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With two powerful attacks in the final kilometre, Chaves dropped Bardet and Uran to take his first classics win on the San Luca climb at the Giro dell’Emilia; Bardet was second, Uran third

Photo: Unipublic / Graham Watson

ESTEBAN CHAVES

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GIRO DELL'EMILIA 

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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RIGOBERTO URAN

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ROMAIN BARDET

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24.09.2016 @ 17:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) again proved that he always finishes the Vuelta a Espana in outstanding form when he took his first big classic win in the mountainous Giro dell’Emilia. After a first powerful attack on the famous San Luca climb, he still had Romain Bardet (Ag2r) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) for company but when he kicked again, no one could follow and the Colombian soloed to victory, with Bardet taking second and Uran rounding out the top 3.

 

In 2014, Esteban Chaves made his Vuelta a Espana debut and he came out of the race in great form. A few weeks later he animated the Worlds and later he finished on the podium in the Tour of Beijing.

 

Last year Chaves again did the Vuelta and like in 2014 he ended the year in outstanding form. Only cramps prevented him from going for the win in Il Lombardia and at the end of the season he won the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour.

 

This year Chaves ended the Spanish grand tour much fresher than he has done in the past and so it was always evident that he was going to be a strong contender in the final hilly classics. Today he kicked his campaign off in the best possible way as he rode to victory on the famous San Luca climb in the Giro dell’Emilia.

 

Chaves was part of an elite group of climbers that hit the 2.1km climb for the final time and inside the final kilometre, he made his move. Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Uran could follow his first attack but when he went again, he turned out to be the strongest and soloed to his first big classics win.

 

The 99th edition of the Giro dell’Emilia was held on a 213km around the city of Bologna and it had the classic design. First the riders did a big loop on the southern outskirts of the city where they tackled three climbs, most notably the Passo Brosinone at the midpoint. With 37.2km to go, they climbed the famous San Luca for the first time and then the race ended with four laps of the well-known 9.3km circuit that included a descent, a short flat section and the 2.1km which averaged 9.7%.

 

Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani) was the only non-starter when 197 riders gathered under a sunny sky. Unsurprisingly, they got the race off to a very fast start and especially the Italian pro continental teams were keen to get clear. However, in a brutally fast start, no one had managed to get clear after 60km of Racing.

 

Pierre Roger Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale), Alexandre Geniez (FFDJ), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Alberto Nardin (Androni - Sidermec), Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani - CSF), Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen), Jens Keukeleire (ORICA - BikeExchange) and Thomas Degand (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) finally managed to escape as they went up the longest climb of the day and as the peloton slowed down completely, the gap had already reached 5.05 at the 70km mark. After Rota had won the first intermediate sprint, they reached top of the climb after two hours at an average speed of 43.6km/h,

 

The peloton started to come down and reached 3.40 before the peloton took it easy through the feed zone. The gap briefly went out to more than four minutes but as they hit the third climb, it was again 3.50.

 

While Ryder Hesjedal (Trek) abandoned and Nardin won the KOM sprint, the peloton accelerated and reduced the gap to 3.05 as they went over the top. It was down to less than three minutes when they hit the final 60km.

 

The situation stabilized a bit as they approached San Luca for the first time. As they hit the ascent, Rota and Van Hecke were left behind, leaving six riders to press on.

 

At the first passage of the line, the gap was 2.30 and as they hit the climb for the second time, the peloton was approaching. Hence, De Marchi attacked and only Latour and Nardin could match his pac.

 

In the peloton, Diego Rosa hit the front for Astana and his fast pace made the group explode. As they hit the climb for the third time, he had reduced the gap to 1.44 while Geniez was still sitting 47 seconds behind the leaders.

 

De Marchi and Latour dropped Nardin and continued to press on with a 1.20 advantage over the 40-rider peloton as they started the penultimate lap. In the peloton, Astana were still doing all the work and they had reduced the gap to 1.18 at the bottom of the climb. Meanwhile, Bauke Mollema (Trek) abandoned and Geniez and Nadin were brought back.

 

On the ascent, Cannondale hit the front and whittled the group down to around 30 riders, with Philippe Gibert being among the riders to lose contact. Davide Formolo was doing the damage and led the group across the line for the penultimate time.

 

Latour almost crashed on the descent and so lost contact with De Marchi. However, he managed to get back and the pair were still 30 seconds ahead when they finished the descent.

 

In the peloton, Michele Scarponi was riding hard for Astana and led the group onto the climb. Here Latour made one final bid for victory as he dropped De Marchi. As he hit the final kilometre, he had an advantage of 10 seconds.

 

Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale), Rodolfo Torres (Androni - Sidermec) and Igor Anton (Dimension Data) attacked from the peloton and rejoined Latour to make it a quartet. Bakelants went again and this time only Torres could follow.

 

Fabio Aru (Astana) was the first of the favourites to make a move but it was Chaves who turned out to be the strongest. When he countered, only Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Uran could follow and they sprinted past the leaders.

 

Chaves kicked again near the finish and this time no one could match him. The Colombian reached the finish with a 2-second advantage over Bardet, with Uran and Aru following one second further back. Bakelants and Torres held on to take fifth and sixth.

 

With the Giro dell’Emilia done and dusted, the attention turns to Sunday’s GP Beghelli which is significantly flatter. The climbers will be replaced by the strong sprinters who hope to get the chance to battle it out for the win in a reduced bunch sprint.

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