Welcome to another edition of Shawn’s Shit Small Race Shit Small Preview. Let’s get real for a second. [Pulls up chair and sits in it backwards]. The shit small racing in between the Giro and Tour are slim pickings. It picks up again in the Fall, but at that point I feel like cycling season fatigue kicks in. Even so, if I had to choose between a betwixt-grand tours SSR one day race and whatever the hell Hammer Time is, I know what I’m choosing.
Shit Small History
The Gran Premio Citta di Lugano should be a pretty good race, but it’s been declining in stature, probably due to its place on the calendar. This year is is a 1.1 race, after having been a 1.HC race. Prior to 1981, it was an individual time trial and attracted the cycling stars like an all-you-can-eat buffet used to attract Carlos Betancur. It was won by Jacques Anquetil seven times, Fausto Coppi three times. Eddie Merckx won. Ferdi Kubler was the first winner. Even after it became a road race, you had Paolo Bettini and Ivan Basso on the top step of the podium. 2015 saw Niccolo Bonifazio take the victory. Sonny Colbrelli won in his career season in 2016. Last year, household name and Mad Max protagonist Iuri Filosi won.
Shit Small Course
More than anything, this race is a victim of its place on the calendar. It’s a Swisstalian race, but most of the Italian teams and riders are beat up from the Giro. The other big name riders are either in the Dauphine or Tour de Suisse. The course, though, is a good one and allows for the possibility of many types of riders winning.
The race does that circuit 8 times. Those climbs are not that steep - each only average about 4% but the accumulated fatigue of those climbs should favor the puncheurs.
While not consistently hard, the climbs do have some steep sections:
Shit Small Contenders
My guess is that this is going to be a difficult race to control. There are two WT teams present- BahMeh and UAE but their riders are either young or Giro-worn. That could mean a surprise result, similar to last year’s winner Filosi.
Normally, you’d have to put Diego Ulissi as a favorite for a course like this, but he didn’t look that great at the Giro and may be tired. Perhaps neo-pro Alexandr Riabushenko can score his first victory. UAE also have Ben Swift in case a small group makes it to the finish.
BahMeh has Enrico Gasparatto, but this isn’t a watered down beer race. Giovanni Visconti is also lining up, but he just finished a Giro that was not for old men.
You then have the 4 Italian pro-conti teams, as well as Gazprom and the omnipresent Israel Cycling Academy. Bardiani has Giulio Ciccone if the race is hard and he feels like a virgin despite the hard Giro and Vincenzo Albanese who is due for a breakout one of these days. Androni will probably try to get all their riders in the break, as they are bringing most of their Giro squad. Nippo bring the elderly prince Damiano Cunego but will have better luck with Marco Canola or neo-pro Imerio Cima. It probably won’t be happy days for Willier, but they are bringing black jacket enthusiast, Giuseppi Fonzi.
There are also a number of conti teams, the highlight being the Teutonic version of Adam and Simon Yates-- the twin riders Louis and Joann Leinau on Team Sauerland.
Shit Small Ramblings
While a Swiss race in name, for all intents and purposes this is an Italian race. The titular Swiss city of Lugano is in the Italian speaking region of Ticino. That’s not that unusual, considering Ticino is right on the border with Italy. Did you know, however, that there is not just one but two towns in West Virginia called Little Italy? I know this, not solely from google, but from my good friend from college whose first generation non-English speaking Italian immigrant extended family settled in West Virginia (Luckily for him, his parents decided against the rest of the family and settled in New Jersey). So, deep in the hollers of West Virginia you can find yourself in a place where Gianni Savio would feel at home. I will always remember this factoid due to a story that my friend told where he went to a family reunion in Little Italy, WV, and his entire largely non-English speaking family decided to buy tickets for a comedy show at a nearby hotel where none-other than the watermelon smashing comedian Gallagher was performing. He told me of the disappointment that his family felt when they learned that they were not seeing the real Gallagher, but instead Gallagher’s brother Ron, who had stolen his brother’s watermelon-related material and was using it at shit small venues throughout the US. Perhaps the tifosi at Lugano will feel the same way when they learn that BahMeh will be sending Antonio Nibali instead of Vincenzo.
Shit Small Prediction
Diego Ulissi has to start justifying his 18 point FSA DS salary and this race has the feeling of those late Fall Italian SSRs that he loves so much.
The race starts on Sunday, June 3rd. Whether there will be live video remains to be seen.