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"After following Aru yesterday on the climbs, I win a stage race now. You could say that I am stage race rider. Jokes aside, this victory at the Tour of Tuscany just rewards consistency of performance."

Photo: Tinkoff / BettiniPhoto

GIRO DELLA TOSCANA

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
21.09.2016 @ 23:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) proved that he will be one to watch at the World Championships as he beat Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) in the bunch sprint on the second and final stage of the Giro della Toscana. Daniele Bennati (Italy) finished third and so took the overall win ahead of Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) on a countback.

 

We have gathered a few reactions.

 

Bennati: This win doesn’t mean that I am now a stage race rider

Daniele Bennati said: 

 

"After following Aru yesterday on the climbs, I win a stage race now. You could say that I am stage race rider. Jokes aside, this victory at the Tour of Tuscany just rewards consistency of performance. There remains a hint of regret for not being able to raise my arms but this is a great victory to have on my palmares. Four months ago I was out with two broken vertebrae so it is fine. For me it is a significant victory because it was obtained in my Tuscany and in a race which honours two great figures like Alfredo Martini and Franco Ballerini.

 

“I am satisfied , I had a good Vuelta and to win in Tuscany, with my family and friends is great. Also this race is dedicated to two great Italian cycling legends, Martini and Ballerini.  I am proud to have won the GC. 

 

"These two days have certainly been important for the condition and show that I can be part of the group that will be in Doha for the Worlds. I am gratified by the role of the Italian National director, CT Cassani has a lot of confidence in me and with the the experience I hope I can be useful to the cause of the blues.

 

"With 99.9% probability, I’ll be there. I've done a lot of races and I will have to have the condition in mid-October. At the same time it was important to run with my future teammates like Sabatini and Guarnieri

 

"The CT believes so much in me. He gave me the chance to wear the blue jersey, after having had some particular situations, not because of me. Thanks to him we have again become important. I'll try to play this role in the best way. I think it is very gratifying.”

 

"It will be a special race as it will also very hot.  To ride in 40 ° C in the desert is not a trivial matter. Not everyone will be able to make the sprint. We have whatll it takes to bring our sprinter in the best conditions to the finale battle.” 

 

Bennett: Usually I would never beat Cavendish

Like yesterday Sam Bennett again was in good shape and had never any problems to climb well in the bunch. On the tough finishing circuit, the BORA – ARGON 18 leader was always well placed in the peloton, even when some steep climbs caused problems for other sprinters.

 

In the end Sam Bennett took a confident win with half a wheel over Mark Cavendish. After getting through a though time since the Tour, he can now look confidently to the next races leading to the Worlds in Doha which will take place on his birthday.

 

“When I made it well placed over the last climb, it really motivated me. I think Mark struggled more there. The guys did a brilliant job and I was perfectly placed in the last kilometre. Bardiani started the lead-out, I was on Mark’s wheel around the final corner and I think I carried more speed into the home straight. To be on the top of the podium again is great for me, but it is also great for the whole team.

 

"On the final climb the team put me in a good position, although I almost cracked. In the last 20 kilometers I had cramps so I did not think that I could do it, but the teammates puhed me

 

"In the last corner I was a little far back, but U managed to keep up the speed, taking the wheel of a Bardiani – CSF rider. He had stated too early, so I was on the wheel and managed to come around. At that point I had enough to stay there.

 

"I think I left enough room for Cavendish. The only thing was a curve after the finish and I turned a bit there. I apologized for it, but nothing else.

 

"Today I was lucky, perhaps. On a normal day I would never beat Mark Cavendish. I am very happy and proud of this. The Worlds will come and I'll try to speak my mind, but it will not be easy because I can count on only two other teammates and I'll be up against teams with more riders and great stars. I'll try to make myself ready.

 

"Obviously first of all I want to be there [in Doha] and I want to try to do well. There will be many high-level sprinter, so I am not sure how it will go. Undoubtedly I will give my best, but I have no clear objectives."

 

“I am so happy today. Sam had really a though time with a lot of crashes. But he did grit his teeth and did fight to Paris. He always said that this experience will give him something one day. Now this attitude pays off,” said André Schulze, sports director.

