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BMC rider makes a smart move inside the final kilometer, leaves behind fellow escapees Scarponi and Rebellin and takes the coveted Italian national champion's jersey

Photo: Sirotti

IVAN SANTAROMITA

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NATIONAL CHAMPIONSSHIPS

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22.06.2013 @ 17:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ivan Santaromita (BMC) was up against two of the most decorated Italian cyclists in the final of today's Italian road race championships but the 29-year old used a combination of strength and tactical savvy to deny both Michele Scarponi (Lampre) and Davide Rebellin (CCC) their first ever national title. A smart move inside the final kilometers left the two veterans behind and so Santaromita will now wear the Italian champion's jersey in the coming year.

 

Up against the mighty Cannondale and Lampre teams, few had mentioned the tine BMC line-up of just Ivan Santaromita and Alessandro Ballan at today's Italian championships but it was the former that came away with the title. Letting the big squads do all the early chase work, his sneaked his way into the crucial move on the penultimate climb and managed to deny veterans Michele Scarponi and Davide Rebellin on the line.

 

This year's Trofeo Melinda doubled as the championships road race and finished with 4 laps on a tough 30,5km finishing circuit which mostly consisted of a long gradual climb and its subsequent descent and with the finish line located more than halfway up the climb, it was always expected to be a battle between the Ardennes specialists and the climbers.

 

As the peloton started to climb on the penultimate lap, it had all been brought back together and the Cannondale riders Paolo Longo Borghini and Cristiano Salerno set a hard tempo on the front of the reduced group. On the lower slopes, Riccarod Chiarini (Androni) tried his hand and he was later joined by Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil).

 

The duo managed to build up a gap of a little more than 30 seconds on the peloton which was still under firm control by Longo Borghini and Salerno. As they approached the finish line, the Cannondale duo finished their work and it was now time for Lampre - on paper the strongest team in the race - to tighten the grip.

 

Manuele Mori accelerated hard with one of his captains Diego Ulissi in tow and the gap now started to come down quickly. Soon after Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) made one of many attacks throughout the day and  he was joined by Simone Stortoni (Lampre), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) and Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini) to form a small group that passed the front duo.

 

It was now time for Davide Rebellin to show his cards and he brought the peloton back to the dangerous move which contained both a Lampre and a Cannondale rider and so could be difficult to catch. Pirazzi immediately countered and this time he drew clear Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) and Stortoni.

 

It was once again back together and so Stortoni attacked again. Santaromita was quick to respond while Rebellin, Scarponi and De Marchi closed the gap moments later. Observing that they had built up a solid gap, Scarponi asked Stortoni to put down the hammer and the quintet started to extend their advantage.

 

Behind, Angelo Pagani (Bardiani) and Diego Rosa (Androni) both set off in pursuit while one of the day's favourites, Moreno Moser, had no more Cannondale riders to support him. Instead, he briefly went to the front himself before falling back into the middle of the group which had now slowed down.

 

Up ahead, De Marchi had to dig deep to stay in the front group but he managed to crest the summit while still in contact with his fellow escapees. Rosa was caught while Pagani remained in lone pursuit of the quintet ahead.

 

Pier Paolo De Negri (Vini Fantini) and Federico Rocchetti (Utensilnord) caught up with Pagani and a little later they were joined by riders like Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Simone Ponzi (Astana), Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil),Rabottini and Emanuele Sella (Androni). As they once again started to climb, Ulissi also bridged the gap  but moments later Moser brought the rest of the peloton back up to the chasers.

 

Astana did most of the work with Ponzi and later team captain Gasparotto chasing hard himself. There was, however, no cooperation at all and instead riders kept attacking. Nocentini was the first to try his hand but it was the countermove from Rabottini and Damiano Caruso that was more successful.

 

More riders joined from behind and finally 9 riders set off in pursuit of the 5 escapees. Marcato, Rocchetti, Gasparotto, Sella, Davide Malacarne (Europcar), Rabottini, Matteo Tosatto (Saxo-Tinkoff), Nocentini and Damiano Caruso were the riders to get clear but they did not get any closer to the leading riders.

