Kristen Faulkner cools down after making a splash at the Giro Donne

The American headed straight for the sea to after winning the stage and taking the Giro Donne overall lead

Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco) celebrates wearing the maglia rosa after winning the opening stage of the 2022 Giro Donne
Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco) celebrates wearing the maglia rosa after winning the opening stage of the 2022 Giro Donne
(Image credit: Dario Belingheri/Getty)

Winning the opening stage time trial victory at the Giro Donne  on Thursday was a dream for Kristen Faulkner, but it was hot work, and with the podium celebrations done and her first ever her maglia rosa on her back, the America headed to cool down.

The 4.7km time trial was held along the sea front next to one of Sardinia’s best beaches, in Poetto, near Cagliari, and after sitting in what was literally a hot seat for the best part of 90 minutes watch tourists in the azure blue sea she could resist no longer.

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The American won the 4.7km opening day time trial by three seconds from her team mate Georgia Baker giving BikeExchange-Jayco options ahead of the race’s first road stage on Friday.

“It’s a dream for sure,” she told reporters while sat on a cool box behind the race podium and before her impromptu swim. “I never thought coming into this race that I would be wearing the pink jersey, so I'm just really excited that I can do that for my team and hopefully we can hold on to it for a few more days.

“Last year was my first Giro Rosa ever, and I didn't expect to finish today in the pink jersey but I'm not going to complain. That's a really great place to be and yeah, we're really we're really happy with it.”

The course itself was completely flat, and the team got off to a great start with their first rider, Georgia Baker setting what was then the fastest time, and good enough for the Australian to eventually finish second behind her team mate.

“That was really motivating and inspiring,” Faulkner continued. “It was a really short TT so I knew we had to just go full gas the whole time. I tried to make sure that I was safe around the corners and took really good lines and the directors were really helpful in the car letting me know where I was and which lines to take and where to be and yeah, and then after I turned that last turn at one point, I had six seconds on the next person so that was really motivating to hear.”

Though the time gaps are small after such a short time trial, BikeExchange-Jayco now have the advantage of two women at the top of the general classification, with the near overall favourite Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) some nine seconds down and Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) a further second back.

However, despite previously proving she can race for GC the overall is not the priority for Faulkner.  

“We'll see what the team strategy is for the rest of the race, but we didn't plan on having me race for GC actually coming into this race, so we'll see how things evolve and what the team wants to do. 

Faulkner only began racing professionally in 2020 and has progressed swiftly, winning a stage at the Tour de l’Ardeche that year, and another at the Tour of Norway last season. Despite time away from racing for injury, this season has been even better for the Alaskan native.

Earlier in June she performed excellently at the Women’s Tour finishing fourth on Black Mountain South Wales. The following week she won the 25.6km time trial at the Tour de Suisse and was a close second on the final mountain to Lenz taking the same place on GC.

“Switzerland was one of my first major TTs. Earlier this year I had a concussion so I came back only in May, my coach and I have been working really hard since me to get my fitness back, and it feels great that it is finally back and that I can show all the hard work that we put in.”

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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.