The two-time world champion Bronzini would always have been confident in her abilities if the race did come down to a sprint, but the Italian needed to do a lot of work and get help from her team-mates in what was a dramatic finale to the stage.
“I told the team in the meeting this morning that I would try to be there because I felt okay,” Bronzini said. “I thought maybe in this kind of stage I can be up, and sprint from a little group, so I asked them to look for me; if I was there. And they did, and so I tried to be more smart than the other team and it worked!”
The first half of the stage was notable for a long, solo break from Marta Tagliaferro (Alè Cipollini) but as the only climb of the day approached, the Italian was closed down by the peloton.
“The first part of the race was pretty calm,” Bronzini explained. “There was one solo for a long time, and when we went into the last part of the stage there was one part of the road that was dragging up. There were already some riders dropped behind, and there was Liv-Plantur (with race leader Leah Kirchmann) pulling to stop anybody making another attack, and it was a really high speed coming to the climb.
“It was in a line, Boels-Dolmans also made a lot of speed, almost to make a lead out for Megan and (Evelyn) Stevens. We hit the climb with really high speed and Stevens attacked from the bottom, and the four went away.”
Wiggle High5’s Elisa Longo Borghini escaped with Guarnier and Stevens, and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv), with Longo Borghini taking maximum points over the top. Bronzini was following with team-mate Mara Abbott in a small chase group so Longo Borghini stopped working in the leading quartet and the two groups came together with just a few kilometres to go.
“When we joined Elisa with 5km to go I asked her to do a piece at high speed, because I didn’t want Boels to keep attacking," said Bronzini. "In the end I saw Stevens dropped from first position to the back, and I expected her to attack. I waited for her and she went with 1km to go, so I went in her wheel.
“Megan was in my wheel, so Stevens eventually pulled the sprint. Megan went out with about 300 to go, and I thought it was a bit early, so I left her to pass me, then I caught her wheel and passed her with maybe 100 metres to go.”
Despite being beaten at the finish, Megan Guarnier took over the race lead from Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) and now sits in the pink jersey with eight seconds advantage over Niewiadoma and Bronzini. She has also stolen a march on some of her pre-race rivals with last year's winner Anna van der Breggen (Rabobank-Liv) missing the move and losing over 40 seconds.
The win was also marked the first win for the squad under new Australian sports director Donna Rae-Szalinski who stepped into the role just before the start of the Giro Rosa.
Tomorrow the riders will face an 111 kilometre stage from Tarcento to Montenars, with a six kilometre climb to the finish line likely to further shape the battle for the general classification.