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In Italy, American Cyclist Mara Abbott Achieves a First

No sooner had we finished writing about how Marin County’s Jacquie Phelan might have been a singular champion crossover from road racing to mountain biking had there been Grand Tour and World Cup equivalents back in her day (the early 1980s) than RJ over at An Adventure Called Bicycling reminded us:

Mara Abbott, Giro Donne champion

For the first time, an American has won the Giro Donne, the Italian women’s Grand Tour. Boulder CO’s Mara Abbott, whom RJ calls “the best female climber in the world,” triumphed with a margin of more than 2 minutes in the 7-stage race ending in Monza.



As RJ duly notes:

Cycling history was just made– but, oh, what did Mark Cavendish have for breakfast? Is his book tour distracting him from training?

So no, I’m not watching the Men’s Tour de France– because the amount of coverage in contrast to the women’s depresses and disgusts me.

I want to punch the Men’s Tour de France in the balls– because if Mara had them, we’d all be watching.

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5 responses to “In Italy, American Cyclist Mara Abbott Achieves a First”

  1. RJ

    Thanks for the nod! Both to me and to Mara (we raced together at Whitman). Though I will add that Mara currently rides for Peanut Butter and Co 2012, coached by Kristen Armstrong.
    She rode in Italy representing the USA rather than her trade team, and she rode for High Road (became Columbia), as you’ve pictured her, last year.

  2. Tim K

    Congrats to Mara. Thanks to bringing it to my attention, Paul and RJ.

    Can’t wait to see Jacquie Phelan piece. One thing though — there was a grand tour when she was riding: the Tour Cycliste Féminin – women’s Tour de France as it was billed back in the day.

    I remember Inga Thompson, Maria Canins, Jeannie Longo and the like duking out all over France. This was a pre-Lance, pre-daily TV cycling world — heck team 7-11 was barely in the TdF in 1985 or so – and women’s cycling was coming off a spectacular 1984 Olympics! Maybe that’s why coverage seemed pretty decent? Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s got much better in 25 years.

    I can remember back in the day speculating about why Jacquie didn’t do the euro roadie events — I think common guesses were that she was too free-spirited and didn’t wanna do the little white socks thing, that she wasn’t used to or interested in team tactics, and that mountain biking seemed like the up-and-coming sport. If you have or can get any insight, it would be great to hear more.

  3. Paul Andrews

    Hey Tim, wow, thanks for the memory taser. Sheesh my mind is going. I was certainly around when the women’s TdF got rolling but was so sure it wasn’t till the ’90s I didn’t even bother to fact-check. Interesting that in the case of the women’s TdF, an American (Marianne Martin) won the first time around (1984). No American has won since.

  4. Don Keenan

    Just got back to Boulder from a 2 week ride in Austria, Solvenia, Italy, and Switzerland. Luckily I was able to catch Stage 8 – July 9: Chiavenna – Livigno from on the top of Passo del Bernina. Mara was in the process of blowing away her competition in the mountain stage. It raised the hair on the back of my neck to watch her powering over the pass. Unfortunately had to catch a plane in Munich on Monday so couldn’t watch the Livigno-Stelvio stage but, did drive over the course the morning of July 9th. I can say it was a difficult stage course. For Mara to win the stage after donning the Maglia Rosa and winning the Stelvio in solo fashion was most impressive.

    I have watched the Giro for years and somehow TV flattens the climbs somewhat. However, after spending time in the mountain passes of Austria, Slovenia, Italy, and Switzerland, the passes are all long and steeper than you can imagine. Having a triple and a MTB cassette on my Ritchey Breakaway cross bike was barely enough to make some of the unbelievable grades. Rode the 47 tornadi (switchbacks) of the Stelvio the day before Mara rode up the other side and can only say Bravio to her solo victory ride. Epic!

  5. jacquie phelan

    Hey guys!
    I would have LOVED to do that first “Tour Feminin” and yes I could have at least given Marianne Martin a good run…if not ‘whupped’ her…I did ace her in mtn bike competition
    and I forget which road events we did compete in…but she also should get major kudos for working with Fellownews in a project called Marketing Cycling To Women.. I don’t know how far it got, or what it showed, but it shows what a cool advocate Marianne was (and probably still is). To get over to France was a challenge (I shoulda just GONE and BEGGED once I was over there but I was pretty poverty stricken AND chutzpah-challenged then –some folks were asking me to take up a new sport cuzza my sketchy bike handling–anyhow, SELF magazine was running a race series and th etoppointswinners got to go.
    THe great Ramona DiViola got a spot–and made history by racing overseas and having fun while doing it. She is a photographer, bon vivant, and cherished old pal…please don’t forget her.
    She had the best line in Winning magazine: “If the guys are putting on 23s (cogs), i’m buyin’ hiking boots!”. I like to share that one, since I wish I could be that funny.

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