How the Race Finished
Kristen Faulkner took her second stage of the Giro d’Italia on the final mountainous day of the Giro Donne. She attacked early on, accompanied by Gaia Realini, and the two of them maintained a healthy lead, ahead of a GC battle behind. Faulkner dropped Realini on the final climb, and continued solo until the end. Marta Cavalli came in second: she made digs into Annemiek van Vleuten’s commanding lead, and dropped her on the descent, but couldn’t distance van Vleuten enough to threaten the overall lead of the race.
The Main Action
Stage 9 was the final major day of climbing in the Giro Donne. The race ran from San Michele All’Adige to San Lorenzo Dorsino, with two category two climbs, the Fai della Paganela and the Passo Duron, followed by the category one Passo Daone – this year’s Cima Coppi.
The day had an active start: a break of 15 went first, but wasn’t allowed to get far by the peloton. Thalita de Jong (Liv Racing Xstra) was the next to try, going it alone, but was caught relatively quickly. It was the duo of Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange), winner of Stage 1, and Gaia Realini (Isolmant – Premac – Vittoria), who’s been putting in impressive climbing performances, who made it free, attacking on the Fai della Paganela. They crested both second-category climbs together, with Faulkner taking maximum points: as she would go on to take maximum points on the Passo Daone as well, Faulkner jumped over Elise Chabbey in the mountains classification and secured herself the Maglia Verde for the end of the race.
An attack went from the peloton, with Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Anouska Koster (Jumbo-Visma), and Mikayla Harvey (Canyon//SRAM) making an attempt to bridge up to Faulkner and Realini. They would hang in no man’s land between the leaders and the Maglia Rosa group, however, and were passed by van Vleuten and Cavalli on the final climb.
With 32km to go, the final categorized climb started: the Passo Daone, which lasted 6.3km at an average gradient of 10.2%. Realini and Faulkner had nearly four minutes over the peloton. Mavi Garcia, in third place on the GC, led the peloton up the climb, but van Vleuten was constantly hovering near the front. Marta Cavalli, in 2nd place on the GC, was the first to attack, but was reeled back in. With the speed set by Cavalli, the group was shedding members. Cavalli attacked again, and this time it was only van Vleuten and Garcia who could follow – but then Garcia dropped. Cavalli set the pace up the climb, with van Vleuten stuck religiously to the back of Cavalli’s wheel. Cavalli kept to one side of the road, wanting to avoid any surprise attack from van Vleuten, but van Vleuten was content to follow Cavalli up.
Up ahead, Faulkner dropped Realini, with a sharp acceleration: she wanted the win alone. She had a solid two minutes as she crested the climb. Behind, van Vleuten took the lead as they came over the top of the climb, but it was Cavalli who made a move on the descent. Van Vleuten – perhaps careful after crashing yesterday – was descending more conservatively than Cavalli, and the gap ticked out. At one point Cavalli had eighteen seconds on van Vleuten – solidifying her second place, but never enough to seriously threaten van Vleuten’s lead. Elisa Longo Borghini bridged on the descent to van Vleuten, and the two of them caught Cavalli on the flat.
There was a final hill on the run in to the finish line, and Faulkner started it with a lead of 1’22”. It was enough for her to take the stage. Behind her, Cavalli attacked, taking second place and eating into van Vleuten’s lead by fifteen seconds. Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini came in together; Mavi Garcia came in 3’42” down on Faulkner, clinging on to her third place in the GC.
Despite losing fifteen seconds to Marta Cavalli, Annemiek van Vleuten remains secure in the Maglia Rosa, maintaining a lead of 1’52” over Marta Cavalli. Mavi Garcia clung onto her podium spot, despite Elisa Longo Borghini – who claimed to have no GC ambitions going into this race – being only 40 seconds behind. Niamh Fisher-Black retains the lead in the youth classification, in fifth place on GC and 11’26” down. Kristen Faulkner, sweeping up the maximum points today, secured herself the Maglia Verde, the mountains classification.