The well-balanced route of the 2024 Giro d’Italia Women will provide plenty of opportunities for all types of riders. The so-called “fast wheels” will have two clear chances, in which the title of best sprinter will be played out among athletes of undisputed value.
The first opportunity will come as early as Monday 8 July, on the second stage, Sirmione-Volta Mantovana of 102 kilometres, the altimetrically easiest of the entire race with only 450 metres of elevation gain. The intermediate sprint of Medole (placed at 40 km to go) will warm up the engines, before the sprinters’ teams will take control of the situation in the final 20-kilometre circuit between Guidizzolo and the finish line, closing in on the likely breakaway and setting up the trains for their leaders.
Whoever wins, a rematch will be played out three days later, in the fifth stage, the 111-kilometre Frontone-Foligno (elevation gain: 700 metres), which does, however, involve some potential pitfalls for the sprinters, as the route hits both the hills of Le Marche and Umbria. The Morello KOM, located just 16 kilometres into the race, should not represent a major hurdle for the sprinters, who will instead be called upon for the intermediate sprint in Costacciaro (halfway through the stage) to collect more points in this special ranking. Strong pace to be expected in the finale, especially if the more than likely breakaway will not have been caught yet.
If that of Volta Mantovana seems to be the most classic of sprinters’ finishes, the Foligno stage could reward those athletes who will have managed to save more energy in the two hilly stages of the previous days. As we wait for the official starting list to be announced, the most credible candidates could be Kool (three partial podiums in 2022) and Wiebes, both led-out by an Italian last wheel (Barbieri and Guarischi respectively), although Wiebes herself (three stage wins at the Giro) is proving to hold her own even on more demanding routes.
Battling it out with the two Dutchwomen could be the Italian Balsamo (two stage wins in 2022), Consonni (winner of the last stage both this year and last year), Fidanza, Paternoster and Zanardi, the latter possibly also in search of the best condition in view of the Olympics, especially for the track. Some other names to keep an eye on could be Van der Duin, Daria Pikulik, Norsgaard (a stage win in 2021), Ahtosalo, Dideriksen, Alonso, Lach, Wollaston, Georgie and Dygert.