The pace of team roster announcements has picked up as the start date approaches for the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, more commonly known as the Giro Rosa, which starts June 30 in Aquileia with a team time trial and concludes July 9 in Torre del Greco.
Megan Guarnier won the 2016 race on her way to taking the inaugural Women's WorldTour series victory, and the 32-year-old American is expected to return this year with a Boels Dolmans squad that includes recent Amgen Women's Race winner Anna van der Breggen and Lizzie Deignan, fresh off her win at the British championship road race. The remainder of the defending champion's team is yet to be announced.
Unlike previous years, when the race included numerous categorized climbs on a daily basis, the parcours for the 2017 race looks more suited to the rouleurs and sprinters.
Cecchini, Guarischi will lead Canyon-SRAM
The Italian duo of Elena Cecchini and Barbara Guarischi will lead Canyon-SRAM's charge at the Italian race, with 2016 stage winner Tiffany Cromwell on board looking to repeat her success last year. The trio will be joined by Hannah Barnes, Alexis Ryan, Leah Thorvilson and Trixi Worrack.
"We have a mixed team this year for the Giro Rosa, a mix of great experience and previous stage winners, combined with fresh faces," Cromwell said. "Losing Alena Amialiusik to a broken pelvis at the OVO Energy Women's Tour has put a hole in our GC ambitions, but that being said, someone like Elena can step up to the challenge for GC. I believe the course suits her better than previous years.
"This year it's lacking the high mountains, but it has a good combination of climbing, sprint and opportunistic stages, which is better for our team," Cromwell said. "Certainly the opening TTT will be a big goal for the team to put together a strong performance and capture the maglia rosa."
Canyon-SRAM for Giro Rosa: Hannah Barnes, Elena Cecchini, Tiffany Cromwell, Barbara Guarischi, Alexis Ryan, Leah Thorvilson, Trixi Worrack
Moolman-Pasio leading Cervelo Bigla into Giro
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, who has finished inside the top 10 at the Giro Rosa three times, will lead the Cervelo Bigla team into the 10-day race that starts Friday. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Lisa Klein, Lotta Lepistö and Nicole Hanselmann all head to Italy fresh from winning national titles.
"This is a very important event for us," said team manager Thomas Campana. "We have some partners based in Italy who are very strong brands in the industry, and we want to represent them well.
"It's a high-profile event on the calendar and one that is important for women's cycling, and we believe we have shown the race respect by putting together a very strong group. We will take each stage as it comes and see what we get out of the race but there is no pressure on the riders as we go into the race off the back of a very successful season with 15 victories so far."
Cervelo Bigla for Giro Rosa: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Clara Koppenburg , Lisa Klein , Lotta Lepistö, Nicole Hanselmann, Stephanie Pohl
Team VéloConcept to make Giro Rosa debut
Team VéloConcept will make its debut at the upcoming Giro Rosa with a roster led by recently signed rider Linda Villumsen and sprinter Christina Siggaard. The duo will be joined in the 10-day race by Camilla Møllebro, Sara Penton, Louise Norman Hansen, Claudia Koster and Pernille Mathiesen.
Villumsen has found success at the Giro in the past, but director Handberg Madsen said she may not yet be at 100 per cent since her recent return to racing.
"Linda is a bit of a joker, as all of this is new to her," he said. "She hasn't raced since the Olympics, so she has to find her the speed again. It may take one day or it may take more. But if her legs come through, she can finish in top 10 in some stages."
Madsen said the first-year team's top priority will be to learn from the experience.
"We are going to make our mistakes now and learn from it," he said. "We should not just go on the offensive as we have to find our place, but if the opportunity occurs, we'll go for it. We are looking for some top 10 finishes to start with, and if we end up higher, it is just great."
