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After a perfect race from the Italian national team, Nizzolo finished off a perfect lead-out by winning the bunch sprint at Coppa Bernocchi; Ruffoni and Simion made it two Bardiani riders on the podium









14.09.2016 @ 17:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Riding for the Italian national team, Giacomo Nizzolo proved that he is ready to lead Italy at the World Championships when he finished off a dominant performance from his teammates by winning the Coppa Bernocchi. After a great lead-out from his teammates, he beat the Bardiani pair of Nicola Ruffoni and Paolo Simion in the bunch sprint to take his first victory since his win at Nationals in June.


In the last few months, there has been a lot of discussion about who’s going to lead Italy at the Worlds in Qatar. With Giacomo Nizzolo and Elia Viviani, the country has two world-class sprinters while riders like Sacha Modolo and Andrea Guardini are looming as outsider.


The next few weeks will decide who’s going to get the captaincy role and after both Nizzolo and Viviani failed to show much in the Tour of Britain – Nizzolo crashed out after a few days – the pair lined up together for today’s big sprint race in Italy, Coppa Bernocchi. With riders like Jacopo Guarnieri and Marco Coledan also on the roster, national coach Davide Cassani had gathered some of the finest lead-out men in Italy and the race was regarded as a bit of a dress rehearsal for the race in Qatar.


The big question was who was going to do the sprint and no one knew when the national team took control of the race right from the start. Spending almost all day on the front, they kept the race under control and neutralized several strong attacks in the finale and they lined up their formidable train.


Unsurprisingly, no one was able to match their lead-out and when they approached the finish, it became apparent that Nizzolo was their man for the day. The Italian champion didn’t disappoint and made his claim for Worlds leadership by coming out on top in the bunch kick ahead of Bardiani pair Nicola Ruffoni and Paolo Simion. Neither Modolo nor Guardini finished in the top 5.


The 98th edition of the Coppa Bernocchi was held on the same course that had been used in the last few years. The 192km race started and finished in Legnano where the riders did two early laps of a small, flat circuit before they headed along flat roads to the main circuit on the northern outskirts of the city. They got there after 44.9km of racing and did seven laps. The circuit was 16.7km long and included the small climb of Morazzone. The riders ended the final lap with 30.2km to go and then they followed flat roads back to Legnano where a flat finale awaited them.


Emanuel Kiserlovski (Meridiana) was the only non-starter when the peloton gathered on a hot and sunny day in Italy. Unsurprisingly, it was a very fast start with numerous attacks and it took time for the break to be formed. Finally, the elastic snapped when Dion Beukeboom (ParkHotel Valkenburg), Vitaliy Buts (Kolss - BDC Team), Alessandro Fedeli (Unieuro - Wilier), Matthias Krizek (Roth Team), Giacomo Berlato (NIPPO - Vini Fantini), Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA), Nicholas Salvietti (Norda - MG. KVIS) and Oscar Pelegri (Amore & Vita) escaped and while the peloton took a natural break, they increased their advantage significantly.


At the 51km mark, the gap had gone out to 5 minutes but this was as much as they would get. It stabilized around four minutes as the peloton lowly upped the pace, with Eugenio Alafaci (Italy) and the riders from CCC Polsat doing the early work. They were still in control after two hours of racing where the peloton had averaged 42.9km/h.


Passing the 90km mark, the peloton increased the speed and fourteen kilometres later, the gap had already been reduced to 2.30. Alafaci and the CCC riders were still in control and after three hours at an average speed of 42.3km/h, the gap had been cut down to only 1.10.


The advantage soon dropped to less than a minute and already after 130km of racing, the race came back together. Buts tried to make another attack and Vilela joined him.


The race heated up behind the pair as Matteo Busato (Wilier), Francesco Gavazzi (Androni) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) went on the attack, quickly bridging the gap and building an advantage of 20 seconds. The quintet covered the sixth lap at an average speed of more than 44km/h and then started the final lap with a 30-second advantage.


The Italian national team took control in the peloton but they could not prevent the gap from going out to 45 seconds as they went up the climb for the final time. Here the attacking started again and as they crested the summit, an 8-rider chase group with Rodolfo Torres, Franco Pellizotti (Androni - Sidermec), Filippo Pozzato (Wilier - Southeast), Danilo Celano (Amore & Vita - Selle SMP), Marco Tizza (D'Amico - Bottecchia), Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi), Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani - CSF) and Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural – RGA) had been formed.


The situation was dangerous for the Italian national team and they reacted quickly, bringing the chasers back and reducing the gap to only 11 seconds. They kept the gap stable at around 10 seconds and seemed to have the situation under control.


Colbrelli tried to keep the move going by launching a strong attack and only Vilela could follow. The pair started the final 25km with an advantage of 25 seconds.


The attacking started again when Marco Zamparella (Amore e Vita) and Antonio Di Sante (GM) took off and they were quickly joined by Francesco Gavazzi (Androni), Matteo Busato (Wilier) and the always aggressive Buts.


There was no organization in the peloton and so the front duo managed to push the advantage out to 37 seconds. That opened the doors for new attack as Mirko Selvaggi (Androni) and Mauro Finetto (Uniero) took off and joined the chasers.


The peloton finally got going again when the national team and Astana took control. Gavazzi, Busato, Buts and Zamparella sat up before Di Sante attacked from the chase group. Maciej Paterski (CCC) attacked and together with Selvaggi, Rota and Finetto, he joined the GM rider.


The five chasers joined Colbrelli and Vilela to make it a 7-rider front group with an advantage of 15 seconds. However, there was nothing to be done and with 15km to go, everything was back together.


Astana and the national kept riding on the front until the sprint trains started to battle. Nippo Vini Fantini, Lampre-Merida and Androni moved up but the national team was still in control as they hit the final 10km.


Bardiani and Caja Rural moved to the fore as did Gazprom-Rusvelo as they approached the final 5km. The Spanish team won the battle and took the front when less than 4km remained.


The battle was fierce but the national team proved their class as they passed the flamme rouge. The blue train took control and gave Nizzolo the perfect lead-out. From there, the outcome was never in doubt and the Italian rode to victory by holding the Bardiani pair of Nicola Ruffoni and Paolo Simion off in the final dash to the line.


With the Coppa Bernocchi done and dusted, the attention turns to tomorrow’s Coppa Agostoni which is the second of the three races in the Trittico Lombardo series. It has a harder course and is often decided in a reduced bunch sprint.



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