Corbetta – Corbetta (120km)
Marianne Vos (Rabobank) sprinted to victory in Corbetta to take her 3rd stage win of the 2013 Giro Rosa in the final road stage of the race. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) had to settle for second this time around as Shelly Olds (Team Tibco) rounded out the podium in 3rd.
Mara Abbott (USA National Team) finished in the bunch to comfortably hold on to her pink jersey heading into the final stage individual time trial.
It was the flattest stage of the tour — quite a contrast to the past few days — in which the peloton was set to tackle eight laps of a 15km circuit. The first half of the circuit was on fast, wide-open roads whilst the back half of the circuit weaved its way through fields on narrow and rough roads before a technical final stretch into the finish.
With the stage likely to finish in a bunch kick we put all our energy into setting it up for Mel for the sprint. We still wanted to be alert and try to roll into moves if something went but we didn’t have plans to go on the offensive to force a break. Shara also had the task of looking after herself and her GC position and not lose any time.
It was a very hot day for racing with temperatures ranging between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius but the crowds were out to cheer us on and this kept the motivation high. At this point in the tour, the body is starting to get tired, the legs are heavy and the concentration gets harder so you need to try and stay focused and switched on.
It was another very fast day of racing with a 42km/h average speed for the entire race. The attacks began within the first kilometre of the race. Specialized-Lululemon were the major antagonists today as they seemed determined to have a move down the road and try for a stage win as they were out of contention for the GC podium.
One by one they continued to launch attacks over the first half of the race but with too many other teams trying to get involved and GC riders trying to slip into the moves to gain time on their rivals, every move was eventually shut down.
In the second half of the race Team USA took control of the front, in order to protect the pink jersey of Abbott. They set a hard pace on the front as the attacks became less frequent with many teams now starting to look towards the finish and the sprint that was looming.
From two laps to go it was time to start getting organised, wake up, sharpen the elbows and begin the fight for position all the way to the finish. Specialized-Lululemon tried a couple more late attacks but was unsuccessful and now it was certain that it was a stage for the sprinters to shine.
As we entered the bell lap with 15km remaining the trains began to get organised. Position was vital from 10km to go, when we turned off the big roads and onto the farm roads, as there was limited space to move up from this point on.
There was never one team in complete control on the approach to the sprint; it was continually changing and never more than a couple of riders from any one team were at the front. Wiggle-Honda were interested in setting it up for Bronzini, the Dutch national team for Wild, Tibco for Olds, Rabobank for Vos, Orica-AIS for Mel, Cippolini Giordana for Tagliaferro, plus anyone else who thought they could have a chance.
The final 5km was very hectic. Spratty and myself were holding good position up the front but we had lost the rest of our train, most importantly Mel. It is always difficult to find each other in the fight so instead we had to hold our position and wait until the other girls could bring her up.
With five corners in the final 2km we knew it was vital to have Mel in a good position as we entered this section, as the sprint was going to be won from the front and gaps would quickly open through the corners.
With about 1.5km to go we finally found Mel on the short straight stretch of road before the final three corners. We were too far back to be able to do a proper lead out and with only Spratty and myself left we tried to bring her up as close to the front as we could. We then had to leave her to use her sprinter’s prowess to finish it off.
In the last couple of corners Mel was pushed off of her line by another sprinter and lost her position on the final run-in, finishing up 10th.
The finish suited Vos perfectly, as she was able to use her fast cornering skills to get a gap and with 400m from the final corner she comfortably held on to take the win.
One stage remains in the 2013 Giro Rosa — a flat 16km individual time trial to close what has been another beautiful edition of the race.
Tiff finished 15th on stage 7 which puts her in 12th overall, 8:30 behind the overall leader Mara Abbott. Tiff’s Orica-AIS teammate Shara Gillow is the highest-placed Australian in 6th place overall. Follow the link for full results from stage 7 of the 2013 Giro Rosa.
Click here to see Tiff’s report from stage 1, click here for her report from stage 2, here for her report from stage 3, here for stage 4, here for stage 5 and here for Tiff’s report from stage 6. Tiff’s teammate Gracie Elvin is also blogging about the Giro Rosa and you can read her great reports here.