In the mass sprint that decided stage 5 of the Giro d'Italia Donne, Emma Norsgaard (Movistar Team) came up short against Team DSM's Lorena Wiebes – not for the first time this year as Wiebes had previously directly beaten Norsgaard in sprints at the Scheldeprijs and in the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour.
The 21-year-old Dane was not too disappointed, however, at missing out on her first Giro d'Italia Donne win as she was instead looking forward to the stages to come.
"Unfortunately, we only got second place, but I am happy. What's next? To win, for sure," Norsgaard said after the stage.
The fifth stage of the Italian stage race was the first flat stage after a team time trial, a mountaintop finish, a hilly stage that was won by a breakaway and a mountain time trial. Although a break of six riders got a gap of over two minutes, the peloton was always in control and brought things back for a sprint. Norsgaard's teammate Sara Martín helped Team DSM in the chase, and Aude Biannic was the Dane's pilot in the final.
"The plan today was to go for the win, it was a perfect stage for me. Yesterday I had the opportunity to just go relaxed in the TT so I could focus on today. Sara did amazing pulls, she showed great character today, pulling all day. And in the final, I always had Aude with me, guiding me through every difficult situation. I am so proud of them," Norsgaard said.
Wiebes and Norsgaard, both born in 1999, have quickly become the best sprinters of the women's peloton. While Wiebes arguably has the higher top speed, Norsgaard is a more versatile rider and can stay with the best on hillier days, as shown by her seventh place on stage 3 when Wiebes finished in a group seven minutes behind the peloton.
As the Movistar team's undisputed leader Annemiek van Vleuten elected to skip the Giro Donne in order to prepare for the Olympic Games, which means Norsgaard has the team's full support in her pursuit of a stage victory.
The next opportunity comes on Wednesday when the race does a 155-kilometre loop along the shores of the Lago di Como; Wiebes said that the stage may be too hard for her. After that, a hilly circuit race on stage 7 could be another opportunity for Norsgaard unless the GC favourites make the stage too hard for the young Dane. Then a flat stage 8 is bound to provide ideal terrain for another showdown between Norsgaard and Wiebes.
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