Saturday, 12 July 2008


Stage 6 of the Giro Donne has bought us back to the familiar surroundings of Varese. After being labelled the ‘hardest day on tour’, I was grateful that I had already been acquainted with the two categorised climbs on the day. I was even MORE grateful that I had descended them in the wet, as it was bucketing down when we arrived at race start in ‘Cardano Al Campo’! I stayed within close proximity to the car to avoid my stalker prior to racing, so when he walked past and Carlee yelled out my name, I was less than impressed with her…cheers Carls =P The team was out to be aggressive today, but unfortunately we weren’t the only ones. Tiff was devastated when, despite starting front line, she was beaten to ‘first attack of the day’. The pace was on from the gun, and it took all of our manpower to assure we were represented in every move.

The break that stuck prior to the ‘Monte Grino’ climb at 50kms was an unusual one. Most teams were represented in the group of 20 with Tiff and I making the split. Team Columbia drove the break to guarantee a 45 second advantage at the base of the 11km climb, but even that didn’t prevent me from once again finding my grupetto partners (including Rochelle Gilmore pictured above). As the main players danced over the top, Sara, Vicki and Carlee found themselves second bunch, Tiff was safely sheltered in third bunch and Nikki provided me with company for the day. The story on climb two of the day leaves much to be desired, tackling the 10km climb that finishes up the steep side of ‘Basso’. Carlee had lost contact with her bunch and attempted a catch on the technical and mossy descent, crashing and…luckily…landing on the padding from yesterday’s crash…uncanny…

Vicki and Sara, after waking with a sore throat, went on to finish in the first large bunch of riders, 13 minutes down, with Carlee regaining form to finish slightly off the pace. Somehow Tiff has managed to stay upright the entire tour and today was no exception, finding her way to the finish in a small bunch of girls, now 54th (my lucky number) on GC. In the meantime, as Nikki was putting her wind vest on for the long descent into ‘Cittiglio’, it started to piss down with rain! Losing time on grupetto didn’t seem to worry the likes of the Bates sisters, Nikki or myself, so it turned into an Aussie team time trial on the way home to re-join the bunch. We managed time cut by a mere 3 minutes, a massive 30minutes from the stage win! It was nice to return to a four star hotel…if only it had the Tour de France in English, an air conditioner that worked, and internet that wasn’t sending me broke!

Today’s stage was short, so I will keep the report short. It was an 83.8km road race starting with three laps of a town circuit measuring 8kms. Menikini had the 120 remaining girls lined out single file, and as we started a 13km rise to our climbs of the day, the bunch began to split. From here, we continued on to do 4 x 4km burgs, some with 20% sections causing girls to get off and walk. The lead 15 girls were staggered on the hilltop finish, with Luperini taking the stage and holding onto the pink jersey. The two chase bunches came together before the final ascent, which saw Sara joined by Vicki, Nikki, Carlee and Tiff. Once again I was grupetto, where there was no shortage of girls holding on to cars, motorbikes, and receiving the occasional push from men in the crowd (yes…I am guilty of the final one!). So I head to bed with one day to go, just as we watch the storm setting in from our bedroom window.

Results: Giro Donne, Stage 6, Road Race, Cardano Al Campo - Laveno Mombello, 113.4kms
Results: Giro Donne, Stage 7, Road Race, Macherio - Montevecchia, 83.8kms

Photo 2 courtesy of WomensCycling.