UCI Women Road World Cup: Lizzie Armitstead to defend her leader’s jersey in Italy

UCI Women Road World Cup: Lizzie Armitstead to defend her leader’s jersey in Italy

The Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio on Sunday 30 March is the second round of the UCI Women’s World Cup. The 123.7 kilometre race in the province of Varese, in the north of Italy, presents a hilly profile which suits the climbers and the so-called puncheurs.

 Marianne Vos is record holder of the six World Cup editions (since 2008) with three victories. However the World Champion will sit out this year’s race, starting her World Cup campaign at the Flèche Wallonne Féminine on April 23rd.

 Vos’ favourites for the Trofeo Binda are the numbers one and two of the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe two weeks ago. Lizzie Armitstead and Anna van der Breggen are both good climbers, which was demonstrated by their attacks on the VAM-berg in Drenthe.

 “Both Anna as Lizzie have very strong teams surrounding them. Rabobank-Liv and Boels-Dolmans also have the possibility to play other aces and different scenarios,” Vos said. “I expect a great race this weekend.”

 Emma Pooley, who won in 2008 and 2011, will not take the start in Laveno Mombello, on the shores of the Lago Maggiore. The Lotto-Belisol rider will start her World Cup campaign at the Flèche Wallonne Féminine on April 23rd.

 In 2013, Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini wowed the home crowd by winning the Trofeo Binda, aged only 21, and she starts as one of the favourites this year. The Hitec Products rider is on great form –  she came in third last weekend in the GP Cholet Pays de Loire – and appears ready to defend her title. South African champion Ashleigh Moolman is not only a powerful ally to Longo Borghini but also strong enough to ride for victory herself.

 Runner-up in 2013, Orica-AIS rider Emma Johansson is another strong contender for the victory in Cittiglio.  The GP Cholet was the Swedish rider’s second victory of the season, after Le Samyn, and already meant her fifth podium place of 2014.

Two winners of the new World Cup jerseys in Drenthe, Iris Slappendel (sprint) and Thalita de Jong (young rider) will race the Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields on Sunday so will not be defending their jerseys in Italy. With two sprints early in the race, their Rabobank-Liv teammate Anna van der Breggen, second in the sprint ranking, could seize power in the sprint classification. The mountains classification also promises to be interesting, as Van der Breggen is only two points behind Amy Pieters, the best climber in Drenthe.

 The Trofeo Binda starts with a 17.6km scenic stretch towards Cittiglio where the peleton will cross the finish line for the first time. A large loop of 37.7km follows which includes two sprints for the UCI Women Road World Cup sprint jersey and one climb with points for the climber’s jersey.

 Just over 55km into the race, the peloton crosses the finish for the second time and lines up for the four 17.1km local loops around Cittiglio.

 The 3km long, 6% average Orino climb will be tackled five times, the last time just 7.6km from the finish. It may become the ideal platform to launch an attack for the overall crown in the 2014 Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio.

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