Race Report
Dutch national champion Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv)...

Brand doubles up in Italy, Guarnier extends lead

Lucinda Brand wins her second stage of the Giro Rosa, and American Megan Guarnier sprints to second yet again to defend maglia rosa.

Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) claimed her second stage win the 2015 Giro Rosa Friday, holding off a select group of riders on the fast descent into Loano. Race leader Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) continued her sprinting success, grabbing her third second-place and extending her GC lead.

The short, 89.7km stage 7 from Arenzano to Loano appeared to favor a breakaway after a tough last couple of stages and two more difficult stages on tap for the weekend. From the beginning, the peloton tackled the tough category 1 climb of Naso di Gatto. Queen of the mountains leader Flavia Oliveira (Ale Cipollini) gained maximum points at the summit, but soon thereafter, Brand made her solo escape.

Midway through the stage, Brand had amassed an advantage of three minutes over the peloton, but a 14-rider group had escaped the peloton in pursuit of the lone leader. On the category 3 climb to Rialto, the general classification riders accelerated, as the chase group had been brought back. This acceleration shattered the peloton, and left an elite eight-rider group to pursue Brand.

Near the top of the climb to Rialto, with 25km to race, Brand held a slim lead over the chasing peloton. With the stage being all downhill the rest of the way to the finish, she had a chance at victory. Brand pushed all the way to the line and came in 2:41 clear of the chasing group containing the maglia rosa, Guarnier. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) could not outsprint the pink jersey, but third place on the stage was enough to move her up to second overall, only 16 seconds behind.

Saturday’s penultimate-stage 21.7km individual time trial from Pisano to Nebbiuno will show the true strength of the riders at this year’s race. The course is full of narrow, winding streets, so good bike-handling skills are a necessity. The rolling course has a slight, 1km uphill drag inside the final 3km, before a fast run-in into Nebbiuno. Guarnier has been time trialling well this season, so look for her to possible extend her lead in the general classification.

Top 10, stage 7: Arenzano to Loano (89.7km)
1. Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) 2h38’15”
2. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) +2’41”
3. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) +2’41”
4. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) +2’41”
5. Elisa Long Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) +2’41”
6. Anna Van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) +2’41”
7. Mara Abbott (Wiggle-Honda) +2’43”
8. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo-Liv) +4’30”
9. Roxane Kenetemann (Rabo-Liv) +4’30”
10. Claudia Lichtenberg (Team Liv-Plantur) +4’30”

General classification after stage 7:
1. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) 18h22’51”
2. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla) +16”
3. Anna Van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) +17”
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) +31”
5. Katazyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) +36”
6. Mara Abbott (Wiggle-Honda) +1’01”
7. Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans) +2’23”
8. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo-Liv) +3’56”
9. Roxane Knetemann (Rabo-Liv) +4’09”
10. Shara Gillow (Rabo-Liv) +4’12”

The 26th Giro Rosa jerseys after stage 7:
Maglia Rosa: Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans)
Maglia Ciclamino: Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv)
Maglia Verde: Flavia Oliveira (Ale Cipollini)
Maglia Bianca: Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv)
Maglia Blu: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda)