By Lennard Zinn
In its third year of existence, the GAS women’s road team promises to be a force to be reckoned with in everything from major Tours to World Cup individual races and overall. Sponsored by an Italian jeans and sportswear company, the team has added more power this season to an already star-studded roster. At the team introduction on February 26, GAS spokesman Piergiorgio Dal Santo said, “We want to be the Mapei team of women’s cycling, both in terms of setting the standard for professionalism as well as by being the best team in the world.”
Joining 1997 world road champion and 2000 Giro d’Italia runner-up Alessandra Cappellotto, World Cup runner-up Pia Sundstedt and three-time Olympian Roberta Bonanomi on GAS will be the recently-crowned world road champion Zinaida Stahurskaia of Belarus. Sttahurskaia has more than 200 victories in road and track to her name, including 15 last season. Her complete domination of most of the stages and the overall classification in the Tour of Tuscany, as well as her solo victory in Plouay, show that she can win both single-day and multi-stage races.
Frenchwoman Severine Desbouys will add stage-racing power, her résumé including two stage wins, the Queen of the Mountains title and fourth in the overall classification in last year’s women’s Tour de France — the Grande Boucle Feminín. The addition of Italian national road and time trial champion Gabriella Pregnolato promises even more wins yet, and the team’s investment in the future comes in the form of young Italian riders Kettj Manfrin, Greta Zocca, Ilenia Lazzaro, Tania Belvederesi and Silvia Parietti.
Last season, the entire Italian three-woman road team at the Olympics came from GAS: Cappellotto and her sister, Valeria, along with Bonanomi And Sundstedt represented Finland in Sydney and bore her country’s flag. Unfortunately, all three Italians were involved in a car crash in Sydney, with Alessandra Cappellotto taking the worst of it with whiplash injuries. Then, during the road race, she crashed hard on her right knee and is still feeling the effects in the form of tendonitis of her patellar tendon.
GAS Sport is coached by former pro rider Marino Amadori. Leaving the team are former Giro and Tour champion Fabiana Luperini (to Edilsavino) and the younger Cappellotto, Valeria, who has retired.
Campagnolo is the only other GAS team sponsor whose name you will find on the equipment. The frames are made by Battaglin, the shoes by DMT, the saddles by Selle Italia, clothes by Nalini and the stem and bars appear to be ITM, but all only have the GAS logo on them.