This weekend will feature a new race on the U23 Nations Cup calendar, the Coppa dei Laghi - Trofeo Almar. The Cup of the Lakes takes place on the shores of the Lombard coast of Lake Maggiore and has multiple loops around the towns of Taino, where the race begins, and Angera, where the race ends. Produced by the same group that puts on the Trofeo Binda, which is a World Cup on the Women's side of the sport, the Coppa dei Laghi is a typical Italian one-day race that will offer a crapshoot of a finish that could play out 5 different ways.
Starting from Taino, a small commune of roughly 4,000 people, the race has a neutral roll out until they hit the southern shores of Lake Maggiore, where they begin the race in earnest with 4 large laps that go through the coast town of Angera, up through Ranco, back through Taino and then out to touch two other lakes, Monate and Comabbio. The two climbs on this large loop include a small climb in Ranco and the longer Tainenberg (not to be confused with the Taaienberg aka the Boonenberg in Flanders), which is 2 kilometers in length and averages a strong 10%. I say strong because if you take out the fairly flat first bit, you would probably be getting somewhere closer to 12 or 13% average. Also, it is cobbled.
Once the 4 big laps are done, the race is finished with a more abbreviated final lap of 24.4 kilometers. Once again, they race over the short Ranco climb before hitting the Tainenberg for one last time. The hill summits with a little over 12 kilometers left before a descent and flat finish back in Angera. The only technical bit about the finish is a couple of corners in the final kilometer but the final 250 meters are a straight shot.
This should play out like a few different Italian races including the Giro del Belvedere, which also has a large climb and then a descent to the finish. The last 4 editions of that race have been either won in a solo effort or a small group sprint so I'm anticipating something similar here but since this is a virgin course, I won't lay any money on it.
As this is a Nations Cup, it is National teams and the teams are as follows:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA and the UCI Mixed Team.
Of course, the start list is not finalized yet so no prediction is available as of right now but once it is, this post will be updated. Though if Robert Power and Laurens De Plus are here, there are two of your top 10.
For any questions, the organizers have a thorough website that includes all kind of useful information including Google Earth and Garmin maps of the circuits.
It should be a pretty race and it'll be interesting to see who shows up and who shits the bed.