The Giro Rosa dished up a breakaway finish today with Cylance Pro Cycling’s Sheila Gutierrez sprinting to the win on stage sevem.
She edged first over the line, taking the victory from a group of 12 riders who escaped after British rider Dani King's attack was pulled back.
'Amazed' with the victory
Having previously been active, Gutierrez had instigated the attack which brought her victory after about 50 of the 145km stage had passed, and formed a group of 13 riders who managed stay away despite a rapidly approaching peloton.
“I am really happy but it was really difficult because everyone wanted to be in the break,” the recently crowned Spanish champion told Cycling Weekly under the broiling Italian sun.
“Fortunately I had a team mate with me, Rosella Ratto and she worked really hard to build the gap. It was very nervous because the stage was very long and really hot and everyone was very tired in the final. I wanted to push really hard, you have to work for it and finally we reached the goal.
“I was first, and I am amazed with this victory!”
The Spanish champion’s team had been determined to place someone in the break with Gutierrez herself trying early in the piece, before Britain’s Dani King escaped solo with over 100km to ride. With so far remaining King’s attempt was unlikely to be successful and she soon sat up.
“We have tried every stage,” continued Gutierrez, “I worked very hard before today and we had to find a different strategy and finally it worked for the team. It is incredible.”
High temperatures make for hard miles
The peloton were suffering the highest temperatures so far when they rolled out of Isernia for the hot dusty race to Baronissi, the seventh of ten stages. The race began very fast with just a few forays by some of the lesser teams, and it was not until around 20km were ridden that the front of the race began to stir with Gutierrez’s first attempt.
The break of the day formed the moment King was brought to heel, and soon had a gap of over two minutes.
Originally 13 women, Chloe Hosking (Alé-Cipollini) was dropped on one of the lesser climbs, leaving the remaining dozen to battle it out. As they approached the only categorised ascent of the day, the gap reached 3.22 and Sunweb’s Sabrina Stultiens became a threat to Annemiek van Vleuten’s third place on general classification.
Van Vleuten keep her eyes on the prize
After the race, having finished just 47 seconds behind Stultiens, van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) was unmoved, clearly not racing for places, telling us, “It is up to Boels if there is anything dangerous and I don’t have to care at all.”
Despite her deficit to race leader and compatriot Anna van der Breggen remaining 1.39 with only three days to go, van Vleuten is confident she can fight for victory.
“No, it is all done, I cannot believe I can win it," she joked, before adding, “I tried today, but it was not ideal as the climb was not long enough and too far from the finish, so it is a little bit hard for me to gain the one and a half minutes. An uphill finish would make it a bit different in the tactics, but there are still some hills and tomorrow.
“The show is over on Sunday.”
Tomorrow’s stage takes the peloton on an undulating 141.8km course from Baronissi to Centola south of Naples.
Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile Stage seven - Isernia - Baronissi - Result
- Sheila Gutierrez (Esp) Cylance 3-43-16
- Soraya Paladin (Ita) Alé- Cipollini
- Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City-Lubjana
- Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM
- Lauren Kitchen (Aus) WM3 Energie
- Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Sunweb
- Alison Jackson (Can) BePink Cogeas
- Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) LEnsworld-Kuota
- Carmela Cipriani (Ita) Conceria Zabri Fanini
- Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervélo-Bigla all same time
General Classification after stage seven
- Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans 15-37-14
- Elisa Longo-Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5 at 1-03
- Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott at 1-39
- Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels-Dolmans at 3-11
- Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-Scott at 3-32
- Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Energie at 4-02
- Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels-Dolmans at 4-22
- Shara Gillow (Aus) FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope at 4-53
- Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana at 4-57
- Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Sunweb at 5-02
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