After Marianne Vos won yesterday's Sprint stage, it was time for an early-morning ITT around beautiful Rome. 7.2km, on a course that takes in some of Rome's greatest landmarks, including the Coliseum and the Baths of Caracalla - so once riders had finished their rides, and were waiting for the 330km drive to Vernio, they would have had plenty to see! It was a hot day, and a technical course, with some sharp corners and cobbles - and while the distance meant there wouldn't be any big upsets to the GC, it would be hard-fought. But despite saying she's not here for the maglia rosa, it was Marianne Vos who blasted to the stage win! Here she is, talking (in English) to Cicloweb after the stage:
And here's the RAI programme (thanks, to the fabulous youtuber!)
After yesterday's win, Vos was starting last - and the best early time was laid down by her Rabobank team-mate Liesbet de Vocht, who completed the course in 9:40.55, until she was pushed down by BePink's Silvia Valsecchi, who really upped the ante with 9:24.11. But times really started to fall, though, when the 58th starter, took to the road - former ITT World Champion Emma Pooley. She finished in a fantastic 9:12.38, riding at over 47kph - before immediately being overtaken by Olga Zabelinskaya's 9:09.84.
Zabelinskaya's lead held for 20 riders, until Evelyn Stevens stepped up, with 9:07.56 - but then it was time for her Specialized-lululemon team-mate, Clara Hughes, to take her turn. Hughes is a legendary athlete, winning medals in the Olympics and Winter Olympics, as a cyclist and a speed skater, and she's been lured back from retirement for one more Olympic Games. She seems to be really enjoying her return to cycling, and that's working wonders for her - she broke the 9 minute mark by finishing in an amazing 8:55.02. At this point, there were only 20 finishers to go, and all of them were out on the course. The big ITT favourite, Judith Arndt of Orica-AIS gave it everything, but couldn't match Hughes, although at 9:02.26, she was second-fastest.... but then there was Marianne Vos! As with last year, that pink jersey gave her wings, taking the win in a spectacular 8:50!
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, 0:08:50
2. Clara Hughes (Can) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:05
3. Judith Arndt (Ger) Orica-AIS, + 00:12
4. Shelley Olds (USA) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:15
5. Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:17
6. Linda Villumsen (NZl) Orica-AIS, + 00:18
7. Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) RusVelo + 00:19
8. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobank, + 00:20
9. Emma Pooley (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:22
10. Emma Johnsson (Swe) Hitec Products-Mistral Homes, + 00:24
The extra seconds here, and from yesterday's bonifications, extended Vos' GC lead, but it won't be easy to keep. As she says in the video interview, Stage 3 is one of the hardest stages - 124km, with a Cat 2 & Cat 3. Here's the highlights of Monty said about it in his Giro Donne preview (Click through to see the full thing, with video and background - Monty's race previews are unsurpassed!)
A late evening drive of 330km to Vernio, just to the north of Florence, precedes the toughest climbing stage of this year's race with two categorised climbs, including the only 1st category ascent of the whole race at Passo della Futa, before a downhill run-in to the finish line at Castiglione dei Pepoli 124 race km away, although quite a bit closer for the feathered among you. At 72km they pass through the small town of Scarperia which hosted the prologue back in 2009....
The biggest climb of the day starts at around the km90 mark - the Passo della Futa. They climb the steep side, around 700m in height, then descend around 400m, have another sharp little climb, and then have an uphill finish - tough!
If you want to make predictions for who will win a stage like that, you can enter CyclingFever's Stage Game. One thing we'll know for certain, the GC will be very different at the end of the day!
GC after Stage 2
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank, 3:57:11
2. Clara Hughes (Can) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:15
3. Shelley Olds (USA) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:19
4. Judith Arndt (Ger) Orica-AIS, + 00:22
5. Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon, + 00:27
6. Linda Villumsen (NZl) Orica-AIS, + 00:28
7. Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) RusVelo + 00:29
8. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Rabobank, + 00:30
9. Emma Pooley (GBr) AA Drink-Leontien.nl, + 00:32
10. Emma Johnsson (Swe) Hitec Products-Mistral Homes, + 00:34
For more information about today's stage, we have photos from Cicloweb, and there'll be more from Womenscycling.net
Here's Tatiana Guderzo talking to Cicloweb after the race, on one of their excellent video interviews - in Italian, of course!
I mentioned that huge transfer earlier.... Look what it does to the riders!
A photo says more than thousands words! How sweet are my teammates @ElisaLongoB @ChristelFerrier and Sylwia :) twitter.com/emmaprocyclist…— Emma Johansson(@emmaprocyclist) June 30, 2012
If you want to find out more about the stage, the race, what else riders do to pass the time on the mega-transfers, and anything else, Diadora-Pasta Zara's Amber Pierce will be doing another video livechat tonight, on the Fuji Bikes facebook app, probably at 22:00 CEST/21:00 BST/4pm USA Eastern, 1pm USA Pacific, and 4am tomorrow in Melbourne!
RAI Sports 2 will be showing their video highlights at ten past midnight, Euro time - and if you see any other video, photos, stories, blogs etc, add them to the comments!