At last the Italian season gets going this Sunday, March 7. The organisers of the GP Cornaredo must have had no idea when they started up last year that they would become the first race of the year in only their second edition, but that’s how things go. And the race may be new, but the organiser is one Walter Zini, a long-standing presence on the women’s cycling scene last seen as DS for Luperini’s Selle Italia-Ghezzi team but now in charge of his very own team "Wes Bike Team" after his bitter, season-long dispute with team Selle president Walter Ricci Petitoni.
Cornaredo first dabbled with women’s racing back in 2007 when they hosted a finish of the Giro Donne. On that day Judith Arndt was the winner, so that gives a pretty good hint to the local geography. They so enjoyed that day that they put on a race of their own in 2008, the GP Cornaredo, when Andrea Grauss of Bigla outsprinted Julia Martissova and Charlotte Becker on what was apparently an awful day. So after taking a year out they’re back again.
The course is a 12km circuit which is ridden 10 times. Two thirds of that comes in nice km chunks, while the section immediately before and after the start/finish line has lots of short stretches and turns. A course for riders with short tongues and long legs.
This year’s line-up is particularly Italian. The full start list won’t be revealed until the day itself, but these are the teams taking part together with the names of their lead riders (most of those teams listed as non-Italian ride under flags of convenience):
Team HTC Columbia (Germany) – Cantele, Villumsen
Team Valdarno (Italy) – Antoshina, Vilajosana, Corazza, Belvederesi
Gauss Rdz Ormu (Italy) – Pucinskaite, Martissova, Kuchinskaja
Safi Pasta Zara (Lithuania) – Leleivyte, Iturriaga, Romoli, Kozonchuk
Fenixs (Russia) – Holler, Di Nato, Juodvalkite, Vilunaite
Michela Fanini Record Rox (Italy) – Ruzickova, Marmorini, Leal Balderas
Top Girls Fassa Bortolo Ghezzi (Italy) – D’Ettorre, Carretta, Berlato, Corneo, Presti
Chirio Forno d’Asolo (Italy) – Tamanini, Unguryte, Faustini, Janeliunaite
Vaiano Tepso Solaristech (Italy) – Scandolara, Frapporti, Sosna, Sitsko
Russian National Team – Zabelinskaya, Blyndyuk
Team System Data (Italy) – Primavera, Ficini, Houdjakoff
Bike Import.ch (Switzerland) – Sommer, Schneeberger, Koch
Sc Vecchia Fontana (Italy) – Callovi, Balzan, Gobbo, Capuzzo
Team Polet Garmin (Slovenia) – Novak, Verbic, Godec, Pintar
Rappresentativa Nazionale Croatia – Boduljak, Radotic, Graci, Bozac
Team Cuore Italiano Edilsavino (Italy) – Quarta
Cycling Team Friuli (Italy) – Basso, Scafetta
Gs Verso l’Iride Maccari Spumanti (Italy) - Doria
Gs Potentia 1945 (Italy) – Stefani, D’Intino, Marucci
Of those the likely contenders for the win are Noemi Cantele, Rasa Leleivyte who has stepped up to the role of lead sprinter after Giorgia Bronzini’s move to Gauss, Marta Vilajosana the Spanish champion and Top Girls’ Alessandra d’Ettore. I am surprised that Tatiana Guderzo and Bronzini herself are not yet listed, but they may be there. If Guderzo rides then don’t waste your money betting against her.
Believe it or not there is actually going to be some TV coverage of this, but I suspect that it will be on the local channel only. But if anyone has any little tricks on how to pick up Sportissimo on Mediolanum Channel then let us all know.
Big bump - Video expected to be available today, see comments