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Edita Puckinskaite (Nobili Rubinetterie) stole the women's Giro from race leader Nicole Brndli (Team Bigla) on the final stage on Sunday with a spectacular attack on the final climb, writes CJ Farquharson. Pucinskaite won the final stage which finished at the Madonna del Ghisallo chapel to take an 11-second overall victory.
At the start of the stage, the Lithuanian was 20 seconds down overall and the focus was on the one-second advantage Brndli held over Susanne Ljungskog (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint). The 71km final stage ran from Erba to Madonna del Ghisallo, a truly spiritual place in Italian cycling. The early part of the stage was quiet. At the sprint competition point, Ljungskog took second to Regina Schleicher (Nrnberger). The bonus two seconds Ljungskog received as a result put her in the virtual lead, a second up on Brndli.
At the foot of the climb to Madonna del Ghisallo, the final climb of the event, the race split, with five leaders quickly establishing an advantage over what became two groups of chasers. The five, Svetlana Bubnenkova (Colnago Fenixs), Brndli, Ljungskog, Puckinskaite and Italian road champion and previous Giro winner Fabiana Luperini (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) did not stay together for long.
A couple of kilometres later, Puckinskaite made her audacious move and it worked. She established a gap which she continued to extend during the climb. At the mountain-top finish, she was 14 seconds ahead of second- and third-placed Bubnenkova and Luperini. More importantly, though, Brndli finished 21 seconds behind on the stage. Puckinskaite had turned a 20-second deficit into an 11-second win, thanks to a 10-second bonus for the stage win. Ljungskog finished just behind Brndli to take third overall.
As Puckinskaite's team-mates crossed the finish line, they celebrated her win with waves and victory salutes, having been told of the result via team radio. Olga Slyusareva took the sprints competition, Ljungskog, the points competition, and Puckinskaite won the mountains competition. Although she had spent most of the Giro in a competition leader's jersey, Nicole Brndli did not win any of the separate classifications and had to content herself with second overall in one of the most exciting women's Giros in recent years.
Final overall standings
1 Edita Pucinskaite (Lit) Nobili Rubinetterie 22.36.25
2 Nicole Brndli (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team 0.11
3 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Buitenpoort 0.13
4 Svetlana Bubnenkova (Den) Colnago 0.35
5 Olga Slyusareva (Rus) Colnago 0.39
6 Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo 0.53
7 Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo 1.07
8 Monia Baccaille (Ita) Team Saccarelli Emu 1.34
9 Noemi Cantele (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo 1.36
10 Eneritz Iturriagaechevarria (Spa) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo 1.59
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