4 years ago by Tom Soladay

Racing up an Italian volcano

Race Preview: Giro di Sicilia

Rally UHC Cycling arrived on Sicily’s eastern coast this week for the Giro di Sicilia, a race across the island taking place for the first time in the last 42 years. The four-day stage race, April 3 – 6, features 700 km of racing. The peloton will face a variety of challenges including coastal crosswinds along the Ionian Sea, the rolling hills of the Parco delle Madonie, and a queen stage summit finish atop Mt. Etna, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes.

The team fields a diverse roster to tackle this Mediterranian tour. Climbers Rob Britton, Gavin Mannion, Kyle Murphy, and Brandon McNulty join time trialists Evan Huffman and Svein Tuft and sprinter Colin Joyce for a multi-faceted attack.

“It was important that we send a diverse roster to Sicily that can be competitive on a variety of courses,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “The first three stages could end in field sprints or they could be won from a select group up the road. It’s vital that we have riders who can adapt to what we anticipate will be an aggressive race.”

Gavin Mannion, last year’s Colorado Classic champion, has experience racing in Italy as an under-23 rider and looks forward to returning to his old stomping grounds.

“I did a lot of racing in Italy when I was younger and I have a good feel for the racing there,” said Mannion. “It’s definitely very hard, very chaotic. After looking at the course maps and profiles for Sicily, I think every day is going to be a battle.”

Listen to Mannion’s thoughts on the Sicilian race via his Audio Blog

Mannion knows that if the team wants to succeed in the overall they’ll need to focus on the final climb up Mt. Etna on stage four.

“We start close to sea level and finish close to 6,000 ft in elevation,” said Mannion. “I think that’s where the final GC will be decided in this race. We are bringing a strong team and should have a few cards to play each stage.”

The Giro di Sicilia is part of a five-week European campaign. While the Sicilian team tackles stage three to Ragusa, the other half of the Rally UHC Cycling men’s team will be competing in France’s Route Adélie de Vitré.

Stage 4 course profile with a volcanic mountaintop finish of Mt. Etna.

LIVE streaming on FloBikes.com, April 3 – 6 (7:50 am – 9:50 am CDT)

Giro di Sicilia roster

Rob Britton
Evan Huffman
Colin Joyce
Gavin Mannion
Brandon McNulty
Kyle Murphy
Svein Tuft

April 3: Stage 1 – Catania › Milazzo (165k), Flat with major climb midway
April 4: Stage 2 – Capo d’Orlando › Palermo (236k), Hilly
April 5: Stage 3 – Caltanissetta › Ragusa (188k), Uphill finish
April 6: Stage 4 – Giardini Naxos › Etna (119k), Mountaintop finish