When yellow is pink

The Giro Rosa is the longest, and arguably the toughest, stage race on the Women’s WorldTour calendar. Held every July, it may run in the shadow of the Tour but it is in no way a lesser race. Ten days of hard racing in northern Italy, with a 21km individual time trial and a clutch of punishing ascents, including the feared Mortirolo climb, the ‘women’s Giro’ is an extraordinary test of stamina.

The 11th edition of the Giro Rosa saw many of the world’s heavyweights on the start line – defending champion Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv), World Road Race Champion Lizzie Armitstead and Women’s WorldTour leader Megan Guarnier (both Boels-Dolmans).

In the end it was the Gaurnier who took the overall classification and the winner’s pink jersey. Her team mate and fellow American Evelyn Stevens took second, and the Dutch rider van der Bergen third. For the riders of CANYON//SRAM it was a challenging race that played to their individual strengths.

The opening 2km prologue was a flat circuit around the town of Gaiarine. Demanding pure power and strength, the course took less than three minutes to complete. It was a good day for CANYON//SRAM with two riders in the top ten – Tiffany Cromwell placed sixth and Barbara Guarischi placed ninth, a result that won her the Best Italian jersey.

It took a little more than two hours for the peloton to cover the 98km of the fourth stage, around Lake Iseo. With the group all together as they rode towards the finish, it fell to the sprinters to fight it out on the line. In an impressive show of tenacity and power Tiffany Cromwell came out on top, taking the stage win on the eve of her 28th birthday. “It was really fast and [there was] a lot of fighting. I had the whole team with me and everyone pitched in to the lead out. I was really happy I could pay them back with this victory,” said Tiffany.

Elena Cecchini showed her climbing prowess on Stage 6, a day that featured three climbs – Passo del Ginestro, Colle di Nava and Passo Caprauna and concluded with a summit finish on the climb to Madonna Della Guardia, in Alassio. The Italian National Road Race Champion Elena finished an impressive eighth, with Alena Amialiusik in 10th.

The individual time trial was on an unusually hilly course, with the first 12km uphill at an average of 8%. The second half, a fast, technical descent that ended at the seaside resort of Varazze, played into the hands of Amialiusik who placed 11th.

The final, flat, 104.8km stage along the stunning northern shore of Lake Maggiore, north of Milan, was a beautiful finale to the race, won overall by American Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans).