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With less than 3km left of the GP Beghelli, Conti, Koren and Zakarin made a surprise attack and the trio managed to hold off the sprinters by a single second, with Conti taking a first professional win in the 3-rider sprint

Photo: Sirotti








12.10.2014 @ 17:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In the final race of his first professional season, Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) took his first professional victory when he created a big surprise in the final Italian race, the GP Beghelli. With less than 3km to go, he, Kristijan Koren (Cannondale) and Ilnur Zakarin (Rusvelo) attacked and they managed to hold off the sprinters by a single second, with Conti beating his companions in the three-rider sprint.


A few weeks ago Valerio Conti rose to fame when he started the Vuelta a Espana with dossard number 1 on his back. Today the young neo-pro proved that he deserves to be recognized for his talent too when he took a surprise victory in the GP Beghelli.


All was set for the expected sprint finish from a reduced group in the final race of the Italian season and Bardiani seemed to have everything under control for big favourite Sonny Colbrelli when they passed the 3km to go sign. However, Conti was intent on giving it one final go in his neo-pro season and he joined Kristijan Koren and Ilnur Zakarin to form a strong trio of attackers.


With Koren and Zakarin both being known as strong time triallists, the trio managed to stay away and decide the race in a three-rider sprint. Here Conti emerged as the strongest, holding off Koren and Zakarin to take the first professional win.


The 18th edition of the GP Beghelli took place on a very traditional 186.8km route starting and finishing in Monteveglio. After a flat opening section, the main action was set to take place during the 10 laps of the 13.3km finishing circuit that included the famous Zappolino climb. From the top, 8.2 mostly descending kilometres remained and the race has traditionally been dominated by strong sprinters who can survive the many passages of the ascent.


133 riders took the start as Danilo Napolitano (Wanty) who had fallen ill, was the only non-starter. Right from the start Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), Antonio Nibali (Marchiol), Luca Chirico (MG Kvis), Fabio Gadda (Idea) and Moreno Giampaolo (Vega) tried to escape and they managed to stay clear for a little while but after 5km of racing, it was back together.


Like in yesterday’s Giro dell’Emilia, the start of the race was dominated by lots of a attacks and a very fast pace. However, the elastic snapped pretty early when Fabio Duarte (Colombia), Ricardo Pichetta (Idea) and Kyrill Podznyakov (Rusvelo) made a move. While Luca Taschin (Nankang) tried to bridge the gap, the trio fought hard to maintain their advantage and after 10km of racing, they were 19 seconds ahead.


Taschin was brought back before the peloton decided to slow down. At the 12km mark, the gap had grown to 1.06 and now the bunch was taking it very easy. After 20km of racing, the escapees were 5.20 ahead and the gap quickly reached 6.30 before Colbrelli’s Bardiani team started to control the situation.


The escapees built an advantage of nearly 8 minutes before Bardiani started to ride a bit harder as they got a bit of assistance from Androni. With Stefano Pirazzi, Edoardo Zardini (both Bardiani) and Marcin Mrozek (Androni) doing the most of work, they brought the gap down to around 6 minutes where they kept it stable as they did the first laps of the main circuit.


On the third lap, the peloton accelerated and started to reduce their deficit as Enrico Barbin had now taken over the pace-setting for Bardiani. At the top of Zappolino, they had brought the gap down to 4.15 but  the escapees reacted strongly and managed to stabilize the situation.


The gap stayed around 3.30 for a little while before Marco Minnaard (Wanty) launched a short-lived attack. With 4 laps to go, the escapees were still 2.30 ahead as Androni and Bardiani continued to set the pace, with Pirazzi and Morzek riding on the front.


At the start of the 8th lap, the gap was down to less than 2 minutes and now all the work was left to Bardiani. As they hit the Zappolino, Neri Sottoli took over the pace-setting, trying to make the race hard.


The acceleration brought the gap down to 30 seconds before Moreno Moser (Cannondale), Mauro Finetto (Neri Sottoli) and Manuel Belletti (Androni) tried to bridge the gap to the leaders. Francesco Bongiornto (Bardiani) and David Arroyo (Caja Rural) also made a small move but they were quickly brought back.


Finetto, Moser and Belletti had more luck and joined the front group with 28km to go. The peloton was chasing hard 25 seconds behind which caused the group to split in two.


At the start of the penultimate lap, the gap to the first group was 20 seconds while CCC led the secon group 30 seconds further back. Heiner Parra (Caja Rural) and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) were both in that group when they hit the deck.


The first group was made up of Gianluca Leonardi, Simone Petilli, Fabio Chinello (Area Zero - D'Amico), Davide Arroyo, Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural - RGA), David Villella (Cannondale), Luca Chirico (MGKVis - Wilier), Carlos Quintero (Colombia), Francesco Failli, Fabio Taborre (Neri Sottoli), Yonder Godoy (Androni), Adrian Kurek (CCC Polsat), Elia Favilli, Valerio Conti (Lampre - Merida), Karel Hnik (MTN), Kevin Seeldrayers, Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty) and Alberto Cecchin (Marchiol) but CCC were not content with the situation.. The Polish team brought the 19 riders back in the early part of the lap.


On the climb, Fineto, Moser and Belletti dropped their companions who were caught by the peloton. Instead, Villella and Conti took off in pursuit while Seeldrayers and Madrazo attacked a little later.


The latter pair was quickly caught by the peloton that was again led by Bardiani and just before the passage of the finish line, Villella and Conti were also back in the fold. At this point, the front trio were still 27 seconds ahead.


Rusvelo had now taken over the pace-setting and as they hit the climb for the final time, the gap was only 10 seconds. At the 187km mark, the front trio was caught, setting the scene for an aggressive finale.


Madrazo and Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r) attacked but Davide Formolo was setting a hard pace for Cannondale. As a consequence the attackers were brought back and Formolo continued to ride hard on the descent.


In the flat final section, Manuele Mori (Lampre) and Sergey Lagutin (Rusvelo) attacked and they managed to build a small advantage. With 2.5km to go, however, they were brought back and instead Kristjan Koren (Cannondale), Conti and Ilnur Zakarin (Rusvelo) made their move.


The trio had a small gap when they passed the flamme trouge and surprisingly the peloton failed to catch them. In the sprint took a big victory while Andriato beat Pasqualon, Belletti and Bonifazio in the sprint for fourth just 1 second later.


With the GP Beghelli  done and dusted, only two races are left on the European calendar. On Tuesday, the Belgian season ends with the Nationale Sluitingsprijs before the time triallists end their season next Sunday in the Chrono des Nations.



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