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Ciclismo nell'Inverno

There's little English coverage so far, but this Saturday the Italian season kicks off with the GP Costa Degli Etruschi, a race along the Tuscan shore. The basic description (from last year, via BiciRace):

Action kicks off at 11.00 in San Vincenzo and finishes some hours later in Donoratico. The parcours is designed for a sprint showdown, with 193 kilometers, most of which are flat. The organizers will take the peloton through the towns of Bibbona, Castagneto Carducci, Cecina, Casale Marittimo, Guardistallo, Montescudaio and San Vincenzo.

The real news, as hyped over at the Italian TuttoBici, is the lineup:

A cercare di guastare i progetti e la festa annunciata di Bettini e Petacchi ci proveranno soprattutto Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas) e Daniele Bennati (Lampre Fondital); così come Luciano Pagliarini (Saunier Duval Prodir), Crescenzo D'Amore (OTC Doors Lauretana), Andrus Aug (Ceramica Flaminia), Fabrizio Guidi (Barloworld) e Daniele Di Nucci (Universal Caffe' Ecopetrol).

Tom Steels was supposed to be there, but he needs another week to heal his broken collarbone. Wuss. Anyway, even if it's more like a parade, one featuring the Rainbow Jersey, plus a sprint with Petacchi vs. Bennati vs. Bennati vs. Chicchi, is worth a look. Apparently RAI 3 will be airing it, possibly streaming.

Oh, and on the subject of Italian sprinters, what the hell has gotten into Alberto Loddo?