Valentina Scandolara Attacks Her Way to Her First Win of the Season

Sat 21 Jun 2014

Valentina Scandolara animated Giro del Trentino Alto Adige from start to finish. The 24-year-old was rewarded for her aggressive, attacking style of racing with her first win of the year. Soloing across the line in front of family and friends, the Italian’s win on home soil capped off a fantastic day of racing by the ORICA-AIS squad of six.

“It’s a really important win,” said Scandolara. “It’s my first win with ORICA-AIS. The beginning of the year was difficult for me with a lot of illness, and today I showed the team that I’m here.”

“It’s also important to win solo and to win in Italy,” Scandolara added. “The town where we raced today is near my small town, so a lot of people I know were there also – my parents, my grandparents, my uncle and my whole big family.”

“We have been really pleased with the progression Valentina has made this year,” said Sport Director Gene Bates. “We’ve seen it behind the scenes with her training as well as at the races. It’s been bubbling underneath for several weeks and now it’s coming to fruition.”

Formally a three day stage race, the Giro del Trentino race organisers were forced to reduce the race to a single day this year due to funding issues. The 105 kilometre course included two flat laps of roughly 40 kilometres before a shorter final lap that featured a decisive climb topping out at just under 20 kilometres from the finish. Scandolara sparked a flurry of attacks when she jumped out of the bunch on the opening lap.

“Valentina was the first to attack today,” said Bates. “That really opened things up for the day. It had been pretty negative before she made her move. The attacks were fairly constant from there.”

“The first big attack was mine, but I realized the bunch was keeping me close,” Scandolara added. “After awhile, I slowed down to wait for them. My teammates were going to attack as soon as I got caught. We had the plan to attack and attack and attack. It would have been worse to stay out there without anything happening, so I let the bunch catch me so my teammates could take their turn – and they ‘let it rain’ as we say on this team.”

Repeated attacks followed Scandolara’s catch. ORICA-AIS had riders in every significant move.

“Shortly after Valentina was caught, a group of 14 went away and we had four,” explained Bates. “A group with Katrin Garfoot countered that catch. After Garfoot’s group came back, Scandolara, McLean and Elvin went away.”

“It was good that we had numbers but Ratto (Estado de México-Faren Kuota) and Shelly Olds (Alé Cipollini) were there,” noted Scandolara. “I know I’m in good shape, but I can’t climb with Ratto, so I told Jessie and Gracie we had to attack the group. We tried, but it wasn’t enough to split things.”  

With the decisive ten kilometre climb to Bivio looming, the peloton began to close in on the breakaway. Scandolara and company were overtaken at the foot of the ascent.

“I went to the front to make the pace for Carlee [Taylor] and Katrin,” recalled Scandolara. “There were some attacks on the climb and a small group got away.”

Garfoot and Taylor had made the elite selection. Scandolara was in the first chase group. As the climbing continued, the front group lost a handful of riders and Scandolara and Tatiana Antoshina (RusVelo) bridged across to the leaders.

“We caught the group on the GPM,” said Scandolara. “Straightaway, I went on the attack. When I was caught, Carlee attacked. When Carlee was caught, Katrin attacked. It was back to me when they caught Katrin.”

Scandolara’s attack would inspire the race winning move. Susanna Zorzi (Astana BePink), Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana) and Ratto had followed the acceleration. Sensing the move had staying power, Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) jumped across to the four out front. Antonisha was the last rider to successfully make the junction.

As the kilometres ticked down, the attack tally continued to rise. Bujak was the first to attempt to shake her remaining breakmates. Scandolara dug deep to chase her down. Antonisha countered the catch but was unable to gain a true advantage.

“We were lined up inside the last kilometre, and I realised Bronzini wasn’t in my wheel,” noted Scandolara. “She was really sure about the sprint. I thought to myself – if I do the sprint maybe I will be second but I have to attack if I want to try and win. I knew if I could gain ten metres, it would be difficult for them to cooperate quickly enough to bring me back.”

Less than a kilometre from the line, Scandolara threw everything she had into her final attack of the race. Immediately, she opened up a gap. Ratto attempted to shut down the move, but her efforts proved futile.

“I didn’t look back,” said Scandolara. “I sprinted as fast as I could and I made it all the way to the finish.”

“We didn’t have a captain today,” Scandolara added. “We all had a chance. Everyone attacked. Everyone was in a break. We all knew we were the strongest, and we knew how to make it hard for the others. With the numbers we had in the finish, I was confident that if my group came back, one of my teammates would take her turn. We are all very happy with the way the team raced.”