Gracia Orlova mini preview

Sources: Race website, sat24.com

Highlights will be shown on CT Sport on May 5th

Profiles of the five stages

1 Orlova to Stramberk

stage1

2  Lichnov to Lichnov

stage2

3 Havirov to Havirov ITT

stage3

4 Detmarovice to Visalaje (same day as stage 3)

stage4

5 Orlova circuit

stage5

The weather will be fairly cool and cloudy throughout the race, with temperatures not likely to rise above 11 or 12 degrees C towards the last few days and feeling cooler to begin with. Wind will be around 18km/h on the first and last stages, but otherwise a fairly steady breeze of around 8 to 10km/h.

The route is almost identical to last year, starting with a hilly 101km race from Orlova to Stramberk. Then a large 1ookm circuit around Lichnov before the 13.5km ITT in Havirov. A leg killing 63.5km climb from Detmarovice to Visalaje is likely to solidify the top of the GC before it’s back to Orlova for 100km long circuit.

A very beautiful, challenging race that gives the climbers a change of scenery from the flat, windy circuits they’ve had so far. Canyon SRAM, Ale Cipollini, BePink, Servetto Footon, Astana and BTC City Ljubljana are bringing strong teams, but the national teams of Belgium, Denmark, Austria and Australia have  riders from several other UCI teams. Full line up so far is here but is subject to change.

Defending winner Alena Amialiusik of Canyon SRAM has to be the favourite, and with her closest challenger Eugenia Bujak apparently not racing it does seem like she’ll do it again. Ale Cipollini’s Ane Santesteban and Marta Tagliaferro are in good shape and may challenge on the harder climbs, but they are bringing only four riders so are probably aiming for stages wins. Astana bring Tatiana Antoshina, who is Amialiusik’s closest challenger with a strong support team around her. For the stages it’ll be interesting to see if Australia’s Louisa Lobigs has a go at some of the early stages. Lotto Soudal Ladies are not here but Jessie Daams is with Team Belgium with team mate Sophie Ann Druyk and TSVL Etixx Guill D’or’s Kelly van den Steen.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to admit defeat with this preview as I don’t know enough about the other contenders. It’s Amialiusik’s to lose I think.