Giro d'Italia Donne 2006
Formello - Formello - 115km
Another hot day on the Giro, with the riders contesting a flat stage, which included a circuit of Lake Bracciano. A swimming dip in the water would have been favourable in the hot, sunny conditions which saw the thermometer reach a maximum of 37'C during the stage.
The race stayed pretty much together during the majority of the stage. There were few attacks and those that went were soon neutralised by the bunch. Apart from the lap of the lake, the course for Stage 2 was the same out and back to Formello. The only real challenge in terms of climb were the closing kilometres, which took in the same roads as those used fro Stage 1's time trial.
Team Bigla were obvious towards the front of the bunch during the run-in. They were obviously looking after the leader on General Classification, Nicole Brändli. Also active were the Nürnberger team, with Tina Liegbig driving the pace for Regina Schleicher as the head of the race approached the town limits. Following Liebig's wheel was Svetlana Bubnenkova (Colnago Fenixs) and Olga Slyusareva (Colnago-Fenixs) - both these riders were contenders for the stage win.
A crash towards the rear of the peleton inside 3km affected several riders and slowed those behind in the main bunch. Tatiana Guderzo (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), Mette Andersen (Team Bianchi) and Karin Aune (SC Michela Fannini Record) were those most affected, also Rochelle Gilmore (Team Safi), but all got up and rode in. The rules state that since the accident occurred within the final 3km, those affected be awarded the same time as the bunch they were in, so these riders were able to collect themselves and ride to the finish without having to chase back on to the bunch.
Bubnenkova worked really hard in the final couple of kilometres, Slysuareva sat in her wheel, looking comfortable. As Bubnenkova pulled over, Liane Bah Ler, another team-mate moved up to maintain the Colnago-Fenixs presence on the front. She managed to string out the first few riders behind her, but there was still a sizeable bunch following in a widening arrowhead shape. From the bunch with about 1.5km to go, Olivia Gollan (Nobili) accelerated forwards with her team-mates Sigrid Corneo and Edita Puckinskaite in her wake. As they approached the 1km to go banner, these were the front three in the race, but there was no way that they would have it their own way.
Puckinskaite accelerated strongly within the final 800m, but was followed by Slyusareva and with 500m to go, Puckinskaite sat up, the attack over. With 300m to go, there were no further attacks, there was no team with a presence on the front, just a road width's worth of riders racing for the finish. As they swung around the final, right-hand corner with less than 100m to go, Corneo went wide left, Schleicher was on the inside. Both accelerated away from the corner, but the extra distance Corneo covered was too much for her to make up, she fought valiantly, to get back on terms with Schleicher. 25m from the finish, it was obvious that Schleicher would win the stage, she sat up and punched the air as she crossed the line. Corneo was second, Brändli third and Kate Nichols (Australia) was fourth.
Her third place meant that Brändli maintained her lead on General Classification, she also leads the sprint and mountains competitions going into Stage 3.
Kate Nichols (Australia) "I've never raced that well in an international race before. This is my first comeback race overseas and I just can't believe it. (She laughed) Coming into that last 5km it was just a matter of hanging on to any wheel you could get. I knew it was going to be a sprint finish today, but I didn't realise how hard it would be coming up those last few hills. I guess it suits me, but it was painful all the same!"
Jenny Macpherson (Australia) "Today, we tried not to get too exhausted because of the heat. Nothing really strung out early on, no single file, This was a hot first race, having just come back from (a break) in Melbourne. The last five kilometres where it just climbs were tough. Then there was a crash, in front of me, I saw Rochelle [Gilmore] go down and that was within 3km to go, so I knew I'd get a main bunch time."
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