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With a dominant uphill sprint, Colbrelli took his second win at the Coppa Sabatini, two years after his first victory; Pasqualon and Barbero completed the podium

Photo: Sirotti

ANDREA PASQUALON

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BARDIANI CSF FAIZANE

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CARLOS BARBERO

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COPPA SABATINI

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SONNY COLBRELLI

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22.09.2016 @ 17:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) confirmed his status as Italy’s best puncheur when he claimed his second victory in the Coppa Sabatini two years after his first win. With a dominant performance in the uphill sprint, he held off Andrea Pasqualon (Roth) and Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural) to take his fifth win in the second half of the season.

 

After his breakthrough season in 2014, Sonny Colbrelli was expected to reach new heights in 2015 but a frustrating first half of the year left him completely empty-handed. It was the Tour du Limousin that signaled his return to form as the Italian puncheur won a stage and the overall in the French race.

 

This year it seems that the French race has again marked a turning point for the Italian. After his fantastic start to the year that saw him finish on the podium in the Amstel Gold Race, he was set back by pneumonia after the Giro d’Italia and the illness made for a difficult start to the second part of the year. However, Limousin again turns out to be a happy hunting ground for Colbrelli as he left the race with two stage wins and second place overall.

 

Colbrelli confirmed his form when he won the hilly final stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes and after signing a contract with the Bahrain-Merida team for 2017, he has set his sights on the Italian autumn classics where he hopes to help Bardiani win the overall Coppa Italia. He proved his form when he won the Coppa Agostoni and after a short stint in France for the European Championships, he finished second overall in the Giro della Toscana.

 

His great form made him the overwhelming favourite for today’s Coppa Sabatini which finished on a 1km climb that averages 7% and so is tailor-made for puncheurs. Colbrelli has proved to be the best Italian in uphill sprints and he left no one in doubt about his superiority as he took a second win in the race in dominant fashion.

 

The 64th Coppa Sabatini was held on a traditional course over 195.9km around the city of Peccioli. First the riders did one lap of a big 57.6km loop that included three climbs and the final climb to the finish. After the first passage of the line, they dud three laps of a shorter 21.7km circuit which included the Terriciola climb five kilometres from the finish before they again took on the climb that led to the line. The final part of the race was made up of 6 laps of a 12.2km circuit. It was the flattest of the circuits as the early descent led to completely flat roads. The only challenge was the final 1km climb which averaged 7% and made it a race for puncheurs.

 

Floris De Tier (Topsport Vlaanderen) was the only non-starter as the peloton gathered under a sunny sky and they got the race off to a very fast start. Dimension Data and Nippo-Vini Fantini were both very active in the opening phase but while Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) rejoined the peloton after a puncture, no one could get clear. After 5km, three riders briefly escaped but the Italian national team shut the move down. In the chaos, a crash brought down Vincenzo Albanese (Italy), Cesare Benedetti (Bora - Argon18), Chris Anker Sorensen and Vegard Breen (Fortuneo - Vital Concept) but they could all continue the race. Unfortunately, Albanese had to withdraw just a few kilometres later

 

The crash split the peloton in no less than seven groups but a regrouping took place and at the 12km mark, it was back together. The attacking soon started again but no one had gone clear after 18km of racing.

 

Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural) and Davide Ballerini (Italy) finally managed to open an advantage which soon went out to 45 seconds. After 21km of racing, it was 1.23 and when they hit the first climb, it was already 2.35.

 

The gap continued to grow and had reached a massive 10.06 at the 34km mark. The front duo continued to ride hard and covered 41.7km during the first hour. At the first passage of the line, they had pushed their advantage out to 13.40 but as Movistar took control, the peloton had reduced it to 12.36 by the time they got to the finish.

 

 

Movistar did a good job to bring the gap down and so it was only 9.57 after the first lap of the second circuit. While Tim Declercq (Topsport), Nico Brüngger (Roth) Hector Saez, Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) left the race, Andrey Amador kept riding on the front and at the end of the second lap, the leaders were just 8.19 ahead.

 

The gap suddenly went out to 8.40 and this prompted Ag2r to react. The French team took over the pace-setting and then Bardiani took control. At the start of the first lap of the final circuit, they were 8.12 behind the leaders.

 

Bardiani and Ag2r increased the pace significantly and while Carlos Betancur (Movistar) who had worked early in the race, abandoned, they reduced the gap to 4.43 at the next passage of the line. Androni also came to the fore and then Movistar again took over, leading the group to the end of the second lap with a deficit of just 4.02.

 

Androni, Bardiani and Movistar shared the work in the third lap where they reduced the gap to less than 3 minutes and then CCC took over. Dimension Data also moved up and with so many teams contributing, it was no surprise that the gap was only 1.40 at the start of the fourth lap.

 

With two laps two go, Ag2r and Gazprom were on the front less than a minute behind the leaders and now the attacking started. Marco Frapporti (Androni) and Yuri Filosi (Nippo) took off in pursuit and at the start of the final lap, they were just 32 seconds behind the front duo, with the peloton being 16 seconds further adrift.

 

Bardiani were leading the chase and brought the chasers back before Ballerini tried to drop Ferrari. He failed to get clear though and the pair were now just 15 seconds ahead of the peloton which was led by Nippo.

 

Roberto Torres (Androni) tried to bridge across while Benedetti took over the pace-setting in the 60-rider peloton. With 10km to go, they were 20 seconds behind the leaders.

 

Ballerini dropped Ferrari who was picked up by Torres just as Dimension Data joined Nippo in the peloton. With 4km to go, they brought Ferrari and Torres back but Ballerini was still in front with an advantage of 15 seconds.

 

As they hit the final 3km, Ballerini was finally brought back and while Bardiani hit the front, a small crash created some confusion. Gazprom and Italy also moved to the front and it was the Italian national team that took charge as they hit the climb.

 

A Wilier rider attacked and had a small advantage halfway up the climb. However, Bardiani shut it down and then Colbrelli launched his sprint. The Italian turned out to be in a class of his own and easily relegated Andrea Pasqualon and Carlos Barbero to the minor podium spots.

 

With the Coppa Sabatini done and dusted, the attention turns to Saturday’s Giro dell’Emilia where the climbers will come to the fore.

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