Samara Sheppard to the Giro d’Italia

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Samara Sheppard in front smlJuly 2nd, ’14.  On Friday Samara Sheppard will line up as one of three Kiwi cyclists at the 2014 Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile.  It is the biggest stage race in the women’s cycling calendar, the equivalent of the Tour de France and the ten-day race is as big as it gets for the top professional cyclists.  

Samara Sheppard in frontSamara Sheppard will line up for her first attempt at the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile this week, photo Geert @ Schellebelle ’14July 2nd, ’14.  On Friday Samara Sheppard will line up as one of three Kiwi cyclists at the 2014 Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile.  It is the biggest stage race in the women’s cycling calendar, the equivalent of the Tour de France and the ten-day race is as big as it gets for the top professional cyclists.  An enormous array of talent will arrive for the start of the race and compete over some of the roads and mountains that are used in the three-week grand tour that takes place in May.

Samara will line up as one of the Bizkaia-Durango team, a squad made up primarily of Spanish riders, with a Russian and two Brazilians also in the mix.  This is Sheppard’s first attempt at cycling’s biggest race and she’s relishing the prospect, “I’m super excited to be racing the Giro,” she told RoadCycling.  “I’ve been doing a few road races in Belgium recently to help with my training for the mountain bike season.  They have been going well.  The races in Belgium are really flat and since I’m not much of a bunch sprinter I just do what I can in the race to smash my legs and have some fun!”  

That approach – of smashing the legs – will have to be harnessed over the Giro as the field take on ten consecutive days of racing, with distances of up to 120km.  The race-deciding stages will likely be stage 8 to Varzo San Domenico and stage 9 to Madonna del Ghisallo; both featuring summit finishes.  Will the climbs suit someone like Sheppard?  “Haha yeah I’m sure the climbs will be pretty meaty.  I don’t really know what to expect other than [10] days of suffering.  I’ll just be taking each stage as it comes.  Normally long climbs are good for mountain bikers, we can sit on our threshold a long time.  Out MTB races are normally about 1.5hr above threshold effort.  So yeah I should be ok in the hills although after the 3 hour mark it might be a different story!”

Emily Collins Wiggle HondaEmily Collins returns for her second attempt at the Giro, photo Wiggle HondaAlso on the start list are Kiwi riders Emily Collins and Linda Villumsen.  Both of them raced in the Giro last year.  In the 2013 edition of the race Linda Villumsen finished highest of the three on GC; 14th overall.  But it was Wiggle Honda teammate Emily Collins who took a fine fifth place on stage 2 as she supported Italian former world champion – Giorgia Bronzini – to victory.  

 

Last year Georgia Williams of the BePink Women’s Team also raced at the Giro d’Italia, the second Kiwi rider to finish in the top 20 overall; taking 17th on GC and third in the best young rider category.  She will not be returning this year; choosing instead to focus on her track efforts.  That choice proved a good one as she was selected for the New Zealand National Team last month to compete in the individual pursuit and points race.

Below is the current roster for the Wiggle Honda and Bizkaia-Durango teams for the 2014 Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile (procyclingstats.com).  Stay tuned for more information – including results and reports – right here.

 

 

Wiggle Honda:

Linda Villumsen ClimbingLinda Villumsen was the best placed Kiwi overall last year, photo Wiggle HondaEmilia Fahlin (SWE)

Anna Sanchis (SPA)

Emily Collins (NZ)

Charlotte Becker (GER)

Mayuko Hagiwara (JPN)

Peta Mullens (AUS)

Linda Villumsen (NZ)

Giorgia Bronzini (ITA)

Bizkaia-Durango:

Samara Sheppard leading large groupSamara Sheppard of team Bizkaia-Durango, photo Geert @ Schellebelle ’14Anna Ramirez (SPA)

Irene San Sebastian (SPA)

Dorleta Eskamendi Gil (SPA)

Mayalen Noriega (SPA)

Yulia Ilinykh (RUS)

Marcia Fernandes (BRA)

Clemilda Fernandes (BRA)

Samara Sheppard (NZ)

 

By:  Ed Wright

 

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