Frenchwoman Evita Muzic won her first pro race on Saturday, taking the final stage the Giro Rosa in Motta Montecorvino. The FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope rider was part of a large, day-long breakaway, which thinned out on the final of four tough climbs.
With Australian team-mate Brodie Chapman working for her until late in the final, the 21-year-old climber from Lons-le Saunier was able to sprint to the line ahead of New Zealand champion Niamh Fisher-Black (Equipe Paule Ka) with Juliette Labous (Sunweb) third.
Finishing safely in the chasing group of general classification riders, Anna van der Breggen became only the fourth woman to win the race three times, the most recent being her compatriot and former team-mate, Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) who won the points classification.
The stage win was hugely significant for the French squad, who had not won a WorldTour race until today. They have been working hard to internationalise in the last two seasons, with Dane Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who finished fourth overall, the headline signing. Though it was a French rider who took the win, that, combined with Uttrup Ludwig winning the mountains jersey proves they are now on the right track.
How it happened
Starting and finishing in Motta Montecorvino, near Foggia in the region of Puglia, stage nine took in four laps of a hilly 27.3km circuit, the finish line coming three quarters of the way up each lap’s climb.
After an initial flurry of aggression it was only on a long descent that Movistar’s former Serbian champion, Jelena Erić escaped, building a gap of 40 seconds on a still active peloton.
So active was that peloton that a huge group of women eventually escaped the overall leader’s group, chasing Erić down to form a breakaway of 27 at the front with one of four laps done.
Once again though it was the descent that did the damage, this leading group being whittled down to just nine women, while those they had left behind also began to fracture as the race headed uphill once again, but re-forming over the top.
Behind there were some speculative attempts to bridge the gap, and while they came close, none of these counter-attacks managed to make contact with the leaders and were left to dangle in no-man’s land until the end of the day.
A pattern was then set, with the breakaway fracturing and reforming on both the climb and the descent, until late on the final lap riders began to drop out of the bunch permanently.
On the final climb four women made an early attack with around seven kilometres to go, but they were brought back. While others tried their luck late on, a group of seven were left to contest the final.
It was unlikely anyone would be able to overhaul the 1.10 lead Van der Breggen took into the final stage, and the general classification group was relatively calm in the closing kilometres.
A group of 16 formed late on and, but only the battle for third place was open. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) tried to distance Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), but was unable and the status quo prevailed, with the Italian rider finishing third overall, with Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) second.
It was a good tour for the Brits. Best of them was Lizzy Banks (Equipe Paule Ka) who finished 12th overall and won stage four into Tivoli last Monday. Lizzie Deignan was part of the team time trial winning Trek-Segafredo team on stage one, and was third and second on stages five and seven respectively, while Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) was pipped into second place on stage six.
Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, stage nine: Motta Montecorvino – Motta Montecorvino (109.8km)
1. Evita Muzic (Fra) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope in 3-16-30
2. Niamh Fisher-Black (NZ) Equipe Paule Ka
3. Juliette Labous (Fra) Sunweb at same time
4. Katia Ragusa (Ita) Astana at 3 sec
5. Ellen van Dijk at 4 sec
6. Erica Magnaldi (Ita) Ceratizit-WNT at 8 sec
7. Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) at 10 seconds
8. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) Alé-BTC Ljubljana at 25 seconds
9. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana at 36 sec
10. Paula Patiño (Col) Astana at 42 sec
Final general classification
1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans in 26-25-43
2. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM at 1-14
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 2-20
4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 2-22
5. Mikayla Harvey (NZ) Equipe Paule Ka at 2-52
6. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv at 5-02
7. Ane Santesteban (Esp) Ceratizit-WNT at 6-31
8. Paula Patiño (Col) Astana6-54
9. Mavi García (Esp) Alé-BTC Ljubljana 7-06
10. Evita Muzic (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 7-47