The reigning cyclo-cross World Champion took on Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) in the sprint from a breakaway of four riders, and while she is pleased with second place, she said it would have been a tough ask to beat Vos in Ovada.
“The sprint was slightly uphill until 75 metres to the line. I saw a little gap and took it on 200 metres to go, so I did a long sprint. For me, that is better, but it was painful,” Brand said after the stage.
After winning the opening team time trial, Trek-Segafredo had a disastrous stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia Donne as the team’s GC ambitions fell apart when the team’s leader, Elisa Longo Borghini, had a bad day and lost 8:30 minutes. Furthermore, Tayler Wiles could not start stage 3 due to a cold and light bronchitis.
With a four-minute advantage going into the final kilometre, the four escapees had plenty of time to play cat-and-mouse before the sprint.
Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) was in first position with Vos in her wheel, Liane Lippert (Team DSM) sat behind Vos, and Brand brought up the rear.
With 500 metres to go, it looked as if Brand would be boxed in a bit on the left side of the road. However, a gap opened up through the final corner which Brand used to launch her sprint. Vos was simply too strong to be held off, taking her 29th Giro stage win.
“I think I got the best out of it. It is really hard to beat Marianne in a sprint, and with a headwind in the final it was not possible to get away,” said Brand.
On a rainy stage, Brand’s first attack came on the first climb of the day where she was part of a group of six which also included Chabbey and Lippert, but this break was quickly reeled in again.
The decisive move then formed on the second classified climb of the day, 50 kilometres from the finish, where Vos and Chabbey bridged to Lippert and Brand who had attacked on the descent just before. These four riders worked well together all the way to the finish before sprinting for the win.
“Already on paper this was a stage for me. It has been a long time ago that we had rain in the Giro, it was very wet and extremely slippery. A lot of up and down and corners, so it was a great stage to go in a breakaway,” Brand was happy with her performance.
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