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Having joined a 6-rider group on the penultimate climb, Colbrelli emerged as the fastest in the sprint at the end of a very wet GP Lugano; an aggressive Ulissi was second and his teammate Ferrari was third

Photo: Sirotti

BARDIANI CSF FAIZANE

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DIEGO ULISSI

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ROBERTO FERRARI

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SONNY COLBRELLI

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28.02.2016 @ 19:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having settled for a frustrating second place in the Trofeo Laigueglia, Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) got his first 2016 victory when he came out on top in a very wet edition of the GP Lugano. The Italian joined a six-rider group on the penultimate climb and then beat the Lampre-Merida pair of Diego Ulissi and Roberto Ferrari into the minor podium positions in the sprint.

 

After his breakthrough 2014 season, Sonny Colbrelli endured a tough 2015 season where he failed to get into peak condition until very late in the season. He had to wait until August to claim his first victory and ended the year with only three wins.

 

This year he has been in a determined mood to make up for the disappointments and he has been climbing better than ever in his first races of the season. That nearly paid off in the Trofeo Laigueglia but a late move from Andrea Fedi meant that his sprint win was only good enough for second.

 

Today he finally opened his account when he won the 70th edition of the GP Lugano under torrential rain. The hilly circuit race is often decided in a sprint from a reduced peloton and this is exactly the kind of race that Colbrelli likes. However, the tough conditions made this year’s race a lot more selective but the strong Colbrelli confirmed his improved climbing by claiming the win regardless of the hard nature of the event.

 

The race was held on a 34km circuit that included two climbs inside the final 10km and a downhill run to the finish. Lampre-Merida had been working hard for Diego Ulissi all day and it was all back together as they hit the first climb on the penultimate lap.

 

After 142km of racing, Ulissi kicked off the action and he was joined by Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) and Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini). They managed to open a gap of 25 seconds.

 

While the peloton was chasing hard, Davide Vigano (Androni) and Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani) crashed and the latter had to leave the race in an ambulance. Meanwhile, Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) and Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) attacked from the peloton and with 35km to go, they joined the front trio.

 

The front quintet was working well together and at the start of the final lap, they had an advantage of 32 seconds. The gap stayed around that mark for a while but with 22km to go, the peloton managed to bring it all back together after a huge effort from Bardiani.

 

At the top of the next climb, Pirazzi beat Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) and Petilli in the KOM sprint from a group that had been whittled down to just 32 riders. They stayed together until they hit the first of the two late climbs with 9km to go where Pantano and Ulissi went again.

 

The move didn’t work and instead Colbrelli kicked into action, launching a counterattack. Pantano joined him and later Andrey Solomenniov (Gazprom), Fraile, Cunego, Ulissi and Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) also made the junction.

 

On the final climb, the relentless Ulissi tried again but Colbrelli and Pantano marked him closely. The trio had a 100m advantage with 3km to go but the sextet came back together on the descent. They decided the race in a sprint and here Colbrelli turned out to be the fastest, beating the Lampre-Merida pair of Ulissi and Ferrari into the minor podium spots.

 

With the GP Lugano done and dusted, the next major Swiss race is the Tour de Romandie in late April. However, the action continues just across the border on Saturday when Strade Bianche will be held.

 

A hilly circuit

The 70th edition of the GP Lugano was held as a circuit race over 184.9km. First the riders tackled a small lap that included the two main climbs and then they did five laps of the main 34km circuit that was mostly flat in the first part and then included a short climb leading to the final two climbs that were also on the first circuit. The top of the final climb came less than 5km from the downhill finish.

 

It was raining heavily when the riders gathered for the start. Jay Thomson (Dimension Data) and Genki Yamamoto (Nippo) were both absent and so it was a 113-rider peloton that headed out for the neutral ride.

 

Two riders get clear

As expected, it was a very fast start with lots of attacks. The first rider to get a significant gap was Andrey Solomennikov (Rusvelo) who took off after 13km of racing. He built and advantage of 10 seconds but at the 16km mark, he was brought back.

 

Serghei Tvetov (Androni) and Artem Nych (Gazprom) were the next to give it a try and they had to fight hard to get an advantage. However, the peloton finally slowed down and after 25km of racing, they were 1.10 ahead.

 

Lampre-Merida up the pace

IAM wanted a rider in the break and so David Tanner took off in pursuit. At the 30km mark, he was 1.35 behind the leaders while the peloton was at 2.08. Meanwhile, Arnold Fiek (Christina Jewelry) hit the deck in the wet conditions.

 

At the passage of the finish line, the gaps were 1.24 and 1.49 respectively and as Tanner was not getting any closer, he decided to sit up. In the peloton, Lampre-Merida had taken control and they made it a fast race, reducing the gap to just 45 seconds at the 40km mark.

 

Stölting come to the fore

The escapees didn’t get much leeway and the gap was only 36 seconds after 50km of racing. However, Lampre-Merida decided to slow down and at the 60km mark, it had gone out to 1.42.

 

Stölting took over the pace-setting with Rasmus Guldhammer who led the peloton to first KOM sprint 1.18 after Tvetcov had crossed the line first. He kept the gap stable until Lampre-Merida came back to the fore after 72km of racing.

 

Mager bridges across

Lampre-Merida reduced the gap to 53 seconds at the next passage of the line and it was only 1.02 after 85km of racing. During the next 15km, they kept it at around a minute.

 

On the main climb, Christian Mager (Stölting) tried to attack and he caught the escapees before the top, crossing the line in third behind Tvetcov and Nych. However, Lampre-Merida had now reduced the gap to just 22 seconds.

 

Gerdemann makes the junction

Stölting continued their aggressive ride and on the descent, Linus Gerdemann bridged across to the leaders. As they crossed the finish line to start the penultimate lap, the four leaders were 20 seconds ahead.

 

Gerdemann decided to sit up while the front trio pressed their gap out to 36 seconds at the 111km mark. It hovered around the 30-second mark for a long time but as the fight for position for the key climb started, the gap came down and it was all back together after 131km of racing.

 

Mager won the next KOM sprint ahead of the Lampre-Merida paid of Manuele Mori and Simone Petilli who were doing the pace-setting. The group stayed together on the descent and it was a compact group that approached the next climb where Ulissi started the real action.

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