Il Lombardia may bring the curtain down on the WorldTour calendar on Saturday, but the 2021 season continues for another week in Italy, with three races on the agenda in the Veneto as part of the new 'Ride the Dreamland' series organised by Filippo Pozzato.
First up is the Giro del Veneto on Wednesday, October 13, which returns to the international calendar after a nine-year hiatus. Serenissima Gravel, the first-ever gravel race expressly for professional riders, follows two days later, while the grand finale is provided by the inaugural edition of the Veneto Classic on Sunday, October 17.
Among the teams confirmed for the events are WorldTour squads UAE Team Emirates, Astana-PremierTech, Cofidis, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert and Qhubeka-NextHash, as well as Alpecin-Fenix, Androni-Sidermec and the Italian national team.
UAE Team Emirates have a strong provisional squad for the two road races, with Marc Hirschi, Diego Ulissi, Davide Formolo and Matteo Trentin among the riders pencilled in to participate.
Elia Viviani and Simone Consonni are in line to race for Cofidis at the Giro del Veneto, where their teammate Fabio Sabatini has announced that he will end his career, while Guillaume Martin is on the provisional start list for the Veneto Classic. Others in action at the road events include Vuelta a España red jersey wearer Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-PremierTech) and Roman Kreuziger (Gazprom-RusVelo). The Italian national team for the trio of events will be announced after Il Lombardia this weekend.
The 1.1 Veneto Classic, which aspires to a place in the WorldTour in the coming years, is the flagship event, but Friday’s Serenissima Gravel will be of particular interest given that it is the first gravel race flagged specifically for professional riders.
The novel race is 126.8km in length, some 110km of which takes place on gravel. Riders will set out from Jesolo and ride through the Parco del Sile before tackling three laps of an 11km finishing circuit at Villa Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta.
Riders set to participate in Serenissima Gravel include Nathan Haas, Fernando Barcelo (Cofidis), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty), Ion Izagirre (Astana-PremierTech), Marco Canola (Gazprom-RusVelo) and Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates).
The inaugural series of races in the Veneto is complemented by a sportive event, the Granfondo VENEtoGO, on October 16. Speaking to Cyclingnews last month, event organiser Filippo Pozzato said that the races would likely shift to a pre-World Championships date in 2022.
The revived Giro del Veneto takes place on a 168.8km course from Cittadella to Padova, and it will take in both the Colli Berici and Colli Euganei in the hinterland of Vicenza for a total of 1,650 metres of climbing.
The new Veneto Classic will start from Venice and finish in Bassano del Grappa, with 2,450 metres of climbing across its 207km. The route will take in the ascent of Rosina and will also feature a double passage over the cobbled ‘muro’ of La Tisa, where the gradient stiffens towards 20 per cent.
"We’re trying to make a course that allows spectators to watch the race multiple times, a bit like what the Tour of Flanders has done," Pozzato said. "The idea is to create a sort of stadium atmosphere."
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