Oh-so-close in Occhiobello as Hosking misses Giro Rosa stage win by three millimetres

Chloe Hosking celebrated just beyond the finish line in Occhiobello on Monday, thinking she had snagged a Giro Rosa stage victory for the second straight season. Belgian road champion Jolien d’Hoore, believing she had come second, congratulated Hosking on the win. Yet when it was time for the podium celebration, it was d’Hoore who climbed to the first step.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster after the race,” admitted Hosking. “Thinking I had won, then not knowing. Being told I had won, then being told I hadn’t. I wanted to see the photo to be sure, but I was trying to communicate that in Italian.”

Officials were forced to turn to the finish line photo to determine the stage four winner. Hosking was second. Her former teammate has beaten her to the line by millimetres.

“My coach said if only I had an extra 10psi in my tyres, I would have won,” said Hosking. “To fall short three millimetres seems cruel, but there are more chances to come.”

The 118-kilometre day was a sleepy affair to start. The pan-flat profile should have produced straightforward sprint stage. And initially it did.

“We started off fairly fast with some attacks, but nothing was sticking,” said Hoksing. “Then there was a 40-kilometre lull, which should have been a sign shit was about to go down. You know, the whole calm before the storm thing.”

Hosking was spinning her legs at the back of the bunch, conserving for the sprint, when she realised she needed to get to the front – and get there fast.

“I looked up and saw the peloton thinning,” she noted. “There was a train of black on the front. I hadn’t felt the wind before then, but as the group thinned out, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone in front of me dropped the wheel and I would be in trouble.

“I waited as long as I could, and then I had to jump to try to make it to the main group in time,” Hosking added. “I think I was the last person to make the split. My power was as high at this point as it would be a the finish.”

With teammates spread out throughout the bunch, Hosking’s efforts were buoyed by strong support and even stronger legs.

“Every teammate I rode up to would jump in front of me and help me move to the front,” said Hosking. “It was fairly nervous times, but at the same time, it was super exciting. How awesome is it how quickly a ‘boring’ race can change?”

Hoksing had made the front split. She had five teammates for company in a group of roughly 70 riders. Annemiek van Vleuten, who started the day in second overall, was in the first chase group. Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team and Wiggle-High5 collaborated at the head of affairs for their respective leaders, seizing the opportunity to put time into Van Vleuten.

“My teammates stayed around me for the next 25-kilometres,” Hosking noted. “I had my #yellowflurorange train to look after me, and, literally, all I had to do was follow wheels. I’m really impressed with how our train has evolved, and I’m super proud of the girls for the gains they’ve made this eason.”

Coming into the sprint, Hosking lost her train.

“It was super clustered on the left where we were,” Hosking explained. “I lost my teammates, but I managed to find the CANYON//SRAM train with 800-metres to go.”

Barbara Guarischi took it hot into the second-to-last roundabout but managed to keep it upright.

“I don’t know how we didn’t all go down,” said Hosking. “She was going that fast. Hannah Barnes jumped off Barbara’s wheel too early after that, so there was some fish-tailing coming into the last corner.”

Hosking backed off the gas and came out of the final corner in second position with 250-metres still to race.

“That’s usually a good sprint length for me, but I knew there was a headwind, so I waited,” Hosking explained. “And in the end, I probably waited too long.”

“When I launched my sprint, Gio Bronzini was moving past me on my left with Jolien,” Hosking said. “It was Jolien on the left of Gio and me on the right – a Gio sandwhich.”

Hosking lunged for the line, throwing her bike, but so did d’Hoore. Three millimetres gave d’Hoore the win.

“I really thought I had it,” said Hosking. “It was so close – even in the photo My dad said I must also have a record for finishing second in a photo finish this season.

“I’d prefer a different sort of record,” Hosking added.

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