Last year's Giro, the first organised by PMG Sport, saw SD Worx sweep the podium with Anna van der Breggen (her 4th title, surpassed only by the legendary Fabiana Luperini's 5 wins), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Demi Vollering as well as winning 3 stages, 3 out of the 4 jerseys and the team classification. Marianne Vos claimed her 30th stage win, Emma Norsgaard her first and Lorena Wiebes her first two, while Coryn Rivera (now Labecki), who had lost her very supporting father to Covid a few months earlier, took an emotional victory on the last stage.
This year’s race is back at WWT level, promises two hours of daily live coverage and has a prize pot equal to the Tour de France Femmes' (250.000 Euros, 50.000 for the winner). It starts with a 4.75 km time trial in Cagliari, Sardinia. You may be fooled into thinking this is a prologue, but it isn’t. According to UCI rules a prologue can’t exceed 4 km in a women’s race, for some reason. The organiser could therefore have been quite cruel and had a lot of long stages afterwards and still not have broken the allowed 140 km daily average, but that is not the case. There isn’t actually a single stage of more than 140 km in the race, and the average stage length is just over 100 km.
Stage 2 is a 106.5 km flat stage between Villasimius in the south of the island and Tortolì in the middle of it. The peloton will be riding close to the coast all day, so crosswinds could possibly come into play. There is only one categorised climb on the stage (1.5 km, 5.2% avg., 9% max.), and it starts after only 6 km of racing, so this could be the first time riders like Elise Chabbey and Lucinda Brand will be testing their legs. The small lumps before the finish seem to have have 5-7% maximum gradients, but they still shouldn’t cause major problems for the likes of Balsamo, Kopecky and Vos. They could still be used as stepping stones for late attacks though. There's two left turns in the final 1100 meters, but the last 700 is on a big and straight avenue.
Stage 3 is the last one in Sardinia. 113.4 km will be covered to get from Cala Gonone in the middle of the island to Olbia in the north of it. Once again, they’ll be staying close to the coast throughout the stage. The first 22 km are mostly downhill and there are no categorized climbs. A bunch sprint seems inevitable. There are some turns in the last 3 km and a final roundabout 900 m from the finish.
Day 4 is a rest day, which allows the peloton to travel to the mainland before the start of stage 4.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Kristen Faulkner, Juliette Labous, Lucinda Brand, Mavi García
Niamh Fisher Black, Clara Koppenburg, Elise Chabbey, Krista Doebel-Hickok, Erica Magnaldi
Riders like Silvia Persico, Olivia Baril, Mikayla Harvey, Neve Bradbury, Alena Amialiusik, Gaia Realini, Rachel Neylan, Riejanne Markus, Leah Thomas, Brodie Chapman
Jokers (uncertain form and/or targeting the Tour de France): Elisa Longo Borghini, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Évita Muzic, Blanka Vas, Amanda Spratt
Potential stage winners (not already mentioned): Marianne Vos, Elisa Balsamo, Lotte Kopecky, Emma Norsgaard, Arlenis Sierra, Charlotte Kool, Soraya Paladin, Marta Bastianelli, Sofia Bertizzolo, Chiara Consonni, Clara Copponi