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Classics specialists, here are 2 stages for you

15/01/2024

The central part of the Giro d’Italia Women 2024 should provide plenty of spectacle thanks to two stages that should not be regarded as merely transitional. The fourth and sixth stages will be the hunting ground for climber-rouleurs and classics riders, without neglecting team leaders still fighting for GC.

A chance for breakaway riders

The first of two occasions will come on Wednesday, 10 July with the 133-kilometre Imola-Urbino. After more than half the stage held on the plains of Romagna, the ups and downs will begin shortly after leaving the province of Rimini. The 1500 metre elevation gain is in fact condensed in the last fifty kilometres, which will feature three medium-difficulty KOMs.
Given the hight probability of a (potentially large) breakaway, the San Marino climb (the first of the three KOMs and the only foreign crossing of the Corsa Rosa) could be tempting springboard for the most daring and best-suited girls in that altitude profile. After reaching the top of Monte Osteriaccia, at an altitude of 615 metres, the route heads to Urbino through the hills of Montefeltro. The road leading to the finish line rises steadily: 10.5 kilometres at an average gradient of 3% with a few harder points in view of the town centre. An intermediate sprint (Gadana) located at 6 kilometres from the finish line might provide an interesting anticipation of the finale.

No flat ground

Forty-eight hours later comes the sixth stage, which promises to be particularly entertaining. The San Benedetto del Tronto-Chieti looks a lot like a Tirreno-Adriatico stage: 155 kilometres (the longest of the Giro Women) with 2000 metres of elevation gain and plenty of altimetrical pitfalls hidden in the profile. It will be a highly unpredictable day, with the GC girls trying to keep the situation under control ahead of the summit finishes of the last two days, and those looking for stage win giving their very best for what might well be their last opportunity.
The intermediate sprint will take place after about fifty kilometres of racing, to then head towards Cermignano, Penne and the finish line in Chieti, the three KOMs of the day (only one of second category). The finale will feature the last double-digit gradient ramps of the day, and a solo arrival is not to be excluded.

Room for predictions

The routes of these two stages seem to be perfectly suited to classics riders such as Kopecky and Vos. The SD-Worx world champion is currently enjoying the best phase of her career and will be looking to enrich her already impressive trophy cabinet by repeating her only success in the women’s Giro dating back to September 2020 (in Maddaloni), when she was still just an interesting prospect. The eternal Dutchwoman of Visma-Lease a Bike, on the other hand, will be aiming to redeem herself from a somewhat unfulfilling 2023, which ended prematurely due to an operation on her iliac artery, by going for stage victory number 33 in the Corsa Rosa.
Trusting that the team captains will be up front in both fractions but might be more focused on the last two stages, the list of other possible contenders is quite long. Among those to watch out for are Lippert (who has grown exponentially and won a stage at the 2023 Tour), Reusser, (two stages at the Tour in the last two years), Chabbey, Kerbaol, Jaskulka, Ludwig, Brown, Cordon-Ragot, Deignan (three stage podiums at the Giro), Van Anrooij, Cadzow, Koster, Mackaij, Karlijn Swinkels, Berteau, Faulkner (two stages in 2022). There are also many Italians (some of them very young) who could find themselves in the top positions for the finales. The most suitable are surely Persico and Paladin (several top five placings at the Giro for both of them), then, in no particular order, let’s not forget Masetti, Arzuffi, Zanardi, Marturano, Pirrone, Ragusa, Ciabocco, Barale, Gasparrini and Silvestri.

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