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Vos leads Giro Rosa after prologue, two opening stages

Marianne Vos is back in the magia rosa, but competition is fierce at the 25th Giro Rosa

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After a prologue and two road stages, world champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank-liv) leads the Giro Rosa, the 10-day stage race that tops the women’s international calendar

The backdrop to the start to the 25th Giro Rosa was the famous Royal Palace of Caserta, and the women’s peloton began with a short, fast 2 kilometer time trial for the prolouge.

Dutch National Time Trial Champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabobank-Liv) took first place, with  Vos (Rabobank-Liv) in a close second, and a gap of only 0.81 seconds between. Right behind Vleuten and Vos was another Rabobank-Liv rider, the current French time trial champion, Pauline Ferrand Prevot.

Van Vleuten was elated after her victory, saying, “I’m over the moon. That is all I wanted. My dream to wear the pink jersey came true and now I just want to enjoy my victory. “

Stage 1 of the Giro Rosa featured an 8.6-kilometer circuit in Santa Maria Vico. With a 1.8-kilometer climb and riders tackling the circuit 11 times, a stage win would not come easy, or predictably. The peloton speeds were high from the start and Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) managed a 45-second gap ahead of the group. After 10 kilometers, Asheligh Moolman (Hitec Products) and van Vluten (Rabobank-Liv) chased down Scandolara, with Tatiana Riabchenko (Michaela Fanini) bridging the gap.

At 10km to go  Audrey Cordon (Hitec Products) attacked for the lead, but she didn’t prevail for long. Caught by Vos and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products), Vos — the overall winner of the race in 2011 and 2012 — crossed the finish line for the stage win and the maglia rosa.

“I’m very happy with this victory,” Vos said. “My team is strong we are ready to be the protagonists of the race. Winning the Giro is always great.”

Vos’s teammate, Ferrand Prevot, secured the white jersey, and is determined to help keep Vos at the top for GC results.

Stage 2 had riders facing another circuit for a total of 120 kilometers in Frattamagiore, just outside of Naples. Since the course was nearly pancake flat, the sprinters had their eyes on this stage.

Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) took the sprint win ahead of Vos, with American Shelley Olds (Alé-Cipollini) taking third. The biggest concern for stage 2 was riding safely, as many of the roads were run down with potholes. Stage winner Bronzini thanked her teammates, who worked for her during the entirety of the stage after one lone attack from RusVelo’s Alexandra Burchenkova.

“The girls did amazing work all day. They tried to protect me, to stay in front. The team worked so well, and I’m really proud of that,” said Bronzini.

Monday’s 125km third stage is the race’s first day of real climbing. After Cassino and Sant’Elia Fiumerapido there is the Cat.2 climb to Belmonte Castello. A long slight slope leads the race to Alvito for the final climb of 5km  with a series of switchbacks until the finish line.

American Mara Abbott (UnitedHealthcare), a two-time winner of the race, is expected to again feature in the mountains.

Check the race’s official website for details about the stages, teams and athletes, as well as stage reports, classifications, and riders’ interviews.