After yesterday’s Men ITTs (see results and reports in the link at the bottom of the page) the “Settimana Tricolore” (“Tricolor week”, named after the three colours of the Italian flag), better known as the Italian National Road Championships, continued on Wednesday with two Road Races reserved to the ladies, in the Elite and Junior Categories respectively. Below are results and reports of both competitions, taking place not in Fano but around the small town of Corridonia (Macerata province, Marche region of central Italy).
WOMEN’S ROAD RACE – ELITES: This race gave us a further example of the self-damaging attitude that often marks Italian cycling: indeed several riders were not allowed to take the start, essntially for … burocratic reasons. No, nothing to do with high hematocrit level or any other doping matter this time; all of their tests were apparently OK. But it seems that their teams simply didn’t deliver their medical records in time (according to rules, “in time“ means 11 days before the race).
Among the sanctioned riders were some very big names of the Italian peloton, including past TdF and Giro winner Fabiana Luperini, and other strong athletes such as Luisa Tamanini and Martina Corazza, all of them riding for the San Marino Republic-based Aurora Team 2002, already in the spotlight, and not for very good things, a couple weeks ago, when Team Manager Walter Dazzani, immediately fired by the team, was involved in the anti-doping inquiry going under the name of “Operazione Bike”, and put under house arrest. With all these things happrning in June, girls of that squad must be looking forward for July to come. Other sidelined ladies were Francesca Lotti (G.S. Giglio Toscano), Sabrina Emmasi (Prato Bike Marathon), Silvia Bagnone and Monia Poggi (Velo Club Vaiano Cecchi), Valeria Cucci (Carrera Deca Equipe Romagna) and Barbara Cazzaniga (Road Runner Guerciotti).
To exclude riders, even strong ones that could legitimately aim for the gold, for such reasons may seem absurd, but rules are rules (or, as Latins used to say , “dura lex sed lex”) and, in spite of the polemis that followed such a decision, only 54 contenders (with Simona Parente as one more excellent absentee, although for different causes) could take the start of this challenging race, that began with two laps of an easy, 18-km. long circuit, followed by a 15.3-km. ring, including the Corridonia ascent, to be tackled five times.
The first attack came from 28-year-old Francesca Castrucci of the Tuscany-based Prato Bike team (coached by former rider Gabriella Pregnolato). Many thought this was just setting up for a move from Castrucci’s team leader Silvia Parietti. But as Castrucci was staying clear for long without Parietti making her move, veteran Alessandra Cappellotto thought it was time for her to anticipate the Prato Bike rider, and went on the attack at the 80 km. mark.
Cappellotto, that in the past month of March found a place in the Conero Team Valenti, based in the same Marche region currently hosting the Italian Nationals, quickly bridged the gap to Castrucci, and leading duo formed, with a bunch featuring several big names (and among them Bronzini, Katia Longhin and Noemi Cantele of the Acca Due O powerhouse) chasing. But among the chasers were also Tania Belvederesi and another team-mate of Cappellotto’s, both working to slow down the pace set by the bunch
It didn’t take long for the 1997 Elite road World Champion (and Italy’s ITT Champion in 2001, and winner of 40 races so far in her career as professional rider) to drop Castrucci and go on a solo break, with the peloton some sixty seconds behind.
With the 34-year-old from Veneto, living in Bassano del Grappa town, looking fairly set to go for a great solo win, Silvia Parietti realized it was time for her to make a move, and her long-awaited attack came. The Prato Bike girl was followed by Noemi Cantele (Accadue O-Pasta Zara), but their chasing efforts, besides coming too late, proved vain. As the bell for the last lap was about to ring, Cappellotto, a strong time triallist too, had increased the gap to more than 01’30”.
Parietti and Cantale were reeled in, and a chasing group of about a dozen riders (among them “lone ranger” Alessandra Dettore, only rider belonging in the “Corpo Forestale dello Stato” team, plus Katia Longhin. Tania Belvederesi, Barbara Lancioni, Silvia Parietti., Noemi Cantele, Giorgia Bronzini, and Serena Cavicchi) formed.
But even if it was many against one, things didn’t change: with just 1 km. to the line, the gap had extended to 02’20”, and there was no further doubt concerning the winner of the competition: this extraordinary rider named Alessandra Cappellotto crossed the line with her arms raised in triumph, and claimed the National title in the Road Race for the first time in her career.
Forester Alessandra D’Ettore distanced themselves from the rest of the chasers and soloed in for second place, while Katia Longhin denied Conero Team Valenti another podium place as she pipped Tania Belvederesi to the line. Nicole Cooke’s teammate Giorgia Bronzini took seventh.
