Luperini leads list of favourites
By Anthony Tan
133 riders from 24 countries will take part in the inaugural edition of the Coppa dei Laghi this Saturday March 25, the only UCI 1.1 classified race in Italy on the international women's calendar. The 105 kilometre event, which replaces the Primavera Rosa that was previously held on the same day as Milano-Sanremo, will have recent Giro del Lago Maggiore winner and local Fabiana Luperini (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) as one of the favourites tipped to win.
With the best Australian women competing at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games this weekend, Luperini will face her stiffest competition from the European continent. Three of her most serious rivals are 2005 Giro d'Italia Femminile champion Nicole Brändli (Bigla Cycling Team) from Switzerland, Lithuanian Diana Ziliute (Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan), bronze medallist from the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and Edita Pucinskaite (Nobili Rubinetterie Menikini Cogeas), the only person to win the Grande Boucle Féminine wearing the leader's jersey from start to finish, a feat achieved almost eight years ago in 1998.
Other top Italian riders include: Giorgia Bronzini (A.S. Team F.R.W.), a three-time stage winner at last year's Giro Femminile; 2004 world track champion Annalisa Cucinotta (Michela Fanini Record Rox); previous U23 European champion Alessandra D'Ettorre (Saccarelli Emu Marsciano); Luperini's team-mate Tatiana Guderzo, runner-up to 2004 world road champion Judith Arndt from Verona; and Anna Zugno (Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan), third at last year's European championship.
The start will take place on Saturday at 0930 from Via Provinciale, Località Campoverde, with an expected finish around midday in Valle Sabbia (Idro) on the provincial road number 58.