23rd Giro d'Italia Femminile Internazionale 2012
Stage 3 - Evelyn Stevens - Specialized Lululemon wins, takes maglia rosa
(PO) - Castiglione dei Pepoli (BO) 124 km
Evelyn Stevens (Specialized Lululemon) secured the third stage of the 2012 Giro Donne ahead of Fabiana Luperini (Faren) and Emma Pooley (AA Drink).
Stage 3, was one of the toughest stage of this years tour. With two long climbs; a cat 2 climb of Montepiano, which rose to 823m with over 14km of climbing. Then finally at 90km, the start of the cat 1 up to the Passo Della Futa. With temperatures toping 40 degrees, the stage did take it toll on the riders.
Despite a number of attempts to get away early on, the bunch stayed together until the gradient increase at the foot of the Montepiano climb. A sprint opportunity on the way has resulted in time bonuses for Shelly Olds (AA Drink), Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) and Lizzi Armitstead (AA Drink).
Villumsen (Orica-AIS) who was 28 seconds down overall at the start of the stage, attacked with 15km to go to the top of the climb. She quickly gained momentum and her gap to the chase went out to 2 minute 11 seconds.
The pace of the chase split the peloton. Approximately 40 leaders formed to chase back to Villumsen. The chase started to bring the gap down. Villumsen held a 1 minute 20 second lead with 10km to go to the top.
Two riders gave chase to Villumsen, Monia Baccaille (McCiplollini)and Katarzyna Sosna (Vaiano).
Villumsen stretched out her lead over the top of the climb and descended well. With 62km of racing completed, her lead was nearly 4 minutes ahead of the group of chasers that included the Maglia Rosa.
After 70km, Villumsen led the ahead of two chasers, Sosna and Baccaille at 2 minutes 10 seconds back. Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) and a number of the top riders were at 4 minutes.
The main peloton led by the Rabo Women moved to the front to start to bring the gap back. within a kilometre the gap was down to 3 minutes 50 seconds. Villumsen was viewed as a threat to the overall lead, particularly given she is a talented individual time trailer at the World and National level.
After 91km of racing, Villumsen started the big climb to Passo Della Futa, the gap to the main chase was 3 minutes 20 seconds.
Villumsen was strong on the climb but the chase was led by Rabo Women, with Vos at the helm and Hitec-Mistrel who were looking after the interest of Emma Johansson. The gap to Villumsen was coming down rapidly with the efforts of the chase. The gap was down to 2 minutes and falling quickly.
Villumsen was caught by two riders who had attacked the chase group. Evelyn Stevens (Specialized Lululemon) and Emma Pooley (AA Drink). Pooley and Stevens were chased by Fabiana Luperini (Faren) and Vos. Close behind were a number of riders trying to join the main chase. Pooley reached the top of the climb first ahead of Stevens.
With only 8 km to go, Pooley,Stevens and Luperini were chasing and Vos decided to attack the small group to try to join the three chasers.
With 5km to go, Pooley, Stevens, Luperini and Vos led the race. Stevens attacked and managed to gain 22 seconds lead.
Stevens was too strong and secured a valuable win. Luperini was 2nd, Pooley, 3rd and Vos was fourth.
The win was enough to give Stevens the maglia rosa, ahead of Marianne Vos, who put up a spirited fight to keep the time gap as small as possible.
Evelyn Stevens (Specialized Lululemon) attacked the small group with only 2.5km to go and was able to hold them off to take the win of the stage and move into the overall race lead. "I'm so excited," said Stevens. "I wanted to come here to the Giro and give it everything and today was the first stage that I thought I could do something. It was fun racing and worked out really well for us in the end.
"This is only stage three so we have six to go and some hard racing again but we're looking forward to giving it everything until the end."
four is a 98km stage starting and finishing in Montecatini with a ten
kilometer climb up the Goraiolo in the latter part of the day.
Photos Click on any image to enlarge >>
Video from Stage 3 (Giro Donne 2012)
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