Italian sprinter keen to shine on Champs-Élysées in July
After a winning start to her year at the Bay Crits in Australia and an at times ill-starred outing at the Ladies Tour of Qatar, Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) will now swap the road for the boards as she prepares for the track world championships in Cali, Colombia at the end of the month.
Bronzini's back-to-back world titles on the road may be the signature victories of her career, but her roots are on the track, and indeed her first rainbow jerseys came on the velodrome. In 2001, she was junior world champion in the points race in Trexlertown, while she claimed gold in the same event as a senior rider in Pruszków eight years later. A bronze medallist in Minsk in 2013, the Italian is hopeful of landing another world title in the points race in Colombia.
"Racing on the road has been different, obviously, but I've seen that my condition is already good and I still have around a month or so to get into form for the Track Worlds," Bronzini told Cyclingnews. "Whatever I'm missing now, I'll hope to work on it in the next twenty days or so, and then we'll see."
Bronzini has scarcely raced on the track this winter, lining up in just the opening round of the World Cup in Manchester in November, but skipping the next two legs in Mexico, at Aguascalientes and Guadalajara, for logistical reasons.
"The other points race was in the second round in Mexico, and that would have been an extra long-haul trip to take on just before I went to Australia for the Bay Crits, so I decided to skip it," she said. "It would have been too much, I wasn't up for it. I'm going to Colombia without a lot of track in my legs, but I've done plenty of racing on the road and I hope that will serve me well."
Bronzini will train on the Montichiari track near Brescia on her return from Qatar, before travelling to Colombia ten days ahead of the Worlds – "just to get used to the time difference and the climate, but the altitude isn't really an issue." While lining up in the scratch race is a faint possibility, Bronzini's focus will be on the points race, where she expects reigning world champion Jarmila Machacová, Mexico's Sofia Arreola and "whoever Britain and Australia select" to be her biggest rivals.
"The big problem for me is that a lot of pursuiters might ride the points race and that makes it a bit more difficult for me," Bronzini said. "Losing a lap to them has been a weakness for me but it's something I've been working to improve on."
On her return from Colombia, Bronzini will once again turn her attentions to the road, where she picked up 17 wins last season. In 2014, the aim is not so much to improve on the number of victories as the calibre. "I'm more focused on quality of wins rather than quantity," she explained. "I'm targeting a couple of World Cup races, mainly the ones in China and Germany, more stages at the Giro d'Italia – and the Champs-Élysées."
ASO's decision to hold a women's race as a curtain-raiser for the final stage of Tour de France has been met with overwhelming approval in the women's peloton, and fast finishers such as Bronzini are particularly keen to sample La Course by Le Tour de France. "I was just so happy when I heard about it, and I really want to be on top form for that race," she said. "And as well as that, it could be the first step towards having our own Tour de France again."
While Bronzini is unsure of her chances of adding to her haul of rainbow jerseys at the road Worlds in Ponferrada next September – "I don't know anything about the circuit, but I'm ready to help the team in any case," she said – the Piacenza native confirmed that her career will continue until 2016 at the very least, and a tilt at another world title on the sprinter-friendly course in Qatar. "I'm thinking about it. I'll certainly still be racing then, so we'll see."
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