Giro Rosa Stage 3 Rider Reactions: Jessie Maclean, Brianna Walle & Amber Pierce!

In the Stage 3 Rider Reactions I've got more ORICA-AIS Q&A with Jessie Maclean, a short Q&A with Brianna Walle, who's not only racing the Giro for the first time, but has never raced in Europe before, a video with Amber Pierce, and one of the nicest rider tweets I've seen. Read on to find out more - and remember, if you have questions for riders, add them to the comments!

Jessie Maclean

Jessie sounded a lot more tired than when I spoke to her on Sunday, but that's not surprising, after that tough cobbled finish on top of a day of climbing and descending. You can see the videos, and read about the race - but find out was it like when her team-mate Tiffany Cromwell was out solo for so long - and then crashed in the last 7km.

PdC: How are you today?

Jessie: Not too bad. Today was fine [laughs], it was a lot of up and down, on the road and emotionally. It was a pretty good day for us, having Tiff up the road for the whole day - it was exciting.

PdC: When did that break go? What happened?

Jessie: It was on the first descent. There were gaps forming all over the place, and it was pretty fast. Actually, it was a good descent - the roads were wide, the corners were fairly smooth, but the surface was a bit bumpy and there were potholes, so there were a lot of gaps opening up. Obviously Marianne Vos and Tiffany are good descenders, so they took advantage of it.

PdC: What happened once they were gone?

Jessie: We just stayed towards the front - we didn't have to do anything, just look after ourselves. It made our job easy. We just had to keep on top of things in case any moves went, but lululemon and the USA were controlling the front really well. It's nice when a couple of teams have control, and let the rest of us do our thing.

PdC: Did you have to do anything to disrupt the chase?

Jessie: No, it's kind of bad etiquette if someone is doing an organised chase like that, we don't do that.

PdC: Did you know how well Tiff was going, and that the break was dropping from six, to four, to two?

Jessie: You can kind of tell when Tiff's on form, she talks a lot, gets very excited and talkative. She'd had a look at the cobbled section before the start and came back and told us all about it.

During the race, we didn't get a whole lot of feedback. Gracie and I had settled into a grupetto, so we didn't know too much.

PdC: Annemiek van Vleuten had given us that as her top tip for first-time riders - that if you're not in the break, or at the front, get into the grupetto and just ride calmly.

Jessie: It's very important in a long Tour, and especially with hill-top finishes - if you're not a hill climber, there's not much point busting a gut for 50th instead of 70th.

PdC: And at the finish, how did you hear about Tiffany's crash?

Jessie: Gracie and I rolled in and Tiff was there. Initially they said she'd won the Queen of the Mountains jersey, so she was still around, and we chatted to her and she told us what happened. She was feeling frustrated and disappointed, because she'd felt really strong, but she was happy she'd kept up with Marianne for so long.

PdC: She should be so proud of that! It's a huge achievement to have kept up with Vos, especially following her downhill - she's so good!

Jessie: Yeah, she laughed at that as well - she said she'd nearly hit the guard-rail a few times - but Tiff's got good skills too!

PdC: So how was that final climb?

Jessie: That was a bitch! It was very steep, and it was decent cobbles and quite bumpy, so you were shaking after 100k on the bike. There was a bit of a split in our group, everyone's happy to get up in any way they want!

PdC: And then you had the long transfer...

Jessie: Yeah, it was meant to be three hours, but there was a traffic jam, and our TomTom had the wrong address, so it took a little bit longer [laughs]

PdC: Can you tell us a bit about the sign-ons - don't you all have your own team songs?

Jessie: I think we're meant to pick them ourselves, and they're meant to play them as we go on stage, but they don't always manage that. Our song is by AC/DC, Shook me all night long - we had to have that, they're an Aussie band!

It's really cool, it's really nice to see so many people, little kids, nonas and families all come out to support women's cycling. Today there were all these kids at the front with home-made signs and flags, all for our race, it's exciting to see.

PdC: Figurehead on Podium Café said you and Spratty seem so happy to be there

Jessie: We are! [laughs] Yeah, it's really cool to be part of it all.

PdC: Now, I've got some questions from people on twitter. Megster has a two-part question for you. Part 1: how much coffee do you drink before the race?

