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Hagiwara takes a first ever Japanese podium spot in Giro Rosa stage three

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mayuko Hagiwara took the first ever podium spot for a Japanese rider in the Giro d’Italia Femminile as she took third place in the third stage, between Caserta and the uphill finish at San Donato Val di Comino. Clad in her white and red national champion’s colours, Hagiwara managed to bridge across to the stage’s breakaway group just before the final climb to the finish and – despite that considerable effort – was able to take third place just 16 seconds behind the stage winner.

Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabo-Liv) won the stage, having been part of the long breakaway, with fellow fugitive Elena Berlato (Alé-Cipollini) taking second.

“Today was a good day for our team,” said the ever-modest Hagiwara. “Our plan was that everyone would have their opportunity before the climb, and could try something to go hard. In the middle of the race the break went with Giorgia [Bronzini] and I stayed in the bunch.

“It was a very big result for me today,” she added. “I’m very happy and I appreciate the help from all of my teammates.”

With the peloton having stayed together for the first hour of the 125km stage, a group of 15 riders managed to break clear after 45km. Included in the break was Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s stage two winner Bronzini, who had vowed to work for her teammates on today’s hilly stage following yesterday’s stunning victory.

“That was the tactic today,” Bronzini explained. “To put somebody in the break, and then for Mayuko to try something. Mayuko is in good shape and we wanted to give her a chance to do something. We are really, really proud of her because we didn’t know if the pressure on her shoulders would be good or not, but now we know that if we give her the responsibility she is able to do something.

“She was really, really amazing today.”

With the Italian former two-time road World Champion up the road, Hagiwara was able to bide her time in the peloton and pick her moment to strike.

“With 10km to go we caught Giorgia’s group and I tried to attack because I was able to do nothing today,” Hagiwara explained. “I wanted to test to see if I was good and I joined up with the front group. The other riders didn’t work so much, so I tried some attacks, but then just rode tempo because if we were caught by the bunch then we have some strong riders behind.

“I just rode tempo, but in the last 500 metres Annemiek attacked and I couldn’t follow, but I could catch the third rider [Doris Schweizer] from Astana-BePink, and I could finish third.”

1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabo-Liv)
2. Elena Berlato (Alé-Cipollini) @ 10s
3. Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling) @ 16s

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