Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) overcame an early-race crash to take fourth place and the overall lead in the mountains classification on stage 3 at the Giro d’Italia Donne. The Swiss rider was part of a decisive breakaway that gained more than three minutes on the main field, which also launched her into fourth place in the overall classification behind Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx).
“Mikayla [Harvey] had just attacked on one of the climbs. I countered just near the top and kept going as it went into the downhill. At that point we were in three: myself, Lucinda Brand and Liane Lippert, but my back wheel slipped out on one of the corners and I came down,” Chabbey said of the accident.
“Soon after I crashed, Marianne [Vos] caught me and I had to be pretty quick to get up I went so deep just [to] stay in her wheel. Mikayla was also there with us, too. Marianne closed the gap actually to Brand and Lippert but just as we got there, Mikayla unfortunately was dropped. For a long time, I was really struggling. I needed a lot of time to recover from the effort to get back to the leaders.”
Stage 3’s 135 kilometre route between Casale Monferrato and Ovada was one for the puncheurs, with one intermediate sprint at Acqui Terme (63km) and then four category 4 climbs located during the last half of the stage.
The peloton contested the first categorised climb over Morsasco (71km), followed by a succession of climbs over Ovada (85km), Belforte Monferrato (105km) and lastly Mornes (118km) before a fast descent and a flat run-in to the finish line in Ovada.
The four riders who emerged in the winning breakaway were Chabbey, Vos (Jumbo-Visma), Brand (Trek-Segafredo) and Lippert (Team DSM).
Chabbey picked up enough points over the climbs to lead the mountains classification by 16 point over Brand and 13 ahead of overall leader Van der Breggen.
Recovered from the earlier crash, Chabbey did most of the pace-setting into the final kilometres of the race, even as the four riders played cat-and-mouse in the last few hundred metres to the finish line.
In the end, Brand started the sprint first but Vos passed her on the way to the finish line to take her 29th stage win at the Giro d’Italia Donne. Brand settled for second, Lippert third, and Chabbey fourth.
“With about 20 kilometres to go, I started to feel better again. I thought ‘OK maybe I can do something in the sprint’. With a kilometre to go I was at the front and they were all in my wheel and I just didn’t know what to do to be honest,” Chabbey said.
“I tried to launch early and force them to go to the front but it didn’t work. At the end I was just tired and I didn’t have the energy to get a result.
“I still have to learn about this kind of situation in cycling. Hopefully I get the chance to practice it more, learn, and eventually win from a similar group,” she said.
Out of the four breakaway riders, Chabbey was the highest placed rider in the overall classification at the start of the stage, at 5:59 behind Van der Breggen after the stage 2 summit finish on Prato Nevoso. The breakaway crossed the stage 3 finish line 3:23 ahead of Van der Breggen’s group moving Chabbey up into fourth place overall.