Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) leads the Giro Rosa after sprinting to the win at the end of stage two.
She took first place just a fraction ahead of Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) – who sits only two seconds behind Guarnier on GC. In third is Ashlegh Moolman-Pasio (Bigla Pro Cycling Team) at five seconds.
Intense heat marked the first Italian stage, after a Prologue and stage one in Slovenia.
The 121km race stayed together until Carlee Taylor (Lotto Soudal Ladies) and Flavia Oliveira (Ale Cipollini) attacked on the first climb, building a lead of two minutes that was quickly extinguished when Taylor crashed on a descent.
The pair were passed by an attacking group made up of Elisa Longo Borghini and Mara Abbott (Wiggle Honda), Katarzyna Niewadoma and Anna Van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv), and Evelyn Stevens and Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans).
The elite group of eight stayed largely together until the end, when the sprint finish was claimed by American champion Guarnier.
Saturday’s Stage One also culminated in a sprint finish, with Velocio-SRAM’s Barbara Guarischi in first place. The Italian is returning to fine form after suffering a broken rib just a few weeks ago.
The 102km stage began in Kamnik, Slovenia, and finished in the same town as Friday night’s Prologue – Ljubljana.
There was a seven kilometer climb in the middle of the race, but a mass finale was expected.
Malgorzata Jasinska (Alé-Cipollini), Chantal Hoffman (Lotto Soudal Ladies), and Ana Maria Covrig (BePink-LaClassica) did attempt an early break, but they were brought back by the peloton by the end as they established sprint trains for the win.
The Prologue in Slovenia was a fast and furious 2 kilometer course – that was won by Bigla Pro Cycling’s Annemiek Van Vleuten in a time of 2 minutes 48.
The flat course included two 180-degree turns – a technical challenge that Van Vleuten practiced a total of fifteen times, she said: “You can’t make any mistakes in a prologue like this. You might come here as a favourite but it’s not so easy because everything has to go perfect. I feel on good form and I was really focused. I practiced a lot. I think I did the turnaround corner fifteen times.”
General classification after Stage 2:
1. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) 5h47’49”
2. Anna Van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) +2”
3. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) +5”
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) +13”
5. Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans) +15”
6. Katarzyna Niewadoma (Rabo-Liv) +17”
7. Karol-Ann Canuel (Velocio-SRAM) +24”
8. Mara Abbott (Wiggle-Honda) +24”
9. Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) +1’40”
10. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Bigla) +1’53”
Today’s stage three is the longest in the race, at 130km, from Curtatone to Mantova.