What are riders saying about the Giro Donne? Part 2!

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On Friday the biggest race of the women's calendar starts - it's Giro Donne time!  It's a fantastic race, 10 days in some beautiful parts of Italy - the longest, hardest and most prestigious women's race of the year! 

You might already have read the fantastic tips for riders facing the Giro for the first time that Bridie O'Donnell wrote just for the Café - but we don't stop there! 

I've been asking other riders what they're thinking about the race....  the first one to reply was Lotto-Honda's Vicki Whitelaw:

As I lie here on cool tiled floor of my apartment in Northern Italy with my pedestal fan blowing full strength to give me some chance of falling asleep tonight in the furnace that Italy can be at this time of year, I don't want to think just yet about the hurt-box of pain that this Giro will most certainly bring! I'll reserve that for Friday morning :)

It's going to be a real tough one especially with the epic climb of Mortirolo.

I'm not a big one for motivational quotes, they usually leave me feeling quite sick.

I may think of this one when pushing through the pain barriers......"Shut up legs"- Mr Jens Voigt :)

Below the jump, more rider thoughts - and hopefully there'll be more to come tomorrow!  Best of luck to all the riders - and massive thanks for taking the time to talk to the Café!

It's Dutch rider Marijn de Vries' first time riding!  She'll be there for AA Drink-Leontien.nl

What are you expecting from the Giro?
The heaviest stage race I've ever done in a country where everyone is crazy about cycling. Last year I visited a stage of the Giro Donne: everything was pink! All villages had pink ribbons, balloons... That was so cool! The atmosphere must be great, I'm looking forward to that very much!

Have your team-mates told you any horror stories?
Yes, of course... They told a lot of horror stories about last year's Stelvio-stage. This year we have the Mortirolo. Not only the climb will be super-heavy, also the descent is tricky: narrow and steep. But I'm quite sure I'll be in the grupetto by then, so downhilling there won't be very risky.

What are your big hopes?
I really enjoyed the last stage of the Bira: I was in the breakaway of the day. I hope to have a similar experience in the Giro.

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Another rider racing the Giro for the first time is Aussie Rachel Neylan, who's riding for Diadora Pasta Zara alongside last year's winner Mara Abbott, and Claudia Häusler, who won in 2009:

What are you looking forward to about this year's race?  Defending the 2010 Giro title and racing a very strong Team Diadora Pasta Zara

What AREN'T you looking forward to? The long inter-stage car transfers... I don't sit still well!

What are your best and worst memories from previous Giros? None, this is my debut!!!

What will you be taking with you to help you get through the race? A positive mind and 100% belief

And is there anything you think Café readers should know about this year's race? The women will race up the infamous Mortirolo Pass - 12.4 kilometres long at an average of 10.5% (height gain: 1300 m), the maximum gradient being 18%

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Neylan's Diadora team-mate Amber Pierce is also on her first Giro

What are you looking forward to about this year's race?  What AREN'T you looking forward to?

I'm looking forward to the pasta, and NOT looking forward to the pasta. I love pasta, and it's nearly always perfectly prepared in Italy. Even so, a few days into the race, I will probably never want to see another plate of pasta again.

What will you be taking with you to help you get through the race?


In my bag, I've got: earplugs, my Kindle, a foam roller, and a pair of Glacier Gloves (it may be summer in Italy, but these are the best insurance against bad weather conditions).  These will all help, but mostly, it's my teammates who get me through the tough times. We've got an awesome group, and together we can take on anything.

Is there anything you think Café readers should know about this year's race?


To readers: this race is a big deal. This is the biggest stage race for women in the world. Even so, it'll be a lot more fun to watch if you take a little time to get to know some of the riders and personalities. Make a Twitter list of Giro racers, find the racers on Facebook, or bookmark team websites and rider blogs. That's the beauty of cycling - the inside track is super accessible and makes watching the races a lot more fun. You can start now, by adding these Twitter handles to your Giro list: @TeamDiadoraZara, @ambermalika, @rachneylan, @EleonoraPatuzzo, @lacambramanel, @GiroDonne

She makes a good point!  Once the race startlist is out tomorrow, I'll be putting up a list of rider blogs and twitter addresses, to make things easier - and of course, we'll have daily-ish updates with anything fun we see!

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Martine Bras is on her second Giro - this time, she'll be riding for the Netherlands National Team, the only national team riding this year.

Expecting: Not to much for the overall classification as I am not good enough for the "real" mountains. I expect to maybe have a go in the "easier" days in a break away or sprint with small peloton.

The best things will be the Giro itself.
The atmosphere. The pink. The Italians and their cycling fever.
The worst will also be one of the best. The Mortirolo or Passo di Foppa (could be Foppo) as it real name is. I will cry for my mama, and be all smiles when I am finished! I hope ;)

I only did the Giro once. I loved being in the green for so long but hated crashing so hard in the 5th stage. It made the rest of my Giro very hard.

This year's Giro will all be about climbing. Sprinters will not have many opportunities. It will be a Giro with big time difference. It is very hard for us riders because of long transfers and hard stages. So in the end that will also count!

And her advice for first-timers?

Non pensare, andare :)

Just look at it day by day. Even I do that!

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Amanda Miller is also riding for the second time - the young American is flying the flag for HTC-Highroad this year:

What are you looking forward to about this year's race?  What AREN'T you looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to all the racing, actually.  I love the riding in Italy, so I'm sure the courses will be great (even if they are super hard).  I'm not looking forward to the long transfers after the races!!  Nothing like sitting in a car for 2+ hours after a long, hot day on the bike...

What are your best and worst memories from last year's Giro?
My best memories about last year's Giro is being part of the winning team.  I raced with the U.S. National team when Mara took the victory.  It was great to be able to contribute to that.  My worst memory is crashing on Stage 9 going down the first hill at 80km an hour.  I finished the stage, after climbing up Stelvio pass.  It has to be up there on my list of "worst days on the bike".  I suffered some road rash and the usual bruising, etc.  Also in the crash, was my teammate Amber Neben.  She broke her collarbone.  Not a good day!

What will you be taking with you to help you get through the race?
The usual technology (iPod, computer, Skype, etc.)

And is there anything you think first time riders should know about this year's race?

This race is hard.  Eat and drink as much as you can, and more.  Keeping on top of hydration and nutrition is key for such a long race.  Don't get discouraged by a bad day on the bike.  It happens to everyone.  Keep your spirits high!

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Want to know more about these riders? (as non-Facebook person, if you know how to follow them there, I'd appreciate it if you added it to the comments!)

Vicki has a fantastic blog that is sometimes updated by the lovely Mr Vicki Whitelaw, Dave.  I interviewed Vicki over the winter, and you can read that here.

Marijn is another excellent blogger (if you don't read Dutch, google translate does a good job, & you'll learn some superb new Dutch words!) - you can also follow her twitter - and read my interview with her.

Rachel has one of the best rider websites out there - here's her "Simple Facts" about the race.  She's also on twitter and is another of the very kind riders who let me interview her!

Amber has her blog, twitter and facebook - follow them all!

Martine is my most recent interview victim - I loved her stories about the race where she had to sleep in a bomb-shelter, & how her new team caused pre-season injuries!  She also has her own website and her twitter too!

Amanda tweets as @arae_miller and blogs here - and you can watch my mini video interview with her before the GP Nicolas Frantz!

Extra-special good luck to all the riders - have a super-safe race!

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