The 35th Giro del Trentino will, as ever, offer an indication of form lines ahead of May’s Giro d’Italia. One of the final stage races ahead of the corsa rosa, the four-day race sees a number of the main contenders begin their countdown to the main event in earnest.
While the short and flat opening time trial will give the Giro contenders a chance to test themselves against the watch, and the undulating second stage should provide a platform a breakaway, the race should be decided by the two summit finishes in the Dolomites.
Stage three sees the gruppo tackle the first category Fai della Paganella twice en route to a stage finish at the ski resort. The 11km climb has an average gradient of 7.2% and with its steepest sections coming 3km from the top, it will take a climber of real class to win here.
The final stage sees the race conclude at atop Madonna di Campiglio, scene of Marco Pantani’s dramatic exclusion from the 1999 Giro d’Italia. Although the gradient is not as challenging as the previous day’s finish at Fai della Paganella, the long haul to the 1500 metre high summit should again see the strongest climbers come to the fore.
Last year’s race was won by Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), who scorched to victory in the opening time trial on the shores of Lake Garda and then defended himself against the onslaught of Riccardo Riccò. While Vinokourov will not be present to defend his title this time around, a number of riders with their eyes on Giro d’Italia glory will be on hand in Trentino.
Among them is Vinokourov’s teammate Roman Kreuziger, who will lead the Kazakh team at the Giro. After a quiet start to his campaign, the young Czech will be aiming to get a morale-boosting result in the Dolomites.
The star attractions will be the home stars, however, particularly Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD). The pair will carry Italian hopes at the Giro d’Italia, and have been difficult to separate all spring.
They already jousted at Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, and each man has recently completed a training camp at altitude on the slopes of Mount Etna. Nibali and Scarponi return to competitive action in Trentino and will be expected to renew their duel in the Dolomites as their pre-Giro psychological warfare continues.
They will face stiff opposition from the in-form Andreas Klöden (RadioShack), however. The German impressed in winning the Tour of the Basque Country recently, and the opening time trial offers him an early chance to take the overall lead.
Others looking to shine in the Dolomites include Stefano Garzelli (Acqua&Sapone), Carlos Sastre (Geox-TMC), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago CSF-Inox) and David Moncoutié (Cofidis).