American Mara Abbott celebrated her country’s Independence Day with a victory during stage 5 of the Giro Rosa, where she took over the race lead from Marianne Vos (Rabo Women’s Cycling Team). She is relying on her USA Cycling National Development Program teammates to help her win a second overall title upon the event’s conclusion on Sunday in Cremona, Italy.
"I'm going to try to protect this lead with the help of my teammates," Abbott said. "They have been great so far. They've done everything that's been asked of them. I have confidence that they will continue to give everything until the end."
Jack Seehafer is USA Cycling’s women’s program manager and national team director at the eight-day Giro Rosa. He put together a series of talented riders led by Exergy TWENTY16's Lauren Tamayo, who earned a silver medal in the team pursuit at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, along with her trade team teammates Kristin McGrath and Andrea Dvorak.
He also selected Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies riders Lauren Hall, Janel Holcomb and Brianna Walle, and Vanderkitten’s Ruth Winder. US professional road race champion Jade Wilcoxson was scheduled to be participate in the race, however, a crash at the Nature Valley Grand Prix forced her to sit out.
The team secured several top-10 stage results this week with Lauren Hall placing eighth in stage 1 and fourth in stage 2, while Abbott placed ninth in stage 3 and 10th in stage 4, before wrapping up stage 5 with a win. According to Tamayo, her team’s success is also because of USA Cycling’s support and the race organizer’s efforts to provide the women with a world-class event.
"Everything is going really well for us over here," Tamayo said. "Seehafer is our director and we have amazing staff here from USA Cycling. They are taking care of everything for us.
"The Giro organizers have done an amazing job putting together some great courses and making us feel so special and important here in Italy. The first few stages were typical Italian stages. They were fast with lots of interesting twists and turns and they found all kinds of fun roads for us to race up, before we even started in the mountains. It really is a special experience to take part in the biggest and longest stage race for women."
Abbott knows exactly what it takes to win the Giro Rosa. She secured the overall title at the race that was formerly called the Giro Donne in 2010, and was the first American woman to do so. This time she took over the race lead after a dominating performance on stage 5's finishing climb up Monte Beigua.
She won by over a minute and a half ahead of Italians Francesca Cauz (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) and Fabiana Luperini (Faren-Kuota). The time advantage pushed her into the pink leader’s jersey by 1:27 minutes ahead of Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini-Giordana), while Vos lost the race lead and dropped into seventh place more than three minutes back.
"Mara had her climbing legs on today," Tamayo said. "Two kilometers into the 12km finishing climb, she went solo to the finish. Today was almost 2000 meters of climbing. We still have three days left that include one more big climbing day, a flat circuit stage and then the time trial. We plan to defend all the way through."