Saturday’s GP GFM Meccanica run just outside Praticello in the Emilia-Romagnaian comune of Gattatico give you one more hint of just how deeply embedded cycling is in the culture of parts of Italy. In the entire comune there are just 5,400 residents and those are divided between six villages. Yet for the last forty years the inhabitants have been running a Gran Fondo, the Trofeo Papà Cervi, and for the last ten that has been preceded in the morning by a race for elite women, the GP GFM Meccanica. And not just vaguely elite women (as I remember reading years ago of a school fete that was to be opened by a "star" of "Star Wars" which turned out to mean someone who was inside one of those Ewok costumes), they’ve had some pretty impressive fields in their time. Two years ago Regina Schleicher outsprinted Giorgia Bronzini (Or if you prefer the Cicloweb version - even more impressively she then had just one teammate, Edita Pucinskaite ), and last year Diana Ziliute beat Alessandre d’Ettore (if you’re curious, that video also shows Guderzo riding last year in her Fiamme Azzurre colours).
The race itself starts some 12km to the southwest of Praticello outside the headquarters of sponsor GFM Meccanica. They race twice around a short circuit there before heading to the main 7.2km circuit at Praticello, passing en route the Museo Cervi (one time home of anti-fascist resistance hero Alcide Cervi, the Papa Cervi after who the Gran Fondo is named) where there is an intermediate sprint. The main circuit is repeated nine times for a total race distance of 98km. There aren’t any profiles around but you don’t need them in the Po valley: the steepest gradient anyone is likely to encounter is on the underpass under the Autostrada del Sole. That pretty much guarantees a sprint of sorts, so that means Giorgia Bronzini, Rasa Leleivyte, Alessandre d’Ettore in third place and Rossella Callovi hitting the top ten again. If precedent is a guide then ultimokm.net should have video of the race in a couple of days. Their archive is worth a little explore too. Select a year and category from the drop-down boxes on the right hand side of the home page, then press "cerca." Particularly recommended if your workplace blocks YouTube.