Fabiana Luperini makes it five, and Ina Teutenberg makes it four. That's what emerged from Sunday's eight and final leg of the Women's Tour of Italy, an easy ride of 118.5 kilometres around the town of Desio in the Brianza area of Lombardy, just to the north of Milan. The stage was hectic but nevertheless came down to a field sprint, and like in all other clashes of the fastest wheels Ina-vincible pipped her rivals on the line, thus scoring her fourth wins in as many sprints. Even if the Maglia Rosa wearer came in with a second group nine seconds behind close to all other top players, no significant changes to the leaderboard were made Sunday, and Luperini could finally celebrate her fifth GC victory in the Corsa Rosa ... the first since the 1998 season!!
Team Columbia Women did a terrific job also today, first of all by getting Judith Arndt into the first true breakaway, alongside Noemi Cantele and Andrea Thurig - both with the Bigla Cycling Team outfit -, after 21 km. They were chased down by the gruppo, driven by Luperini's Royal lieutenants, very soon but a new lead group formed as the Catalan Marta Vilajosana Andreu (Spa - Team CMax-Dilà) launched a solo attack at km. 33, just to be later joined by Charlotte Becker (Ger - Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung), Andrea Thurig and Silvia Valsecchi (both teammates of Fabiana's at Menikini-Selle Italia-Master Colors) as well as ... yeah, Judith Arndt again! The girls couldn't gain more than 22 seconds on the field and were hauled back by the pack by km. 62. Next on the attack were Grete Treier (Estonia - GS Gauss RDZ Ormu) and Alessandra D'Ettorre (Italy - Top Girls-Fassa Bortolo-Raxy Line), whose respective solo moves didn't prosper anyway.
The most significant attempt came 25 km. from the finish, starring Katherine Bates for Team Columbia, Bigla's Andrea Wolfer and Kazakhstan's national RR champion Zoulfia Zabirova, the Russian Julia Martisova (GS Gauss) and the aforementioned Alessandra D'Ettore. Cooperation in the new front group lasted as long as it helped its members establish a decent lead, then Zabirova and Martisova powered away. The pairing stayed clear for a long time but just couldn't break the "Ina rules" rule: the Team Columbia chase machine mercilessly brought Zulfia and Julia back with 2 kilometres left, and what followed was all about Ina-vincibile finishing off the job ahead of her "usual main victims": Kirsten Wild (Hol - AA-Drink Cycling Team) and Giorgia Bronzini (Ita - Titanedi-Frezza-Acca Due O).
"I'm so happy that I'm here wearing the Maglia Rosa. We worked hard (for that) and I owed this victory to myself, the whole team and all those who stood beside me each day, until today. A big Thank You to all of them" Fabiana said after the race. Luperini triumphed with a solid margin of 02'37" over Amber Neben (USA - Team Flexpoint), who at her turn had a great race. Had it not been for the unstoppable mountain goat from Tuscany and her comeback to ancient form, the Californian would have entered her own name in the Giro d'Italia winner's list (which you can see down in the page, btw).
Luperini's climbing talent won her the "Queen of the Mountains" title too; needless to say, nobody could pose any threat to Teutenberg's dominance in the points classification, and the German got the Maglia Ciclamino as deserved reward for her sprinting abilities. Last but not least, race revelation Claudia Hausler (Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung) of Germany was the undisputed winner of the best young rider's Maglia Bianca (White Jersey) and climbed the eventual podium as third place getter. Tatiana Guderzo celebrated a good fourth-place result while most recent winners Nicole Braendli and Edita Pucinskaite were a bit disappointing this year. Valencia's Anna Sanchis was arguably the other race revelation and reigning Road World Champion Marta Bastianelli secured a top ten finish.
