Oh look, it's a bike race! It's in Italy, Trentino to be exact. There will be mountains. And, it starts tomorrow, which is Tuesday. (Yes, it's still Monday on my planet.)
The official site is conveniently in Italian. Well, I did say it was a stage race in Italy, didn't I? But don't be sad. You really don't need to know Italian to read a race website. You just need to know a few magic words. Most important? Tappe. This magic word takes you to the stage list. There are maps, what the Italians call planimetria. And also, stage profiles, which the Italians call altimetria. So easy, this learning Italian. You can also become a fan of the Giro del Trentino on Facebook. The Italians call this... Facebook.
The Giro del Trentino is short and sweet with only four stages. But it includes two mountain top finishes at San Martino di Castozza and the steep Alpe di Pampeago. The Alpe di Pampeago, which reaches a maximum gradient of 16%, provides the grand finale for the race. The third stage has a flat finish, but the riders must climb the Passo Rolle and a couple other odds and ends before they get there. Alessandro Petacchi is apparently riding this race for Lampre-Vini Farnese. I'm not quite sure why, honestly. This, my friends, is a race for the climbers. The Italians call them scalatores.
Guess who's racing the Giro del Trentino? That's right, Riccardo Riccò will be riding this week's race. No? That doesn't get you excited? Okay, me neither. What does get me excited is that Gilberto Simoni will ride the Giro del Trentino in preparation for his final Giro d'Italia. Simoni recently signed with Lampre to race for the team through the end of this year's Giro. It's the end of a lengthy career for Simoni. Certainly, we will have to send him off with suitable celebrations at the end of next month. But not yet. First, there is bike racing.
Names you should know in this race, in addition to Simoni and Riccò: Ivan Basso (does not have a dog), Franco Pellizotti (has big hair), Alexandre Vinokourov (who?), Paolo Tiralongo (climby dude, used to race for Lampre, looks like Cunego, only different), Stefano Garzelli (yes, he raced with Pantani), José Rujano (the third best climber in the world), Damiano Caruso (neo-pro, brilliant as an U23), Michael Rasmussen (for reals?), and Emmanuele Sella. Have a look at the whole list, if you like.
Tomorrow, the race starts with a 12.5 kilometer time trial. The course runs between Riva del Garda and Torbola sul Garda. It is remarkable for its flatness.
On the awesomeness scale, I'd give this race around a 8.0. (Recall that the awesomeness scale goes to 11.) An entertaining cast of characters will take the start. Also, the course is difficult. That was an understatement, by the way, it's more like stupid hard. Last, but maybe more importantly, this race has the scenery going on. Honestly, they could run a tricycle race for six year olds through Trentino and it would be worth tracking down the photos or finding some viddy. Mountainous and vineyard bedecked, Trentino is beautiful country.
Steephill has some more infos in English, and I expect will have photos daily. So roll on by there, and have a look-see.
Update! Alexandre Vinokourov won the opening crono and rides tomorrow as race leader. Stefano Garzelli finished second at 15 seconds, while Matteo Mataguti finished third at 18. Want more results? Head over to the official site for today's stage results.