After a great spring it is time for the two most important stage races of the entire calendar: Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. Both competitions took place in July and, thus, made it a very hard and intense month, but with many satisfactions and new experiences!
The Giro d’Italia took place from 30 June to 10 July, for a total of ten stages with a day of rest and after only two weeks the Tour de France began in Paris which lasted eight days. I had never participated in a stage race as long as the Giro d’Italia and much less had I ever raced for eighteen days in a month, they were new experiences that I lived with great determination and that will be very useful for the future!
I thought I’d tell this adventure by answering some of your questions hoping to be able to satisfy your curiosity!
“Was it easier to tackle the Giro or the Tour?”
After the spring classics I spent a period of rest and then I started the preparation again by including some competitions, such as the Ride London, to try to get to the Giro d’Italia in top form; I must say that the training went very well and also the period at high altitude paid off and I arrived at the Giro with an excellent condition and very fresh. My feelings were positive and even in the hardest stages I managed to get by discreetly.
Instead the Tour de France started only fourteen days later and the tiredness in the legs was felt, the pressure was also greater and certainly a strong pain in the wisdom tooth the week before the start of the race did not make things easier. At the Tour I suffered the most, I gave 110% at each stage.
So I would say it was easier to tackle the Giro d’Italia although it was longer.
“What is the biggest difference between Giro and Tour?”
I think the biggest difference is the media attention and the number of people involved. Already a few weeks before the start of the Tour de France everyone: media, TV, newspapers, websites… they were talking about this race. Personally I must say that I felt even more pressure coming from the outside because everyone was waiting with great anxiety for the great return of the women’s Tour. Even the live television was long and this for us was the achievement of a great goal because many fans were able to enjoy the show from their homes and the audiences were very high. The number of spectators on the streets was also impressive! And I think that was the most beautiful and exciting aspect of the Tour de France: the public. Obviously all this also has negative implications such as nervousness in the group: knowing that so many people are watching the race, all the girls want to show off and be seen as a result they all want to stay ahead and go on the run. This is the main cause of the numerous falls that there have been and on the other hand the continuous shots and the very high speeds have guaranteed a wonderful show for the spectators.
At the Giro d’Italia the atmosphere was more relaxed and in the group you could feel less stress, the Giro has been a fixed appointment in the calendar for several years now and it is therefore a race we girls are more used to and that is more familiar to us. Furthermore, a much closer and more direct approach is possible with the public who manages to get closer to the start and the finish of the stages in an easier way.
“What was your favorite stage at the Giro and the Tour? And the worst?”
My favorite stage at the Giro was the second: stage and jersey. I couldn’t have asked for more, wearing the pink jersey was a fantastic experience! While the worst was the eighth, not so much for the route, although there were many meters of difference in height and a lot of climb, but rather because I fell in a descent and even if I did not do anything serious apart from some excoriation, falling is never nice …
My favorite stop at the Tour was the last: the arrival at the top of the Super Planche des Belles Filles was something indescribable, there was so much public that I climbed without feeling the fatigue, driven by the incitement of the fans. I had goosebumps during the last kilometer because EVERYONE supports the world champion and at that moment I realized how lucky I am to wear the rainbow jersey!
The worst stage, however, was the first in Paris because the desired result did not arrive, even if the route was magnificent and the audience numerous.
“Have you summed up the experience? Are you happy with how they went?”
I would say that I am very satisfied. I came back from the Giro with two stage wins, two third places and two days in the pink jersey! I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I am also satisfied with my Tour de France, because although I was not in my best condition due to the fatigue accumulated in my legs, I have always competed with great determination helping my team without ever giving up and trying to take advantage of some opportunities to bring home a good result, they came in a good second and fourth place. I am sure that the experience gained this year will be useful in the future to better manage both the preparation and the race conduct.
“Was there a moment when you thought you wouldn’t make it? How did you overcome it? How much did you fear going out of maximum time?”
In stage races there is always some difficult day, it is almost impossible to feel good all the stages. This is why I believe that the mental aspect is fundamental, we must not be discouraged and we must remember that all the girls are struggling and have leg pain. In my opinion it is also essential never to stay alone, especially in the mountain stages, you have to try to break away when creating the famous “gruppetto” because in twenty or thirty it is easier to keep a high speed and do not go out of maximum time.
“How do you see the women’s grand tours with a few more stages?”
In my opinion both the Giro and the Tour in the future could become two weeks, including rest days. But they should distance the two races more, two weeks between one and the other are not enough.
“Have you had time to read a book? Which one?”
Both during the Giro and during the Tour I read a lot, especially during the transfers and in the hotel after the race, reading relaxes me a lot and my jute to remove the pressure. I started and finished a book of almost a thousand pages: “The evening and the morning” by Ken Follet.
“You came close to stage victory at the Tour. What do you think you missed to win? In a successful season you would trade one for a stage win at the Tour de France?”
I think I arrived a little tired at the Tour de France and maybe that’s why I couldn’t get a win, even if I worked hard and my team supported me very well. Winning is not always easy, but this is sport!
I wouldn’t change any of this year’s wins with a stage of the Tour because they were all special important, each has a story behind it and for me they will all be unforgettable.
“What is your favorite bike and how do you choose it? Have you tried the new MADONE?”
At Trek-Segafredo we have two different bicycles available: EMONDA and MADONE. The first is lighter and suitable for more demanding routes with climbs, while the second is more rigid and perfect for faster races with less meters of altitude difference. At the Tour de France we tried the nova madone, even lighter and more performing. The choice of the bicycle to use is based on the type of race we have to face.