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Kathryn Bertine takes a break from her own Olympic quest to talk with world road cycling champion Giorgia Bronzini. She shares what is like to be on top of the world, and why she's racing in America.
Kathryn Bertine: Welcome to America, Giorgia. Have you raced in the U.S. before, and if so, how does the racing differ here than in Europe?
Giorgia Bronzini: I raced in San Francisco in 2004. It is different because it's shorter and faster here in the USA.
KB: Where will you be racing while you're here?
GB: I'll be racing the Tour of Somerville in Somerville, N.J., on May 30, then at the Liberty Classic in Philadelphia on June 5 and at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minneapolis starting June 15.
KB: You captured the 2011 World Road Championship title and you have more than 60 victories in your eight-year pro career. Is there a victory that stands out above the others?
GB: The road world championships was the most special and after that the track world championships. Every cyclist dreams of winning the world championships. Since I started my career I have dreamed of one day being able to wear the rainbow jersey. To have the rainbow bands is a very special privilege.
KB: What events do you race on the track and what's your favorite discipline of the sport?
GB: On the track, I race the points race [a mass start event where sprinters race for points roughly every 10 laps for about 40 minutes] and scratch race [much like a road race, where there are no sprint points and the winner is whoever crosses the line first], but my favorite is flat road races -- the ones for the sprinters!
KB: Since you race track and road events, your calendar is pretty full. What do you do when you're off the bike? Is there such thing as an offseason for you?
GB: I have a small offseason after the road worlds in September, about 10 days off. And then maybe one week of other sports, mainly swimming, is the offseason. ... There is not much time; no time for hobbies.
KB: What are your goals, both on and off the bike, as we head into an Olympic year?
GB: I would like to arrive at the 2012 Olympics with the best form. Off the bike, I would like to pass on my experience to younger riders in Italy, especially on the track.
KB: In America, women's cycling struggles to obtain the media attention it deserves. How is women's racing received in Italy and has your role as world champion helped further cycling's media attention in your country?
GB: Women's cycling is also small in Italy -- being world champion hasn't changed my life!
KB: With too much attention often paid to the negative side of cycling -- doping scandals, etc. -- what can you tell our espnW readers about cycling that puts the sport in a better light? In other words, why should we watch and root for women's cycling?
GB: In the cycling world the are many stories about doping because it is controversial and makes a good story, but there are many more athletes who complete clean and win with talent and hard work. As for watching women's cycling, most women's races are shorter than the men's, which means that the women's field can race full gas right from the start. The racing is aggressive and exciting. At Philadelphia, the women's race starts 10 minutes after the men's race and in 2009, the women caught the men.
KB: I remember hearing about the 2009 Liberty Classic. The men were not so pleased that day. That goes to show the women are making cycling fun and surprising to watch. Speaking of "surprising," what would espnW be surprised to know about you?
GB: One day I would like to be a track cycling coach.
KB: That's terrific ... but it doesn't surprise me. You will make a great cycling coach. Last question -- please finish this sentence:
In the next five years, women's cycling will [blank], and I will [blank].GB: In the next five years, women's cycling will, I hope, become better and bigger -- in Italy, the female riders will try to have a professional contracts to make it more like the men's racing. I will stop racing and start to help with younger riders in cycling, or I will go into teaching.
KB: Sounds great, Giorgia. Best of luck to you. I'll see you at worlds ... probably from a distance.