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Mayuko Hagiwara on the attack in Giro Rosa Stage Three

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mayuko Hagiwara took her turn to attack in the 2015 Giro Rosa, and finished in fifth place at the end of the third stage, between Curtatone and Mantova, as part of a breakaway group of nine. The Japanese Champion lifted herself up to twelfth place in the general classification, and now sits just 54 seconds behind race leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans).

The stage was won by Points Classification leader Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv), ahead of Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) and Italian Champion Elena Cecchini (Lotto-Soudal).

“I am in a strong team, and that’s how I could make an escape with the other teams,” said Hagiwara. “The early climb was not so hard, but the bunch was moving before the GPM, and that’s how the breakaway was able to happen.

“I just followed some riders. I just turned because we have Giorgia [Bronzini] and Jolien [D’hoore] in the bunch, so I didn’t need to work full gas.”

The 127.5km stage featured just one major obstacle, the 3rd category climb at Monzambano after 49.5km, and the breakaway got clear shortly after this. The group was able to build a lead of almost five minutes before a reaction from the peloton saw this come down in the closing kilometres.

“I saw the time gap, but also in the breakaway there was no Boels or Bigla, so I thought that they would close the gap and maybe the bunch would be altogether,” Hagiwara explained. “But we have a sprinter so I don’t mind!

“Lucinda Brand also didn’t work in the breakaway, because she had the white jersey in the big bunch. But in the end she was smart, and strong in the sprint, and she won. She’s strong.”

Once it was clear that the break was going to hold off the peloton, the attacks began. Hagiwara briefly got away with Polish Champion Malgorzata Jasinska (Alé-Cipollini), but the two of them were chased down by the others and all nine arrived at the finish together.

“I followed the attack from Malgorzata from Cipollini,” Hagiwara said. “She was impressive in the attack. Today was maybe a mistake; I have to attack more in the final kilometres or something, it was just that I hesitated over what to do in the final.”

The main bunch crossed the line one minute and 15 seconds behind the breakaway, with the rest of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders finishing safely within it.

With Hagiwara’s rise up the general classification, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling new has three riders within a minute of the pink jersey. Elisa Longo Borghini remains in the Best Italian Rider’s jersey, just 13 seconds behind Guarnier, while two-time Giro winner Mara Abbott is just 37 seconds back.

“It was not so bad today,” Hagiwara smiled. “We still have a week of really hard stages, so I want to work hard for Mara and Elisa in the GC and hopefully one of them can take the pink jersey. In the GC we can put pressure on the other teams, but after stage five there could be big gaps on the big climb, so we’ll see who is best in the GC.

“Yesterday we were very sad, and missing two strong riders, but I can work hard,” Hagiwara concluded, referring to the loss of Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Anna Sanchis, who were both forced to abandon after crashing. “We lost two riders, but I decided that I can work harder every day!”

1. Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv)
2. Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS)
3. Elena Cecchini (Lotto-Soudal)
5. Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)


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