Giro del Trentino preview

The Giro del Trentino is a four-day stage race which runs from Tuesday 17th until Friday 20th March in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Suedtirol region of northern Italy. The short sharp course is full of steep climbs and is seen as a good proving ground for Giro d’Italia aspirants. This year’s race, the 36th edition, is being broadcast for the first time by both Rai Sport and Eurosport. Last year it was upgraded to 2.HC status, attracting a more prestigious field, so the race has made big advances in the past two years.

The first edition of the race in 1962 was won by Enzo Moser [now there’s a famous surname – Ed]. After the second edition in 1963, the next edition wasn’t held until 1979. There were races in 1977 and 1978 but there appears to be some dispute over whether or not they were ‘official’. The 1986 race had no individual winner, just a team competition called the ‘Coppa Italia’ which was won by Carrera-Inoxpran. Past winners of the race are largely Italian and it features on the palmares of riders like Francesco Moser (younger brother of Enzo), Claudio Chiappucci, Gilberto Simoni and Paolo Savoldelli.

What kind of race is it?

The Giro del Trentino is viewed as the official warm-up race for the Giro d’Italia and, as it’s just under three weeks away, for some riders this is their last chance to impress their team managers and make their team’s selection.

Of the four stages, there isn’t a single stage suited to sprinters. This is strictly a climbing and time trial stage race. It starts with a short 14.3km team time trial in Riva del Garda, a common starting point for this event, followed by a hilly stage and two mountain stages all ending in either hilltop or summit finishes. The race culminates with a mountaintop finish on the famous Passo Pordoi.  The most recent winners of the race are:

2007: Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

2008: Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)

2009: Ivan Basso (Liquigas)

2010: Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)

2011: Michele Scarponi (Lampre)

What happened last year?

Giro del Trentino podium 2011 (image courtesy of official race website)

Giro del Trentino podium 2011 (image courtesy of official race website)

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) took a firm grip on the leader’s jersey on stage two and hung on to it over the two subsequent mountainous stages, demonstrating his readiness and form for the Giro d’Italia. Second-placed Tiago Machado (RadioShack) was another who owed his podium place to consistency, while third-placed Luca Ascani (D’Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo) let his legs do the talking on the penultimate and final days to leap onto the podium.

Andreas Kloden (RadioShack) continued his rich vein of form after his victory in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco by taking the opening 13.4km time trial from Riva del Garda to Arco, one second ahead of Lampre’s Adriano Malori and eight ahead of teammate Machado. None of the other general classification contenders lost much time setting up the mouth-watering prospect of a battle royal in the Dolomites over the following days.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) won the action-packed 184km hilly stage from Dro to Ledro Bezzecca with a trademark attack on the final climb  – out of a much-reduced lead group –  with Scarponi. The duo worked well together to establish a lead of 26 seconds and Voeckler beat Scarponi, recording his sixth win of the season, in the sprint for the line. The latter took over the overall from Kloden, who finished nearly six minutes back. Scarponi’s teammate Przemyslaw Niemec led in the chasing pack to take third. Machado moved into second place overall with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) in third. Scarponi confirmed:

Aside from the duel between me and Nibali, for me it’s important to verify my form. Trentino is an important test, decisive in view of the Giro d’Italia.

Young Columbian climber and 2008 under-23 road race champion Fabio Duarte took a welcome victory – his first – for Geox-TMC on the third stage ascent to the 10.7km, 7.2% average summit finish of the Fai della Paganella. He was the best of a group of seven riders which formed 4km from the finish line. Machado finished second with Scarponi in third to consolidate their overall positions. The day’s big loser was Nibali, who was unable to keep pace on the final climb and crossed the line well down. Ascani moved up one place to third overall.

The fourth and final stage, 161km from Andalo to the 1,500m summit of Madonna di Campiglio, was won by Roman Kreuziger (Astana), his only win of 2011, from a trio including Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) and Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack). Voeckler was best of the rest ahead of second-placed Machado and overall leader Scarponi.

Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale) took home the sprinters’ jersey, Kreuziger won the mountains jersey, Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF Inox) was the best young rider and Astana were top team.

1. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) 13:54:07

2. Tiago Machado (RadioShack) +0:07

3. Luca Ascani (D’Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo) +0:33

4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) +0:35

5. Steve Morabito (BMC) +0:38

6. Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) +0:42

7. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) +1:12

8. Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) +1:18

9. Vladimir Miholjevic (Acqua & Sapone) +1:35

10. Fabio Duarte (Geox-TMC) +1:42

This year’s race

The race starts with a team time trial on flat, long, straight, wide roads which are ideal for the teams to test their performances in view of the Verona team time trial in the upcoming Giro d’Italia. The stage begins in the centre of Riva del Garda and runs along the lakefront until Linfano, where it turns inland towards Arco. Then it returns towards Riva del Garda before making its final turn towards the finish line in Arco. It is a fast course where average speeds above 50kph are foreseeable.

Stage two is likely to be a nervous stage, ideally suited for early breakaways. The race begins in the home town of soon-to-retire Alessandro Bertolini (Farnese Vini) before climbing to Vigolo Vattaro en route to the Valsugana valley, which will host this year’s Italian national road championships this coming June. The intermediate sprint in Levico Terme is followed by two categorised climbs at Palu di Fersina and the Redebus Mountain Pass before finally ascending to the finish line in Sant’Orsola Terme.

The eagerly anticipated third stage finishes in Punta Veleno. It starts in the Cooperativa Piccoli Frutti in Pergine before heading towards Avio and the Veneto region. After the intermediate sprint in Rivalta, there’s the short, demanding climb to Lumini – almost 7km at an average gradient of 6.4%. The parcours descends to Garda and heads north along the lakefront until Brenzone for the steep 8.5km, 15% climb leading to Punta Veleno.

Stage 3 profile

The final stage finishes on the legendary Passo di Pordoi. It starts in Castelletto di Brenzone and runs along the lakefront until Riva del Garda from whence it heads into the Sarca Valley. At the outskirts of Trento, the parcours climbs to Cembra – home of the intermediate sprint – then runs through the valleys of Fiemme and Fassa before starting the long climb up the Pordoi.

Stage 4 profile

Who to watch

VeloVoices will be watching Matteo Rabottini (image courtesy of Farnese Vini)

We will be watching Matteo Rabottini (image courtesy of Farnese Vini)

The 16 teams include ProTour squads Lampre-ISD, Liquigas-Cannondale, Astana, BMC and AG2R La Mondiale, Giro wild cards and an international selection of ProContinental and Continental teams, who are loaded with climbing and time-trialling talent.

Three recent winners are taking part: Michele Scarponi, Damiano Cunego (both Lampre) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale). AG2R have both John Gadret and Nico Roche, Astana have former stage winner Roman Kreuziger and BMC are bringing Alessandro Ballan and Taylor Phinney. Europcar, who won’t be taking part in the Giro d’Italia, have placed their faith in Alpe d’Huez winner Pierre Rolland. From the other teams, we should expect a good performance from Coppi e Bartali winner Jan Barta (NetApp) and Androni Giocattoli’s trio of diminutive climbers: Jose Rujano, Emanuele Sella and Tour de Langkawi winner Jose Serpa.

Here at VeloVoices, we’re going to be keeping a close eye on up-and-coming rider number 101, 24-year old Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini), who’s in his second year as a professional and is a former under-23 national road race champion. He finished tenth overall a couple of years back in the baby Giro, rode the Giro d’Italia last year and will be looking to do so again this year.

Race details

April 17th: Stage 1 – Riva del Garda to Arco, 14.3km team time trial

April 18th: Stage 2 – Mori to Sant’Orsola Terme/Val dei Mocheni, 152km

April 19th: Stage 3 – Pergine/Coop Piccoli Frutti to Brenzone/Punta Veleno, 167.8km

April 20th: Stage 4 – Castelletto di Brenzone to Passo Pordoi/Val di Fassa, 177.5km

The Giro del Trentino starts on Tuesday 17th March and concludes on Friday 20th. Live action and highlights will be shown daily on Eurosport. For other channels check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website

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