The Settimana Tricolore
continued Thursday with two Women's Road Races, reserved for the Elite and Junior contenders respectively. Standing atop the podiums at the end of the day were two athletes separated by a sixteen-year gap, but equally talented.
Elite Women's Road Race: The winner of the top event of the day was the Tuscan veteran Fabiana Luperini, aged 34, who clinched her fourth white/red/green jersey as she powered away from the six-strong breakaway group on the last passage over the Berbenno climb, under ten kilometres from the finishing line.
A bunch of 70 girls took to the start line of this 119.4-kilometre race (in fact six laps of a circuit covering slightly under twenty kilometres around Forcola town, in the northern corner of Lombardy). After early moves from Anna Zugno (first) and Vera Carrara (later) had no success, a world-class front group featuring Noemi Cantele, Fabiana Luperini, Giorgia Bronzini, Tatiana Guderzo, Monia Baccaille and reigning World RR Champion Marta Bastianelli was made around the halfway point of the bikefight. They were joined by nine more riders, track cycling star Vera Carrara included.
Luperini came into action at km. 75. Her first move was covered by Cantele, Guderzo and Bastianelli, who had some hard time closing down on her anyway. The lead group went up to a dozen competitors until Tatiana Guderzo gave it a try at km. 94. Luperini had legs good enough to follow her rival and counter-attack, with just Guderzo and Noemi Cantele able to stay with the girl from Pisa and surroundings. Martina Corazza, Giorgia Bronzini and Marta Bastianelli also managed to get across to the lead trio with 10k left, but mighty Luperini launched her solo, winning attack immediately afterwards, and everything all other demoiselles could do was settle for the minor podium spots, with 24-year-young Guderzo from Marostica (near Vicenza, in the Veneto region) taking the silver at 29" and Giorgia Bronzini making the most out of her sprinting skills to prevail in the fight for the bronze medal ahead of Martina Corazza, Noemi Cantele and Marta Bastianelli over two minutes back. We gotta give credit to the race winner and the runner-up of course, but also to the fastwoman from Piacenza for being able to make the top three on an "hostile" parcours...
Elite Women's RR (Forcole, 119.4 km): Top 10 Places:
1. Fabiana Luperini (Menikini-Selle Italia) - 03h32'15" (33.753 kph)
2. Tatiana Guderzo (GS Fiamme Azzurre) - at 29"
3. Giorgia Bronzini (Gruppo Sportivo Forestale) - at 02'28"
4. Martina Corazza (GS Gauss Rdz Ormu) - at 02'28"
5. Noemi Cantele (Bigla Cycling Team) - at 02'28"
6. Marta Bastianelli (GS Fiamme Azzurre) - at 02'28"
7. Monia Baccaille Fenixs Asd) - at 02'36"
8. Silvia Parietti (GS Gauss Rdz Ormu) - at 02'36"
9. Eva Lechner (Colnago-Arreghi Filago) - at 02'36"
10. Seneila Biagi (SC Michela Fanini-Record Rox) - at 02'36"
Junior Women's Road Race: If one of the tasks of young gun events is to get fans accustomed to some of the stars of tomorrow, we can definitely say that the Junior Women's Road Race at the Italian Nationals fully delivered: Valentina Scandolara is a name we're likely going to hear many a good times in the future. At the age of 18, the girl from Soave town - on the outskirts of Verona - had nine national titles in the bag already (plus the European one she captured the past year) … and she made it ten as she dominated Thursday's 77-kilometre challenge, making the headlines basically every time the race hit the Buglio di Monte climb.
Scandolara got a flurry of Hot Spot Sprint and KOM Sprint victories along the route, with Chiara Moirano (Ju Sport) and a few others - notably Rossella Callovi and Rossella Gobbo of Società Ciclistica Vecchia Fontana as well as Chiara Capuzzo of Gruppo Sportivo Verso l'Iride - trying to share the spotlight with her as much as they could early in the race. Efforts from the aforementioned damsels plus Federica Primavera (Velo Club Vaiano Riverauto) and Capuzzo's teammate Giulia Danieli resulted in a six-strong breakaway group, with Alessandra Neri (Velo Club Vaiano Riverauto) yo-yoing with the half a dozen frontrunners. But when Scandolara launched her umpteenth attack on the slopes of the Buglio di Monte during the final lap, that was a knock-out punch: nobody could hold her wheels again and the ultra-talented teenaged girl continued her winning rush to the line all by herself, building up a huge advantage on all former breakaway companions, with Callovi and Primavera taking the other podium spots in the four-woman sprint for second place.
Pictures (and more) from the Venetian sensation are available in Valentina Scandolara's website (in Italian only).
Junior Women's RR (76.9 km): Top 10 Places:
1. Valentina Scandolara (Alberti Val d'Illasi) - 02h25'45" (32.768 kph)
2. Rossella Callovi (SC Vecchia Fontana) - at 01'16"
3. Federica Primavera (VC Vaiano Riverauto) - at 01'16"
4. Rossella Gobbo (SC Vecchia Fontana) - at 01'16"
5. Giulia Danieli (GS Verso l'Iride) - at 01'16"
6. Chiara Capuzzo (GS Verso l'Iride) - at 01'16"
7. Alessandra Neri (VC Vaiano-Riverauto) - at 02'12"
8. Francesca Stefani (GS Potentia 1945) - at 02'53"
9. Valentina Dal Bon (GS Verso l'Iride) - at 03'38"
10. Jessica Campagnolo (Avantec-Breganze CC 96) - at 03'38"
* Italian National Championships: Junior Men's Road Race