 

Cavendish: It’s not a shame to be beaten by Bennett

The final stage of the Giro della Toscana ended in a mass sprint and the victory went the way of Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon18). Mark Cavendish finished a very close 2nd with Daniele Bennati (Italian National) taking 3rd place and also the general classification victory.

 

With many friends out on the roadside, the African Team wanted to show the  Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka colours at the head of the race. Merhawi Kudus got out of the blocks with some real fire in his legs and formed the early break of stage.

 

Kudus was joined by 6 other riders as they rode away from the peloton, to a gap close on 6-minutes ahead. Kudus led the race through Lucca and onto the famed Monte Serra climb where there was a good crowd waiting. The climb itself was positioned early on in the stage and so, had no real bearing on the stage outcome. The flat run into Pontedera as well as the local lap that included 3 punchy climbs still suited the sprinters.

 

When the Kudus breakaway arrived at the final 3 climbs, the peloton was just a minute behind. Kudus attacked the break on the first climb and went solo with 30km to go. He was later joined by 2 of the other original breakaway riders but when they hit the next climb, he would leave them behind once again. The peloton was having none of it though and reeled Kudus in with 15km to go.

 

When everyone expected the African Team to control the sprint, Serge Pauwels upset the apple cart with a clever and stinging attack with around 5km to go. Pauwels was eventually brought back but his move set up Mark Cavendish nicely, who had Igor Anton, Kristian Sbaragli and Natnael Berhane for support. With a fast right-hander into the final 500m, Cavendish was looking good coming of the wheel of Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) just as Bennett started to squeeze the Manxman for space. In the end Bennett just got his wheel ahead to take the win with Cavendish in 2nd. After two consistent sprints, Cavendish finished the Giro della Toscana in 6th place overall for the African Team.

 

Mark Cavendish said: 

 

"Yesterday we passed near my house in Tuscany on my training roads. It was a special emotion. I am very happy to have done this race. Today I tried to win. I have to thank the whole team who did a great job, especially Igor Anton in the last kilometer and a half. I had never raced with many of them this season and I'm really happy. This is important for my confidence and teammates. 

 

Bennett is a strong rider who has repeatedly demonstrated his value and it is not a shame to lose the sprint against him. This does not bother me. For me it is mainly preparation for the Worlds and races like this are ideal to hone the condition.

 

"Bennett is a great sprinter so I have no regret. I come from a training period and last weekend I did very demanding workouts. For me it is important to prepare for the World Championship and these races are perfect to improve the form. I have great confidence, not only in myself but also in the team that I have at my side. I believe that Great Britain is the best, like in Copenhagen . " 

 

Sport director Oli Cookson added:

 

“After Steve Cummings crash yesterday he didn’t start today which was a shame. Again, we were going for the win today and we knew it was going to be another hard race. We wanted to have someone in the break and Merhawi did that. It was nice to lead the race through Lucca, our European base town and up the famous Monte Serra climb. Thanks to the local fans and friends that came out to support the guys. Merhawi was flying up Monte Serra and that really opened up the gap.

 

”Coming to the final local laps, there was a steep 1km kicker with 5k, to go. We looked at it beforehand and knew we had to be in a good position there. There were a few attacks and the peloton was all lined out but nothing got away. Serge led the peloton down that final descent and Cavendish was there with Igor, Kristian and Natnael Berhane. The guys got organised and went for the sprint. They took no risks on that final corner and tried to go for the win but got 2nd. Congrats to Sam Bennett.”

 

Visconti drops to third on final day in Tuscany

The Movistar Team finished the Giro della Toscana on Wednesday with a much-contested podium finish on the final GC. The 185km stage two, between Montecatini and Pontedera - which included some brief spells of rain and an insidious final circuit where Richard Carapaz went on the attack - did not prevent a bunch sprint where Sam Bennett (BOA) prevailed. As no time gaps were taken yesterday between Giovanni Visconti, winner of stage one, and rivals Daniele Bennati (TNK) and Sonny Colbrelli (BAR), Visconti was chasing the GC as a fight of stage positions.

