Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Giro della Valle d'Aosta Prologue: It will not be won but could be lost

The day is here. Well not here yet because it is still 11:17 p.m. in Central Pennsylvania but it is currently the wee hours in the morning in the Aosta Valley. In a little bit over 12 hours, the first rider will be rolling down the start ramp at 18.00 local time and kicking off the 52nd edition of the Giro della Valle d'Aosta. Like any prologue, the race is usually not won here but it certainly doesn't help your GC hopes if you lose 30 seconds to a rival.

What makes this prologue a bit special is that is goes straight uphill for 5.4 kilometers.

This same exact climb was used as the final stage in last year's Giro della Valle d'Aosta, where Ildar Arslanov won the stage in convincing style in pouring down rain and Bernardo Suaza sealed the overall win. The climb itself starts in the French village of Morillon, which acts as a base to an extensive amount of ski runs in the area. The climb starts out slowly but quickly turns steeper as it winds up 10 switchbacks to the Les Esserts area, where there is a large bank of apartments and the majority of ski lifts run out of.

This picture offers a different view. The race takes the road up the right hand side to Les Esserts

The climb itself averages around 6.8% for the course and should bring out the GC riders as well as some opportunistic time trial riders that can handle the length of the climb.


There are climbers galore here so it will need to be someone that can lay down a pretty good time trial too. There are a few riders from '96 that could put in a strong time, most notably of which is German Lennard Kämna, who is the reigning World Junior TT Champion and is a good climber. The other first year to watch could be American Will Barta, who was a talented TT rider as a junior.

The are obvious favorites such as the American who excels in uphill time trials, Keegan Swirbul; 5th place on this climb last year Giulio Ciccone; 3rd place on this climb last year, Odd Eiking; last year's winner Ildar Arslanov. Some others include Laurens De Plus, Simone Petilli, Silvio Herklotz, Rob Power, Alexey Vermeulen, TJ Eisenhart and Max Schachmann. Obviously this isn't an exhaustive list but you get my point.

Espoirs Central's picks for the prologue podium:

1. Keegan Swirbul (USA)
2. Lennard Kämna (Stölting)
3. Rob Power (Australia)

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