Guess who's back? As if we could let the Giro Donne pass us by without a bit of bulletin action, so we're back in pink for the next 10 days as we run down the action at the second women's World Tour Grand Tour of the year.
It was something of a false start today given the apocalyptic weather conditions in Italy, which feels eerily reminiscent of when we were last together for the Giro d'Italia bulletins, and spent a significant portion of the time bemoaning the inclement weather.
Yet it feels weirdly in keeping with everything that's happened surrounding the race so far, with hiccups and issues and false starts pretty much synonymous with the lead-up to the race, which in itself almost wasn't a thing. The turmoil was today reflected in the conditions - let's hope it was short-lived and the race can continue safely tomorrow.
Over to the team, to bring us up to date.
Today in review
The stage reviews for this year's race will be brought to you by means of a word of the day, distilling the day's action down into a single term and explained by Peter Barnes.
Giro Donne word of the day
Torrenziale (adjective) - Torrential
To say the heavens opened at the start of the Giro Donne for the 4.4km time-trial would be an understatement. Teams had plans in place for the adverse weather with many starting their team leaders early in the schedule when weather was forecast to be its ‘easiest’. This meant no live images of Annemiek van Vleuten, Chloe Dygert or others.
A sensible choice for them; they were able to set a time, however the rain became too much after that, riders started crashing and the conditions were too treacherous. The moisture level was wetter than an otter’s pocket. The race: cancelled for the day. Some may say it ruins the spectacle, that cycling is an outdoor sport, open to the elements, riders should be tough and deal with anything. This however felt beyond reasonable. When riders describe their goals for the day as: ‘not crashing’, then you know it’s bad.
I’m ok with the race being neutralised for the day, as I almost invariably am in such situations. Rider’s safety comes before all other considerations regarding racing spectacle or entertainment. Besides, a short time-trial was never going to be ultimately decisive, it was only going to create the race dynamic of those who can afford to be defensive and those who needed to gain time back. Tomorrow is another day and a new story to be told with a completely new stage one, or is it stage two?
Speedy stage preview
The first full road stage will begin east of Florence, in Bagno a Ripoli, travelling north over the category 2 Passo della Colla as it heads to Marradi. The climb is tricky enough to offer opportunities for bold riders to launch attacks that may split the bunch and could even lead to early differences on GC - differences which will be even more crucial following the neutralisation of today's stage.
Lena's Giro Antipasti
Cycling is a sport where race organisers are a good deal more influential than in most other sports. There’s a reason the ASO (organiser of the Tour de France) is the most important body in the sport, for better or worse.
Its biggest rival - besides the UCI itself - is RCS (organiser of the Giro d‘Italia).
Both organisers historically tend to only organise men‘s races. ASO even tried to brand their Tour de France Femmes last year as the first women‘s Tour de France, when several Grand Boucles for women existed between the 1980s and 2010.
It will be interesting to see how RCS will treat the Giro Donne, with its extensive history, next year. Because the Giro Donne is the Grand Tour in the women‘s circuit.
Ongoing since 1988, with record winner Fabianna Luperini, it has been 9-10 stages long for most of its existence and provided a continuity among the quickly changing women’s races.
Women’s racing has been plagued with financial instability since time immemorial and usually races have come and gone. We had three different races claiming to be a women‘s Tour de France and yet the Giro Donne has always been the Giro Donne - albeit under slightly different names.
I don’t think it’s wrong to say the Giro Donne is one of the most prestigious women’s races, certainly the most prestigious women’s Grand Tour.
Since 2017 the maglia rosa has been in Dutch hands with Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten.
Marianne Vos holds the record for most stage wins with 32 victories. And it is not unlikely that she will make it 33 this year.
And yet despite all this history and prestige the Giro Donne is overshadowed - has been overshadowed since August 2022 - by the highly successful Tour de France Femmes which broke viewing records and managed to put TV production for a women’s race on a new level.
Giro Donne organiser Starlight / PMG Sport has been in financial difficulties and a few weeks before the start some people even began to doubt if the race would take place.
It is no wonder that the Italian cycling federation (who curiously owns the Giro Donne) has given the production rights to RCS, not to be outshone by their French counterparts.
The race hasn’t always shone as brightly as it deserves in the last few years, sometimes lacking in TV coverage, a short demotion from the women’s world tour and late stage presentations. However, I personally will always have a soft spot for this race. It has been a trailblazer for women’s racing and deserves our recognition.
Let’s all hope that this year we will see an exciting race and that RCS will manage to make the Giro Donne just as big as ASO did with the Tour de France Femmes.
We are proud to introduce contributions from two riders at the Giro Donne, for this concluding segment of the bulletin.
First, Human Powered Health's Eri Yonamine will give her 3-word impressions of the day. And second, Bizkaia Durango's 19-year-old debutante Beatriz Pereira, who we met last week in this exclusive interview with Emma Bianchi, will share her reactions to the race with Emma on Twitter, in a Giro Donne debut diary.
Eri Yonamine's What3Words
Beatriz Pereira's Giro Donne Debut Diary
Thanks for joining us - hopefully we'll have a lot more racing news to bring you tomorrow.