Our Italian rider shares what she loves about her region ahead of the Giro Donne’s visit
After kicking off the race on Sardinia and then traversing mainland Italy, the Giro Donne will enter the region of Trentino on Friday. The race will have taken in some solid climbing by then, but the pair of stages in Trentino will showcase the big mountains which are likely to shake up the GC. Equally likely is that you’ll see Letizia Borghesi with a big smile on her face.
Letizia comes from Trentino and to say she adores her home region is an understatement. Chat with our Italian rider and after a few minutes you may begin to wonder if she has a side gig working for the Trentino tourism board — she’s that passionate.
“Trentino has some amazing places. We have it all! Apart from the sea,” she corrects herself, laughing. “We have mountains, lakes, rivers, and also castles. In my village there is a castle with an octagonal tower named Castel Valér. In my valley there are many castles from medieval times.”
The 23-year-old feels most at home when she’s surrounded by Trentino’s legendary scenery, regardless of the season. “With such nice mountains, we have hiking and mountain biking and we’re a very famous ski area now.”
One of Letizia’s favorite spots is Lago di Tovel, about 15 kilometers from her town of Rallo. “It’s a mountain lake at 1,000 meters altitude. The lake looks like the Caribbean Sea but it’s really cold in the summer. You can see through the water to the bottom. The water I drink in my home comes from this area. Every year, tourists come here to stay in nature and fresh air and to see the animals. There are deer and also bears but it’s better if you don’t see the bears!”
Of course, she also recommends riding in Trentino but cautions that your climbing legs should be primed and ready. “I really love riding in my region but it’s really hard because there is no flat. The climb to Lago di Tovel is really hard. It’s only seven kilometers but in the final part there are sections over 15 percent. A few years ago there was a time trial for amateurs that started at the village at the bottom up to the lake. I couldn’t do it because it was only for amateurs but I cheered.”
This is the context the peloton will encounter for stages 8 and 9 of this year’s Giro Donne. Stage 8 sees the race climb over 2,000 meters, including the 14.7-kilometer long Passo Bordala, which features a staggeringly steep 27.5 percent ramp. The second climb of the day concludes after 9km, averaging 7.7 percent and involves challenging hairpins.
If Letizia’s teammates were planning to ask for her input, they’ll be out of luck.
“To be honest, I wanted to do a recon,” she confesses. “But I was away racing. After Women’s Tour, I was going to ride the stage 8 route but then something always happened to change my plans so it will be a surprise.”
The Cima Coppi appears in stage 9. The Passo Daone is the third and final climb of the day. Not only is it the race’s highest point, it’s also steep, averaging a gradient of 10.9 percent over 6.2 kilometers. But before that, the stage will open with the Fai della Paganella, a climb Letizia is all too familiar with.
“It’s where I do my efforts usually. It’s constant but it’s difficult, between 8-10 percent and then the last kilometer and a half is a little bit easier. It will be weird to be on the climb where I do my training efforts but during a race, although I think it will be nice because I can manage my efforts.”
The Letizia Borghesi fan club will be in full effect come Saturday as this is the stage closest to her town.
“I will have more support because it’s closer to my home than the other stages. I think somebody will come to the start, somebody will come to the finish, somebody will be on the first climb and the second climb and the last climb and everywhere in between!”
To be sure, Trentino’s mountains are unforgiving but according to Letizia, it will be worth it to race in her backyard with her friends and family cheering her on.