The third round of the Women’s WorldTour takes place in northern Italy this weekend with Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio, northwest of Milan. Having won the opening two rounds of the series, Boels Dolmans will be hoping to further strengthen their grip on the competition with victory in the forested hills of Lombardy.
The race begins in Taiano, to the east of Lake Maggiore, from where the peloton heads north to the small town of Cittiglio, crossing the finish line and entering the first of a number of circuits.
The four-kilometre ascent to Cunardo comes early in the 55km opening loop, and as such is unlikely to influence on the race’s outcome. Later on that circuit, however, the peloton tackle the climb to Orino climb, which is ridden a further four times on the subsequent 17.8km loop which begins after a second visit to Cittiglio.
Each subsequent ascent to Orino becomes increasingly important. The short, occasionally steep slopes invite attacks, and the climb has historically been key in deciding the race, a rider often cresting it alone. However, the seven kilometres of descent and flat run in invariably brings a regrouping before the 250m metre uphill sprint in Cittiglio.
Run since 1974, the vast majority of previous editions have been won from a selection of fewer than 10 riders. Last year though, 28 women – the most for 10 years – contested the finale, with American Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) bagging her first Women’s WorldTour win.
Rain is forecast for Sunday and Wiggle-High5’s Elisa Longo-Borghini won the last wet edition in 2013 with an advantage of 1:44. Living near Verbania, just across Lake Maggiore, the race remains close to her heart. Third place at Strade Bianche proves her form, though the British registered team have other options with Frenchwoman Audrey Cordon-Ragot.
A sprinter who climbs exceptionally, Rivera is one of Sunweb's options. Though Rivera proved her abilities last year, teammates Leah Kirchmann and Lucinda Brand can also go well this weekend. Both are all-rounders, but Brand’s descending is top-drawer and could make a difference.
Boels Dolmans duo Anna van der Breggen and Amy Pieters, winners of the two WorldTour races to date, will not be present in Italy, but the Dutch team have an embarrassment of riches. Former US champion Megan Guarnier - second in 2016 - is likely to feature, though world champion Chantal Blaak’s fourth place at Strade Bianche shows she as the form to tackle the climbs.
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has always gone well in Cittiglio, the course suiting her abilities and aggressive riding style. Hpwever, young Cervelo-Bigla teammate Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will prove an excellent foil.
Though Marianne Vos (WaowDeals Pro Cycling) has won the race three times, her 2012 victory is her most recent podium. Fifth last week at Ronde van Drenthe, her form is there, but British teammate Dani King is also going well.
Mitchelton-Scott are based nearby, and both Amanda Spratt and Gracie Elvin will be near the front, as will Alé-Cipollini’s Dutchwoman Janneke Ensing.