Stage 8 (Desio to Desio, 118.5 km): Top 10 Places
1. TEUTENBERG, Ina Yoko (Ger - COLUMBIA WOMEN) - 02h44'48"
2. WILD, Kirsten (Hol - AA-DRINK CYCLING TEAM) - s.t.
3. BRONZINI, Giorgia (Ita - TITANEDI-FREZZA-ACCA DUE O) - s.t.
4. TREIER, Grete (Est - GS GAUSS-RDZ ORMU) - s.t.
5. HOLLER, Monica (Swi - BIGLA CYCLING TEAM) - s.t.
6. LELEIVYTE, Rasa (Lit - MICHELA FANINI-RECORD ROX) - s.t.
7. BACCAILLE, Monia (Ita - FENIXS) - s.t.
8. POLIKEVICIUTE, Jolanta (Lit - CHIRIO-FORNO D'ASOLO) - s.t.
9. ZUGNO, Anna (Ita - TOP GIRLS-FASSA BORTOLO) - s.t.
10. BASTIANELLI, Marta (Ita - TEAM CMAX DILA) - s.t.
19th Women's Tour of Italy - Final GC: Top 10 Places
1. LUPERINI, Fabiana (Ita - MENIKINI-SELLE ITALIA) - 21h18'40"
2. NEBEN, Amber (USA - TEAM FLEXPOINT) - at 02'37"
3. HAUSLER, Claudia (Ger - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - at 02'40"
4. GUDERZO, Tatiana (Ita - GS GAUSS RDZ ORMU) - at 02'53"
5. BRAENDLI, Nicole (Swi - BIGLA CYCLING TEAM) - at 03'12"
6. PUCINSKAITE, Edita (Lit - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - at 04'58"
7. SANCHIS CHAFER, Ana (Spa - SPANISH NT) - at 06'37"
8. POLIKEVICIUTE, Jolanta (Lit - CHIRIO-FORNO D'ASOLO) - at 08'14"
9. BASTIANELLI, Marta (Ita - TEAM CMAX DILA) - at 09'06"
10. ARNDT, Judith (Ger - COLUMBIA WOMEN) - at 10'02"
* Complete Stage Results and Overall Standings here (pdf file)
Points - Final Standings: Top 5 Places
1. TEUTENBERG, Ina Yoko (Ger - COLUMBIA WOMEN) - 60 p.
2. WILD, Kirsten (Hol - AA-DRINK CYCLING TEAM) - 47 p.
3. LUPERINI, Fabiana (Ita - MENIKINI-SELLE ITALIA) - 36 p.
4. BRONZINI, Giorgia (Ita - TITANEDI-FREZZA-ACCA DUE O) - 36 p.
5. NEBEN, Amber (USA – TEAM FLEXPOINT) - 35 p.
Mountains - Final Standings: Top 5 Places
1. LUPERINI, Fabiana (Ita - MENIKINI-SELLE ITALIA) - 67 p.
2. NEBEN, Amber (USA – TEAM FLEXPOINT) - 58 p.
3. HAUSLER, Claudia (Ger - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - 48 p.
4. GUDERZO, Tatiana (Ita - GS GAUSS RDZ-ORMU) - 40 p.
5. BASTIANELLI, Marta (Ita - TEAM CMAX DILA) - 21 p.
Young Riders - Final Standings: Top 3 Places
1. HAUSLER, Claudia (Ger - NURNBERGER VERSICHERUNG) - 21h 21' 20"
2. SANCHIS CHAFER, Ana (Spa - SPANISH NT) - at 03'57"
3. BASTIANELLI, Marta (Ita - TEAM CMAX DILA) - at 06'26"
Women's Tour of Italy: Winner's List
2008 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
2007 Pucinskaite, Edita (Lit)
2006 Pucinskaite, Edita (Lit)
2005 Braendli, Nicole (Swi)
2004 Cooke, Nicole (GBR)
2003 Braendli, Nicole (Swi)
2002 Boubnenkova, Svetlana (Rus)
2001 Braendli, Nicole (Swi)
2000 Somarriba, Joanne (Spa)
1999 Somarriba, Joanne (Spa)
1998 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
1997 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
1996 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
1995 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
1994 Fanini, Michela (Ita)
1993 Lenka, Llavaska (Svk)
1990 Marsal, Catherine (Fra)
1989 Bonanomi, Roberta (Ita)
1988 Canins, Maria (Ita)
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Prologue, Stage 1 & 2
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Stage 3
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Stage 4
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Stage 5
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Stage 6
* 19th Women's Giro d'Italia: Stage 7