Eighth win of the season for Italian
A day after her 30th birthday, Giorgia Bronzini opened her account at the Route de France with victory on stage 1 in a sprint over Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana) and race leader Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS).
Sunday's victory was the former world champion's eighth for the season, but the Italian is confident of plenty more to come.
"I said to Rochelle [Gilmore, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's team manager] that it was my goal to get ten victories this year, maybe I can have more!" Bronzini said.
The unclassified climb that formed part of the stage's 3.5km, three-lap finishing circuit proved reasonably selective from the outset and by the final lap, 50 riders had missed out.
"It was simple race with not many attacks until we got to the little final circuit," Bronzini explained. "In the circuit there was a little climb of around two-and-a-half K, and some of the sprinters dropped off. The first time around there were only 20 riders, but more riders got back on.
"In the final we tried to have a break with Linda Villumsen, to try to win with her for the jersey, but Johansson was there and she was able to defend," the Italian added. "So in the last lap I asked the girls to work for my sprint and they looked after me. The last one to put me into the sprint was Lauren Kitchen, who did a really good job in the last K, so in the last corner I was in third position.
"Then I opened my sprint in the last 150 metres, and I won by a bike length."
The overall battle remains a tight one with just one second still separating leader Emma Johansson from Villumsen. Amy Pieters (Argos-Shimano) is in third place, at five seconds.
The Route de France continues Monday with an 89.3km stage.