• Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur) leads the Giro Rosa after the opening prologue (Velofocus)Source: Velofocus
Former Canadian champion Leah Kirchmann (Liv Plantur) took a surprise victory in the opening prologue of the Giro Rosa.
Cycling Central

2 Jul 2016 - 9:49 AM 

The opening stage of the Giro Rosa was short and pancake-flat prologue in Gaiarine, Italy. A few precious seconds were gained and lost among the top contenders as the two kilometre stage sorted out which riders would wear what jerseys.

Kirchmann covered the distance around the city of Gaiarine in a time of two minutes and 23.28 seconds to take the victory and the first leader’s jersey of the race.

“This is an incredible feeling. This victory is even extra special because it is Canada Day and it is also only a few days after my birthday,” said Krichmann.

“I had high expectations going into this race but I am quite surprised to take this win in the prologue.

“Beforehand, we did a recon of the course a few times. Once I was racing I had the corners in my head and I was able to take them really fast. I just gave everything I had and that was enough to take the win, which is fantastic.”

The result is Kirchmann’s biggest career victory to date. “This is a big success for me and the team. For the upcoming stages, we will try and defend the pink jersey for as long as possible. Of course, I will enjoy my day in the pink jersey tomorrow,” she said.

Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) was the fastest finishing Australian rider. She crossed the line in sixth place, four seconds behind Kirchmann.

"It was very straight forward and not technical. It was more or less a big circle and there was only one corner at the end where you needed to brake, which created an opportunity to make up time,” said Cromwell describing the course and her own tactical approach to making every second count.

“You needed to look for the other small details that could be the difference between a second or two which is the difference between winning and losing in prologues," she said.

"Looking for things such as straightest lines as the road snaked in parts, avoiding the white lines across the road around the back of the course with bumps on them, avoiding bumps that cause you to lose your momentum, providing it didn't mean your line was going to be completely longer. All those things count for microseconds."

Having warmed up with the prologue, the real racing gets underway with Stage 1 tonight. The peloton will navigate 104kms of mostly flat and rolling terrain from Gaiarine to San Fior.

"According to the Italians it's harder than it looks,” said Cromwell. “It could be a slightly reduced sprint in the final with the late climb or it could stay together for a sprint with everyone being fresh. Our team atmosphere is great. Everyone is happy, fresh and ready for a good race."