Nicole Braendli is the champion of the 16th Giro d'Italia Femminile. The Swiss athlete, already winner of the same race both in the days of 2001 and 2003 (while the 2004 edition was won by Nicole Cooke, is there an unwritten law keeping contenders with a different first name from winning ? hmmm ...) comfortably held onto her leadership in Sunday's eighth and final stage, an easy ride of 100 km. from Varese to downtown Milan, with a few laps of a final urban circuit and the finishing line situated in Corso Sempione, in front of the Italian TV local HQs.
The action got started under cloudy skies, that turned (quite) sunny as the race made it to Italy's second largest city, at midday. The bunch took it easy for the first half of the parcours, but upped the tempo around the km. 50 point, with the speed going over 45 km/h, and the Bianchi-Aliverti team keeping the pace high to avoid any attacks. Even though it was an athlete from the same celeste squad, Italy's own Luisa Tamanini, who made the first significant move of the day in the third lap of the Milan circuit, along with U.S. National Team rider Laura Van Gilder as well as Australian Lorian Graham. The leading trio gained up to fifteen seconds, with Tamanini and Van Gilder working well together, and the Aussie a bit less active, but they all were brought back by the Boubnenkova-led field (with another Aussie, Oenone Wood, in second wheel) during the following lap.
Giro d'Italia winner Nicole Braendli on the eventual podium.
Nothing worthy of particular mention took place in the last two laps, with the sprinters teams like Nobili Rubinetterie, Chirio Forno d’Asolo and PMB Fenixs riding tempo, and setting things up for a mass sprint. Which came and saw Italian Giorgia "Petacchi" Bronzini of Chirio Forno d'Asolo tell us - once more - who has got the fastest legs around: the sprinting sensation from Piacenza threw her bike ahead of those of all her rivals for the third time in this race, getting another prestigious victory, in front of Germany's Tanja Hennes and kiwi girl Joane Kiesanowski.
After all athletes crossed the line, it was time for the award ceremony, held in a much more "familiar" atmosphere than its Men's Giro counterpart, with just a few hardcore fans and some more people attending, compared to huge crowd celebrating Savoldelli's, Cunego's and Simoni's accomplishments over the past years, but this ain't necessarily a negative thing: the passion was the same, or even more. And for the best riders to get properly rewarded for their efforts: Nicole Braendli, atop the overall standings from beginning (the San Vendemmiano ITT Prologue which she dominated) to end of the race, could finally wear the eventual Maglia Rosa, while super(b) sprinter Bronzini unsurprisingly won the Points classification. She was the only Italian figuring on the podium anyway, as the white jersey reserved for the top young rider went to Volha Hayeva of Belarus, while her Russian neighbour Svetlana Boubnenkova, recent winner of the Tour of Trentino stage race in front of the same Braendli, was crowned "Queen of the Mountains".
And as the Women's Tour of Italy crew is a witty people, they had a special award ceremony also for the Maglia Nera, the last rider on GC (Giro version of the Lanterne Rouge of TdF fame), and her (proud ?) winner, Candice Blickem of the U.S. National Team, who is also a witty person and had no problems in playing her part on the podium, smiling alongside Braendli and all other jerseyed riders. And wearing the laurel wreath, symbol of the city of Milan, awarded to all of them.
Celebrations on both sides of the overall: race winner Nicole Braendli (R)
and Maglia Nera (Black Jersey) Candice Blickem (L).
Stage 9 (Varese to Milan, 100 km): Top 3 Places
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita - Chirio Forno d’Asolo) - 02h24'20"
2. Tanja Hennes (Ger - Buitenpoort-Flexpoint) - at 01"
3. Joane Kiesanowski (Nzl - Nobili Rubinetterie-Menikini-Cogeas) - at 01"
16th Women's Tour of Italy - Final GC: Top 3 Places
1. Nicole Braendli (Swi - Team Bigla)
2. Joane Somarriba (Spa - Team Bizkaia Panda Software) - at 01'10"
3. Edita Pucinskaite (Lit - Nobili Rub.-Menikini-Cogeas) - at 01'35"
Winner: Giorgia Bronzini - (Ita - Chirio Forno d’Asolo) - 74 pts
Winner: Svetlana Bubnenkova - (Rus - PMB-Fenixs-Colnago-Camberra)
Winner: Volha Hayeva (Blr - Team Fanini Velo)
Women's Tour of Italy: Palmares
1988 Canins, Maria (Ita)
1989 Bonanomi, Roberta (Ita)
1990 Marsal, Catherine (Fra)
1991 Race Cancelled
1992 Race Cancelled
1993 Llavaska, Lenka (Svk)
1994 Fanini, Michela (Ita)
1995 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
1996 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
1997 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
1998 Luperini, Fabiana (Ita)
1999 Somarriba, Joane (Spa)
2000 Somarriba, Joane (Spa)
2001 Braendli, Nicole (Swi)
2002 Boubnenkova, Swetlana (Rus)
2003 Braendli, Nicole (Swi)
2004 Cooke, Nicole (GBR)
2005 Braendli, Nicole (Swi)
16th Womens Tour of Italy - Links
Prologue Results and Report
Stage 1 & Stage 2 Results and Report
Stage 3 Results and Report
Stage 4 Results and Report
Stage 5 Results and Report
Stage 6 Results and Report
Stage 7 Results and Report
Stage 8 Results and Report
Giro Milano Photo Gallery come in the next days. Stay tuned.