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Everything you need to know about the Giro d’Italia Donne

From the contenders to the course, everything you need to know about the biggest women's race of the year.

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The Giro d’Italia Donne may have been relegated for 2021, but it’s still the biggest race on the calendar for many in the peloton.

Until next year, the race formally known as the Giro Rosa is the only women’s grand tour and it will remain the longest event on the women’s calendar when the Tour de France Femmes rocks into town in 2022.

Also read: La Course by Le Tour de France: Dutch riders look formidable ahead of Olympic Games

After reneging on its WorldTour responsibilities to broadcast live coverage of the race last year, it has announced that there will be some for 2021. It’s only going to be for the final 15km, and you may have to route around your local listings to find it, but it’s better than nothing.

GCN+ has announced it will host the short broadcast and you may also be able to find it on the race organizer’s, PMG Sport, YouTube page. It will be using 4G to broadcast, so keep your fingers crossed.

With the Olympic Games coming up in less than a month, this is the last chance for many riders to put in a big performance before Tokyo.

Here is everything you need to know about the Giro d’Italia Donne, which starts Friday, June 2.

SD Worx vs the world

The SD Worx team showed at La Course by Le Tour de France last weekend why it has been one of the dominant forces in women’s cycling over the last decade. Demi Vollering’s win Saturday was a demonstration of talent and tactics, and the team will head to Italy with eyes on yet another win.

Anna van der Breggen won last year’s Giro by 1:14 over Kasia Niewiadoma – who will not be racing after she decided to skip it in preparation for the Olympic Games. Van der Breggen rode to a comfortable fourth place at La Course after helping Vollering to the win.

Also read: Anna van der Breggen is retiring, and she wants you to be OK with it, too

With Annemiek van Vleuten also out of the picture for 2021, van der Breggen is the major favorite for pink at the end of next week. This is her last year as a professional and what a way to end her relationship with the Italian race, as a support rider, rather than with her fourth GC victory. Only Fabiana Luperini has won more times, with five.

Van der Breggen’s biggest challenger is probably her teammate Vollering who will only be contesting the race for the second time. The 24-year-old finished 13th overall at the 2019 Giro d’Italia but missed it last year.

The Vuelta a Burgos in May was her first stage race in two years and she finished third overall behind van Vleuten and van der Breggen. It will be interesting to see how the two riders work together.

Elsewhere in the pack, Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini looks to be in commanding form ahead of her home race. She skipped La Course but did the double at the Italian national championships with victory in the time trial and road race, so fans can be assured that the Trek-Segafredo Italian tricolore will be back and as good as ever.

Fresh from her second place at La Course, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will be on a mission at the Giro. She doesn’t yet know if she’ll target GC or stages, but whatever happens, she’ll be fun to watch.

Also read: Kasia Niewiadoma: Tour de France Femmes will be ‘great’ for women’s cycling

Uttrup Ludwig took her first WorldTour win this year with a stage of the Vuelta a Burgos and will be keen to go well ahead of the Olympic Games.

Of course, the race will be much more than these riders, and others to watch out for will be last year’s best young rider Mikayla Harvey, Australian climber Amanda Spratt and her Spanish teammate Anna Santesteban. With van Vleuten not racing, her Movistar teammate Katerin Aalerud will be interesting to watch.

Time trials and summit finishes

With the contenders all accounted for, what will they face in Italy?

The route will stick close to the mountains as it picks its way across the north of the country, from west to east.

Kicking off with a slightly uphill 26.7km time trial from Fossano to Cuneo, the pecking other in the bunch will be decided early on. Day two puts the peloton right into the mountains with a punchy 100km stage and a summit finish at Prato Nevoso.

After heading above 1,600 meters altitude on stage 2, the third stage between Casale Monferrato to Ovada will feel like something of a respite. With four third-category ascents, it could be a day for the tougher sprinters or a chance for a breakaway.

Stage 4 brings another time trial for the riders, with a 14km effort. Sound easy enough but the climb to Cascate del Toce will be anything but and it will see some more large split happen in the overall classification.

The pan-flat stage 5 to Carugate is the first real chance for the sprinters at this year’s Giro d’Italia and it could be a little while before they have another. Day six is another lumpy affair that could suit the classics riders, as is stage 7’s undulating parcours.

Stage 8 brings another sprint reprieve before the second summit finish of the race to Monte Matajur on stage 9. This is the nominated queen stage with a big second category climb coming ahead of the summit finale.

Closing out the race is another tricky lumpy stage to Cormons, with a string of third-category climbs making life difficult for the fast women in the bunch. Unlike the men’s Tour de France, there will be no chance to sip champagne on this finale as the pink jersey will have to be careful not to come unstuck on this technical route.