Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team will start the 28th edition of the Giro Rosa with two former winners, three newly crowned national champions and the reigning world champion. The seven-strong squad will target the general classification with 2016 winner Megan Guarnier and 2015 winner Anna van der Breggen, who has finished on the Giro Rosa podium for the last three years.
The pair will be supported by Dutch road champion Chantal Blaak, Canadian time trial champion Karol-Ann Canuel, 2015 world champion and reigning British road champion Lizzie Deignan, world champion Amalie Dideriksen and British cyclocross champion Nikki Brammeier.
“Why would we start with one option when we have two?” said sport director Danny Stam. “We have two riders that have shown they can win this race. Stage ambitions are difficult alongside general classification ambitions, but as long as you’re not the leader, there are possibilities.”
The ten-day Italian stage race is the longest on the women’s calendar. It opens with a short team time trial in Aquileia on Friday (30 June) and ends with a road stage in Torre del Greco the following Sunday (9 July) that could determine the final general classification.
“It’s going to be a hard Giro again,” said Van der Breggen “I’m really looking forward to it. There are some strong individuals on the start line."
Ten days. One team time trial. One individual time trial. Eight road stages – including three or four stages for sprinters alongside stages for rouleurs, breakaway specialists and climbers. The 28th edition of the Giro Rosa lacks a mountaintop finish.
“It’s a hard Giro,” said Stam. “In the middle, it looks less hard, but stages two and three are pretty mean, followed by the individual time trial. And it’s still possible to lose or win the Giro on the last stage.”
“I checked some Giro stages on Strava. It’s difficult to know how the race will be if you only look to the road book,” noted Van der Breggen. “The profiles the organisation give us can be really bad. Sometimes it looks like there are no altitude metres but that’s not the case.
“There are no uphill finishes in this Giro, which means you can make things right in the final kilometres with a strong team, which can be an advantage for our team,” said Van der Breggen. “We’ll also have a different start this year with a 12-kilometre team time trial instead of the prologue. It’s pretty short to make any time differences, but it’s still great for our team.”
A LOOK BACK
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team had an incredibly successful Giro Rosa last season with Evie Stevens winning three of ten stages and finishing in second place behind teammate Megan Guarnier. Anna van der Breggen, then riding for Rabobank, rounded out the general classification podium.
The previous year, Anna van der Breggen won the Giro Rosa while Guarnier won one stage and wore the pink jersey for six days before finishing third overall.
“I’ve already ridden the Giro many times, and especially in my first years I had plenty of days of suffering,” said Van der Breggen. “One of my strengths is recovery, so towards the end, I normally still feel pretty strong.
“My best Giro memory is from the year I won, where my former Rabo teammates and staff really helped me throughout the whole Giro knowing the time trial at the second to last day would suit me,” Van der Breggen said. “With their support, I was able to win the time trial, earn the pink jersey and keep it until the end.”
A LOOK FORWARD
Only three former winners start the 2017 Giro Rosa. Two of them ride for Boels-Dolmans. The third, Claudia Lichtenberg, lines up with Wiggle-High5. While Boels-Dolmans has consistently performed at a high level since mid-April with the Ardennes Classics triple, a win at Tour de Yorkshire, a stage and the overall at Elsy Jacobs, a stage and the overall at Amgen Tour of California, a stage and second place at OVO Energy Women’s Tour, and six national titles, the Dutch-registered squad expects to be challenged at the Giro Rosa.
“Nobody misses that Annemiek [van Vleuten] is riding here to win this year,” said Van der Breggen. “Kasia [Niewiadoma] will be strong in the race, same as Elisa Longo Borghini. I assume a team like Bigla will be good here as well. This Giro will be competitive, which is really exciting.”
Most of the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team squad will ride the new Specialized Tarmac during the Giro Rosa. The road bike will be officially launched on Saturday, July 1 – the first road stage of the Giro Rosa.
Boels-Dolmans for Giro Rosa:
Chantal Blaak (NLD)
Nikki Brammeier (GBR)
Karol-Ann Canuel (CAN)
Lizzie Deignan (GBR)
Amalie Dideriksen (DNK)
Megan Guarnier (USA)
Anna van der Breggen (NLD)