 

In the front group, Stortoni dug deep to set up Scarponi for the win and with 3km to go, the Lampre captain made his first acceleration. Rebellin was in no mood to let his rival escape and so he got back on with Santaromita in his wheel.

 

Stortoni was now far behind but De Marchi got back on, making a counterattack as soon as he bridged the gap. He got nowhere and instead Scarponi once again tried his hand, once again getting closed down by Rebellin and Santaromita.

 

As the front trio again came to a standstill, De Marchi was allowed to rejoin the front group but he only had a few seconds to catch his breath until Santaromita made his first attack. Rebellin played it cool and left it to Scaponi to close the gap.

 

Under the flamme rouge, De Marchi once again caught up with the leaders, making an attack in the process. Santaromita countered and this time Scarponi forced Rebellin to bring it back together. Instead, the Lampre rider tried his hand for the third time but Rebellin was in no mood to allow him any leeway.

 

With 500m to go, it was almost like a track sprint and it was evident that Scarponi and Rebellin were most aware of each other. Santaromita sensed his opportunity and made another acceleration at this crucial point.

 

Rebellin tried to bridge the gap with Scarponi in his wheel but the 42-year old was unable to make the junction. Instead, Santaromita crossed the finish line on his own while Scarponi beat Rebellin in the sprint but had to settle for 2nd.

 

De Marchi finished a little later in 4th while Nocentini had escaped on his own to take 5th ahead of Rabottini and Stortoni who had done a tremendous work throughout the day. His effort was, however, not justly rewarded as it was the tactical savvy Santaromita who took the champion's jersey.

 

Three riders escape from the gun

The 229km race was a long one and apparently there was no big desire to get into the day's early move. From the gun Omar Bertazzo (Androni) attacked and he was joined by Filippo Fortin (Bardiani) and Stefano Borchi (Vini Fantini).

 

The trio built up a gap of more than 8 minutes before Cannondale started to reel them back in. They brought it down to 5 minutes and for most of the early part of the race, the advantage was stabilized between 5 and 6 minutes.

 

Lampre joins the chase

As they started to climb the day's main climb for the first time after more than 100km of racing, Lampre decided to join the chase work, the Italian team wanting a hard, selective race. That saw the gap start to come down quickly while riders now also started to attack from the peloton.

 

Alessandro Malaguti (Androni), Alessandro Proni (Vini Fantini), Mattia Pozzo (Vini Fantini) and Andrea Di Corrado (Bardiani) all tried their hands but it was Proni who was the most successful. The Vini Fantini rider caught the front group before the first passage of the finish line and left all but Bertazzo behind him. As they started the first of four laps on the 30,5km finishing circuit, their gap was 1.50.

 

Proni alone in the lead

Proni also dropped Bertazzo and while all the original escapees were gradually picked up by the peloton, Proni managed to build his gap back up to more than 3 minutes. Meanwhile, it was now left to Fabio Sabatini and later Ivan Basso to do all the work in the peloton as Cannondale still hoped to see Moser ride away with the win.

 

On the second lap, Marco Corti (Colombia) and an Androni rider both put in attacks up the climb but Lampre once again hit the front as soon as the road got steeper and brought the attackers back into the fold. After the summit, many riders rode aggressively on the descent but Longo Borghini and Salerno hit the front to once again restore order.

 

At the bottom of the penultimate ascent of the climb, Pirazzi made his first attack but he had no chance to escape the peloton's clutches. Longo Borghini and Salerno not only brought back the Bardiani leader, they also caught Proni in the process. Moments later Chiarini launched his attack, thus setting up the exciting finale of the race.

 

Result:

1. Ivan Santaromita 6.14.49

2. Michele Scarponi +0.02

3. Davide Rebellin

4. Alessandro De Marchi +0.22

5. Rinaldo Nocentini +0.28

6. Matteo Rabottini +0.32

7. Simone Stortoni +0.41

8. Enrico Gasparotto +0.44

9. Damiano Caruso +0.50

10. Marco Marcato +0.53

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