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  Slovakian champion unbeatable in sprint of select group

Photo: Lloyd Images / Muscat Municipality

DIEGO ULISSI

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GP CAMAIORE

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PETER SAGAN

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RINALDO NOCENTINI

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NEWS
28.02.2013 @ 16:23 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

 

Six times up the Monte Pitoro climb forced a major selection in the GP Citta di Camaiore which was held in Italy today. However, it was not enough to shake the Slovakian champion Peter Sagan (Cannondale) who took his third win of the season ahead of Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r - La Mondiale).

 

It was not according to plan when Peter Sagan after two impressive stage wins and a stint in the leader's jersey was hit by bronchitis and had to leave the Tour of Oman prematurely. Today he returned to competition in his adopted homeland of Italy as he took to the line of the 64th edition of the one-day race GP Citta di Camaiore.

 

The winner of the green jersey in last year's Tour de France had expressed some concern in the lead-up to the race, and he stated that the main aim was to get the race rhythm back in light of Saturday's Strade Bianche. But as the race went on and the action intensified, it became clear to his opponents that he had not been slowed down by the illness at all.

 

Phinney in the early break

The race consisted of two laps of a 16 km completely flat circuit around the city of Camaiore followed by 6 laps of a 24 km much harder circuit containing the Monte Pitoro climb. The climb was to be tackled for the last time with just 9,7 km left in the race.

 

The peloton was in no mood for any early activity, and the day's break was already established inside the first 2 km. It consisted of an in-form Taylor Phinney (BMC), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Alessandro Proni (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Stefano Agostini (Cannondale) and Pedro Paulinho (Ceramica Flaminia). They were quickly allowed to build a substantial gap which topped out at 13 minutes with 126 km still to race.

 

The peloton finally kicked into action, and under the impetus of Lampre (with Cunego, Scarponi and Ulissi), Astana (with Nibali and Ponzi), Colombia (with Atapuma and Duarte) and Androni with (Pellizotti and an in-form Reda), the gap started to tumble. With 58 km still to race, the 5 fugitives were only 5.50 ahead.

 

The break is caught and the favorites take action

On the fourth ascent of the climb, Paulinho and Agostini were dropped from the break, and while Agostini managed to catch back onto the group, Paulinho was picked up by the peloton with 44 km left. Astana was now the dominant force in the peloton, and as they passed the finish line with just one lap of the 24 km circuit left, the break only had a minute on the peloton.

 

At the foot of the last climb the four remaining riders in the break were finally caught, and the race favorites prepared to battle it out on the steepest part of 3 km climb. As Andy Schleck was dropped, Francesco Reda (Androni Giocattoli) looked to capitalize on the strong form which has given him a number of impressive results in the early part of the season, and so he asked his teammate Franco Pellizotti to out on a frantic pace as the road turned upwards.

 

This acceleration reduced the size of the group considerably. Near the top Reda finally took action and attacked with Darwin Atapuma (Colombia). The effort was, however, unsuccessful, and at the top a very select group consisting of Nocentini, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Sagan and Moreno Moser (both Cannondale), Ulissi and Scarponi (both Lampre), Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini), Giampaolo Caruso and Denis Menchov (both Katusha), Matthew Busche (Radioshack), Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez and Reda (both Androni Giocattoli) had assembled in the front.

 

Nibali tries, but is controlled by former teammates

Nibali put in the expected attack on the decent, but his former teammates Moser and Sagan were attentive, and he was taken back. Knowing that Sagan was by far the strongest sprinter of the group, Moser put his own ambitions aside and controlled the group on the run-in to the finish.

 

Inside the final kilometer, Nibali tried again, but once again his former teammates foiled his plans. The Cannondale strategy was successful, and as the group roared up towards the finishing line, Sagan showed his impressive burst of speed and secured his third victory of the season. Ulissi followed his strong showing in Mallorca and Trofeo Laigueglia with a second place finish while Nocentini took the last step on the podium after having already shown impressive form in the Tour of Oman.

 

Sagan gets the possibility to further build on his list of victories on Saturday when he line up in Strade Bianche - a race which seems tailor-made to a man of his characteristics.

 

Result

1. Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

2. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida)

3. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r - La Mondiale)

4. Matthew Busche (Radioshack-Leopard-Trek)

5. Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini - Selle Italia)

6. Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela)

7. Francesco Reda (Androni Giocattoli - Venezuela)

8. Denis Menchov (Katusha)

9. Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha)

10. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida)

 

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