Team VéloConcept for Giro Rosa: Camilla Møllebro, Sara Penton, Christina Siggaard, Linda Villumsen, Louise Norman Hansen, Claudia Koster and Pernille Mathiesen
Team Sunweb looking for stage wins
Coryn Rivera will hunt for wins on the flat stages and Lucinda Brand will focus on the hillier days for Team Sunweb as the Dutch team target stage wins at the most prestigious women's race of the season.
"Our biggest aim is to go for a stage success," Adriaan Helmantel. "We have Coryn, who has already shown that she can be successful in the flat sprints and in the more difficult stages. With Lucinda we have another rider who can take chances in the more difficult stages. We have Julia [Soek] as our experienced road captain and a rider who will be important in the lead-out for the sprints. Floortje [Mackaij], Sabrina [Stultiens], Rozanne [Slik], and Molly [Weaver] are strong all-rounders who are important in the sprint stages and also have the ability to support in the harder stages."
Team Sunweb for Giro Rosa: Lucinda Brand, Floortje Mackaij, Coryn Rivera, Julia Soek, Rozanne Slik, Sabrina Stultiens, Molly Weaver
Orica-Scott women targeting GC success
The Orica-Scott women are changing their Giro Rosa focus from stage-hunting to general classification success in 2017.
"This year we have tried putting together the best team possible to target the overall classification and see how we go in that area," sport director Gene Bates said. "It is new territory for some of our riders as it is not something we have targeted before. It's exciting as it will be a new challenge."
Dutch champion Annemiek van Vleuten will take up the team's general classification banner, backed up by Australian champion Katrin Garfoot and Santos Tour Down Under winner Amanda Spratt.
Sarah Roy will provide the team with sprint power with support from Jenelle Crooks, Alex Manly and Kiwi Georgia William.
"Personally, this year's Giro-Rosa is extremely exciting for me as Orica-Scott are going in with very clear and realistic general classification goals," Roy said. "We are heading into the tour with an incredibly strong and motivated team who have prepared specifically both on and off the bike for a GC result.
"We are all refreshed and ready for a big tour. I am really looking forward to supporting our leaders especially because I truly believe in them and our team plan. I'm also pleased with my current form and I'm confident it will carry on into the Giro Rosa."
Orica-Scott for Giro Rosa: Jenelle Crooks, Katrin Garfoot, Alexandra Manly, Sarah Roy, Amanda Spratt, Annemeik van Vleuten, Georgia Williams
Sierra to lead Astana women's team
Recently crowned Cuban time trial and road champion Arlennis Sierra will have the opportunity to fly her national champion's jerseys in Italy as she leads the Astana women's team in the Giro Rosa.
The 24-year-old earned the spotlight earlier this season when she finished third overall at the Amgen Women's race, taking the points jersey along the way. For the sprint finishes, the team will rely on Arianna Fidanza. The remaining riders will support Sierra's GC hopes while hunting their own stage opportunities.
Astana for the Giro Rosa: Arlenis Sierra, Sofia Beggin, Sofia Bertizzolo, Arianna Fidanza, Lara Vieceli, Natalya Saifutdinova, Olena Pavlukhina
Alé-Cipollini goes to Giro with freshly re-signed Hosking
Fresh off of signing a contract extension, Chloe Hosking will lead the Alé Cipollini team at later this week at the Giro Rosa.
The 26-year-old Australian has had a solid build-up to the Giro, starting her season at the Santos Down Under, where she won a stage and finished third overall. She followed that up with multiple wins and podium finishes, including victory during stage 3 at the recent Ovo Energy Women's Tour in Great Britain.
"We have a very competitive line-up for the Giro," said the Sports Director Fortunato Lacquaniti. "The team has prepared very well in the last weeks, as we got three medals at the National Championships. The renewal with Chloe Hosking, which was announced yesterday, has been a very positive news for the whole team too. Now we go to the Giro with many goals to reach, the team can compete on all terrains."
Alè-Cipollini for the Giro Rosa: Marta Bastianelli, Chloe Hosking, Romy Kasper, Janneke Ensing, Soraya Paladin, Anna Trevisi, Santesteban Gonzalez.