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What do riders think about the 2014 Giro Rosa? Part 3

All week we've been talking about the Giro Rosa women's Grand Tour, which starts tomorrow, and finding out what riders like Marianne Vos, Emma Johansson, Asleigh Moolman-Pasio, Chloe Hosking and Tiffany Cromwell think about this year's race. In Part 3, we have one of the big GC contenders, Evelyn Stevens, ITT World Champion Ellen van Dijk, first-time riders Audrey Cordon and Hannah Barnes - and Italian Champion Elena Cecchini, on why she's not riding.

Evelyn Stevens

Evie Stevens is one of the riders In 2012 she was 3rd overall, after winning Stage 3, and she won stage 7 in 2010...  she seems to do well in even-numbered years, so will we see her on that top step again this year?

PdC: Looking at this year's race, which do you think will be the key stages, and what are you looking forward to?

Evie: There has been some great coverage of the race on a few websites and from what I can garner, all of the climbing days will definitely be clutch, but also looking from the previews, it looks like a good hunk of the days could be very important. The best thing about the Giro is that you are never quite sure what you are going to get, which means any day could be a deciding day for the overall. I love the excitement and beauty of the Giro, I love the fans, the race routes, the tasty Italian food and the chance to race 10 days against the best women in the world.

PdC: Is there anything you're NOT looking forward to?

Evie: I would say the transfers, but then they actually add to the whole aura of the Giro

PdC: What are your goals for the race?

Evie: To race my heart out and for my team and I to kick some butt

PdC: What's in your Giro survival kit?

Evie: My kindle, my bose earphones, the latest season of Mad Men on my ipad and my new knitting needles (I just learned and helps for me to relax!)

PdC: If people don't know much about the Giro, what makes it special and why should they follow the race?

Evie: Amazing backdrops, Italian flair and the best women bike racers in the world battling everyday

You can follow Evie through the race on her twitter, and on her Strava, and find out more about her on her great website.  And follow her team, Specialized-lululemon, on their twitter.


Ellen van Dijk

Boels-Dolmans' rider Ellen van Dijk has been having a great few years - winning the Individual Time Trial and being part of the winning Team Time Trial squad at the 2013 World Championships, and after playing a key role in team-mate Lizzie Armitstead's win in the 2014 Ronde van Drenthe World Cup, and 2nd place in the Trofeo Binda, won her first ever World Cup, one of the biggest races in the world, the Ronde van Vlaanderen.  So what are her plans for the Giro?

PdC: There's no ITT in this year's Giro, so what are your goals for the race?

Ellen: That's a real shame. To me an ITT deserves to be in a big stage race, this year there seem to be almost no International ITT's. Hopefully that will change in the future. My goal is to help Megan Guarnier as much as possible and I hope to do well in the prologue. But normally 2km is too short for me.

PdC: What's your favourite thing about riding the Giro?

Ellen: The Italian experience. The sun, landscapes,spectators, cappucino, good pasta/pizza etc. I always enjoy Italy

PdC: And anything you don't enjoy?

Ellen: Sometimes the hotels aren't that great and you have to share rooms with 3 or more girls. Also the long transfers are not my favourite

PdC: What advice would you give to riders racing the Giro for the first time?

Ellen: Enjoy the Italian atmosphere!

PdC: What will you take in your Giro survival kit?

Ellen: Books and ipod, for the long transfers.

Ellen has a great twitter and website with a blog - and read my interview with Ellen just before she won in Flanders.


Audrey Cordon

It's strange to think that Hitec Products' French star Audrey Cordon has never ridden the Giro, but it really is her first time

PdC: It's your first ever Giro - how are you feeling about it?

Audrey: I'm a bit stressed but really exited to take the start.

PdC: What advice have team-mates given you about racing it for the first time?

Audrey: Hmmm…. They have two different memories... First : PAIN , second : FUN!  So they just said to me to be brave and to enjoy because it's a beautiful race.

PdC: What are you hoping for from the race?

Audrey: I'm there to take the overall win with Elisa, I want to kill myself for her and for the team. Personally why not a stage win?

