FEATURE: A rose by any other name

Sat 24 Jun 2017

The only remaining Grand Tour on the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar, the Giro Rosa is just around the corner and as the spotlight prepares to shine on one of the biggest races of the year we hear from ORICA-SCOTT women’s sport director Gene Bates on what the prestigious event has in store.

Previously branded as the Giro Donne and one of the oldest races in the history of women’s cycling, the event initially ran for nine or ten days and was always held at the start of July.

Since 2013 the Giro has been shortened to eight days of competition and this year marks its 28th anniversary by returning to a ten-stage format and starts with a team time trial to mirror previous editions of the iconic Giro d’Italia.

ORICA-SCOTT women return to the race in 2017 after missing last year’s edition in order to concentrate on the Olympic Games in Rio.

“We have taken part in the Giro Rosa several times and usually approached the race with stage success in mind,” explained Bates. “However last year we opted not to start and prepare our riders instead for the Olympics and it goes without saying that we are really excited to be coming back to the race this year.”

“It hasn’t been a race that we have targeted heavily in the past, but we have a more focused approach for this year’s edition and I’m looking forward to seeing how we will perform.

“Watching how the men’s team have started to shift towards GC objectives in Grand Tours and seeing how they do things leading into a big stage race has been interesting and hopefully we can take some of that knowledge with us.”

Previously the Tour de l’Aude Cycliste Feminin held the title of the longest running stage race in elite women’s cycling, running from 1985 until it’s cancellation after the 2010 edition.

Now the Giro Rosa holds that mantle and garners the prestige as the ‘Big Event’ on the women’s calendar with 24 teams taking part, including most of the UCI Women’s WorldTour teams and set to cover over 1,000kilometres in ten days of racing.

“The women’s Giro is undoubtedly the most prestigious tour on the WorldTour calendar,” continued Bates. “And this year we have aimed at putting together the best team possible to target the overall classification and see how we go in that area.”

“It is not something we have targeted before, so it is new territory for some of our riders, but also exciting as it will be a new challenge. Much like all the races we enter, we prepare extensively and try to be as organised as possible. The riders know the course, we have identified the critical stages and we go in with as much information as possible.

“I am a firm believer in focusing on the processes, and if our preparation is good then the outcomes will generally follow suit.”

ORICA-SCOTT has been based in Northern Italy in the Lombardy region since the team’s inception in 2012 and holds a strong affinity with racing on Italian roads.

“We like any race that doesn’t involve lots of travelling,” smiled Bates. “It is nice not to have the logistical stresses of travelling up to northern Europe for a long race, these days we seem to be heading north more than ever.”

“The team has always been based in Northern Italy, and also the majority of our riders and we enjoy racing on our adopted ‘home roads’. Hopefully that can lend us some kind of advantage, but I think the reality will be that everyone prepares well for this race and there won’t be any giveaways, it will just make it a bit easier for us to get a pre-stage coffee.”

ORICA-SCOTT women will be racing in Italy at the 28th Giro Rosa from June 29th to July 9th, the race starts in Aquilea and finishes in Torre del Greco in Naples.

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