The Giro Rosa's final stage did not disappoint in what turns out to be the most controversial stage yet. (If you want to jump ahead, fast-forward to minute 38 to see what we're talking about.)

The day started fast as riders blazed around Lake Como.  The speed shrunk the peloton to 25 riders by the time they hit the first climb. Right away Rabo Liv's newest rider, Kasia Niewiodoma shot off the front. The pack chased, causing more riders to get shelled off the back and it isn't long before the entire peloton explodes to pieces. What's left is a lead group of 7 including all the usual suspects from Stage 8 - Abbott, Guarnier, Borghini and a team of three Rabo Liv riders, Vos, van der Breggen and Ferrand-Prevot.  The group held together for a couple kilometers, then Pooley attacked. At 12th in the overall standings she's too far down to win, but clearly she's going for another stage win. The attack puts pressure on the rest of the group and it's not too long before Guarnier and Borghini are dropped off the back. That left Mara Abbott chasing Pooley down with a 3-lady Rabo Liv powerhouse including Vos, Ferrand-Prevot and van der Breggan, and this is where things got sticky. Going into the stage, Abbott was 1'39" back and in 4th place in the General Classification. The three Rabo Liv riders were in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. It's possible that Abbott wanted to chase down Pooley for the stage win, or at least work her way onto the podium, but Rabo Liv wasn't having any of it. Everytime Abbott started an attack the Rabo Liv girls blocked her. She was sometimes boxed in by all three, other times Ferrand-Prevot swung wide so that Abbott couldn't get around her.  Was that teamwork at play? Or sneaky tactics?

Whatever you want to call it, it worked. Pooley held her lead on a short descent into the final climb. Meanwhile the original chase group reformed as they approached the last ascent. Pooley crossed the line with a 25" lead followed by Marianne Vos and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, solidifying their standings as 1st and 2nd in the overall classification.

Final Standings:

1) Marianne Vos, Rabo Liv

2) Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Rabo Liv (+15")

3) Anna van der Breggen, Rabo Liv (+1'32")

4) Mara Abbott, United Healthcare (+1'54")

5) Elisa Borghini Longo, Hitec Products (+2'06")

6) Claudia Hausler, Team Giant Shimano (+3'18")

7) Megan Guarnier, Boels Dolmans Cycling (+6'59")

8) Annemiek Van Vleuten, Rabo Liv (+7'16")

9) Emma Pooley, Lotto Belisol (+8'23")

10) Emma Johansson, Orica AIS (+8'36")

 

A quick birthday celebration for Hitec's Julie Leth before Stage 9 begins. [Image: Wei Yuet Wong]

Japan's National Champion, Mayuko Hagiwara. [Image: Wei Yuet Wong]

Jersey preparation [Image: VeloFocus]

The Start. [Image: VeloFocus]

The lead out. [Image: F. Ossola]

Emma Pooley wins the stage! [Image: Wei Yuet Wong]

Marianne Vos wins the GC. [Image: VeloFocus]

 Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Marianne Vos congratulate each other as the cross the finish line. [Image: Wei Yuet Wong for Bicycle Magazine]

[Image: Giro Rosa Cycling]

Prosecco number two; Pooley wins Queen of the Mountain. [Image: VeloFocus]

Rabo Liv sweeps the GC podium. [Image: Giro Rosa Cycling]