Italian Nationals / Elite Women Road Race (117 km.) – Top 10 Places
1.CAPPELLOTTO Alessandra (Conero Team Valenti) - 03h10’40” (36.810 km/h)
2. D’ETTORE Alessandra (Corpo Forestale dello Stato) - at 02’28”
3. LONGHIN Katia (Accadue O-Pasta Zara) - at 02’49”
4. BELVEDERESI Tania (Conero Team Valenti) – s.t.
5. LANCIONI Barbara (Road Runner Guerciotti) – s.t.
6. PARIETTI Silvia (Prato Bike Marathon) - at 02’54”
7. BRONZINI Giorgia (Ausra Gruodis) - at 03’01”
8. CORNEO Sigrid (Road Runner Guerciotti) - at 03’02”
9. CANTELE Noemi (Accadue O-Pasta Zara) - at 03’05”
10. PUCCIONI Irene (Prato Bike Marathon) - at 03’12”
All smiles after her success, Alessandra Cappellotto was very happy as she took one of the few titles her palmares was still missing (even better, in a demanding route like this), and praised her teammates and the whole team staff, but the sponsors of her Marche-based squad in particular: “People that are not just sponsors, but also good friends. People that believed in me and stood beside me. I got an excellent welcome and found at ease here in the Marche region” in Cappellotto’s own words. The brand new “tricolore jersey” wearer will be very busy in the next period: first she’ll have a go at Friday’s ITT, then will be racing both the Ladies Giro (set to start in early July) and Tour, and eventually, if everything goes right, she will be taking part in the next World Championships in Canada too.
WOMEN’S ROAD RACE – JUNIORS: A 69-km. ride, consisting of two laps of an 18-km. circuit and three of an 11-km. ring containing a 3-km. ascent (whose average gradient was around 5%) and 150m cobbled section in its final part. Not an easy route for sure, but a significative test for wannabe members of the Italian National Team at the next Worlds, as it was bearing some resemblances to the Hamilton parcours, and for its coach too.
The field of participants missed both the ITT World Champion (Anna Zugno) and the silver medalist (Tatiana Guderzo), but we’ll see them back into action in next Friday’s “race of the truth”. Another excellent absentee was Annalisa Cucinotta, one of the nation’s best riders in this category, seven-time winner so far this season, who was victim of a crash four days ago while training in her home region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and suffered injuries which kept her far from Corridonia.
Race dynamics were similar to the Elite competition, in its final part at least. First there was a break of four (Valentina Petrucci, 17-year-old Silvia Mancini of GS Osimo Stazione, Rovellesi and Tognali), with nine more teenies following. Soon later Laura Bozzolo (GS Sport Gorla Minore) rode away from the bunch, along with Martina Faccin, and joined the leading quartet. But the peloton regrouped again, and then splintered again, with more skirmishes coming, and the above quoted Mancini, Faccin and Bozzolo notably active. Mancini went on a solo attack, but was caught. Then it was the turn of Silvana Zanga (Desenzanese) and Faccin to break away in the Corridonia ascent.
Could this move be the right one ? No way. The duo was caught, and with a little more than a lap to go, there was a 15-strong peloton in the lead. Ilaria Rinaldi, Francesca Andina (two-time winner so far this year) and Laura Bozzolo attacked again, and just when they were about to start the final lap, the GS Gorla Maggiore rider dropped her break companions and went on a solo break.
A solo leader followed by a solo chaser, as while both Rinaldi and Andina were brought back, Martina Faccin (Gauss-Tecnoingranaggi) tried to bridge the gap to Bozzolo all by herself. Halfway through the last lap, the situation was as follows: Laura Bozzolo in the lead, Martina Faccin trailing 30” behind, and a 10-strong bunch (containing Andina, Rinaldi, Simonetti, but also Bozzolo’s teammate Rebecca Bertolo) further down. The chasing peloton was not working well together, such that Bozzolo could increase the gap to them, and also to Faccin.
In the last km. 17-year-old Laura Bozzolo was leading Martina Faccin by about a minute, with the next bunch at about 01’12”. Such a broad lead that turned the final km. into a kind of “parade” for the Ligurian girl (but living in Lombardy, in the oustkirts of Bergamo), who eventually won by 01’09” over Faccin, with fairheaded “Bergamasca” Rebecca Bertolo accomplishing what Tania Belvederesi couldn’t do in the Elite race: taking two members of the same squad over the podium. It all ended with Bozzolo (a talented girl that 2 years ago edged out more than one male rival in an Individual Pursuit race on a Lombard track), Faccin and Bertolo all together singing the national anthem over the podium.
ITALIAN NATIONALS / JUNIOR WOMEN ROAD RACE – Top 10 places
1. BOZZOLO Laura (JU Sport Gorla Minore) - 01h58’55” (33.301 km/h)
2. FACCIN Martina (GS Gauss Tecningranaggi) - at 01’09”
3. BERTOLO Rebecca (JU Sport Gorla Minore) at 01’24”
4. RINALDI Ilaria (UC Cicli Saccarelli) - s.t.
5. BALESTRI Federica (GS Giglio Toscano) - s.t.
6. GALIMBERTI Marta (JU Sport Gorla Minore) - s.t.
7. FALINI Assunta (UC Cicli Saccarelli) – s.t.
8. TARZIA Lena (GS Gauss Tecningranaggi) - s.t.
9. ANDINA Francesca (Polisportiva Desenzanese) - at 01’39”
10. SIMONETTI Valentina (Polisportiva Desenzanese) – at 01’43”