Elisa Longo Borghini won a two woman sprint to take her first road stage win of this year’s Giro Rosa. The Italian had broken clear with Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) at the foot of the final, vicious climb and out sprinted the Dutch champion to win by a length.
After an incredible performance all race, New Zealander Mikayla Harvey (Equipe Paule Ka) came in in third place, consolidating her place in the top five overall and her lead in the young rider competition.
The action kicked off at the bottom of the final climb, which averages 16% for the first four kilometres, when Van der Breggen’s team mate Amy Pieters launched a speculative move.
She was brought back, and for a while Lizzie Deignan took to the front, setting a high pace on the hardest slopes setting up Longo Borghini’s (Trek-Segafredo) move.
The Italian attacked first, drawing out Olympic champion Van der Breggen and Harvey, before Harvey was dropped slightly further on.
With the withdrawal of Annemiek van Vleuten after crashing in stage seven, Van der Breggen started the day only 15 seconds behind the overall leader Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and with the Polish rider dropped, in the final two kilometres, as the gradient eased, she realised she would move into pink.
Longo Borghini though, won the sprint fair and square, adding to Trek-Segafredo’s stage one team time trial victory and moving back into third overall.
How it happened
At only 91km this eighth stage between Castelnuovo della Daunia and San Marco La Catola in the Puglia region, was always likely to be a dynamic stage, and so it proved. The peloton didn’t even have to wait for the super strong cross wind the make a difference, as the 100 starters were split on the opening, very fast descent, with a gap of over 30 seconds forming between two groups.
Taking advantage of the wind would, perhaps have been premature with only 20km raced, especially when the winds were almost guaranteed to return in the middle part of the race. However, a group of only 25 women emerged from this section to change direction by 180º into a section with cross head wind.
Then, rather than drive home their advantage, the leaders slowed, the two groups merging, though a third drifted to more than a minute down.
On the first categorised climb Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) led a group up the road. She was joined by Katia Ragusa (Astana), Amy Pieters (Boles-Dolmans ), Paulina Rooijakkers (CCC-Liv), Jelena Erić (Movistar), Coryn Rivera (Sunweb), Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo), Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT and, for a third consecutive day in the break, Mariia Novolodskaia.
This group crested the climb at the front but were never allowed more than 40 seconds and were kept there at arm’s length.
For the second time in her three breakaways Novolodskaia crashed, this time on the descent, though by then the breakaway’s fate was sealed. With little in the way of flat in the valley, they were caught at the bottom of the final climb, when Pieters launched her move.
Stage eight is another short punchy day. The 109.8km stage starts and finishes in Motta Monte Corvino, taking in four tough laps, with yet another uphill finish, and though we have seen anything can happen this week, Van der Breggen’s lead of 1.10 should be enough to claim her third Giro Rosa title.
Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, stage eight: Castelnuovo della Daunia – San Marco la Catola ( 91.5km)
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 2-33-57
2. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at same time
3. Mikayla Harvey (NZ) Equipe Paule Ka at 31 sec
4. Katrine Aalerud (Nor) Movistar at 1-06
5. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) at 1-19
6. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM
7. Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) CCC-Liv all at same time
8. Liane Lippert (Ger) Sunweb 1-31
9. Marta Cavali (Ita) at 1.52
10. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) CCC-Liv
General classification after stage eight
1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans in 23-05-37
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM at 1-10
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 2-23
4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 2-25
5. Mikayla Harvey (NZ) Equipe Paule Ka at 2-51
6. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv at 4-48
7. Mavi García (Esp) Movistar at 5-58
8. Ane Santesteban (Esp) Ceratizit-WNT at 6-17
9. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv at 7-29
10. Lizzy Banks (Gbr) Equipe Paule Ka at 7-49