Giro d'Italia Donne: Balsamo wins stage 2 in Tortoli

Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) took the victory on the first road stage of the Giro d’Italia Donne 2022. In almost an exact repeat of the 2021 World Championships sprint, Balsamo went head-to-head in a sprint with cyclo-cross World Champion Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) on the finishing straight in Tortolí but the Italian edged the Dutch rider on the line. 

Much like in Leuven, Balsamo’s teammate Elisa Longo Borghini – who recently showed her own sprinting prowess at The Women’s Tour – acted as last woman for the younger rider, bringing her around the left hand side in order to get a clear run at the line. 

Vos launched her sprint first but it wasn’t long before the world champion was on her wheel choosing the right moment to come around the Jumbo-Visma rider and throw her bike to the line to claim the victory. 

Charlotte Kool (Team DSM) came from a position much further back to claim third on the stage. 

The win sees Balsamo take the pink leader’s jersey from Team BikeExchange’s Kristen Faulkner, who won Thursday’s prologue. Balsamo leads by four seconds ahead of Faulkner, with Faulkner’s teammate, Georgia Baker, in third at 8 seconds. 

"Wearing the maglia rosa is a dream come true, wearing it tomorrow will be beautiful," Balsamo said. 

"We came here with the aim of not taking too many seconds in the prologue, and then try to take the jersey with bonuses. It couldn't get any better than this! Today the team was spectacular, we took responsibility from the first to the last km. Tomorrow we will try to defend the [jersey] but we have no particular pressure, we have achieved what we wanted today."

How it unfolded

On the first road stage of the 2022 Giro d’Italia Donne the peloton tackled a 106.4km rolling point-to-point stage from Villasimius to Tortolì just inland from Sardinia’s eastern coastline. 

The peloton stayed together until the only QOM of the day when Franziska Brauße of Ceratizit-WNT picked up the points, meaning she will wear the jersey going into stage 3. 

Off the back of Brauße’s move two Italian riders, Mathilde Vitillo (Bepink) and Cristina Tonetti (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) countered, quickly getting a gap. Shortly after, a chase group broke away including Inga Češulienê (Aromitalia - Basso Bikes - Vaiano), Beatrice Rossato (Isolmant - Premac - Vittoria), and Marta Jaskulska (Liv Racing Xstra). 

With 40 seconds between the two leaders and the chase group and 2:51 back to the peloton, the chase group began to close on the pair of Italians in front. With 46km to go the two groups joined.  

Trek-Segafredo, in the interest of bringing Balsamo to the line for a sprint, were present on the front of the peloton in an effort to bring back the five leaders however the gap went out to over three minutes.

With the high pace set by Trek-Segafredo, the gap started to drop with the efforts in the peloton shaving one minute off the breakaway’s advantage in 10km. Meanwhile, Jasulska took maximum bonus seconds in the intermediate sprint with 32km to go.  

With 20km to go the gap was inside one minute with Jumbo-Visma assisting Trek-Segafredo in the chase in the search for Vos’ 31st Giro Donne stage win. As the gap came down to 40 seconds and the peloton started to slow slightly, Francesca Pisciali attacked the breakaway but was quickly reeled back. The break began to attack one another as the gap tumbled below 30 seconds. 

With 18km to go, Piscali went again but was brought back. With the breakaway working together and the peloton wary of catching them too soon and inviting counter attacks the gap hovered around 30 seconds with just over 10km to go. 

With 9.7km to go, the catch was made and the sprint teams began to line themselves up on the road. Team DSM, Canyon-SRAM, and Jumbo-Visma were all fighting for position on the road, and with 4km to go, SD Worx started to bring Lotte Kopecky up too. 

Movistar were also visible towards the front, working for their Danish sprinter Emma Norsgaard. Valcar Travel & Service led through the final corner but it was Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo, who were looking strongest in the finishing straight. 

Despite the efforts of her Jumbo-Visma squad, including Anouska Koster and newly-crowned Dutch National Champion Riejanne Markus, Vos was forced to launch her sprint early allowing Balsamo, who was brought into position by Elisa Longo Borghini, to sit on her wheel until the last minute and come around the Dutch rider to take her first career Giro Donne stage win. 

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