You can follow Audrey through her first Giro on her twitter, on the Hitec Products' twitter - and Hitec boss Karl Lima tweets updates from the race as it happens, so follow him too!


Hannah Barnes

Another rider racing the Giro for the first time is UnitedHealthCare's Hannah Barnes.  After winning pretty much everything on the UK domestic scene last year, she's racing in the USA, where her super-speed was a surprise to her rivals in the crits, and came back to the UK to race the Friends Life Women's Tour, where she was third on stage 1, in her home-town of Northampton.

PdC: This will be your first Giro - what are you expecting?

Hannah: I am expecting a huge tub of ice cream at the end of every stage!!!!

PdC: What are you hoping for?

Hannah: I am hoping to do as much as I can for the team and to help Mara [Abbott] hopefully get her hat-trick. There are also a few flattish stages that I would like to figure in. However the team comes first and if I have to sacrifice my own results for the team I will not be at all disappointed.

PdC: Have your team-mates given you any advice about the race?

Hannah: 10 days is a long stage race so they have mostly told me to make sure I rest well, eat properly and stay hydrated. I am not the best at sitting around doing nothing, which isn’t really the best trait to have as a cyclist but I have packed a few films and books so that should keep me entertained.

PdC: You're racing in your first big pro team - what's been the difference, racing in the USA to racing in the UK?

Hannah: The roads are a lot wider which makes the bunch not nearly as stressful as it can be. The races have been hard and the standard of the riders are a lot higher than I had expected. The races are a lot longer than back in the UK. Before I came home for the nationals we took part in the North Star GP, a 5 stage race. We had stages that were over 156km long and the same distance as the men.

Find out more about Hannah on her website, and follow her on twitter.


Valentina Scandolara

Vale Scandolara is a real fan favourite, because of her endless attacks, which recently won her the Giro Trentino for ORICA-AIS, and always makes races more fun, and also for her excellent twitter.

PdC: What's it like for an Italian rider racing in Italy?

Vale: Of course it's special, for the amazing places we cross, the warm people cheering, the great food and of course a good cappuccino at breakkie and a special espresso before the race!!!

PdC: You've won your first race of the season by attacking - will we see more Vale-attacks in the Giro?

Vale: Depends on what the team asks me, day after day. I like to spend my day at the front, but sometimes I should be more conservative, less heart and more mind. I won Trentino cause I was in a really good shape, and attacked everytime I had the chance, but that way you can also throw away a good day to get the win...

Find out more about ORICA's squad and plans in their Giro preview.


Elena Cecchini

On Sunday, Elena Cecchini won one of the most competitive National Championships out there in Italy.  She had said she'd answer questions about the Giro, but then she sent this message

Luckily I didn't answer your questions in the previous days…  Just this morning my team told me that, according to the national team, I won't take part to the Giro because I will race the European Road Championships on 12th of July.

It was a hard decision, because for sure be part of the peloton in the GIRO is an incredible experience, absolutely stronger if I could race in my new Jersey!!!

But that's the decision, so, now I just want to say "Good luck!!" to every girl who will start this beautiful race And to wish them (in particular to my teamies) all the best! Italy is a beautiful country ;-) !

The 2014 European Championships are for junior and u23 women and men, and the reason the Italian National Team want their young riders like Cecchini and her team-mate Rossella Ratto to race them is because the winner of the u23 women's race gets an automatic extra spot at the World Championships.  It must be so disappointing for riders to miss the Giro - but we know they'll be racing their hearts out at the Euro Champs.  Follow Elena through them on her twitter - and follow her team, Estado de Mexico-Faren through the Giro on their twitter.


We'll have a final set of rider Q&As tomorrow, but until then, read the rest of our rider views of the race

If you want more information about the Giro, check out the race website, and my guide to following the race live, and watching it on tv/online - and Velofocus has excellent previews of each stages on his site.  Omnevelnihil and I talked about the race and what we think might happen in our latest women's cycling podcast (it make have the odd swearword or two!)