Diadora-Pasta Zara team presented with two previous Giro Donne champions
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Diadora-Pasta Zara team presented with two previous Giro Donne champions

by Ben Atkins at 2:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Italian-American superteam “Dedicated to Marina Romoli”

marina romoli, mara abbottThe Diadora-Pasta Zara team was presented at the headquarters of Diadora in Caerano San Marco, just outside Montebelluna in the Treviso province of Italy. The team boasts the winners of the two latest editions of the Giro d’Italia Femminile, the Giro Donne, in US champion Mara Abbott and German Claudia Häusler; above all though, the message of the presentation though was that the 2011 team will be “dedicated to Marina Romoli”.

22-year-old Romoli, a former World junior medallist, rode for the team in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, but was injured in a training accident on June 1st last year when a car pulled out in front of her. She suffered extensive facial and spinal injuries and as yet has not recovered the use of her legs. Last year’s Giro Donne was dedicated to Romoli, as was the Italian women’s team at the World championships; race winner Giorgia Bronzini made a heart shape with her hands, above her head, as she crossed the line, in tribute.

“Nothing frightens me any more after what happened to me,” Romoli told the audience. “My first win was to be here with you today. So far I have only travelled from the hospital, where I was hospitalized after the incident, to the rehabilitation centre of Villa Beretta Costa Magnaga [Lecco]. I’ve never left, until today.

“Doctors did not believe in my improvement,” she added. “I've proved them wrong again. I hope to carry on proving them wrong until the end. I work on of small targets, one at a time. I establish a goal every evening, then the next day I work to reach that goal.”

To help others who suffer a similar fate to herself Romoli is starting a foundation to help them to cope.

“I realised how important was my face, my experience, my case,” she told the audience, “for many guys like me who have suffered spinal cord injuries - and I assure you that there are many – I want to convey to all of them a message of hope: we can return to walking, we can return to racing. For this reason today I officially announce the formation of the Marina Romoli Foundation.

“The foundation has two purposes,” she explained, “to finance research and help young people economically, up to 30 years old, affiliated to the Italian cycling Federation; the victims of serious accidents. In particular, the economic aid is crucial, because the therapies we face are very expensive.”

As well as Abbott, the team boasts three other new American riders in Sinead Miller, Shelley Olds and Amber Pierce and Australian Rachel Neylan. Italian Francesca Stefani and Swiss Jessica Uebelhart make the step up into the elite ranks.

The team retains the East European core of last year’s Safi-Pasta Zara team, with Russians Olga Zabelinskaya, who returned to the sport last year after having children, and Oxana Kozonchuk. Ukrainian Alona Andruk and Inga Cilvinaite also stay on, along with Italian Eleonora Patuzzo.

With the two most recent winners, as well as ninth place Zabelinskaya, the team’s focus will undoubtedly be the Giro Donne; as it will be for Romoli.

“I’m aiming for the Giro Donne at the beginning of July,” she said, “I hope there will be a stage through my home in Potenza Picena [Macerata]. There I will be with my team, Diadora-Pasta Zara-Manhattan, because to me it’s a family.”

Diadora-Pasta Zara team 2011:
Mara Abbott, Alona Andruk, Inga Cilvinaite, Claudia Häusler, Oxana Kozonchuk, Sinead Miller, Rachel Neylan, Shelley Olds, Eleonora Patuzzo, Amber Pierce, Francesca Stefani, Jessica Uebelhart and Olga Zabelinskaya.


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