The Giro d'Italia Donne is one of the longest-running races on the women's calendar, celebrating its 33rd edition from June 30 to July 10. This year the Italian Grand Tour organisers, PMG Sport/Starlight, promise to live up to the reinstated Women's WorldTour status, offering live television coverage of all ten stages, improved organisational and marketing structures, and a €250,000 prize purse – €50,000 of which goes to the overall winner.
The race also marks the first of back-to-back Grand Tours for the women's peloton, with fans set for a thrilling month of racing in July. The return of the women's Tour de France Femmes comes just two weeks after racing wraps up in Italy.
Some riders have opted to skip the Giro d'Italia Donne to focus on the Tour de France Femmes from July 24-31, but there are also world-class athletes determined to compete successfully in both races.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) is one of those who will focus on both events, and if there were ever a rider who could win the Giro-Tour double, it's this Dutchwoman. Van Vleuten thrives on challenging, high-altitude climbs and in time trials, so the Giro Donne suits her skills to a T.
Having already won the Giro d'Italia Donne on two occasions – 2018 and 2019 – Van Vleuten knows exactly what it takes to win the maglia rosa.
This year's Giro crosses through five regions of Italy starting on Sardinia for the first three stages and then to Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto - for 1,002.6 kilometres of racing.
Van Vleuten will likely target the opening prologue time trial and then turn her attention to the three decisive mountainous days on stage 7: Prevalle to Passo Maniva, stage 8: Rovereto to Aldeno, and stage 9: San Michele All'Adige to San Lorenzo Dorsino.
To learn more about the Giro d'Italia Donne course for 2022, read Cyclingnews' The definitive guide to the route's key stages.
Dutch women have dominated the Giro d'Italia Donne for the last decade. Alongside Van Vleuten's two titles, Marianne Vos won three in 2011-12 and 2014, and Anna van der Breggen won four in 2015, 2017, 2020 and 2021.
Van der Breggen will not line up as the defending champion in 2022 having retired at the end of the 2021 season. In addition, Demi Vollering and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio – both on the podium last year –will focus on the Tour de France Femmes, which means that other than Van Vleuten being a clear favourite, the race is wide open.
SD Worx will field a next-generation squad capable of success with Niamh Fisher-Black, who won the young rider classification in 2021, Anna Shackley and Blanka Kata Vas.
The Dutch squad, however, will have plenty of competition keen to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the open GC battle, much coming in the form of a rising contingent from the home nation. The last time an Italian won the overall title was Fabiana Luperini back in 2008. Dominant in the mountains, Luperini also won four other titles from 1995-1998. Before her, compatriots Michela Fanini won in 1994, Roberta Bomamoni in 1989 and Maria Canins won the inaugural edition in 1988.
The drought of recent times could be broken this year with Italian favourites Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) focused on the overall classification. Cavalli's team has two cards to play with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig in the line-up, though she is perhaps less focussed on the Giro GC than the Tour de France Femmes ahead.
Canyon-SRAM will be without Kasia Niewiadoma but will field strong riders in Elise Chabbey, Mikayla Harvey and Alena Amialiusik. Amanda Spratt, who came third in 2018 and 2019, will return to the Giro to lead BikeExchange-Jayco.
Starting on the island of Sardinia, on June 30, the Giro d'Italia Donne will kick off with a prologue in Cagliari. While Van Vleuten will certainly be a favourite to take the maglia rosa, the 4.7km route will cater to the most powerful time triallists, including Leah Kirchmann (Team DSM), who claimed prologue victory and took the first maglia rosa in the 2016 edition. Also, look out for Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ), Joss Lowden (Uno-X), Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Longo Borghini.
After the opening race against the clock there are two road stages – stage 2: Villasimius to Tortoli and stage 3: Dorgali to Olbia – before a rest day on July 3 to transfer to the mainland. These will cater to the sprinters where Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) will undoubtedly be looking for a record 31 stage victories at the Giro d'Italia Donne.
These sprint stages will also suit World Champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo), Emma Norsgaard and Arlenis Sierra (both Movistar), Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ), Chiara Consonni (Valcar-Travel & Service), Rachel Barbieri (Liv Racing Xstra) and Charlotte Kool (Team DSM) – all who will be working to collect points toward the ciclamino sprint competition.
On the mainland, sprinters will likely have two more opportunities, on stage 5: Carpi to Reggio Emilia and the finale stage 10: Abano Terme to Padova.
Unlike last year, the race offers ample opportunity for breakaways and mountain points, too. Last year's edition saw breakaways from Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo), who won the mountain classification, and Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM), who has already taken out the climbers jersey at Itzulia Women and the Women's Tour this year.
These two riders, and others with a similar style, will also be looking to make a mark on the lumpy stage 4: Cesena to Cesena and stage 6: Sarnico to Bergamo.
While the bulk of the mountain points will be distributed on the main mountain stages, riders like Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ), Blanka Kata Vas (SD Worx), Brodie Chapman (FDJ Nouvevlle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), will be looking to put pressure on other teams for their respective GC leaders in breakaways while also hunting stage wins.
How to watch
PMG Sport/Starlight have stated that they have guaranteed media visibility with production of a daily 2-hour live broadcast, globally distributed in agreements with the Discovery/Eurosport network (for all Europe and 16 Asian countries) and with Global Cycling Network (GCN+), for a total coverage of over 200 countries in the 5 continents.
In Italy, the show is aired on Rai 2 starting at 2pm, Rai Sport HD, Eurosport 1 (with DAZN Italy involved in the circuit) and on Discovery+ (Live Digital Feed), as well as on www.pmgsport.it, www.giroditaliadonne.it and on Giro Donne's social media channels.
Cyclingnews will have coverage of all 10 stages of the Giro d'Italia Donne along with race reports, galleries, results, and exclusive features and news.
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