Settimana Lombarda to move to September date for 2011
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Settimana Lombarda to move to September date for 2011

by Jered Gruber at 6:41 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Italian stage race will move from late March to September and will likely be a great pre-Worlds tune up

The Settimana Lombarda stage race will pick up and move from its typical date of late March and leap frog the whole season to run at a much more intriguing date of late September this year.

The movement of the high quality stage race from its March date will open up a lot of doors for the race and without question heighten its importance as a vital pre-Worlds tune up race.

SportItalia.com mentions two interested parties in the date change: race organizers requested it, and Paolo Bettini did as well. The race organizers hoped for a better date for their race to increase visibility, while Paolo Bettini, operating as the Italian National coach, asked for a stage race where his Squadra Azzurra could race together ahead of the World Championships.

The National Team setup in a race outside of the World Championships is not uncommon with the Italian National Team, but up until this point, the races have been limited to, more or less, minor one day races. The Settimana Lombarda moving to September would give the National Team a big chance to race as a team over multiple days.

Of course, for this to work, the Settimana Lombarda will have to take a place on the calendar that nestles between the Vuelta a Espana and the World Championships, so the window will be small. The exact date hasn't been worked out yet, but it certainly seems to be a solid idea for the future.

The question then will be - will other National Teams send World Championship squads to the Italian stage race? With the World Championships taking place on a relatively easy course in Copenhagen this fall, team cohesion and the ability to ride as a seamless unit will be of vital importance. In 2012 and 2013, the challenging course of the Settimana Lombarda will work even better as a dress rehearsal ahead of the difficult Worlds courses in Limburg and Florence respectively.

In 2010, the Settimana Lombarda consisted of five road stages and a prologue. Michele Scarponi took the overall honors over Riccardo Ricco by 22 seconds, with Przemyslaw Niemiec running out third, 37 seconds adrift.

The 2011 Lampre-ISD rider, Scarponi, won the 6.6 kilometer uphill prologue by 16 seconds over Matteo Carrara. Bartosz Huzarski took Stage 1 out of a three-up break with a bunch sprint following half a minute behind. A proper bunch sprint followed in Stage 2, with Colnago-CSF's Mattia Gavazzi, taking the day.

The GC began to take shape with a selective finish in Stage 3. Riccardo Ricco stormed to his first victory following his return from a doping suspension from his use of CERA-EPO at the 2008 Tour de France. Another tough finish followed in Stage 4, but this time, it was Androni-Giocatolli's Jose Serpa taking the top spot over Michele Scarponi, who finished second for the second consecutive day. Riccardo Ricco triumphed again on the final day, but Scarponi had more than enough for the overall victory.

In short - it's a tough, demanding, but not out of this world difficult course. It seems like it could be the perfect final tune up for the World Championships. If the race change really catches on, imagine all those that might be interested ahead of the World Championships in Florence in 2013...

Former winners: Scarponi in 2010, Daniele Pietropolli (2009), Danilo Di Luca (2008), Alexander Efimkin (2007), Robert Gesink (2006), Riccardo Ricco (2005), Michele Scarponi (2004), Lance Armstrong (1991)

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