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Giro d'Italia Donne: Balsamo doubles up with stage 5 victory

Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) claimed her second win on the Giro d'Italia Donne when she beat Charlotte Kool (Team DSM) and Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma) to the line on stage 5 in Reggio Emilia.

After the last escapee was reeled in 4.4 km from the line, it was a high-speed finale where the sprinters' teams all tried to position themselves at the front. This led to a crash at the flamme rouge that took out Emma Norsgaard (Movistar Team) and Blanka Vas (Team SD Worx).

The sprint was technical with a 90-degree left turn with 150 metres to go, and as Kool took a wide approach, Balsamo could take the ideal line and launch her sprint out of the turn. Kool came back strongly, but Balsamo just held her off to win.

“I am really happy with my team today, they worked hard and well, and I am delighted to win the stage,” the world champion said.

Looking ahead to stage 6 from Sarnico to Bergamo, she continued: “Tomorrow will be beautiful with the start in my hometown, but the stage itself is very challenging and suits a breakaway well. We will see,” Balsamo finished.

How it unfolded

Compared to the previous day’s GC action in the hills around Cesena, stage 6 from Carpi to Reggio Emilia was completely flat, taking a loop through the Po Plain around the finishing town for a total distance of 126.1 kilometres.

The break of the day formed within the first 25km when Giorgia Bariani (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), Hannah Barnes (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), and Italian-born Latvian champion Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar-Travel & Service) bridged to the duo of Matilde Vitillo (BePink) and Iris Monticolo (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo).

The peloton almost caught them with 97 km to go, but eventually let the breakaway go. Within 46km of the finish, the five riders’ advantage increased to 5:10 minutes before the sprinters’ teams took up the chase, steadily reducing the gap.

When their advantage had fallen to 1:06 minutes with 18km to go, Bariani attacked from the breakaway and went solo. This extended her breakaway by a few minutes as her former companions were reeled in with eight kilometres to go, while Bariani herself only had to give in to the chase 4.4km from the line.

In the final kilometres, the sprint trains were fighting for position, and a crash at the flamme rouge saw Norsgaard, Vas, and several other riders hit the road, splitting the peloton. In the reduced group that got through unscathed, Balsamo chose the best line through the final turn and had enough speed to hold off Kool and Vos at the line, celebrating her second Giro Donne stage win and further strengthening her hold on the cyclamen points jersey.

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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.

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