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Despite being known as a sprinter, Swift made it into the front trio on the Monte Tiffi climb before he made a solo attack to win the Coppi e Bartali queen stage and take the overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

COPPI E BARTALI

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TEAM SKY

NEWS
27.03.2015 @ 18:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ben Swift (Sky) proved that he is much more than a sprinter when he took a memorable solo win on the queen stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali. Having attacked with Matija Kvasina (Felbermayr) and Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani) on the Monte Tiffi, he made a late acceleration in the flat finale to take a solo win and the overall lead in the four-day race.

 

Ben Swift may be known as a sprinter but the Brit has often proved that he is much more than that. Last year he used his incredible climbing legs to make it into a group of GC riders and sprint to the win in a very hard stage at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

 

Today Swift again underlined his versatile skills when he took a huge solo victory in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali queen stage. After having come up short in yesterday’s sprint stage, he shone in rather unusual circumstances as he turned out to be among the three best climbers in the Italian races.

 

On a day that was made brutally hard by horrendous rain, Swift hid in the pack while the CCC Polsat team worked hard for their race leader Davide Rebellin. When Bardiani came to the fore to set up their climbers Edoardo Zardini and Manuel Bongiorno, he was not in trouble either and he was ready to strike when the favourites battled it out the final time up the Monte Tiffi climb with less than 15km to go.

 

Swift, Bongiorno and Matija Kvasina made a big attack and the trio managed to crest the summit with a 20-second advantage over a 7-rider chase group. Rebellin was suffering in the cold conditions and was even further back.

 

The front trio worked well together during the final 8km that consisted of a mix of flat roads and wet descents while the wet roads split the chase group. However, they never managed to bridge the 20-second gap and so the three leaders were going to decide the stage.

 

One would have expected Swift to count on his sprint but the Brit was on a great day. With lots of energy in reserve, he launched a solo attack with a few kilometres to go and his chasers never saw him again. He distanced Kvasina by 16 seconds while Bongiorno followed in third 5 seconds further back.

 

With the win, Swift takes the overall lead and he goes into stage 3 with a 41-second advantage over Kvasina. He should get back into sprinting mode in the complete flat stage that should be one for the fast men before the race will be decided in the hilly final stage.

 

The queen stage

After the hectic opening day with two half-stages, the Settimana Coppi e Bartali continued with its hardest stage which brought the riders over 156.2km from Cesenatico to Sogliano al Rubicone. After a flat start to the race, the riders tackled a small uncategorized climb before they got to the difficult 22.1km finishing circuit which included the Monte Tiffi climb, a rolling section to the finish and a technical descent. Having done almost a full lap of the circuit, the riders crossed the line for the first time and ended the race by doing four laps.

 

Italy didn’t greet the riders with the best condition as it was raining heavily when the riders gathered for the start in Cesenatico. There was one non-starter as Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka) who crashed yesterday decided not to continue in the race.

 

The break is formed

The commissaires considered whether it was possible to do the entire stage in the wet conditions but that didn’t prevent the riders from starting the race at a furious pace. There were lots of attacks in the early part and this caused a big crash that involved the likes of Johann van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka), Marko Kump (Adria Mobil), Matteo Malucelli (Idea), Antonio Di Sante (GM), Pierpaolo De Negri (Vini Fantini) and Emanuel Kiserlovski (Meridiana Kamen). De Negri was forced to leave the race

 

No one had managed to get clear when the riders reached the 8km mark but moments later the right move was formed. Andrea Piechele (Bardiani), Manuel Belletti (Southeast), Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen), Klemen Stimulak (Adria Mobil), Nicola Gaffurini (MG.Kvis) and Davide Ballerini (Uniero) fought hard to build and advantage and for a long time, they dangled just 10 seconds ahead.

 

CCC take control

The peloton finally decided to slow down and at the 18km mark, the gap had reached 48 seconds. After 25km of racing, it was 1.57 and now CCC Sprandi hit the front to stabilize the situation.

 

While Michal Kohut, Denis Rugovac (Dukla Praha) and Yokinori Hishinuma (Amore e Vita) left the race, CCC kept the gap between 2.00 and 2.30. The peloton briefly split on a descent but it soon came back together.

