Lizzy Banks won the first professional race of her career at the Giro Rosa on Sunday. The Sheffield based Brit attacked a breakaway of ten riders with around 12km of the 133.3km stage remaining and built a lead of around 30 seconds which she has able to hold.
Her Bigla team mate, Leah Thomas was in the break away behind her and frustrated other riders’ efforts to chase, stopping pedalling every occasion she found herself on the front, and chasing every other attack.
In the end Thomas finished second, with home rider Soraya Paladin in third place. Two of the break were unable to sprint having crashed on a pedestrian crossing as the first rain of the stage race fell on the finish town of Maniago.
The general classification group finished nearly three minutes down with overall leader Annemiek van Vleuten defending her advantage of over four minutes going into the final two stages. Paladin’s presence in the break also moved her into sixth place overall.
How it happened
The longest stage of the ten day race began in Vittorio Veneto and headed east to Maniago. After two classified climbs in the middle of the stage, the run-in was relatively flat and the chance of a fourth stage win for Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) meant many teams were interested in a breakaway.
As a result there were numerous attempts to form a group and such was the desire to be at the front each attempt cancelled itself out, with even a strong eight woman break which escaped after 45km proving unsuccessful.
On the climb to Forcella di Pala Baranza the race began to stretch, with a grupetto forming early on, including three Mitchelton-Scott team-mates of race leader Annemiek van Vleuten.
As the peloton further disintegrated on the ascent around one kilometre from the top, Van Vleuten attacked the race with 73km of the day remaining, saying later that attack was the best form of defence. The Dutchwoman crested the climb with a lead approaching 20 seconds, extending it early on the descent, though as the chasers reached the bottom, she was once again within touching distance.
With 50km of the 133.3km stage to go Van Vleuten was back in the group, though the action did not end there, with a large group of 11 riders, including Banks (Bigla) getting away just before the second climb.
With Banks was her team mate Thomas, Paladin (Alé-Cipollini), Paulien Rooijakkers (CCC-Liv), Shara Gillow (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), Małgorzata Jasinska (Movistar), Sofie de Vuyst (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo), Kathrin Hammes (WNT-Rotor) and the Valcar-Cylance pair of Alice Arzuffi and Elena Pirrone.
They soon managed to build a lead of 35 seconds, though Pirrone was dropped as the gradient of the climb began to take its toll.
Banks crossed the top of the climb in third place, and though the peloton closed slightly as the race closed in on the final 20km, their gap was over a minute.
With some in the peloton wanting a sprint finish it took some time for the break to establish itself and their advantage hovered around the one minute mark for some time. However, as the leaders entered the closing 15km and began attacking each other, the peloton sat up and left them to it.
Thomas tried her luck first, before Banks made her winning move to take her first professional victory.
Tomorrow’s ninth stage is yet another tough one. Mostly flat for the opening 75km, it begins to ramp up before the first category ascent to Montasio for another mountain top finish.
With Van Vleuten the strongest climber there is a chance she may extend her four minute advantage in the overall classification.
Giro Rosa 2019, stage eight: Vittorio Veneto to Maniago – (133.3km)
1. Lizzy Banks (GBr) Bigla in 3-38-17
2. Leah Thomas (GBr) Bigla, at 30 seconds
3. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Alé Cipollini
4. Małgorzata Jasinska (Pol) Movistar
5. Sofie de Vuyst (Bel) Parkhotel Valkenburg
6. Kathrin Hammes (Ger) WNT-Rotor
7. Paulien Rooijakkers (Ned) CCC-Liv
8. Shara Gillow (Aus) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
9. Ruth Winder (USA) Trek-Segafredo
10. Alice Arzuffi (Ita) Valcar-Cylance, all at same time
General classification after stage eight
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott, in 18-43-01
2. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 4-11
3. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM at 4-26
4. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb at 5-26
5. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton Scott at 5-33
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 5-46
7. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Alé-Cipollini at 6.06
8. Katie Hall (USA) at Boels-Dolmans at 6-23
9. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv at 6-42
10. Erica Magnaldi (Ita) WNT-Rotor at 6-49
Catch up on the race so far:
- Canyon-SRAM win Giro Rosa stage one TTT with most teams strung out by the finish
- Marianne Vos powers to stage two victory at Giro Rosa
- Marianne Vos snatches victory on stage three of the Giro Rosa after Lucy Kennedy celebrates too early
- Breakaway win on Giro Rosa stage four whilst Niewiadoma holds on to the lead
- Annemiek van Vleuten wins Giro Rosa stage five to take the maglia rosa
- Annemiek van Vleuten extends Giro Rosa lead with stage six time trial win
- Marianne Vos takes third Giro Rosa 2019 win with escape group sprint on stage seven