First, it has a killer logo:
Beautiful foliage, grapevines, hilly terrain... and gruppo compatto.
More fascinating insight along these lines... on the flip!
The course starts in Novi Ligure, the adopted hometown of none other than Fausto Coppi. Not that he indulged this story line by winning the thing, even once. Maybe if it finished in Novi Ligure things could have been different. For some reason this didn't cross anyone's mind when the race came into existence, 13 years before il Campionissimo was born.
The course meanders westward to Fossano, just outside the more cycling-famous Cuneo. But while the Piedmont region is known for the Alps and the Appennines, the former are distant memories and the latter appear only between km 90 and 140 of a 184-km course. More grafichi:
L'ultimo KM, or more like the final 25k:
A 5% incline for a full km, inside the last three... somehow I don't see that bucking the trend of sprinters winning.
The winningest winners in Piemonte are some of the names you might expect. Costante Girardegno, Fiorenzo Magni, Aldo Bini, and Gino Bartali all won three. Among the dual winners are Alfredo Binda, Nino De Filippis and Felice Gimondi. And Daniele Bennati.
... and Claudio Chiappucci. Other climbers who've scored here include Gianni Bugno and Richard Virenque. But for me there are too many Guido Bontempis and Tashkent Terrors on the honor roll to get distracted. It's not that selective.
Which leaves the 2010 edition. Take your pick among the following:
- Philippe Gilbert is the defending champion, but right now it's not wise or particularly fair to hold him to his 2009 standard. This race isn't hard enough for him, and he needs to keep his legs for Saturday, whatever that means. So for the Omega boys, Greg Van Avermaet is as good a pick as Phil-Gil.
- It's probably time to start watching BMC. Cadel Evans is the energizer bunny of grand tour/hilly classics guys, so the fact that he's shown well lately means he'll do so again in the big show Saturday. But Gilbert showed last year that you can work hard enough to win here as preparation, and guys on a roll often talk about the benefit of riding really hard on the days leading up to the big day. Anyway, Mauro Santambrogio and Karsten Kroon are guys for this season. Michael Schar is a top 25 guy in Piedmont, to help sort out the team's plans.
- The 'Gas have a team built for getting Benna to the line on time. The guys who usually outkick Bennati in the sprints nowadays aren't here, so it's a plan.
- Saxo aren't necessarily geared for Piemonte, but the trio of Breschel, Fuglsang and Porte have been terribly strong of late. Breschel is the pick in a bunch.
- Some more sprinters: Thor Hushovd says he's just here to show off his jersey, but you never know. Assan Bazayev? Francesco Gavazzi?
- Lots more classics guys on hand: Luca Paolini, Enrico Gasparotto, Giovanni Visconti, Carlos Barredo, Sylvain Chavanel, Sebastian Langeveld, Max Monfort, Peter Velits, and Pippo Pozzato. This might suggest a more attacking field (not Pozzato so much as the other guys).
- Finally, Dan Martin is someone I wouldn't take your eye off of anytime soon. Just call it a hunch.
Oh, and if anyone has some ideas about video, I'm all ears.