Mara Abbott (U.S. National Team) became the first American woman to win the Giro Donne today, finishing the flat final stage with rest of the field to retain her 2:05 advantage over second place Judith Arndt (HTC-Columbia).
Teammate Shelly Evans grabbed the third stage win for the U.S. team, winning the final stage of out of a bunch sprint ahead of Kirsten Wild (Cérvelo TestTeam) and Giorgia Bronzini (Gauss RDZ Ormu) to finish off a successful week for the U.S. squad.
Abbot grabbed the race by the throat in the 8th stage, taking off in a breakaway with Cérvelo’s climbing star Emma Pooley before dropping the Brit and winning the stage by nearly a minute and a half. The move put Abbott into the overall lead, 19 seconds ahead of Arndt.
The following day Abbott once again proved she was the strongest climber in the race, going away with Pooley for the second day in a row before dropping her in the final 3 kilometers of the Passo del Stelvio. Arndt suffered up the Stelvio and lost 1:43 on the day, extending Abbott’s lead to over two minutes.
With only one relatively flat stage remaining, Abbott’s effort on the Stelvio all but assured her the overall win.
National teams tend to suffer when pitted against the top trade teams in the world, like Cérvelo TestTeam and HTC-Columbia, making the U.S. team’s success all the more impressive – though not entirely unexpected. For years the team has been developing riders capable of performing at the highest international level – like Abbott, Evans, and Amber Neben – and has now hit a critical mass of talent. The squad is now deep enough to perform against the cream of the international crop.
USA Cycling also hired former Cérveo director Manel Lacambra to direct the women’s squad at this year’s Giro, and his international experience paid off.
“I am very proud of these riders. Three stage wins and the overall win is something crazy for a national team,” said Lacambra. “Amazing teamwork from these girls, even though it was the first time that they raced together. We are more than a team, we are a friends enjoying life and racing together for a win. Without the good work from everyone on the team we could not have won the hardest Giro d’Italia ever.”
“I have never been so proud to be part of something like this,” U.S. team member Alison Starnes said via Twitter after the stage.
- 1. Shelley Evans (USA) US National Team, in 2:45:28
- 2. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Cervelo TestTeam, at 00:00
- 3. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Gauss RDZ Ormu, at 00:00
- 4. Rasa Leleivyte (Ltu) Safi – Pasta Zara, at 00:00
- 5. Marianne Vos (Ned) Netherlands National Team, at 00:00
- 1. Mara Abbot (USA) US National Team, in 25:15:54
- 2. Judith Arndt (Ger) HTC-Columbia Women, at 0:02:05
- 3. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Team Valdarno, at 0:03:05
- 4. Claudia Häusler (Ger) Cervelo TestTeam, at 0:05:26
- 5. Emma Pooley (GBr) Cervelo TestTeam, at 0:07:29