Jessie: It depends, some of us don't drink too much, others drink a lot. I drink maybe two cups at brekkie, and then have a coke or a little macchiato at the start.

PdC: Because, part 2, she says she's heard coffee is really dehydrating, so how does that work?

Jessie: I've heard that as well, but the benefits outweigh the negatives, and it makes us happy! I wouldn't give it up, even if it was bad for us!

PdC: Next question from twitter - does Gracie wish she was back on her mountain bike?

Jessie: No, she really loves the road. I don't want to put words into her mouth, but she loves doing what she's doing!

PdC: Next question... I've heard you have a particular performance enhancing..... cactus?

Jessie: [laughs] Yeah, I have a cactus that sits next to my bed. I take a lot of photos of it and send them to Spratty, because she thinks it's funny! It's not performance enhancing, so it can stay at home and rest up.

PdC: What happens when you go back to Australia?

Jessie: It's plastic! At the end of the year it goes back in my box and I bring it out at the start of the season!

PdC: So, tomorrow's the longest stage, with a long transfer afterwards - what's the plan?

Jessie: Hopefully it's a lot flatter than the other stages. We haven't had the team meeting yet, but I'm sure it'll be more of the same - be attentive, make sure nothing gets up the road without any of us in it - the usual!

***

You can read about the race from ORICA's perspective on their race report - and both Tiffany Cromwell and Gracie Elvin have blogged about the stage - click through and read them! And if you have any questions for Jessie or Spratty, ask in the comments, or let me know on twitter.

***

Amber Pierce

Amber Pierce is an American rider who isn't racing the Giro this year, after having injuries early in the season. But since last year she did in-race Q&As, when she could find the wifi, I asked her if she could do some video reviews of the race, giving us the pro-rider's perspective. She made a video about Stage 1, and here's her combined Stage 2 and Stage 3 review. If you have any questions for Amber, or things you'd like her to address, let me know in the comments here, and I'll pass them on.

***

Elisa Longo Borghini

Another rider who's not racing is one of the pre-race favourites, Elisa Longo Borghini, who broke her shoulder in the Italian National Championships. But she's definitely there in spirit, cheering for her Hitec Products UCK team-mates all the way. I loved this tweet:

***

Brianna Walle

Finally, a little Q&A with a first-time European rider, let alone a first-time Giro rider! Brianna Walle is in her first year with a pro team, racing for Optum-Kelly Benefits all season in all the biggest USA domestic races - including coming third in the Nature Valley Grand Prix ITT, despite having a mechanical problem that left her in the little ring for half the race. There's more about her on her website and twitter - and I caught up with her while she was recovering from Stage 3

PdC: You're not only a first-time Giro rider, it's your first time racing in Europe - what are the differences between this and the USA peloton?

Brie: The Europeans ride much closer together and more aggressively. Space on the road is limited due to city structures - that means we are fighting harder to stick to wheels

PdC: When you were at home in the USA, what did you imagine the Giro would be like? Is the reality different?

Brie: I imagined epic climbing and breath-taking views, cobblestone sections through the city and increased field size and speed - all of which are true

PdC: What's the best thing about the race?

Brie:
Being among many different teams and folks from different countries and among some of America's finest riders in the US National team, with Jake Seehafer's direction. This combo, and being in Italy, where cycling has extraordinary roots and heritage.

PdC:
And the worst? Have you had any moments when you wished you were back at home?

Brie: I miss my partner, Karey and familiarity at times - BUT know I'm only here for a limited time to be an asset to the team - so that's making it all worthwhile

PdC: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How you got here, and where you'd like to go from here?

Brie: I discovered bike racing in 2010 after years of ski racing and a cross country background. I climbed the ranks locally and set my eyes on qualifying for the Nature Valley pro chase team in 2012, in hopes of getting picked up. I am seizing the moment and thank my friends and family for supporting me along the way. I've leaned a ton this year and have much to grow!

PdC:
And finally, do you have any advice for riders at home who'd like to be at the Giro too one day?

Brie:
Continue to work hard and it could pay off!

***

If you have questions for riders, or links to any blogs and reports and tweets you like, add them in the comments - and keep coming back for more Q&As

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