Highlights video from the race:
Full 50 minutes of video
There are only two stages in this year's eight-stage race that are designed for the pure sprinters - and this one was always going to end in a bunch sprint. Stage 1, ran along the coast in the southern province of Puglia, from Giovinazzo to Margherita di Savoia, where they finished with two 15km laps, before finishing on the sea-front. It was a beautiful day, hot and fresh, with enthusiastic crowds lining the roads - many of the tifosi wearing just swimsuits - and the towns wreathed in pink, in honour of the race. After a small climb at the start, the going was was flat all the way - with wide roads and winds coming off the sea making it difficult for anyone to escape - especially with the sprint teams controlling the race.
Marianne Vos put down her marker early on in the race, attacking for the 3 seconds of time bonuses that come with each intermediate sprint. She won the first sprint ahead of the Hitec Products UCK pair of first-time Giro riders, Julie Leth and Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen, and the second ahead of Adrie Visser (Boels Dolmans) and Aizhan Zhaparova (RusVelo), with her team, Rabobank-Liv/Giant, racing perfectly.
Once the peloton hit the small finishing laps, problems began. A crash on the first lap took of ORICA-AIS' Sungeun Gu out of the race - and then a spate of punctures on the second lap meant that Giorgia Bronzini and her team were out of contention, with other riders caught up by crashes. The rest of the peloton, however, were more than ready, forming their sprint trains, ready for the sprint.
The finishing straight was perfect for a bunch sprint, and two riders were clearly ahead - Marianne Vos and Kirsten Wild. Wild demonstrated that she was back to her full power, making the win look easy, with Vos in second place and Cipollini-Giordana's Marta Tagliaferro in third.
Wild had told Anne-Marije Rook, in her interview for the Café in May, that she was hoping to make a comeback from her injury at the Giro - it didn't take her very long to achieve that goal!
Stage 1 results:
1. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Netherlands National Team, 2:53:55
2. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank-Liv/giant, s.t.
3. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) MCipollini-Giordana, s.t.
4. Edita Janeliunaite (Ltu) Pasta Zara-Cogeas, s.t.
5. Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) RusVelo, s.t.
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobank-Liv/giant, s.t.
7. Shelley Olds (USA) Tibco, s.t.
8. Lauren Hall (USA) USA National Team, s.t.
9. Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Wiggle Honda, s.t.
10. Anna Trevisi (Ita) Vaiano Fondriest, s.t.
General Classification after Stage 1
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank-Liv/giant,
2. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Netherlands National Team, + 00:02
3. Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) MCipollini-Giordana, + 00:08
4. Adrie Visser (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:10
5. Julie Leth (Den) Hitec Products UCK, s.t.
6. Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen (Nor) Hitec Products UCK, + 00:11
7. Aizhan Zhaparova (Rus) RusVelo, s.t.
8. Edita Janeliunaite (Ltu) Pasta Zara-Cogeas, + 00:12
9. Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) RusVelo, s.t.
10. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobank-Liv/giant, s.t.
Vos' intermediate seconds put her into the Maglia Rosa general classification leader's jersey - and if the past two years have taught us anything, it's that once Vos has that jersey, it's hard to take it away from her! Valentine Scandolara (Cipollini) was in the green Climber's Jersey, and Marta Tagliaferro in the blue of Best Italian, while Julie Leth's early effort gave her the white jersey of Best Young Rider.
But all that could change very quickly. Stage 2 is only 99km, four loops of a course that includes two climbs - something that looks fairly gentle, and a short, sharp hill. Will we see the first breakaways? Follow the race twitter and live-tweeting list for all the action as it happens - and talk through the stage in the comments.
And for more views on the stage, check out Amber Pierce's video review and Jessie Maclean's Q&A in my post-race post!
If you understand Dutch, here are some post-race interviews with Wild and Vos:
and one with Vos, with Julie Leth in the background!
More Vos! This is from Rabosport - check out their youtube for interviews with riders, in Dutch
There are photos of the Stage on the Giro Rosa facebook and on CorVos. UPDATE! And make sure you read the race report & look at CJ Farquharson's photos from the stage on womenscycling.net. For anything else we see from the stage, and to talk about Stage 2, head to the comments!