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Emma Norsgaard (Team Movistar) won stage 6 of the Giro Donne on Wednesday when she outsprinted Coryn Rivera (Team DSM) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) in Colico.
Although it was the longest stage of this year’s Giro Donne, the sixth stage was a fast one. The first significant breakaway only went clear 60 km into the 157 km stage. It was a weird breakaway, to say the least. Two riders, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SD Worx), one the Italian national champion and a legend, the other second on GC behind her teammate.
Normally on a relatively flat, or “transition” stage, one that doesn’t appear to hold significant general classification hurdles, breakaways are made up of smaller teams or domestiques who rarely get the chance to ride for themselves. As the longest stage race on the women’s calendar, the Giro Donne usually sees a few stages go to the breakaway. British rider Lizzie Banks who now riders for Ceratizit-WNT has twice benefitted from “transition” stages, winning stage 4 in 2020 and stage 8 in 2019.
On the final stage of the 2020 Giro Rosa Boels-Dolmans let a breakaway roll clear early in the stage, confident that Anna van der Breggen had won the overall before the stage had ended. Young French talent Évita Muzic stormed to victory from that breakaway in what ended up being a highlight performance of the 2020 Giro Rosa.
So when Longo Borghini and Moolman Pasio rolled off the front of stage 6 it was a moment of, huh?
Longo Borghini went into the Giro Donne a hot favourite for the overall victory but was knocked down by bad legs on the second stage. Moolman Pasio has had phenomenal legs, and sits nearly three minutes behind Van der Breggen, second in the general classification.
Within 10 km of the two riding away from the peloton, they had a two and half minute advantage.
Thanks to Moolman Pasio being up the road SD Worx had no reason to touch the wind. They got to sit tight in the bunch and rest for what will be a fast and furious day on stage 7. Same with Trek-Segafredo. With Longo Borghini out front, the pressure turned to the teams with strong sprinters to keep the pace high. But it wasn’t a breakaway that either would have thought would last to the finish.
Team DSM, the team of the strongest sprinter currently in the women’s peloton Lorena Wiebes, Movistar, and Jumbo-Visma got to do the work on the front of the peloton.
Jumbo-Visma and Team DSM brought the two out front back with 13 km to go for Rivera and Vos to sprint for victory, but it was 2021 sensation Norsgaard who snatched it from the seasoned fast women.
The stage tactics were fascinating, and one might ask why there wasn’t a bigger fight to get away from the top sprinters.
Stage 7 features 109 km of punchy terrain where the peloton will race five circuits of the same climb. The finale is up a short gradual climb, only 4.8% in grade. With the general classification all but wrapped up, hopefully, the fast circuits of stage 7 will lead to some aggressive racing.
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