Trofeo Alfredo Binda preview: Armitstead looking to continue run in rainbow jersey

Boels Dolmans and Rabo Liv put forth strong teams for third round of women's WorldTour

The Women’s WorldTour is in full swing, and it continues this Sunday with the third round, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio. The one-day race, which began in 1974, is the second oldest event on the women’s WorldTour calendar, after Ronde van Drenthe. It’s also one of the more challenging of the year, with an undulating course and a tricky finish.

The opening two rounds of the WorldTour has seen two different riders come away with victory, and the standings are finely poised going into Trofeo Alfredo Binda. World Champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans), winner of the first round at the Strade Bianche, will be looking to bounce back from the illness that affected her at Ronde van Drenthe, to defend her title from 12 months ago. She will have some strong support in the form of Drenthe winner Chantal Blaak and US champion Megan Guarnier. After claiming the first two rounds, Boels Dolmans will be keen to keep up their spotless record.

Rabo Liv comes with a formidable line-up that includes last year’s second and third places Anna van der Breggen and Pauline Ferrand Prevot. However, they’ve also got Katarzyna Niewiadoma as a potential option. Wiggle-High5 is another team with plenty of options going into the weekend, despite losing 2014 champion Elisa Longo Borghini to illness. They’ll be led by another former champion in Emma Johansson, but Mara Abbott could be another card to play.

Alena Amialiusk will lead the way for Canyon-SRAM; the 27-year-old Belarusian finished fifth last season and took a podium placing the year before. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) has had a challenging start to the year with illness early on and disqualification from Strade Bianche. However, she has a good record here and could put her season back on track with a strong performance.

The course

The race starts in the town of Gavirate, on the outskirts of Varese (where the 1951 and 2008 World Championships were held) at the tip of the Lago de Varese. The riders will complete a loop around the town before heading north to the finish town of Cittiglio. They will get their chance to see the finish line for the first time after 14.4km of racing before they begin their first of two circuits.

The first and larger of the two circuits will only be completed once and takes the riders east before returning to Cittiglio. On their way, the riders will take on the climb of Cunardo, a steady but tough four-kilometre ascent. There is plenty of undulation afterwards as they pass through the Parco Regionale Camp dei Fiori.

After completing the long course, the riders will move onto a short course. The 18.5km loop will be tackled four times, passing through the finish on each occasion, and takes in the climb of Orino. At three kilometres, it is shorter than the Cunardo, but its steep ramps will whittle down the bunch on each passing.

Received wisdom tells us that it will be just a small group that will contest the victory when the race crosses the finish line for the sixth time.

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