Kristen Faulkner blasts to Giro Donne opening stage victory

The American won the short time trial to take her first maglia rosa ahead of BikeExchange-Jayco team mate Georgia Baker

Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco) on her way to winning stage one of the 2022 Giro Donne in Cagliari
Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco) on her way to winning stage one of the 2022 Giro Donne in Cagliari
(Image credit: Dario Belingheri/Getty)

Kristen Faulkner won the opening stage of the Giro Donne in Cagliari on Thursday.

The short sharp individual time trial was more a prologue, but the American backed up her win against the clock at the recent Tour de Suisse with another victory in the flat test. 

On what was an excellent day for Faulkner’s BikeExchange-Jayco squad, her Australian team mate Georgia Baker was second, four seconds down, while world road champion Elisa Balsamo was third. 

The forecast of a strengthening wind meant many of the big names decided to start early, with Marianne Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten, Elisa Longo Borghini and another BikeExchange-Jayco rider, Amanda Spratt all setting off among the first 40 riders.

Baker had started 16th one minute after Vos, but none of those other favourites seemed able to challenge her. Coming later on, Faulkner was 64th down the ramp, and took four seconds out of her team mate, setting a time which no one was able to touch.

Faulkner will take her four second lead into a lumpy, though not too challenging, second day on Friday. Starting just up the coast from Cagliari in Villasimius, the peloton will cover 106.6km between Villasimius and Tortolì. The only classified climb comes early in the piece, but a few short sharp digs towards the end are the only obstacles to a bunch kick where Faulkner should be able to retain the overall lead. 

How it happened 

It has been traditional in recent years for the Giro Donne to begin with a time trial of some sorts. Since 2017 the longest race on the women’s calendar has begun with a team time trial, however, a prologue was the order of the day in earlier editions. 

The most recent of those was in 2016 when Leah Kirchmann took the race’s first maglia rosa, replacing the colours of that was then Liv-Plantur and is now DSM. The two previous openers were taken by Annemiek van Vleuten, long before her current team, Movistar even had a women’s team, and before she took the first of her two Giro consecutive GC victories in 2018.

Completely pan flat, this year’s individual test might not have suited the Olympic time time trial champion though. Billed by organisers as stage one, rather than a prologue, the individual test was actually prologue length. Running 4.7km east-to-west-to-east the route was sandwiched between Cagliari’s most famous beach, Poetto, and the salt pans on the other side the road which hosted the opening section of the.

Alessia Missiaggia (Team Mendelspeck) was the first of 144 women down the ramp in the steaming Mediterranean heat. The 23-year-old former downhill skier was tackling her first Giro in only her second season at international elite level, and hoping to finish her first WorldTour race. However, setting a time of 7-05 she was never likely to trouble the scorers, a series of riders soon besting her time.

One of those was multiple overall and record 30 time Giro stage winner, Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma). She briefly led with 5-59, but was also almost instantly beaten by Georgia Baker, the BikeExchange-Jayco rider putting 10 seconds into her. 

Neither Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and overall favourite Van Vleuten (Movistar) were able to match the Australian’s time, though the recently re-crowned Italian time trial champion took a one second GC advantage on her overall rival.

Longo Borghini’s compatriot, team mate and namesake Elisa Balsamo moved into second place with a time of 5-51, but Baker seemed secure in the top spot until her team mate Kristen Faulkner crossed the line, the American clocking 5-45.

Such was Faulkner’s time, with fewer than half the peloton finished the race was decided. Others ran her close, Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky (SDWorx) coming closest, finishing six seconds down.

Trek-Segafredo are the best team on GC, with four women, including all their main overall protagonists, Longo Borghini, Lucinda Brand and Leah Thomas all within 11 seconds of the lead with nine stages remaining.

Result Giro Donne, stage one: Individual time trial Cagliari - Cagliari (4.7km)

1. Kristen Faulkner (USA) BikeExchange-Jayco in 5-45
2. Georgia Baker (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco at 03 sec
3. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 05 sec
4. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx at 06 sec
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Seagfredo at 09 sec
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar
7. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo all at same time
8. Riejanne Markus (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 11 sec
9. Leah Thomas (USA) Trek-Segafredo
10. Anouska Koster (Ned) Jumbo-Visma all at same time

General classification after stage one

1. Kristen Faulkner (USA) BikeExchange-Jayco in 5-45
2. Georgia Baker (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco at 04 sec
3. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 06 sec
4. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) SDWorx at same time
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Seagfredo at 09 sec
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar at 10 sec
7. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at same time
8. Riejanne Markus (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 11 sec
9. Leah Thomas (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 12 sec
10. Anouska Koster (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at same time

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Owen Rogers

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.