Many fans will have been concerned that the organiser’s decision to adopt an unusually flat parcours might make for a less interesting Giro Trentino Donne this year – an especial worry when the race has already been shortened from three days to two due to financial problems as reduced interest might very well spell the end of the 19-year-old race. However, in any form of cycling the personalities and riding styles of those who take part count towards the overall success of a race, and when you have riders such as the ones in this event it’s never going to be boring.
The peloton stayed together up the first climb, but numerous riders were visibly restless and waiting for their chance at launching a breakaway attempt. A group of 18 got away shortly after the climb and AA Drink-Leontien.nl’s Sharon Laws and Emma Pooley accompanied by GreenEDGE’s Judith Arndt wasted no time in splitting off from them to form a lead group with Laws briefly riding ahead solo, though there was a good bit of tit-for-tat as riders swapped places and found their positions. Sadly, the race ended after just 15km for Rochelle Gilmore – the Faren-Honda rider later reported that she’d already had too much for “ones head, legs & bike to cope with” after both her original and replacement bike developed problems.
Before too long the race had settled into three groups – Pooley, Noemi Cantele (Be Pink) and Linda Villumsen (GreenEDGE) with a 49″ advantage over a chasing group of 15, then the main field some 2′ back. The times varied and a few riders came and went from the chase group, but this arrangement characterised the majority of the rest of the stage. Pooley was the fastest rider through the first and second intermediate sprints with Villumsen and Cantele taking second and third place in the first, then switching positions in the second. A few kilometres on they upped the pace, building their lead over the chasers to 1’42” and putting more than three minutes between themselves and the main group, who responded by speeding up just as Luisa Tamanini (Faren-Honda) made an unsuccessful bid to bridge from chasers to lead. Rossella Ratto (Verinlegno-Fabiani), Olga Zabelinskaya (RusVelo), Alexandra Burchenkova (S.C. Michela Fanini Rox), Malgorzata Jasinska (MCipollini-Giambenini-Gauss) and Charlotte Becker (Specialized-Lululemon) had more luck, clawing their way to the leaders not long before the race entered its final 25km – which immediately made the outcome far less easy to predict, many people deciding Becker was a good bet.
| Pooley’s solo attack with 4km to
go was the highlight of the race, even if
Most of the chasers apparently decided there was little point in carrying on now; many of them dropped back to join the main group who were now 4’07” behind the leaders, so with 15km to go it was obvious that the contenders had been narrowed down to eight riders. They were still together at 10km to go with no obvious signs of splitting, at which point the last few chasers gave up the fight and accepted what was now inevitable.
Pooley was the first to go, launching a daring attack 4km from the line and looking for a few moments like she might just pull it off, but she’d apparently over-estimated her reserves and was rapidly caught. Even now it remained unclear how the finish would play out – was it going to be a bunch sprint or would there be more attacks? Pooley tried again with 800m to go, but in the end the group went with the first option, all kicking off together and fighting hard for the line; Cantele turned out to be the fastest by just centimetres. It was a thrilling end to a superb stage, proof that this race has a great future if it survives these difficult times – so get your wallet out, Pat McQuaid.
Tomorrow, the riders have two stages. The first consists of four laps of a 15.7km road parcours at Sarnonico followed by a 5km individual time trial.
(With thanks to Sarah Connolly for mentioning the “personalities over parcours” concept!)
By John Orbea – Cambridge, UK
John Orbea is the man behind Les Déesses de la Route, a cycling blog dedicated to women’s bike racing. We are so thrilled by his efforts to report on women’s cycling combined with an extensive knowledge of the history of bike racing. John is a 30 year cyclist with experience in road, bmx, mtb, and is a Cycling National Standards Instructor, he has four pet ferrets, and recently started riding a fixie. John prefers women’s cycling because it’s friendlier, personalities shape races as much as parcours, and it’s more competitive. He also believes “Marianne Vos is such an important phenomenon in cycling history that any historian needs to pay attention.”