Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo./Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY 12) riding for the USA Cycling Women’s National Development Program, won the overall Giro Donne today in Italy. The 25-year-old soloed to wins in stages 8 and 9 and finished in the main pack in Sunday’s final stage 10 to win the race’s general classification. The team exercised its strategy perfectly, defending Abbott’s pink leader’s jersey while her fellow USA Cycling and Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY 12 teammate Shelley Evans (Scott Valley, Calif.) took the sprint victory in the final stage on Sunday.
“I am very proud of these riders,” said USA Cycling’s women’s endurance program manager and the team’s director sportif Manel LaCambra. “Three stage wins and the overall victory is amazing for a national team. These girls displayed great teamwork even though it was the first time they had raced together. We are more than a team, we are friends working hard, growing and racing together for a win. Without the good work from everyone on the team we could not have won the hardest Giro d’Italia ever.”
Abbott became the first rider from the United States to win the Giro Donne, following her second place finish last year. The former collegiate cycling star held onto a 2:05 margin over HTC-Columbia’s Judith Arndt (GER) and another full minute over world champion Tatiana Guderzo (ITA/Team Valdarno) in the final standings.
On Friday, Abbott finished the 89-kilometer route from Chiavenna to Livigno one minute, 27 seconds ahead of Emma Pooley of Cervelo Test Team and 1:40 ahead of Arndt. The victory propelled Abbott into the maglia rosa after starting the day in sixth overall, 1:54 behind Dutch rider Marianne Vos. With two stages remaining, Abbott held a 19-second lead in the GC standings over Arndt, the reigning German national time trial champion.
The stage started to climb almost immediately, and the American women led the charge early on to set up Abbott. “The whole team was working full gas in front of the group,” said Lacambra.
Abbott attacked about 28 kilometers into the stage, and only Pooley was able to stay on her wheel. By the 50K mark Abbott and Pooley shared a lead of 1:05 over the peloton. Eventually, the gap grew large enough that Abbott became the virtual leader on the course. Pooley began to fade before the second of three summits, the Passo Bernina, leaving Abbott to ride on her own through the finish line.
In Saturday’s penultimate stage, Abbott again went off the front with Pooley amidst the mythical Stevlio climb, but in the final kilometers Abbott attacked and again rode solo to the stage win. Unfortunately Abbott’s USA Cycling Women’s National Development Program teammate, Amber Neben (Webcor) was involved in a downhill crash, breaking her clavicle. Wih a single stage remaining Abbott holds a more than two minute lead in the overall.
The famed race concluded Sunday, July 11 in Monza, Italy with Evans winning the bunch sprint ahead of Kirsten Wild (Cervelo Test Team) of the Netherlands.
Supporting Abbott in Italy and integral in the USA Cycling Women’s National Development Program’s success were Amanda Miller (Fort Collins, Colo./Team TIBCO), Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Colavita-BACI p/b Cooking Light), Sinead Miller (Pittsburgh, Pa./Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12), Alison Starnes (Mill Valley, Calif./Team TIBCO), Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Cedar Springs, Mich./Colavita-BACI p/b Cooking Light), Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif./Webcor Builders), who was in seventh overall before a stage 9 crash, and Evans. Riding for her HTC-Columbia squad, American Evelyn Stevens (New York, N.Y/HTC-Columbia) was the next best American GC finisher in 15th overall.
Final General Classification
1. Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo./Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY 12) 25:15:54
2. Judith Arndt (Ger/HTC Columbia) +0:02:05
3. Tatiana Guderzo (Ita/Team Valdarno) +0:03:05
15. Evelyn Stevens (New York, N.Y/HTC-Columbia)
40. Shelley Evans (Scotts Valley, Calif./Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY 12) +1:32:57
51. Sinead Miller (Pittsburgh, Pa./Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12) +1:48:46
60. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Cedar Springs, Mich./Colavita-BACI p/b Cooking Light) +2:05:05
63. Alison Starnes (Mill Valley, Calif./Team TIBCO) +2:05:52
72. Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Colavita-BACI p/b Cooking Light) +2:23:45