Kirsten Wild (Wiggle High5) sprinted to Giro Rosa victory on stage two, ahead of Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance) and Marianne Vos (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) in a fast finish following a 120 kilometre stage starting and finishing in Ovada.
The hilly day featured rolling terrain in the first half, but this was followed by a flat 25 km run-in to the line, resulting in a tense final three kilometres, with two breakaway riders being swept up under the flamme rouge.
The maglia rosa moved from the shoulders of Ellen van Dijk, to her team mate Lucinda Brand after the Sunweb rider collected bonus points and kicked off the chase in the last 15km.
How it happened
The peloton was treated to a 6km climb after just 2km of riding - but the 165 starting riders stayed largely together early on.
A group of nine riders made a break for it with 103km to go, but were neutralised without too much bother from the peloton.
The first intermediate sprint went to Sunweb's Leah Kirchmann with team mate Lucinda Brand just behind.
At 68 km to go, the route returned to Ovada, crossing the finish line. Here, Sheyla Gutiérrez (Cylance) attacked, and very quickly accumulated a gap of a minute.
At the foot of the classified climb - Belforte Monferrato, with 57.5km left - she had a gap of 2-30, with three chasers caught in the middle at 1-10. In the end, only Alice Maria Arzuffi (Bizkaia Durango–Euskadi Murias) was able to bridge to Gutiérrez
At 57km to go, they had built up a 50s advantage - neither a threat to the GC, having started the race 3-11 and 2-23 down respectively.
The gap increased to 1-45 with 40km to the line, reaching 2-50 with 28km left - and holding steady until 15km to go.
However, soon after the 15km mark, Brand attacked, and with 3km to go the lead had been cut to just 33s, then 23s with 2km left.
A nail biting final kilometre saw the break caught with just 500 metres to the line.
Wild was the fastest of the bunch, followed by Bronzini in second and Vos taking the final podium spot.
Commenting after the stage, Wild said: "the girls put me in the perfect position in the last 300 metres... and I just went full gas to the line."
She added: "I didn't think about it as a sprint stage because it was quite uphill... but the other [sprint] days [in the race], yes as a team, we'll go for it."
Brand keeps the maglia rosa on the shoulders of a Sunweb rider, commenting after the stage "that was the goal of the team today, we don't give it away easily."
You can catch up with the highlights via Facebook streaming here. (opens in new tab) Stage 1's TTT will be on Eurosport 1 on Saturday July 7, at 20:30-21:15 and you can catch stage 2's highlights on Sunday July 8, at 20:30-21:15
Giro Rosa, stage one: Ovada to Ovada, 120km
1) Wild Kirsten (Wiggle High5) in 3-22-00
2) Bronzini Giorgia (Cylance Pro Cycling)
3) Vos Marianne (Waowdeals Pro Cycling)
4) Bastianelli Marta (Ale Cipollini)
5) Pieters Amy (Boels Dolmans Cycling)
6) Ryan Alexis (Canyon SRAM Racing)
7) Sanguineti Ilaria (Valcar PBM)
8) Fournier Roxane (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine)
9) Spratt Amanda (Mitchelton Scott)
10) Brand Lucinda (Team Sunweb), at same time
1) Brand Lucinda (Team Sunweb) in 3-40-22
2) Kirchmann Leah (Team Sunweb)
3) Van Dijk Ellen (Team Sunweb) at 3s
4) Winder Ruth (Team Sunweb)
5) Labous Juliette (Team Sunweb)
6) Lippert Liane (Team Sunweb)
7) Soek Julia (Team Sunweb)
8) Spratt Amanda (Mitchelton Scott) at 4s
9) Elvin Gracie (Mitchelton Scott)
10) Van Vleuten Annemiek (Mitchelton Scott) at same time
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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