I don't know about you, but I've had one heck of a time trying to access Rai 2 Sports video coverage of the Giro, so I was excited to see stage 6 posted on YouTube! The picture quality isn't TdF caliber, for sure. But it's still fun watching these girls in action. If you don't want any spoilers, watch this first.
Today's stage was all about the incredible performance of British rider Emma Pooley (Lotto). She started the race as a GC favorite, but then got off to a baaaaaaad start. She rode stage 1 with a horrible bloody nose (see yesterday's Bike Face post for pictures) and was plagued by mechanicals through stages 1 and 2. This left her over eight minutes behind leader Marianne Vos going into stage 6 and race experts didn't peg this stage as the one for Pooley to shine. Boy were they wrong.
Pooley made her move early on at the first short and steep climb. There would be three of these before riders hit the big climb of the day, La Crosetta. She held her lead until the 3rd kicker when a group of six riders attacked the main group and caught Pooley. Green jersey leader Valentina Scandolara was in this group, but none of the other GC contenders made the break. Scandolara went on to win the QOM points at Piai, but by the time they reached the base of La Crosetta Pooley managed to drop the entire group accept Rabo Liv's Kasia Niewiadoma. Kasia held on as long as she could but Pooley kept the pressure on and dropped her halfway through the climb. Now Pooley was on her own, and this is where things got interesting.
A group of six riders, including a few GC contenders, made a move of their own and caught Niewiadoma on the La Crosetta climb. Current leader Marianne Vos was in this group along with American GC hopeful Mara Abbott (UHC). Also included were current 2nd an 3rd place riders, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabo Liv) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec). Once this group hit the descent, would they be able to close the gap on Pooley? She had a 1:45 lead but she is also a weak descender. You may not be able to win a race on the descent, but you certainly can loose one, and as expected the gap started to narrow. Pooley had to dig deep and rely on her TT skills to hold them off during the final 10km of flat(ish) road to the finish. She is Britains National TT Champion after all, so this was her moment to shine.
And she did it! As she crossed the finish you could see the chase group right behind, but she managed to keep a 15 second gap as she crossed the finish. That must of felt AMAZING after the rough start she had at this years event.
The first mountain stage also stirred up the GC rankings. The top three spots remain, however there was lots of movement in the top 10. Abbott (UHC) moved from 11th to 6th (+2'58") and Claudia Hausler (Giant-Shimano) moved from 7th to 5th (+2'17"). Meanwhile Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) dropped from 5th to 9th (+6'18") and Evelyn Stevens dropped even lower going from 12th to 14th (+9'26"). Emma Pooley (Lotto) is in 13th with a time gap of +8'35".
Race Recap [Image: @MiCiclismo]
Road conditions on La Crosetta are not ideal. [Image: @PureDolomites]
Emma Pooley going solo up La Crosetta. [Image: VeloFocus]
Abbott leading the chase on La Crosetta. [Image: Wei Yeut Wong for Bicycle Magazine]
The climb. [Image: VeloFocus]
Views from La Crosetta. [Image: @PureDolomites]
Emma Pooley takes the win! [Image: Giro Rosa Cycling]
The chase group sprinting for second. [Image: Giro Rosa Cycling]
The podium. [Image: VeloFocus]