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7th Primavera Rosa - CDM

Italy, March 19, 2005

Women's World Cup hots up in Italy

The jockeying for position on the approach to the finish in 2004
Photo ©: Davide Tricarico

Following the final 118km of the route of the men's Milan - San Remo, which takes place later the same day, the Primavera Rosa brings the women's World Cup series to Europe after two rounds Down Under. While the opening salvos are by no means easy races, the standard steps up a level when the women's peloton reaches its full European strength, and so this is likely to be the first truly tough battle of the women's season.

2003 and 2004 winner Zoulfia Zabirova (Team Bigla) will be after a hat-trick of wins, though she doesn't have quite as strong a team as in previous years to guide her to the bottom of the race's decisive climbs. Swiss rider Nicole Brändli should be a more than adequate co-leader, however.

Zabirova will face strong competition from the likes of 2002 winner Mirjam Melchers (Buitenpoort - Flexpoint), and her teammate, former World Champion and 2001 winner Susanne Ljungskog. The German Nürnberger Versicherung team also has the strength-in-depth and experience to contend for the victory in Milan, with world champion Judith Arndt, current World Cup leader Oenone Wood and fast finisher Trixi Worrack, supported by Olivia Gollan, Regina Schleicher and Anke Wichmann.

The Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan team will be led by Nicole Cooke, winner in Rosignano last weekend, with top mountain biker Gunn-Rita Dahle and sprinter Rochelle Gilmore in the mix. Gilmore is looking for another good World Cup result after winning the first round in Geelong. Ton Van Bemmelen-AA Drink is lining up with Wellington World Cup winner Suzanne De Goede, who will be supported by Sissy van Alebeek, among others.

Norwegian powerhouse Anita Valen will lead the Vlaanderen-Caprisonne-T Interim team in her quest to be first on San Remo's Via Roma, while USC Chirio Forno D'Asolo's Miho Oki and Giorgia Bronzini are hoping to be in the mix. Don't count out past World Champion Edita Pucinskaite (Nobili Rubinetterie) either.

Italian mountain bike star Paula Pezzo (Saccarelli) will also take the start for the Primavera Rosa, though she admits that she's not a contender for the win, but is treating the race as training for her real objectives this season, the World Cup in the long-distance mountain bike marathon discipline.