Giro d’Italia Donne: Kristen Faulkner wins prologue to take first maglia rosa
Team BikeExchange-Jayco go 1-2 on first day of racing.
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Kristen Faulkner (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) won the opening prologue to become the first wearer of the maglia rosa following the first day of racing at the Giro d’Italia Donne, which took place in the town of Cagliari in Sardinia.
The American beamed as she waited to don the first pink jersey of the race. “I feel really proud of all the work that my teammates and I and my coach and I have put in and I’m just really happy that I could bring home the pink jersey for the first day for my team. Hopefully we can hang onto it for the next few days.”
The podium was rounded out by Faulkner’s teammate Georgia Baker and world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo), as the big name riders all took to the course early to try and avoid the high winds which were forecast for later in the stage.
The first four stages of this year’s race all take place in Sardinia, and today’s pan-flat Prologue could give only the briefest of indications over the form of the riders, with Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) also putting in strong performances, in terms of the GC contest.
What a day 🤩
An unforgettable start to our @giro_donne 💗 pic.twitter.com/8l4tPyOSWz
— Team Jayco AlUla (@GreenEDGEteam) June 30, 2022
The traditional Giro Donne team time trial was switched out for 2022 in favour of a short, sharp individual ride against the clock. The first rider to roll off the start ramp was Alessia Missiaggia of Team Mendelspeck, and she set the bar for the day at a modest 7:05 following an early mechanical incident, her gears slipping as she took off to begin her ride.
With start times being selected by the teams themselves, there were early appearances for some of the big names, with Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma), Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Longo Borghini all among the first 25 riders. With higher winds predicted for later in the day, there was logic behind the decision to set the GC faovurites off early.
Vos briefly held the fastest time, breaking the six-minute mark to set a time of 5:59, before Team BikeExchange-Jayco’s Georgia Baker dug a full ten seconds out of that benchmark to take the hotseat.
She remained there as numerous stars of the women’s peloton came and went. Van Vleuten set a time of 5:55, four seconds faster than Vos, but Longo Borghini quickly bettered that time, taking a further second off to make a statement of intent to some of her greatest rivals.
The next rider to make an impression on the top three was none other than World Champion, Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo). The sprinter rode an exceptionally fast time, perhaps unsurprising given the brevity of the route. Her time of 5:51 put her in second spot with still around half the field left to ride.
Baker’s reign in the hot seat came to an end at the hands of her own team mate, American Kristen Faulkner slicing another four seconds off the best time to set a new target of 5:45. Faulkner has been in strong form of late, taking second position on GC at Tour de Suisse, and by setting the fastest time and taking the leaders’ jersey she made a clear statement regarding her own intentions for the race. It was a very good day for Team BikeExchange as a whole – beyond the top two, Amanda Spratt also put in a strong ride to underscore her return to form.
The predicted high winds did arrive, but they did not deter Lotte Kopecky, who topped the selection of GC contenders with her performance which equalled the time of Elisa Balsamo, and put her in fourth spot on the stage and in the overall standings.
Results will be available once stage has completed.