World champion Elisa Balsamo took her first Giro Donne win to move into the overall lead of her home tour on Friday.
The Italian was the pre-stage favourite and out-sprinted 30 time Giro stage winner Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and young Dutch sprint promise Charlotte Kool (DSM) in Tortolì.
The victory came on the back of some excellent work by Balsamo’s Trek-Segafredo team. With Lauretta Hanson and Amalie Dideriksen the team took control of the day’s breakaway, eventually bringing it back with 10km to go.
When other teams began to form their sprint trains the American squad remained patient, staying put even when Vos’s team mate Anouska Koster surged off the front with 1500m to go. In the final straight Balsamo stayed on a team mate’s wheel until Vos started her sprint. The Italian swang across to the Dutch rider’s wheel only coming over the top with around 75m remaining.
It was a momentous win for the 24 year-old who, after an excellent stage one time trial now leads the race overall, nine seconds ahead of stage one winner Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco).
Tomorrow’s third stage could be another opportunity for Balsamo. The 113.4km stage between Dorgali and Olbia starts with a significant descent after which it is relatively flat all the way to the line.
How it happened
For stage two the Giro Donne moved east, to the seaside town of Villasimius, on the far south-eastern tip of Sardinia, closer to Africa that to the race’s ultimate destination in Padova.
The stage was lumpy but not mountainous and at 106.5km the ride to Tortolì, further up the island’s east coast, was likely to finish with a bunch sprint, albeit possibly from a reduced group.
With a tailwind blunting temperatures forecast to be 35º the day was likely to be a fast one, and with a category four climb straight from the flag the fate of some riders from some of the smaller teams lay in the hands of those with ambitions to create an early breakaway. A break was far from certain though, with small time gaps on GC after the opening time trial, the overall lead was up for grabs if sprinters Lotte Kopecky (SDWorx) or world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) were able to harvest bonus seconds.
Both were comfortably within striking distance of Kristen Faulkner’s (BikeExchange-Jayco) overall lead, and if they were able to survive the weather and parcours their teams were likely to want to fight for the three seconds available at an intermediate sprint after 74km in the village of Tertenia, and the 10 waiting for them on the finish line.
With the classified climb coming after only four kilometres two women set off in search of the green climber’s jersey, Neve Bradbury (Canyon-SRAM) and Fanziska Brausse (Ceratizit-WNT) taking a lead of 30 seconds over the top where the German took the points. Their lead didn’t last too long though, and within 10km they were back in the bunch.
Two home riders then set off up the road, Matilde Vitillo (BePink) and Cristina Tonetti (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) building a lead of 1-45 with 40km completed, with the bunch riding on the slowest estimated speed.
With that lead established another group headed off in pursuit. Inga Češulienè (Aromitalia-Basso-Vaiano), Marta Jaskulska (Liv-Xstra), Francesca Pisciali (Mendelspeck) and Beatrice Ratto (Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria) closed the gap, and as they got closer to the leading duo, the bunch got further away. By the time a group of six formed at the front the peloton were three minutes behind with only 45km remaining.
it was only then that Trek-Segafredo, Valcar Travel and Service and the Jumbo-Visma squad of Marianne Vos began working on the front and the gap began to drop and by the time Jaskulska won the intermediate sprint with 31km to go the lead was down to 2-15.
A further 10km up the road and the leaders were less than one minute ahead and it seemed the expected bunch sprint would happen. With the break apparently doomed and nothing to lose, Pisciali attacked the leaders, gaining a small advantage before being caught. Meanwhile the bunch, still led by Trek-Segafredo, let the team dangle until the 10km point when they were caught sprint lead outs starting to form.
Jumbo-Visma were particularly dominant, their distinctive yellow kit lining out the buch behind, but when Anouska Koster lost her team 1500m out, the lost their cohesion, and a large group headed onto the final straight for the expected bunch sprint.
Result Giro Done, stage two: Villasimius - Tortolì (106.5km)
1. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 2-39-13
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
3. Charotte Kool (Ned) DSM
4. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx
5. Chiara Consonni (Ita) Valcar Travel and Service
6. Isotta Barbieri (Ita) Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA
7. Georgia baker (NZ) BikeExchange-Jayco
8. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) UAE Team ADQ
9. Silvia Zanardi (Ita) BePink
10. Lea Lin Teutenberg (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT all at same time
General classification after stage 2
1. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 2-44-54
2. Kristen Faulkner (USA) BikeExchange-Jayco at 04 sec
3. Georgia Baker (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco at 08 sec
4. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx at 10 sec
5. Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 12 sec
6. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 13 sec
7. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar at 14 sec
8. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 14 sec
9.Riejanne Markus (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 15 sec
10. Leah Thomas (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 16 sec
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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