Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur) claimed a narrow victory in the 2km prologue of the Giro Rosa on Friday to take the first maglia rosa of the 10-stage Italian tour. On Canada Day and the day after her 26th birthday, the Canadian topped Rabo-Liv teammates Thalita de Jong and Anna van der Breggen by one second.

“This is an incredible feeling,” Kirchmann said. “This victory is even extra special because it is Canada day and it is also only a few days after my birthday.

“I had high expectations going into this race, but I am quite surprised to take this win in the prologue. Beforehand, we did a recon of the course a few times. Once I was racing I had the corners in my head and I was able to take them really fast. I just gave everything I had and that was enough to take the win, which is fantastic.”

The short prologue course means that Kirchmann holds just a handful f seconds over the top pre-race favourites like defending champion van der Breggen and the Boels Dolmans power duo of world champion Lizzie Armitstead and WorldTour leader Megan Guarnier.

“This is a big success for me and the team,” Kirchmann said. “For the upcoming stages, we will try and defend the pink jersey for as long as possible. Of course, I will enjoy my day in the pink jersey tomorrow.”

Stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile will take the peloton 104km from Gaiarine to San Fior over mostly flat and rolling terrain.