Stage 3 of the 2013 Giro Rosa, saw Olympic and World Champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank) dominate, winning solo in an impressive breakaway. After coming second on the podium in the previous two stages, Vos was racing on a mission:
After two second places in a row, I needed a stage victory! I didn’t plan on making a long breakaway and I thought the stage wasn’t so tough. The final was very steep and with the cobbles it was even worse, I’m really happy to win a stage in the Rosa. In the next days I hope to increase my advantage in the general classification.
Joining Vos on the podium for stage 3 were Claudia Hausler (Tibco To The Top) and Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini Girodan), who’s also best Italian in the general classification – both finished 45" after the Dutch champion.
Stage 3 started in the hill-top village of Cerro Al Volturno, with the peloton heading south for 15km to Scapoli then entering a 67km loop through the hills, before returning to Scapoli and finally back to the start.
With the first GPM point - where points are awarded for the Queen of the Mountain’s jersey - at just 10km, it was, like yesterday, fast from the start. A climb of about 250m was followed by 400m of descent - and here's where the first break happened.
Stage 3 results:
- Marianne Vos (Rabobank) 2hr34'03"
- Claudia Hausler (Tean Tibco To The Top) 45"
- Guderzo Tatiana (MCipollini Girodana) 45"
- Luperini Fabiana (Faren Kuota) 48"
- Ratto Rossella (Hitec Products UCK) 50"
The riders had been strung out on the ascent, with Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana) racing to gain more Mountains points, and others trying some early suicide-breakaways. Scandolara eventually crossed the line first to bag the GPM points, followed by Alena Amialiusik (BePink), ORICA-AIS' Tiffany Cromwell and Ruth Corset, over from Australia to guest-ride with Bizkaia Durango.
With the peloton already divided into groups, and the descent a fast, technical one, Marianne Vos said afterwards that although she "didn't want to make any dangerous efforts", she looked around at the bottom of the climb, saw there were only five riders with her, and decided to make a breakaway group.
With her in the group were Cromwell, Scandolara, team USA sprinter Lauren Hall, yesterday's 3rd-placed finisher Barbara Guarishi in the white Best Young Rider jersey and Vos' Rabobank-Liv/Giant team-mate Lucinda Brand, who spent her 24th birthday working incredibly hard for Vos, pulling the breakaway forward.
At the 30km point, the break had 50 seconds advantage on the chase, getting up to a minute and 10 seconds but not much further - at this point it looked as though the break was doomed, as slowly one by one the riders fell back, first Guarischi and Brand, then Hall and Scandolara - especially with 25km of flat valley in the middle, and Specialized-lululemon and the USA National Team working hard on the front.
Somehow Vos and Cromwell stayed away, as the kilometres ticked down - and once they were back in the hills, they worked beautifully together, Cromwell taking the lead on the climbs and Vos on the descents. They were very well-matched, and in the final 20km, it seemed as though they would stay together to race up that steep finish climb - especially as Cromwell is a better climber than Vos.
At 8km to go, disaster struck - following Vos' incredible lines, Cromwell's bike slipped out from underneath her, and she crashed on a curve. By the time she'd leapt back up onto the bike, it was too late - Vos had disappeared into the distance.
Vos was racing with fierce determination to squeeze every possible second's advantage out of the race, and on a course full of descents and the short, punchy climbs that suit Vos so well, Cromwell should be more than happy to have been the only rider capable of holding her wheel!
Cromwell was swept up into a chase group of eleven riders, the only riders left in contention. It was a highly select group, with the 2009 Road World Champion, Tatiana Guderzo (Cipollini) and three former Giro winners - Mara Abbot (USA), who won in 2010; Claudia Häusler (Tibco), 2009's winner, who beat Abbott to the win in 2009, aged just 23; and Fabiana Luperini (Faren Kuota) who won the Giro Donne a record 5 times, 95-98 and 2008.
With them were more great climbers - Evelyn Stevens, Ashleigh Moolman;Shara Gillow (ORICA) and Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) who are great on these lumpy stages; and racing for the Best Young Rider prize, Rossella Ratto (Hitec) and Francesca Cauz (Top Girls).
These were all that was left of the large chase group, as riders had worked their turn on the front and then fallen back, or crashed out of contention on the descents, or just not been able to keep up through the hills.
Vos was pushing and pushing, racing as hard as she could, extending her lead on the descent, until she hit the final climb. Rabobank had ridden that climb before the stage, so she knew exactly how to take it, and she pushed right to the end - winning solo and having to be pushed off the finish-line, to collapse by the railing.
Behind her, the front group raced each other up the winding cobbles, Häusler winning the uphill sprint, and Guderzo in third.
Today’s 4th stage running from Monte San Vito to Castelfidardo, at 137.2km is the longest of the 24th Giro Rosa. The stage also features two punishingly steep climbs and another uphill finish. Once over, riders will pack up and transfer 500km to reach the mountainous Stage 5 and 6 courses.