ advantage down to around three minutes as they entered town, and overall leader Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) led the bunch home, extending her lead with five stages left to race.
It is vindication for Banks’ team, Equipe Paule Ka, whose GC rider Clara Koppenburg was unable to start having broken her foot. They have been aggressive throughout the race so far and also lead the young rider classification with New Zealander Mikayla Harvey, who sits fifth overall.
How it happened
The longest race in the history of the Women’s WorldTour consisted of 170km of racing preceded by 12km neutral, exceeding the UCI’s maximum permitted distance by 10km.
The opening kilometres were technical, riding through built-up streets and there was little opportunity to get away. However, like previous days, even when the roads opened up no breakaway formed.
Before the race riders told us the peloton had been wary not only of the hard finishes on stage two and three, but also of this long stage which saw them climbing more than 2,200 metres for the third successive day, and with another uphill finish
Only after 37km, when the race left the early flat roads and head into the foothills of the Apennines, did Trek-Segafredo’s American champion Ruth Winder make a move off the front, soon building a lead in excess of 30 seconds.
However, the moment Małgorzata Jasinska (Cronos Casa Dorada) tried to reach the American the bunch sped up and caught her, consequently bringing Winder’s advantage down. However, despite Winder’s undoubted strength, the peloton seemed happy with a lone leader and she was allowed her head, building a lead of 45 seconds which was growing as she reached the descent.
However, it was here the gap was brought back down and she was caught on the day’s second unclassified climb a few short kilometres later.
A flurry of action came in the ensuing climbs and undulations, until, at the halfway mark when Bujak (Alé-BTC Ljubljana) and Banks (Equipe Paule Ka) emerged onto a section of flat roads 70km from the finish, with a lead of over two minutes.
Behind them Silvia Valsecchi (BePink) and Rachel Neylan (Casa Dorada) by 3-06 and 3-10 respectively, with the bunch at 4-16. But the two chasers never quite joined forces and were eventually swallowed up by the bunch.
At 110km, tomorrows’ fifth stage, starting and finishing on the coast at Terracina, south of Rome, is not only shorter with less climbing, but has a flat finish, though tired legs could be a problem for some of the world’s best sprinters present at the race.
Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, stage three: Santa Firoa – Assisi (142.2km)
1. Lizzy Banks (Gbr) Equipe Paule Ka, in 4-27-21
2. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) Alé-BTC Ljubljana, at 7 sec
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-10
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segaredo, at 1-22
5. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM, at 1-25
6. Liane Lippert (Ger) Sunweb, at 1-27
7. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, at 1-31
8. Mavi García (Esp) Alé-BTC Ljubljana, at 1-36
9. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv, at 1-42
10. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv, at same time
General classification after stage four
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton Scott, in 12-35-33
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon SRAM, at 1-56
3. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, at 3-03
4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, at 3-03
5. Mikayla Harvey (NZ) Equipe Paule Ka, at 4-21
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 4.32
7. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA), at 4-34
8. Mavi García (Esp) Ale-BTC Ljubljana, at 4-38
9. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv, at 5-29
10. Elise Chabbey (Sui) Equipe Paule Ka, at 5-36