In His Own Words: Sport Director Martin Barras Previews Toscana

Mon 9 Sep 2013

You may remember Sport Director Martin Barras’ colourful race reports out of the EnergieWacht Tour last April. Barras is back, directing ORICA-AS at the final stage race of the year, while Sport Director Dave McPartland undertakes final preparations for the World Championships. With Barras, we are treated to both a fresh perspective behind the wheel of the race car and a creative new voice to shape our race reports. In his own words, he previews Giro della Toscana for you below. Enjoy!

One of the first thing I learned when starting to coach women's road cycling in Europe was that whoever wins the Giro della Toscana will do well at the Worlds. It's a dictate that is believed by all in the bunch. It’s not exactly brain surgery to draw this conclusion. Think about it: a hard, hilly race two weeks out from the World Championships is a pretty obvious target! Proof of this is found in the presence of ALL the major international teams at this race.

I like going to Toscana to get a look at what the opposition will have to offer. But really, I like going to Toscana, period. It's warm. We race from one small village to the next, across valleys covered in olive groves and vineyards. It's full of history and interesting sites. The people just love cycling and the crowds are always good and intense. 

The food is sensational. A typical fare will wet your appetite with an antipasto of cured meat and cheeses, followed by an entree of delicious pasta. Next is the main course, usually grilled meat or fish with a side of veggies. You finish with the dolce: a small serve of gelato or a baked treat.

This year’s tour is no different. The race will have a evening prologue of 2.2 km, on a hot dog circuit, followed by four road stages.

Stage one is the appetizer. It is 126 km long, with four laps of a circuit. Each circuit lap includes a hill, although not a really hard one.

Stage two will see an early climb but is mostly made of five laps of an undulating circuit. There are no hills but also no flat sections, and this could provide the first surprises of the tour.

Stage 3 is IT ! : 124 km made of four laps of a first circuit, with short and sharp climbs, followed by a big circuit to cover twice, which includes the long and steep Valgiano climb. This will be the stage that decides who can win this tour.

Finally, we finish with a short stage between beautiful Lucca and majestic Florence, birthplace of the Italian renaissance. We get there by crossing three valleys and although the climbs are not savage, they can possibly affect the race classification one final time, especially the Michelangelo climb, strategically situated within 8km of the finish.

All in all, this tour will present a chance to assess ourselves. We are taking a team made up with a major World Road Championship contender in Emma Johansson. She will be supported by Jessie Maclean, Sungeun Gu, Tiffany Cromwell and our new stagiaire, Amy Cure.

And I might also sample the very best Italy has to offer!?!?

ORICA-AIS for Giro della Toscana:

Amy Cure
Emma Johansson
Jessie MacLean
Sungeun Gu
Tiffany Cromwell