Scandolara maintains mountain jersey on stage six of Giro RosaThu 10 Jul 2014
Valentina Scandolara has held onto her Queen of the Mountains jersey in quiet day for ORICA-AIS on stage six of the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile.
As the Tour moved to its first major mountain stage, Scandolara worked to make the most of the minor category opportunities ahead of the final category one climb towards the finale.
"The plan was to try and getting as many points as possible on the category two and category three climbs for Valentina (Scandolara)," sport director Gene Bates said.
"We knew she would have difficulties on the category one climb so she put a lot of effort into those first two climbs."
Whilst the Italian succeeded in gathering additional points, solo stage winner Emma Pooley (LBL) threatens to dethrone her.
"The first climb Valentina really suffered on and wasn't able to get any points," Bates said.
"Then a group formed with six riders. Pooley was part of that and we had Valentina there. Valentina actually won that second climb which was good for points and managed to increase her lead slightly.
"However Pooley won the first climb and the big category one climb on her way to winning solo so she has moved up to breathing down Valentina's neck.
"We will wear the jersey tomorrow but it is going to be hard to maintain."
In the general classification battle, Emma Johansson started the stage in fifth position but has dropped back to ninth overall. Marianne Vos finished third on the stage and maintains the lead.
"Emma was our best placed but she struggled a little on the big climb," Bates said.
"She did what she could and finished as best she could, as did all the riders.
"We will have a look tomorrow at where she sits overall and have a think about how we are going to move forward for the last three stages and what our best options are.
"I think that it is probably more realistic, focusing on stages."
And tomorrow's 112km stage seven from Aprica to Chiavenna could just present the perfect opportunity for just that.
"Tomorrow is probably a slightly easier day and the finish will really suit Emma with a sharp sprint to finish the stage," Bates said.
"So I would say we will focus on tomorrow first and foremost and then take it day by day."
Photos: Bart Hazen and Giro Rosa Cycling.