Shara Gillow Finishes Fifth on Giro Rosa Queen Stage

Thu 4 Jul 2013

Shara Gillow was the top finisher in fifth place for ORICA-AIS on the queen stage of the Giro Rosa. Under beautiful blue skies, the peloton started on the Côte d’Azur before heading inland for a mountain top finish in Monte Beigua. Gillow rode a steady pace up the 14km climb to finish 2’38 behind stage winner Mara Abbott (USA). The effort was good for fifth place on the stage.

Vos, who had dominated the race until today, finished over five minutes behind the stage winner and consequentially relinquished the maglia rosa to Abbott. The 2010 Giro Rosa champion now leads the tour by 1’27 over Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini Giordana). Gillow jumps up to sixth overall at 2’54.

Tiffany Cromwell won the only GPM of the day. She borrowed the green jersey off of Vos, who wore pink, during stage five. Cromwell will start stage six in the green jersey as the mountain classification leader.

The queen stage of the Giro Rosa wasn’t the longest race of the tour, but it was the one to give the overall its first good shake up. From the start of the stage, the road went up and continued to undulate all the way to the bottom of the 14km, steep finishing climb. The difficulty of the stage took its toll on the peloton almost immediately. After 21km, 43 riders had already been dropped from the peloton.

At the 50km to go mark, a group of 12 riders had formed at the front of the race. None of the riders in the break were a threat to the overall, but their presence in the break took pressure off their tour contender teammates.

“We had Spratty [Amanda Spratt] in the break,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “It was the perfect scenario for us. We never expected the break to go to the finish at all but being represented took the pressure off us. Having Spratty in the break also allowed her to give Shara and Tiff a hand if it all came back together on the climb.”

With 20km to go, the catch had been made and the peloton started the final ascent as a reduced bunch. The challenging climb gained 1287m, averaged 9% and had a maximal gradient of 15%. For ORICA-AIS keeping Gillow and Cromwell in good position before the climb was key.

“The goal today was to try to protect Shara and Tiff and put them in good position at the bottom of the climb,” added McPartland. “It wasn’t an easy task because the roads in the first 50km were quite twisty and winding. Protecting them in the approach to the final climb was equally as difficult because the last 10km was a descent on a really, really windy and narrow road. The girls did a great job of keeping Tiff and Shara in perfect position on that section.”

Once the final ascent began in earnest, the climbers separated themselves from the rest of the peloton. Abbott was the first to attack and only Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) could follow. Abbott rode away from Stevens after the duo established an initial gap. Alone on the front, Abbott gained time on all of the tour contenders. As the American steam rolled her way to the finish, Gillow rode her own pace to finish 2’54 behind Abbott.

“Both Tiff and Shara were in good position at the start of the climb,” said McPartland. “Abbott took off immediately. Initially, only Stevens could go with her. Tiff went too deep at the bottom in an attempt to respond and Shara rode her own pace. That sort of separated those two.”

“Shara rode strong on the climb,” added McPartland. “She started the climb in good position and rode full capacity all the way up. It was a super impressive ride by Shaz [Shara]. She deserved a good result because she stuck to the team plan. She was always in the right place at the right time.”

The ORICA-AIS squad had done its homework prior to today’s stage and it paid off.

“We did a recon of this stage 2-3 weeks ago,” explained McPartland. “During the recon we recorded the climb to have in our back pockets. We watched the video this morning before the start to refresh the girls of what was to come. For sure that helped. Still, watching it and doing it are two different things. The team got the job done.”