 

Mechanicals in the break

As soon as the front group hit the Monte Tiffi climb for the first time, Piechele was dropped from the front group due to a mechanical problem. While he fought hard to get back, Gaffurini led Berlato and Ballerini over the top. At this point, Piechele had made the junction

 

Stimulak was the next rider to suffer a mechanical problem but he managed to return to the break. CCC had now loosened their grip slightly and with 95km to go, the gap was 2.36.

 

Gaffurini scores KOM points

At the first passage of the finish line, the gap was exactly 2.30 and some riders, including Sergei Tvetcov (Androni) had already been dropped. A big group was already 7.20 behind at this point.

 

As the riders went up the Monte Tiffi for the second time, CCC accelerated and when Gaffutini led Ballerini and Berlato over the top, the gap was only 2.05. As they crossed the finish line after the first lap, it was 2.10 as Grega Bole was working hard for CCC. More riders had been distanced, including Valerio Conti (Italy)

 

 

The break splits up

The gap dropped to 1.50 with 60km to go but the peloton briefly slowed down to allow it to grow to 2.24. At this point, the escapees had hit the Monte Tiffi and now Piechele was getting dropped for good.

 

Van Hecke decided to launch a solo attack and he managed to build an advantage of 20 seconds. Meanwhile, Berlato was the next to get dropped from the chase group.

 

Gaffurini takes the lead

Gaffurini managed to bridge the gap to Van Hecke and moments later, he dropped the Belgian. Meanwhile, the peloton had now lost 2.58 and had caught Berlato and Piechele.

 

Stimulak, Belletti and Ballerini caught Van Hecke to form a quartet that had been distanced by 44 seconds at the top of the climb. Ballerini led Stimulak over the summit while the peloton followed 3.18 behind the leader.

 

The peloton accelerates

At the next passage of the line, Gaffurini was 1 minute ahead of his chasers while the peloton had lost 3.13. It was still CCC doing all the work but Southeast had started to position themselves.

 

On the descent, Van Hecke was dropped from the chase group which managed to reduce their deficit to 45 seconds. The peloton was now coming back as they went fast up the Monte Tiffi climb and Fabio Duarte (Colombia) was among the riders to get dropped.

 

The attacking starts

The attacking was now starting as Alessandro Bisolti (Nippo) and Thomas Sprengers (Topsport) tried to take off. They were brought back though and  instead it was Victor Campenaerts (Topsport) who got clear.

 

An impressive Belletti managed to catch Gaffurini while Campenaerts passed the chase group. Gianni Moscon (Italy) attacked out of the peloton and he managed to join the Belgian.

 

A front trio is formed

Belletti managed to distance Gaffurini and at the top, he had an advantage of 8 seconds. Campenaerts and Moscon were at 13 seconds but Bardiani had now accelerated in the peloton which was only 28 seconds behind.

 

The peloton caught Gaffurini while Campenaerts and Moscon managed to join Belletti. However, they were now just 14 seconds ahead but they managed to extend it to 25 seconds.

 

The break is caught

Bardiani were still worked hard in the 35-rider peloton and Southeast and Sky also came to the fore. However, the front trio managed to keep an advantage of around 20 seconds for a long time.

 

As they reached the bottom of the Monte Tiffi, CCC hit the front and they brought the front group back. That’s when Bardiani again took over and it was Sonny Colbrelli who set the pace on the lower slopes.

 

Swift takes off

The group was down to 28 riders when Swift made his attack. He was joined by Bongiorno and Kvasina and they managed to build an advantage of 14 seconds.

 

While Valerio Agnoli (Italy) tried to join the action, Rebellin was dropped. Carlos Quintero state to chase for Colombia as the group was now down to just 7 riders: Agnoli, Franco Pellizotti, Simone Stortoni (Androni), Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani), Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast), Quintero and Louis Meintjes (MTN).

 

A fierce pursuit

Swift led Bongiorno and Kvasina over the top with a 20-second advantage over the 7 chasers. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky) was a little further back and Rebellin at 34 seconds.

 

The front trio worked well to keep a 20-second advantage over their chasers who had dropped Stortoni and Zardini. Rebellin was still losing ground and was now 1.16 behind.

 

Siutsou and Søren Kragh Andersen (Trefor) joined the chasers but it was too late. They never caught the leader and instead it was Swift who attacked to take a solo win.

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