Defending champion Anna van der Breggen (Team SD Worx) is just eight seconds down on the Giro d’Italia Donne maglia rosa of Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) after the 26.7km team time trial from Fossano to Cuneo, and as the race heads into its first of two mountaintop finishes at Prato Nevoso on Saturday.
"We finished second to Trek at eight seconds down. It wasn't our smoothest run today, and we've had smother runs in training, so with that respect we were disappointed because we feel that we could have done better today. Considering everything, we are satisfied with second place," said Ashleigh Moolman Pasio.
It was the fifth year in a row that the Giro d’Italia Donne has started with a team time trial to open the stage race.
After 22 of the 24 teams had completed their TTT, it was Alè BTC Ljubljana sitting in the hot seat with a time of 34:20. However, eventual winners Trek-Segafredo came over the line 39 seconds ahead of the Italian-registered team.
Van der Beggen’s team, SD Worx, were the last squad on the road and could only manage second position on the stage, eight seconds behind Trek-Segafredo.
SD Worx were 17 seconds behind Trek-Segafredo at the intermediate time check. After Chantal van den Broek-Blaak put in a turn to claw back seconds, she dropped back and it was left to Van der Breggen, Demi Vollering, Niamh Fisher-Black, Elena Cecchini and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio to finish the job.
The team managed to limit the damage slightly and eventually finished with a time of 33:48. Moolman Pasio crossed the line first for the team, putting her in fifth place on the general classification and into the points jersey going into stage 2’s summit finish on Prato Nevoso. Young Kiwi rider Fisher-Black took the best young rider’s jersey.
"We haven't had a lot of opportunity to practice together for this discipline. We came together on Monday and did two days of training on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the race today. We could have done more preparation, which is difficult with the TTT, as this will be the only TTT of the year," Moolman Pasio said.
"It is a special discipline when the team comes together and races as a unit and that we can all get on the podium together, so I think it's a really special discipline. It was great to race with the girls today to get on the podium, and even though it was second place, it still feels good to all get up on the podium together to celebrate."
World Time Trial Champion Van der Breggen sits in seventh place on GC and on the same time as her teammates. She stated earlier that she would use the Giro d'Italia Donne as preparation for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but that she would also like to win a fourth title. She won titles in 2015, 2017 and 2020.
"It was a good start to the Giro for us with Niamh in the young rider's jersey and I'm in the point jersey, so now we start tomorrow, stage 2 with a hard uphill finish, in a good position. It's a strong team, strong unit, and we have lots of options," said Moolman Pasio.
The team were in a similar position after last year’s prologue, with Trek-Segafredo leading by three seconds at the end of the first stage. Van der Breggen went on to win the overall that year by 1:20 ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma.
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