The first stage of the Aviva women’s tour is complete, and it was always going to be a day for the sprinters to shine. Italian sprint queen, Giorgia Bronzini was Wiggle High5’s card to play that day, and she did them proud – taking third place.
Having spent the last two weeks at altitude, Bronzini says she was unsure of her fitness – explaining: “Altitude has a good effect, but I need to adapt to the form, I need the body to understand that we’re not at altitude now… normally you do a couple of races where you suffer… my goal is to be good at the National and the Giro, so I know that here I’m going to suffer."
The adaptation, however, didn’t seem to have a pronounced effect – she told us: “In the race I felt good. I liked the technical finish so I asked the team if I could have my chance yesterday, obviously they said yes."
The final of the race was hectic – the peloton was chasing Tetrick, who broke away early – they still had lead cars between them and the lone rider, as well as twisty narrow streets. There was a crash with 1km to go, and Bronzini told us: “I heard the crash, but in that moment, Jolien [D'hoore] was in front of me, so I said ‘go’. In that moment I hoped none of my team mates were involved. At the finish, it was massive chaos. I have no idea why the car and the motorbike was still behind Alison [Tetrick] – in the middle of us trying to catch her. That made it a bit more chaotic for us."
Not everyone – namely Vos who took second - was happy with the result. Bronzini believes that the eventual winner Christine Majerus cut Vos up in the approach.
Bronzini said: “I saw Marianne [Vos] was really upset at the end about it. In the video it shows just one little moment, but the fight started early. It wasn’t really a fair fight. I’m with Marianne. You need to have respect with your opponent, no matter who you are or who they are. To everyone. Safety is the main thing we need to think about – today is for you, tomorrow is for me – so I think to be safe is the principal thing you need to think about when riding, especially in the final."
In response to my question ‘did Christine just move out of her line and appear to cut Marianne up?’ she replied: “Yes, but not in a really nice way, a bit aggressive. Normally Marianne is very quiet – she’s not normally the one to put hands up and complain. If she say something is [wrong] it’s because it is obvious."
Commenting in the Boels-Dolmans race report, Majerus says: “In the last 150 metres, Tetrick still had a small gap, and it was all chaotic with the motorbikes. I had to make some place to open my sprint."
Regardless of rider's comments, we do have to respect that racing will always be heated and from an outside perspective it’s very hard to analyse what happened. We've got a day in the Boels-Dolmans team car tomorrow, so perhaps we'll be able to tell you more!
We wouldn’t want the debacle to take away from Bronizini’s only success – even if she tells us she’s still on an ‘altitude come down’. Speaking about the results so far, and what’s to come – she said: “I was happy. For the week, I know that it’s getting harder day by day, and with the weather we were really lucky, today I expect showers – and that makes it more dangerous and harder. It’s the longest today too. The best two team mates I have are Elisa [Longo Borghini] and Emma [Johansson] – so I will try to be beside them and help them for the final. For the general."
She added: “For the stages, we have Amy [Pieters] and Dani [King] – I’m really confident in their shape, and I hope some time in the break they can have their opportunity. I hope so – they are two girls who are working for us all year, and I would like to give them back a chance."
Talking about hazards in the race so far, she commented: "It’s a bit annoying having motorbikes every 10km or less – you need to pay a lot of attention. But it is what it is – it’s better that they are there, for safety. I hope that the girls understand that they need to make sure they’re not in the bunch too long. I say to the girls ‘if the motor wants space, give them space’ – otherwise we have a motorbike in the middle."
Bronzini has had a long and successful career, and this will be her last official year – though she may still race for a couple more. She’s very much a (massively friendly and smiley) guardian in the bunch, able to advise and coach those less experienced.
Describing her approach to that role, she said: “I hope they can have good advice and advice from me, I am one of the experienced ones, so why not. If I can help the less experienced riders to grow up, then why not. It’s my last official year. If I race next year it will be a relaxed year. I’m quite happy, it is the time."
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