 

As Bennati took 3rd and Colbrelli came home in 4th - both ahead of the Movistar Team, 7th today - the double tie of times and positions between the other two Italians favoured 'Benna', Movistar Team rider in 2017, as he finished ahead on the final stage. Visconti, in turn, took 3rd as he continues on a final run of tailormade courses for him, his next goal being Thursday's Coppa Sabatini (195km, uphill finish) in Peccioli.

 

Astana stagiaire chases contract with breakaway in Tuscany

Zhandos Bizhigitov is a Kazakh guy, born June 10 1991, who is doing an internship in the Astana Pro Team during this last part of the cycling season.

 

Today, in the second stage of the Giro della Toscana, he followed two riders who attacked after 8 km and he joined the breakaway for its entire duration: 162 km at the front of the race with Monte Serra on the stage route.

 

“I’m happy because I felt pretty good in the breakaway,” commented Bizhigitov after the finish. For me it’s a dream that comes true to have the chance to ride with all these champions and a super satisfaction to demonstrate that I can do my job even at this level.

 

“I will ride in the next Italian races, then Almaty with the Vino 4ever Team and Hainan again as a stagiaire in the Astana Pro Team. I think I will recover a couple of days but then I’ll try to catch the breakaway again soon. I want to demonstrate to the team and to myself that I deserve a place in the Astana Pro Team for the next season, I’ll do my best for this.”

 

His captain Fabio Aru concluded in fourth position.

 

Roth youngster takes white jersey at Giro della Toscana

Colin Stüssi (Roth) was the best young rider. He said: 

 

"I am very happy that I won this jersey for best young rider. Today I worked to help my Italian mate Andrea Pasqualon in the sprint and at the same time I tried to do the best to defend this leadership even though I was unlucky because I punctured and had to make a lot of effort to get back to the group of the best.”

 

Rebellin abandons in Tuscany to focus on Coppa Sabatini

Simone Ponzi finished in 22nd and was the highest ranked CCC Sprandi Polkowice at the line. He completed the two-day race in 13th overall.

 

Davide Rebellin didn’t start in stage 2 due to yesterday’s crash. It happened in the downhill, when the favorites started to attack. He didn’t suffer serious injuries, but the team’s DS, Gabriele Missaglia, decided to get him some rest before tomorrow’s Coppa Sabatini – Gran Premio citta di Peccioli, which suits him perfectly (uphill, punchy finale).

 

Mateusz Taciak and Jakub Kaczmarek were working extremely hard throughout the entire day, setting the pace in the field and that was the reason for them not to finish the stage.

 

Novo Nordisk proud of top 20 result in Tuscany

Team Novo Nordisk rider David Lozano continued to show his good form in Italy on Wednesday, finishing in the top 20 overall at Giro della Toscana – Memorial Alfredo Martini.

 

The second and final stage got off to a fast start, with a group of 8 riders pulling away soon after the gun and staying away for the majority of the race’s 185.3 kilometers. 

 

“Today we really wanted to protect David Lozano for the GC,” said Team Novo Nordisk rider Charles Planet, “because it was a really good opportunity for him and for our team. I think we rode well together and took care of each other, especially David.”

 

The breakaway was finally reeled in with 20km to go, and as the riders began to ascend the race’s final climb, the peloton was fractured, with Lozano and Planet pulling away with a front group of approximately of 60 riders.

 

“We made it to the first group and we tried our best,” Planet said. “The profile was up and down all day, and it was a very perilous final, with a super steep 1-km climb 5km from the finish.”

 

“Today was an easier day on paper” said Lozano, “and it all went as we planned! I had the guys with me, just in case a mechanical happen, and on the last climb, 8km before the finish, Charles and I stayed up front.”

 

Everything was set for the bunch sprint with 3km to go, where Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon) edged out Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) by a wheel to take the stage win. Lozano and Planet finished 26th and 27th respectively, with Lozano finishing 17th overall, 0:07 behind Daniele Bennati (Italy), who claimed the yellow jersey.

 

“We both did our best,” Lozano said, “but in the end the sprint was really fast and nervous. Still, finishing inside the top 20 at a race like this is important for the team and myself! I hope this means good days are ahead as we move towards the end of the season!”

 

Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, continues racing tomorrow at Italy’s Coppa Sabatini – Gran Premio Citta di Peccioli and at stage 3 of the Tour of China II, which is comprised of a relatively short 116km through Liling.

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