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6th Primavera Rosa - CDM
Italy, March 20, 2004
The Primavera Rosa - women's edition of Milan - San Remo - is the second women's World Cup event of the year and covers the last 120km or so of the route into San Remo taken by the men's race. The race follows the Ligurian coastline and includes three major climbs - the Capo Berta, the Cipressa - where last year's winner Zoulfia Zabirova escaped to a solo victory - and then finally the Poggio.
The way this race is won is hard to predict, as there have been two common scenarios in past years. In 2001 Suzanne Ljungskog won in similar style to Zabirova last year, by attacking on the Cipressa and holding off the chasing peloton for the 25km to the finish. Mirjam Melcher's took second place that year in a bunch sprint. In 2002, however, Melchers won the bunch sprint again, but this time for the win.
Melchers will undoubtedly be back again this week to try and win again, despite her comments to Cyclingnews late last year that the World Cup Series is not her major goal for this year. Reigning world champion and 2001 winner, Susanne Ljungskog, will also be back supported by her powerful new SATS team. If Ljungskog can't get away on the climbs as she did in 2001, then look to her Australian teammate Rochelle Gilmore to better her third place last year. Zoulfia Zabirova (Let's Go Finland) is one to watch at any time of the year and will be out to defend her title.
Other favourites are Petra Rossner (Nurnberger), Regina Schleicher (Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan), and Olga Slyusareva (Nobili Rubinetterie - Guerciotti) if it comes down to a sprint, but watch out for riders like Judith Arndt (Nurnberger) and perhaps Dede Barry (T-Mobile) if a break away eventuates.
If 2004 form is any indication, then the rider to watch is the Australian pocket-rocket Oenone Wood (AIS), who currently leads the World Cup standings after winning the first round in Geelong. Wood and her strong team will certainly battle hard to retain that premier position. Woods is a hot favourite after she proved last weekend with her win at Rosignano that she has retained her early season form. So far this year Wood has won not only the Geelong World Cup, but also the Australian National Road Race and Time Trial as well the Geelong Tour and the Bay Series.
2003 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) Prato Marathon Bike 121 km in 3.05.22 (39.15 km/h) 2002 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Farm Frites-Hartol 2001 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) 2000 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) 1999 Sara Felloni (Ita)