After her stage 6 victory at the Giro Rosa in Gerola Alta on Wednesday, Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) was a happy woman. She and teammate Annemiek van Vleuten played their cards well on the finishing climb, setting Spratt up for a solo victory and the maglia rosa.
"We couldn't have asked for anything better from the team today," Spratt said. "They all rode so well before the climb. We wanted to see if we had an opportunity to take time, and it worked out well. It was a hard climb, and Annemiek really set me up for my attack."
Scouting the routes of important stages before the race has become commonplace in pro cycling. Spratt and van Vleuten went up to Gerola Alta in June to see what it was like, and this knowledge was an important piece of their race strategy.
"We came and rode this climb a couple of weeks ago, and that really paid of," Spratt said. "We knew when to attack, we knew it would get steeper and we just had to stay patient until then. I went into the big ring because I knew it flattened off after and I am so happy to take the jersey, although it still feels a bit surreal."
Van Vleuten finished in second place after a climb where the two Mitchelton-Scott riders used their respective strengths to full effect.
"We really wanted to win the stage today," Van Vleuten said. "I rode hard, and Spratty attacked at a really good moment just after I finished my turn; she showed that she is in really good shape. I then just had to follow the wheels and could take some bonus seconds in the end. You never know how your legs are, so today was a good test and we can go into tomorrow's stage with a lot of confidence."
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) finished the stage in third place, getting off to a good start on the decisive second half of the 10-day Giro Rosa. With Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, the South African had a teammate with her when the selection was made on the climb.
"The team did an amazing job throughout the stage, then it was up to Cille and me on the climb," Moolman-Pasio said. "Once Amanda had gone away, it was about limiting the losses. The climb was a tactical one as there were parts where it flattened out. When it is a numbers game like that, it is hard to control everything, but we are feeling good, and I have confidence in my team."
Maria Victoria García (Movistar Team) impressed by keeping up with the best when van Vleuten put the hammer down. After Spratt's attack, García continued in the chase group with the support of teammate Eider Moreno, and she was passed by Ane Santesteban (Alé Cipollini) only just before the line to finish sixth.
"Lorena Llamas did a fantastic job to create a selection on the climb, and I was feeling strong," Victoria García said. "I did not want to go all-out right away, instead gradually increasing my speed. Spratt went on her own and I was on my own for a while until Eider could rejoin my group from behind; she gave everything today to support me. The pace was slower in the final, allowing Spratt to open a big gap. I could have done better, but I am satisfied with this performance and have high hopes for tomorrow's time trial."
Thursday's 15-kilometre time trial up the steep climb from Lanzada to the Alpe Gera di Campo Moro is an important stage that will probably create substantial gaps in the general classification.