The Giro d’Italia is less than three weeks away and this week’s Giro del Trentino is the ideal way to prepare for a shot at the overall classification, get a taste of the Italian mountains and have a last practice run for the team time trial in San Remo.
The Giro del Trentino only last four days, with some riders even jumping on a plane to ride Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but it is traditionally a rite of passage for riders looking to leave their mark on the corsa rosa in May.
Richie Porte (Team Sky) stands out on the start list and in the absence of last-minute withdrawal Fabio Aru (Astana), the Tasmanian and his strong British squad are the rider and team to beat during the four days of racing.
Porte won the Volta a Catalunya in late March and before that Paris-Nice, and still leads the WorldTour rankings thanks to his consistency. He had a difficult 2014 and missed the Giro d’Italia but seems to be back to his very best. Porte is arguably now equal favourite for the Giro d’Italia alongside Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) considering the Spaniard’s modest results of the spring, and an impressive performance at the Giro del Trentino will only shorten his odds and boost his confidence.
Porte will be backed by a strong Team Sky squad that includes Ian Boswell, Sebastian Henao, Leopold Konig, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Xabier Zandio, with many of those expected to ride the Giro d’Italia with him. They will no doubt also help give Porte an advantage in the opening team time trial stage. It will then be up to him to defend any time gained in the three mountain stages.
Porte’s biggest rivals at the Giro del Trentino will probably be Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who will wear number one in the absence of 2014 winner Cadel Evans and his BMC team. Pozzovivo was second overall last year and showed his form with a stage victory at the Volta a Catalunya. The steep mountain roads are perfect for his pure climber’s build and he knows them well after a decade as a professional and winning two stages and the overall classification at Trentino in 2012.
Also on the start list are former Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal and his Cannondale-Garmin teammate Joe Dombrowski. Tour de France podium finisher and recent Criterium International winner Jean-Christophe Peraud will back Pozzovivo at Ag2r-La Mondiale, while South Africa’s Louis Meintjes leads the MTN-Qhubeka team after winning the recent Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.
The absence of Aru leaves Astana with just seven riders, with Diego Rosa and Dario Cataldo expected to step up and fill Aru’s shoes. Mikel Landa should also not be overlooked. He won a stage last year and recently took an impressive stage win at the Tour of the Basque Country. Rosa was in the break with Vincenzo Nibali at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday but jumped on a plane to travel to Trentino. He crashed at speed on a corner but insisted he is fine and ready to complete his pre-Giro d’Italia racing programme in Trentino, while Aru is likely to add the Tour de Romandie to his programme.
An Italian national team will also be in action as new national coach continues to push to test and develop Under 23 riders in professional races. The young Italians will have 38-year-old Gent-Wevelgem winner Luca Paolini as their road captain, with Gianni Moscon in action after his solid second place behind Australia’s Alex Edmondson in the Under 23 Tour of Flanders.
A tough triplet in the mountains
This year the Giro del Trentino has joined forces with the organisers of the Trofeo Melinda race. It will again visit the little-known mountains west of Trento but also the Val di Non valley where million of Melinda apples are grown every year.
The racing begins on Monday, April 20, with a pan-flat 13.3km team time trial from Riva del Garda to Arco on the valley roads at the northern tip of the huge Italian lake. Last year BMC dominated to set up Cadel Evan’s overall victory and every second gained or lost during the 13.3km crono-squadra will again weigh heavily in the mountain stages.
The rest of the race is in the hills and mountains of Trentino, with finishes at Brentonico, Val Dei Mocheni and Cles. Stage 2 is only 168km long but is up and down all day and includes the Hors Category Passo Santa Barbara. It is 12.5km long and has a long middle section at over 9 percent. The climb to the finish also includes a nasty kick up with 2km to go. Time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds are awarded at each finish, no doubt making for aggressive finishes.
Thursday’s third stage is equally as tough with three major categorised climbs and plenty of others before the steep kick up to Fierozzo Val dei Mocheni east of Trento. It has a middle section at 10 percent and is 8km long. The long, technical descent to the foot of the climb will be as testing as the climb to the finish.
The fourth and final stage is only 161km long but will complete three days of hard racing. It twists and turns through the Val di Non valley with the Passo Predaia (1250m) coming after 90km. The finish in Cles – home to 1998 world road champion Maurizio Fondriest – comes after a slight descent and is the only stage that could see riders sprint for victory, if from a reduced group of contenders and overall classification riders.
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the Giro del Trentino with full stage reports, photo galleries and exclusive news and interviews.