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Giro Donne route announced – Anyone heard of the Stelvio?

The organisers of the Giro Donne today announced the route of this year’s edition, taking place from the 2nd to 11th July and based around the NorthEast of Italy. Its structure seems to be in part based on last year’s Tour, i.e. start slowly and gradually get tougher and tougher. Two flattish stages, a time trial, another flat stage. Then two lumpyish stages, the first around the shore of Lake Orta, before they hit the Alps. Then one up and down Alpine stage, one up with no down Alpine stage, before their own Ventoux, over the Bormio to Stelvio. Shall I say that again? From Livigno, over Bormio to the Stelvio pass. Take that Sig. Zomegnan. And just when you thought they couldn’t top that for spectacle, the final stage runs from the Monza race track to finish in front of the Royal Palace in Monza.

To whet your appetite, the organisers have sent out a press release for which the term poetic is an understatement. I’ve done my best to translate on the flip, but in places I have given what I think it means, sticking to the spirit rather than the words themselves.

Today the Museo dello Sport Diadora hosted the presentation of the 2010 Giro Donne, the most important stage race in international women’s cycling. In this Treviso temple to sport, in the presence of illustrious guests [snip names] the veil was lifted on the 21st edition. A Giro 921.9 km long that will set off on July 2nd from Muglia aiming towards the finish line at Monza in front of the Villa Reale. A race that will pass through in ten thrilling stages Friuli, the Veneto, Piemonte, and Lombardia. Designed to deify the real athletes who live for climbs and long for fatigue. Able to subdue the Alpine summits that stand as the supreme judge of a Giro that will be settled on the road that leads to Livigno or the bends that wind skywards towards the summit of the Stelvio.

But even what precedes that could prove decisive, on the insidious stage of the Larian Triangle, where the Sormano and the Ghisallo are ready to give succour to those who want to shake things up. Again Ghisallo makes a welcome return. It was there that the Welshwoman Nicole Cooke, still young but able to distinguish herself, hit the bullseye with a massive personal victory in 2004, seizing for herself the Giro designed by Guiseppe Rivolta and his team that concluded before the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. It was the same Ghisallo that placed the first maglai rosa on the shoulders of Edita Pucinskaite who, at the peak of her ability, took in 2006 the first of her two successive Giros.

 This is a Giro of many old friends flanked by intriguing novelties. On every stage, around every corner. It departs from Trieste, for the first time welcoming the Giro with a stage that mixes up the spectacle of a criterium with the seriousness appropriate to a proper stage. A Giro that respects tradition on its visit to the Treviso region, which will in return be repaid with the ardour and passion that comes from true cycling fans. A stage along the rolling hills that lead from Sacile in the extreme western edge of Friuli to Riese Pio X, one type of true home of women’s cycling. A stage for the alert, strong-legged hunters, or the rapacious sprinters.

It is a Giro that favours the time-triallers. For here is the perfect conjunction between Caerano San Marco and Biadene di Montebelluna, to make a bridge between two of the top Italian companies in the world. From the offices of Diadora to those of Geox to measure yourself against the hand of the clock and the passing of time. A timetrial to sort out the classification in anticipation of the real mountains.

It is a Giro for sprinters who believe in themselves and who set out the arrival in Lendinara as the object of their season. For powerful girls, such as Teutenberg in 2008, Bronzini in 2007, Schleicher in 2005. Sprinters of the highest ability for a stage as flat as a billiard table, for a Giro that will always remember its jet-women. And who in their turn always respond with desire and passion to a Giro that is always a noble objective of a rich season and a demanding summer.

At Pettenasco will be unleashed escapes along the shore of Lake Orta, to a backdrop borne of fantasy. Climbs, descents, curves and excitement will crown a beautiful breakaway, an athletic feat deserving an ovation, the satisfaction of victory. It is a new beauty, that of Pettenasco and of Orta San Giulio which hosts the departure. Tantalising for attackers; reason and terrain to dare to win.

The Giro of excitement brings us to Varese, terrain of champions, of wheels, of history. From Gallarate to Arcisate, the home of Noemi Cantele. More than enough motives for this Varesian to not miss her appointment with success at the Giro Donne, as she did in 2009 at Cerro al Volturno. Behold the return of the Ghisallo, with the climb of Sormano as appetiser and the arrival at Albese con Cassano. Here the Giro Donne will not forget a simple lad as was Fabio Casartelli, Olympic champion with tears in his eyes at Barcelona in far off 1992, even if it seems like yesterday.

Then to the Alps, theatre of great cycling at all levels. From Chiavenna to Livigno, breathing the air of the audacious, the climbers fly off, attacking and surprising in the Swiss air. There is not a metre that does not have history to relive, feats that are embedded in the memory. Then the road heads towards the Stelvio. If the game has not yet been settled then the mountain ahead will be the defining moment for whoever arrives in Monza with the maglia rosa, for whoever will conclude a Giro that is among the most beautiful and demanding of recent years, for whoever wishes to pull that jersey from the shoulders of Claudia Hausler, reigning champion and a brilliant athlete, able to pull herself above the crowd in the last edition raced on the streets of southern Italy.

[list of other speakers followed]

Original available here. Google translate is not your friend

More detail on the stages is here. I’ll try to come back to this later in the week.