After last night's presentation which was apparently missed by a few teams who hadn't quite got the hang of the subtleties of driving through Naples (hint - don't even look at your opponents - and if you're not prepared for a few dents then just park and walk), the Giro Donne kicked off today from Piazza del Plebescito, it's southernmost point, with a hot flat 139km run northwards with barely a kilometre of shade giving protection against the official day's temperature of 37 Centigrade (actually that thermometer was one of the few things lucky enough to find a bit of shade today - the temperature on the road would have been much hotter).
The peloton stayed together from the official kilometre 0 mark, through the only intermediate sprint of the day at Grumo Nevano, just 5km away, where Chloe Hosking (Specialized Lululemon) beat Marta Tagliaferro (MCipollini Giambenini) and Valentina Scandolara (Michela Fanini) to the points. Them began the battle to the breakaway, with some unexpectedly big names such as Olga Zabelinskaya (RusVelo) and Emma Pooley (AA Drink - Leontien.nl) patrolling the front of the bunch to ensure that the final chase wouldn't be too difficult. Finally Alina Bondarenko (RusVelo) and Aleksandra Sosenko (Vaiano) made a gap, Sara Grifi (Michela Fanini) and Valentina Bastianelli (Vaiano) bridged up to them and everyone sat back, honour satisfied.
Actually they all sat back a bit too much, and between km 40 and km 60 the gap rose to almost 8 minutes, leading Specialised-lululemon and AA Drink to hit the front and spend the next 50km bringing everything under control again. Aleksandra Sosenko escaped her three one-time colleagues just before they were caught and stayed away long enough to grab the GPM points at Bivio Sperlonga and the green jersey, but after that everyone came back together again for the bunch sprint beside the sea at Terracina, where Ina-Yoko Teutenberg misjudged the headwind, hit the front a bit too soon, and ended up leading out Marianne Vos (Rabobank), Shelley Olds (AA Drink) and Giorgia Bronzini (Diadora - Pasta Zara). Another year on and what's changed.
So that's Vos in pink, and also the fetching, erm, yellow (??) of the Rock not War points jersey, Bronzini in the blue of best Italian, Sosenko in a well deserved green for the small Vaiano Tepso team and Marta Tagliaferro (Mcipollini Giambenini) getting the white young rider jersey for her 9th place, just ahead of Barbara Guarischi. As for casualties, we lost Fleur Faure (DNF), Grete Treier (disqualified for holding on to a team car), and Sari Sari Saarelainen (storm over Germany). For full results, visit the website of the Federazione Italiana Cronometristi
If you want to follow tomorrow then the organisers are providing a superb Twitter feed @Girodonne, or you can try Sarah's Girodonne 2012 list which also includes most of the active twitterers at the race, giving you most of post-race commentary. Now if only there was some way for the rest of the world to see this race.