After twice finishing fifth and taking third in 2014, Alena Amialiusik will head into the Women's WorldTour third round at Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio this weekend with a talented Canyon-SRAM roster that includes recent Ronde van Drenthe runner-up Elena Cecchini and 2017 recruit Pauline Ferrand-Prévot in her second race with the team.
Sunday's 131km race retains a similar course as the 2016 edition, sending riders on one large lap around the Verese province near the border with Switzerland, followed by four local circuits, each time ascending a short-but-challenging Orino climb. It is not a pure climber's course, but the relentless up and down of the short loop makes it difficult for the group to stay together.
"I like the character of this race," said Amialiusik, who lives and trains in the season around Lake Iseo, not far from Cittiglio. "There are a lot of climbs, no chance for recovery, and it's one of my favourites on the calendar."
An obviously on-form Cecchini, who has finished in the top 10 twice at the Italian race, said she is excited to once again race in her home country.
"It's a big race, and quite hard for this part of the season," the 24-year-old said. "The profile reflects my kind of races, up, down and where you have to have a bit of everything. I think that as a cyclist, that's one of my strengths, I have a bit of everything. I will do my best Sunday."
Although Ferrand-Prévot has raced on the road only once so far in her first season with the team at Strade Bianche earlier this month, the former world champion won her first MTB race of the season last weekend at the International Catalan Cup in Spain. She finished second in Trofeo Alfredo Binda during her most recent attempt in 2015, and she was fifth in 2014.
"The hilly circuit at the end makes it exciting, and it's usually raced aggressively, which I like," Ferrand-Prévot said. "In the past it's been a successful race for me, and the atmosphere at the races in Italy is always good. I really like racing there."
The hilly parcours may prove too much for Tiffany Cromwell, who earned the team's only other 2017 podium finish earlier this season at Le Samyn with a third-place result behind Cyclance Pro Cycling's Sheyla Gutiérrez and Boels Dolmans Amy Pieters. Cromwell's best finish in Trofeo Alfredo Binda so far was 11th in 2015.
Canyon-SRAM for Trofeo Binda Comune di Cittiglio: Alena Amialiusik, Elena Cecchini, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Hannah Barnes, Tiffany Cromwell, and Alexis Ryan.