Young Italian talent Fabio Felline (Androni-Giocattoli) got his team off to a perfect start to the 5-day Italian stage race Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. With a blistering acceleration inside the final kilometer of the first half-stage, he managed to hold off the peloton by a single second. His teammate Mattia Gavazzi won the sprint behind to make it 1-2 for the Italian team ahead of this afternoon's team time trial.
Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela was in a determined mood at the start of the opening half-stage of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali today. With sprinter Mattia Gavazzi, they had a plan to get an important confidence boost ahead of 5 hard days of racing.
With a Alessandro Mazzi (Utensilnord) a lone escapee up the road, the team amassed at the front of the peloton and set a blistering tempo on the day's only two categorized climbs to split the peloton into a number of groups. Having eliminated a number of Gavazzi's strongest competitors, they made sure to keep a high pace all the way to the finishing line.
As all eyes turned in on Gavazzi, the team had, however, a surprise in store. Young talent Fabio Felline burst out of the peloton under the flamme rouge and immediately opened up a gap. The attack disrupted the sprint trains who hesitated for a short moment. That proved to be crucial, and the Italian talent got his first victory since his triumph in last year's edition of Memorial Marco Pantani.
With Gavazzi outsprinting Alessandro Bazzana (United Health Care) in the bunch kick, Androni got the perfect reward for their hard work, and they will be able to take plenty of confidence into this afternoon's team time trial.
Mazzi goes clear
The opening half-stage of this year's race was a short 99,5 km loop around the city of Gatteo with two categorized climbs mid-way through the stage. With a flat run-in to the finish, the sprinters had one of their few chances in an otherwise hilly and time trial-loaded event.
After an attacking start, Alessandro Mazzi managed to escape 22 km into the stage. He quickly build up an advantage which reached its maximum of 5.12 after 44 km. As he hit the first of the day's two main difficulties, Androni Giocattoli put their plan into effect, and they set a blistering tempo to get rid of some the strongest sprinters.
Their hard work had an effect, and at the top of the first climb the gap had been brought down to 4.25. Androni continued their hard pace-making, and as they took on the day's last difficulty, they even increased the pace by sending Emanuele Sella up the road. He was joined by Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), but the break was short-lived and was caught just moments later.
Androni gets assistance
Androni again assumed their position at the head of the peloton and were now joined by United Health Care who looked to set Alessandro Bazzana up for the win. Mazzi was unable to resist the chase and with 11 km left he was back in the fold.
Androni now showed its dominance by keeping complete control of the race up until the flamme rouge where Felline surprised most with his blistering attack. The competitors failed to react in time, and he soloed on to take his team's first victory on European soil this season.
The race continues this afternoon with the traditional team time trial. The organizers have chosen to try out a new format where each 8-man team in split into two 4-man formations, and Felline will have to defend his jersey under these unknown circumstances.
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