Saturday 16 June 2012

Giro Trentino Donne

Trentino is a nice and simple sort of race - there's a 98km road race from Trento to Mezzolombardo with a couple of small climbs and a sprinty finish to start things off today, then tomorrow riders complete four laps of a 15.7km at Sarnonico in the morning before competing against the clock in a 5km individual time trial starting at Romeno and heading back into Sarnonico in the afternoon. It used to extend over three days but, like so many races, has suffered serious financial setbacks over the last couple of years.

What complicates matters is that the race falls so close to the start of the last Grand Tour in women's cycling, the Giro Donne, which means it's prime opportunity to get in some valuable extra race training and - most importantly - have a good look at one another's form. In fact, Trentino organisers are so used to their race being used in this way that they even seem to alter the route to reflect the Giro Donne parcours: in most years, the climbers come here while the sprinters go to RaboSter in the Netherlands; this year the Giro Donne is notably less mountainous than usual and so is Trentino, so a few riders who tend to specialise more in the sprints are here this year.

Because the race is so useful for the Giro Donne, many of the top names show up on the start line and what would in all likelihood have been a relatively unimportant weekender becomes a 2.1 designated race of considerable prestige. Past winners Judith Arndt (GreenEDGE, won 2011), Emma Pooley (AA, won 2010), Nicole Cooke (Faren-Honda, won 2009) and Fabiana Luperini (Faren-Honda, won 2008 and 2002) are all in attendance, but victory is far from guaranteed for any one of them - their teams and others have sent along strong squads consisting of fast riders able to hold their own in a sprint and in a great many cases very capable of snatching a win from under the big guns' noses. (Start list here)

Other than that climb in the first 15km and the two little blips between 35-50km, it's a very flat parcours. This means that breakaways are likely - with so many teams sending very strong riders in addition to their leaders, there's a good chance we'll see several attempts firing off the front of the peloton within the first few kilometres and certainly by the end of the first descent. If they prove unsuccessful, others will replace them and, sooner or later, one of them will get away. Whether they can keep going to the end or whether the peloton will chase them down remains to be seen, but a group of strong riders working together will have a very good chance.

Following the race: there's no live ticker for this one, which is rather disappointing considering the importance of the race but probably to be expected considering the organisation's economic woes. It's much easier to keep track of RaboSter, but some sort of Trentino commentary should be available on Twitter. fans will be retweeting any scraps of information they find - check hashtags #Trentino and #womenscycling and see what's on offer. I'll be retweeting anything I can find - @cyclopunk.

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