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Tales from the grupetto - Giro Rosa Stage 5 Q&A with Jessie Maclean & Amber Pierce

Throughout the Giro Rosa, I've been having Q&As with ORICA-AIS riders Jessie Maclean and Amanda Spratt - and today's it's Jessie's turn to talk about what it's like as a non-climber to face a huge climbing day in the grupetto. Then, in her latest video Amber Pierce talks about the tactics from the stage and what it was like when she rode grupetto in previous Giros. And because one of the best things that happens when the women's peloton hits the mountains is the after-stage tweets, I've got a little round-up of some of my favourites...

Jessie Maclean

PdC: Congratulations, you survived the first mountain day! How was it?

Jessie: Well, it was a lot of climbing! I don't know where to begin! There was a bit of rocking back and forth in the car in the foetal position afterwards - "What have I done?'! [laughs]

PdC: Start at the beginning! How were you feeling before the stage started?

Jessie: I was a bit tentative, a little bit worried about it!

It started with a 500m climb, racing for the first GPM. It was really pretty fast for the first 15k, and then didn't back off for the whole race.

PdC: And then the break went out, with Spratty in it

Jessie: Yeah, she was going really well, that was really good. For some reason the USA was sending people off the front of the chase, even though they someone working in the break. Rabobank were setting the pace, and then the break was caught on the descent. Then we hit the climb, and grupetto was called straight away, and we left the climbers to it and suffered up!

PdC: What happens in grupetto? How does it work?

Jessie: So generally a few groups form, so you find your group, and whoever's on the front is setting the pace - if they get a little bit excited, someone will call "piano, chill out!"

PdC: Chloe Hosking was joking that without Ina Teutenberg, the grupetto might devolve into a 'Lord of the Flies' situation - how's it going without her?

Jessie: Well, in our group we had Loes [Gunnewijk] and Giorgia [Bronzini], so we were fine. Giorgia was controlling things. There's always a couple of girls who decide to attack off the front and try to reach the next group, but we just let them get on with it.

PdC: And then pass them again 15 minutes later?

Jessie: Sometimes that happens, and it's pretty funny

PdC: With the cars up the road supporting the GC contenders, how does it work if you're in trouble of need water

Jessie: We're a bit lucky - after the first couple of days Eric came down. He works for AIS, he's a sports scientist and coaches a couple of riders. So we've got three people for feeding, stopping along the road to give us water.

PdC: One of the things I like about the women's peloton is seeing tweets from riders thanking other teams for giving them water and helping them out - does that happen a lot?

Jessie: Yeah, there's a bit of that happening every day. I grabbed a couple of extra bidons and shared them along with anyone who needed them, and another girl grabbed some cokes and we passed them around the group.

PdC: And then, you got to the top... How did that feel?

Jessie: Just a whole lot of relief! Later on it'll be "Hey, that was cool, we climbed 2,000m in 70 kilometres", but at the moment it's "That was really stupid and I'm glad it's over!"

PdC: And the team's doing well - Shara Gillow's 6th in the GC and Tiffany Cromwell's in the Green Jersey!

Jessie: It's really good! We're in a pretty good position with two girls up there, and Spratty had a really good day too. It's good having a couple up there, it's cool.

PdC: What are you expecting about tomorrow?

Jessie: Well, I don't think will be as hard as today, touch wood. Less climbing over more of a distance. We go along a valley road for a while. We did most of the last half a couple of weeks ago.

PdC: How different is it when you race it to the recon?

Jessie: Sometimes in the bunch some of the little climbs you might consider climbs when you're riding by yourself, you float over them in the bunch - but sometimes it hurts much more, you didn't realise the gradient when you're riding at your own pace and suddenly you're racing it!

PdC: I've got some questions for you from twitter. Hans Ratgers has a two-part question - starting with... If you had to choose only one of your team-mates to race with, who would it be?

Jessie: To avoid causing fights, I'll say Al Rhodes, because she's retired. She's a good person to have around, very funny.

PdC: And if you could ride in any team other than ORICA, which would it be?

Jessie: Oh! I don't know! The Australian National Team, of course! Either that or lululemon, they have cool clothes!

PdC: Does ORICA have teams you collaborate with, or help out in the bunch?

Jessie: Not really, only if it suits our plans

PdC: And do you have any rivalries with teams, anyone you like to do over if you have the chance?

Jessie: Yeah, I'd be lying if I said we didn't! But I'm sure everyone has someone they'd like to do better than?

PdC: Do you hang out with the other Australians in the bunch, from the other teams?

Jessie: Yeah, a bit, or anybody who speaks English. There was a bit of chat in the grupetto today, not so much for my part [laughs]. Bronzini was chatting a lot, chatting to everybody on the side of the road - she's got more energy than me!

PdC: Did you get to have a look of the scenery, or were you just dying?

Jessie: On the way up I looked up a bit and shook my head, but on the way down I could appreciate it a bit more.

PdC: So with one more climbing stage ahead, is it worse when you've got two climbing stages, or when you've done one and know how hard the next day will be?

Jessie: Definitely worse when you've got two!

PdC: But only one left... next time I talk to you, you'll have finished all the climbing!

Jessie: Yes! I look forward to it!

Follow Jessie through her very funny twitter - and for more ORICA perspectives on the day, read the ORICA-AIS race report and blogs from Tiffany Cromwell and Gracie Elvin. If you have any questions for Jessie or Spratty, ask me in the comments, or on twitter.


Amber Pierce

Amber's being making video reviews of the stages, and she talks about mountain tactics and her experiences in Giro grupettos. If there's anything you want to ask Amber, ask her on twitter!


Twitter round-up

There are a lot of very funny riders in the peloton, so one of the best parts of Stage 5 was when the grupetto riders got back to mobile phone coverage, and started describing the day. These are some of my favourites - add yours to the comments!

Some twitter analysis from the new maglia rosa...
...and the old one...

And some rider photos of Stage 5 and their hotel views, to make you all feel jealous:

To follow the peloton through the race on Twitter, I've made a list - put your recommendations in the comments!