Sharon Laws wrote this diary entry about the Giro Trentino just before the start of the Giro Donne.
Apples, Apples and more Apples. The Giro Trentino.
One of Italy’s most famous wine regions but unfortunately we had to stick to the apples. The Giro Trentino was my first stage race in Italy last year and, despite the diabolical weather and the pain, it was probably my favourite race – the stages were hard, the coffee was good and the Italian’s cared about Women’s cycling. All the shops had pink bikes, people in the town knew the race was happening and we felt like the race was an honour for the town rather than a hassle. The stages always seem to have something quirky and this year was no exception.
I looked at the first stage on paper and then looked again. Maybe they decided to start the profile of the race on the right hand side and work to the left – Chinese style? Then I looked where the start was. No the profile was definitely going left to right. I read the instructions. A neutralised start of a 6km climb, the King of the Mountains (KOM) point a further 8km on and then what seemed like a descent all the way to the finish – with a small bump along the way.
I set off to check out the climb when we arrived at the hotel on Thursday. I finally arrived at the ‘start’ of the race after a slow ride up – why would you neutralise a lovely climb with switch backs? In true Italian style they were still fixing the road the evening before the race and I was impressed to find it was actually finished the next day. I checked out some of the rest of the road on the way to the top of the KOM – unfortunately it was more of a drag than a hill – and then rapidly returned back to the hotel before the rain set in.
We decided we would be aggressive in the race, our last stage race before the Giro. Carla, Noemi and I set the pace on the first ‘climb’ and surprisingly shed some riders despite the gentle gradient. Emma went for the KOM points with 2 other riders and Noemi and I let a gap go leaving the other teams to chase. It was a fast descent! Although the bunch split into small groups eventually it all came back together.
Despite some fast pace setting by Carla on the other GPM, and our team attacking on the small bumps towards the finish, nothing got away. There was a promising group for Noemi when she countered Emma’s attack but, as the group came back, Lucy prepared herself for the bunch sprint. She finished a credible 6th taking the Young Riders Jersey. A good start. The stats for the day were interesting. Over 1700m of descent and 500m plus of climbing. Only in Italy could there be such a stage! We averaged nearly 39.8kph.
The second stage was looking more promising with 20km bumpy profile toward the end but 65km of flat to begin with. With a tail wind the beginning of the race was fast and full of attacks. We averaged about 40kph before we hit the climbs. HTC tried to split the bunch in the cross wind but to no avail. Alexis and Lucy lead us into the climb at a good pace and we tried a series of attacks. With the pace high only a small group of about 15 riders remained.
Noemi got away with Arndt and a few others but by the start of the second climb they were caught and Emma countered with a powerful attack. Arndt and Guderzo were the main chasers and caught Emma just before the final KOM. Arndt won the stage attacking on the cobble section at the top of the 200m very steep finish. Guderzo just pipped Emma on the line.
Noemi and I finished 9th and 11th respectively. It was a painful day. Emma took the Mountains jersey and rode back to the hotel! Ride of the day has to go to Ina Teutenburg who stayed with our lead group in the hills. Ina is one of the world’s best sprinters and not normally renown for hill climbing abilities.
The third stage was the same as last year. A long climb followed by 2 laps of a bumpy, quite technical circuit. Last year it poured with rain but this year it rained through the night and we woke to sunshine. The quirkiness of the race continued with the start at Castel Thun and the ‘sign on’ at the top of the castle, which required a short trek up a hill. In general cyclists hate walking and there seemed to be a merger of overweight tourists huffing and puffing interspersed with girls in cycling shorts making their way up the hill at the same pace.
Following a short neutralised descent, the race began with a fast downhill before tackling a long gradual climb to Cavareno. Arndt was in the yellow jersey and we wanted to isolate her from her team mates. Noemi and I made the first climb hard but to no avail could we shake off new climber Ina Teutenburg. She chased every attack. Although by the top of the big climb the group was maybe only about 15-20 including Noemi, Emma and myself, by the time we started the smaller laps it had grown to 30.
Despite numerous attacks on the smaller laps the group kept coming back together. Emma tried a gallant attempt to get away with 2km to go but was dragged back before the finish. Ina led out Arndt for the sprint but Johansson took the final stage honours. Emma retained the mountain jersey, finishing 4th on GC, with Noemi and I 10th and 11th respectively. Alexis had to withdraw on the final day with a painful leg.
The next race in Italy will be the Giro Donne – the biggest race on the women’s calendar. Before we tackle the Italian mountains all the Europeans race National Championships in various countries. Alexis started the year winning the Australian National jersey and now it is our turn. Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Italy and Great Britain. Let’s see how many we can achieve.