World Cup Round Table: Trofeo Alfredo Binda

Sun 30 Mar 2014

The second round of the World Cup takes the peloton to Varese near the Australian Institute of Sport’s European Training Centre. Three of our six starters – Shara Gillow, Jessie MacLean and Amanda Spratt – have lived and trained in the area for years. Valentina Scandolara grew up two hours away in nearby Tregnago, and while neither Carlee Taylor nor Emma Johansson can claim any hometown connection to the region, they’ve both spent time at ORICA-AIS training camps that have taken them over the roads they’ll race on come Sunday.

The area is home away from home for the women’s branch of the Australian outfit, and the squad of six lines up with a bit more knowledge and slightly more motivation than usual to bring back the win.

The Trofeo Alfredo Binda World Cup course lies east of Lake Maggiore.  The ride along the lake is fairly flat until 30 kilometres in when the peloton reaches the first major hill at Granitola. From there, the bunch heads inland toward Cittiglio where they will complete one large loop and four smaller laps, each including a climb at Orino that always prove highly decisive. Although this World Cup is the hilliest the peloton will face throughout the season, the climbers have their work cut out for them in their bid for the win. It’s anyone’s game in Cittiglio over the tough 124 kilometre course.

Last year, in horrendous weather conditions, Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) and Amanda Spratt spent the race up the road. With one lap remaining, Longo Borghini put in a dig that distanced Spratt. Ellen van Dijk (Specialized-lululemon then, Boels-Dolmans now) attacked from the bunch, towing Emma Johansson across with her.

Johansson and van Dijk went on to catch and then pass Spratt as Longo Borghini soloed to victory. Johansson won the sprint for second, and Spratt held off the peloton to finish in fourth place.

The previous year, Judith Ardnt secured the best result for ORICA-AIS. Third from a group of eight riders for fourth on the day, Arndt and company finished 34” behind Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv) who crossed the line alone. Arndt finished one spot ahead of Johansson, who was riding for Hitec Products at the time.

Two nights before the Trofeo Alfredo Binda World Cup our six starters participated in World Cup Round Table to discuss the race. Our questions and their answers are below.

Q: What are you best memories and worst memories?

Carlee – I’ve only done it once. Last year the weather conditions were awful. It was probably the coldest and wettest I’ve ever been in my life. My last memories of this race aren’t the best. I’m hoping this year is a lot better.

Jessie - I've never raced it. I suspect I'll have both a best and worst memory after the race on Sunday.

Shara – I was in the early break, and it was really good because it was really cold. It was good to get warmed up really fast.

Valentina – I was not in the breakaway last year, and I was FREEZING. Last year was the worst memory here. The best memory was my first one. It was my first World Cup. It was not really too hard that year. I was in the bunch. I was young, and I was happy to finish with the group.

Emma – I have never won this race. That’s probably the worst from every single year that I’m not winning. I’ve been second and third so many times.

Spratty – I came fourth last year. I had a really good race. The other thing that makes it a good race every year is the location. It’s the closest I get to a home race all year. I’ve lived in the area for eight years. Even in Australia, I don’t get a race like this on roads I know so well.

Q: Several of you have spent significant time in the area. What sort of advantage do you have in knowing the roads?

Shara – My first time in Europe was in 2009. I stayed at the European Training Centre, and the race is only 15-20km from here. It’s cool being hometown. You know the roads. You train around the area. It’s handy.

Spratty – It can definitely help. The last couple of years has been the same circuit, and everyone is getting know the circuit at this point. With the rain last year, it was definitely an advantage to know the course. Where I attacked last year, I knew I could take the corner with full speed whereas other riders may not have known this.

Q: Is there anything distinctively Italian about this race:

Spratty – Maybe not distinctively Italian, but a unique characteristic of this race is that we get Easter eggs. The Lindt factory is located nearby. This caused a bit of tension over dinner tonight when JMac found out that I didn’t give her all my Easter eggs last year after she made me hot soup to warm me up post-race. We’re hoping to get over that this year because she’s actually racing and will receive an egg herself. We always get Lindt chocolate. It’s always a highlight

Q: The course has changed a bit this year from the last few, and the team previewed those changed sections today. Is there anything about the changes that could change the dynamic of the race?

 Emma – Not really. I think it was good to see because it’s a bit narrow and there are some potholes and tight corners. It was good to see it to know exactly where you need to sit in the front and pay more attention – where you can’t be that relaxed. There are some hills where it will stretch out.

Q: I’ll walk away satisfied if ___________________?

Emma: If I win the race.

Spratty: Yeah, we want to create a best memory for Emma.

Emma: We need to race to win. If someone else is better, what can you do?

Spratty: We’re always racing to win.