Giro d'Italia Donne: Kristen Faulkner wins opening time trial, takes first maglia rosa

Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco) smashed the opening time trial to take the stage win and the first maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia Donne

The American all-rounder covered the 4.7km route in a winning time of 5:45 to beat her BikeExchange-Jayco teammate Georgia Baker by four seconds and Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) by six seconds in the seaside city of Cagliari on Sardinia.

"I feel happy and proud of all the work my teammates and I, and my coaches put in. I'm just happy that I could bring home the pink jersey for the first day for the team," Faulkner said.

Faulkner will wear the leader's jersey into stage 2 on Friday, a 106.5km between Villasimius and Tortolì.

"I think stages 2 and 3 are going to be likely sprinters' finishes, and stage 4 is a day where you might not win the GC, but could lose it, but I think there are punchy climbs. Hopefully, I can hang onto the jersey for the next two days."

How it unfolded

In a departure from the usual team time trial, which has been a fixture of the race for the past five years, the first stage of the 2022 Giro d’Italia Donne took the form of a 4.7km individual time trial. 

The riders took off down the start ramp for the first of three stages on the island of Sardinia and, with the forecast predicting high winds later on in the day, teams sent their leaders off earlier on to ensure they did not lose time early on. 

Team BikeExchange’s Baker posted the fastest time early on with 5:49. She was shortly followed by Olympic time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten but with the short, flat course not suiting the Dutch rider she finished six seconds down on Baker with a time of 5:55. 

Italian national time trial champion Elisa Longo Borghini did the tricolore jersey justice with a strong time of 5:54 which was enough for third place until her teammate, world champion Elisa Balsamo, replaced her in third with a time of 5:51. 

Elsewhere, Team SD Worx’s Lotte Kopecky rode a strong time trial in her Belgian national champion’s kit to hold on to fourth on the stage whilst Trek-Segafredo’s Lucinda Brand and Leah Thomas rode into the top-10 to make four riders from that team inside the top-10. 

As predicted, high winds played a role later on with a strong crosswind along the finishing straight where riders could be seen battling against the gusts. 

But it was the winner of the Tour de Suisse time trial, Kristen Faulkner who claimed the hot seat with a strong time of 5:45. Despite the calibre of riders that went after the 29-year-old American her time would stand and she would pull on the pink jersey at the end of the stage.  

All of the general classification favourites remained comfortably within the top-20 with nobody losing any significant time going into Friday’s 106.5km stage from Villasimius toTortolì. 

Results powered by FirstCycling

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