In His Own Words: DS Dave McPartland Previews the Giro Rosa

Wed 26 Jun 2013

We introduced you to our Giro Rosa squad last week. Today we want to give you a slightly more in depth look at the characteristics of the Italian Grand Tour and the stages that make up the 24th edition of the race. Previously called the Giro Donne, the eight day stage race was re-named the Giro Rosa after a new race director and management company assumed responsibility for the only remaining women’s Grand Tour.

The Giro is different than most other races during the season. Some of the differences are measurable. For this race, we bring eight riders. This is the only race of the season where we start with more than six. The increase in riders forces us to increase the size of our staff. Typically, we only bring one mechanic and one soigneur to a race. For the Giro, having two of each is an absolute necessity. The increase in riders and staff mandates an increase in the number of vehicles to transport the extra bodies and equipment. From a logistical standpoint, things become that much more complicated.

In part because of these logistical considerations, this race seems to come with an extra serving of stress and tension. It’s the biggest race of the year, so a bit more stress is understandable, but it’s not only that – it’s just something about Italy. The transfers are long. The profiles are always a bit polite when compared to the actual racing. I think the best way I can say it is like this -- everything is done the Italian way.

Read our roster release for an in-depth look at our Giro Rosa goals and how we expect each of our eight riders to support our outlined objectives. Simply, we bring Melissa Hoskins for the sprints, Tiffany Cromwell for the hillier days, Shara Gillow for the mountains and time trial, and Loes Gunnewijk as our road captain. Amanda Spratt, Jessie MacLean, Gracie Elvin and Sungeun Gu are our opportunists looking to win stages from breakaways.

Stage 1: Giovinazzo – Margherita di Savoia

It’s uphill from the start on stage one of the Giro Rosa. A category three climb opens the stage ahead of 94 kilometres of flat roads. Typically the first day is a procession to hand out the jerseys, and while we’re not expecting any surprises today, the climb at the start isn’t the kindest way to start the Giro. We hope today is one of several days where we can put Mel in a good position at the finish.

Stage 2: Pontecagnano Faiano - Pontecagnano Faiano

Today’s stage starts and ends in Pontecagnano Faiano. We race four laps of a 25 kilometre circuit, which means we’ll be truly familiar with the finish by race end. Each lap includes a 1.2 kilometre climb that ascends 80 metres for an average gradient of 6.6%. Alone, it shouldn’t be enough to dislodge the sprinters, but there are GPM points on offer the final time up the climb, which means it’s likely to be raced aggressively. I think the stage could go one of two ways. It could end in a bunch sprint or a small group could stay away. I suspect we’ll have an interest in the sprint, which means we’ll need to focus on getting Mel over the climb on the last lap.

Stage 3: Cerro al Volturno

This is the first day where things could get a bit nasty. Most people point to stages five and six as the heavy days. They’re making a mistake in overlooking stage three. I know this area quite well, and the profile is tame compared to what the peloton will face. It’s up and down all day long with an uphill fight to the finish. Any rider with an interest in the overall will need to be attentive to ensure they don’t lose time today although teams riding for the overall could be amenable to allowing a small break of domestique-type riders to stay away to the line.

Stage 4: Monte San Vito - Castelfidardo

I raced in Castelfidardo, so I know this area well. The profile neglects to call proper attention to the ascent that will close out stage four. Today could suit a rider like Tiff. She’s had some nice results, including bunch kicks wins for minor places, on stages with a slight uphill finish like this one. We could plan to set her up from a reduced bunch or we could look for an opportunity in a break. If the stage comes down to a sprint, we could play Mel’s card. It’s hard to anticipate what our tactics might look like on this sort of stage until we know how things have played out in the first three days.

Stage 5: Varazze – Monte Beigua

The shortest stage of the Giro Rosa is also, without a doubt, the hardest day of racing. I drove the course a few days ago, and I was surprised at just how difficult the terrain is. The first section of uphill is a narrow, windy affair over rough roads that the riders descend down later in the stage to get to the base of the category one summit finish. A complete bike rider will win today. Someone who can handle their bike, read the race well and climb as well as they can descend will be the first to reach the line atop Monte Beigua. Expect huge gaps between riders at the finish and the first major sorting of the overall contenders. This will be the first test for our two most prominent climbers – Shara and Tiff.

Stage 6: Terme di Premia – San Domenico

We recon’ed this stage together last weekend. I reckon it’s a great day for an early break in anticipation of another summit finish. The day starts with a descent into a valley and covers mostly flat roads before the massive mountain that looms at the stage end. We’ll give our opportunists a chance to get up the road and see how much time the leader’s team will give a group of riders who aren’t a threat on the overall. If they had good rides yesterday, Shara and Tiff will look to back up that performance today.

Stage 7: Corbetta

Stage seven consists of eight circuit laps. The route is pan flat, and it would obviously be a bunch sprint if it weren’t the second to last day of the Giro – and the last road stage. Today represents the final opportunity for teams that haven’t done anything at the Giro to get a result. As such, it could be a really aggressive day of racing. Hopefully by the time we reach Corbetta, Mel will be going really well, and we’ll be able to support her in the sprint. I imagine I’ll tell the girls to remain attentive to any early, threatening moves before backing Mel in the finish.  

Stage 8: Cremona

The Giro Rosa comes to a close with an individual time trial. If we’re lucky enough to have one of the girls in contention on the overall, our focus will be obvious. We’ll support her in a ride where she leaves everything out on the road. Really, all of our riders will have that directive. It’s the last day of racing, so they can all go full gas. Often I have to ask our domestiques to sacrifice their own results in the time trial for the benefit of helping the team later. I’ll be happy to tell all of them they have the option of going one hundred percent. We have some world class time trialers on our squad. Shaz is the three time Australian National Champ and Loes just won a silver medal at Dutch Nationals. Either of them could have a very good ride.

Want to know more about the Giro Rosa and our team? We’ve partnered with Podium Café on a fan directed video preview. Learn more here and submit your questions in the comment section. Also – stay tuned for a regular fan feature with Amanda Spratt and Jessie MacLean during the Giro Rosa. Gracie Elvin will get in on the daily diary action to discuss each stage of the Giro Rosa as part of a new Australian based panel ‘Subaru Le Tour Prologue’ that will air on Fox Sports immediately before live coverage of the Tour de France starts each night.