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The Italian escapes with Montaguti, Clarke, and Arredondo on the final climb of Monte Pistoro and beats his companions in a sprint finish to take another big win in Italy

Photo: Sirotti

DIEGO ULISSI

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GP CAMAIORE

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JULIAN DAVID ARREDONDO

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MATTEO MONTAGUTI

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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06.03.2014 @ 15:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) continued his domination of the Italian one-day races when he won today's GP Camaiore in a 4-rider sprint. The Italian escaped with Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r), Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE), and Julian Arredondo (Trek) on the final climb of the Monte Pistoro and the quartet managed to stay away to the finish where the Lampre captain again proved his very fast sprint to come away with another big win in Italy.

 

In the second half of the 2013 season, Diego Ulissi completely dominated the Italian one-day racing scene when he won Milan-Turin, Coppa Sabatini, and Giro dell'Emilia in a fantastic run of success. Having come close to his first home win on a number of occasions in 2014, he continued his reign as the Italian one-day king when he won today's GP Camaiore.

 

Ulissi showed his strength when he split the race the final time up the race's key climb, Monte Pistoro. When the dust settled at the top, only Matteo Montaguti and Julian Arredondo had been able to match his speed and the trio took off at a rapid pace as they tried to hold off the select group of favourites that was chasing behind.

 

Simon Clarke managed to join the trio on the descent to make it a front quartet that worked excellently together. Despite the hard work in the chase group by the YellowFluo team of GP Lugano winner Mauro Finetto, the escapees managed to open their gap to 20 seconds when they passed the 3km to go banner.

 

Montaguti did a lot of work to keep the break going and the quartet passed the flamme rouge with the knowledge that they would go on to contest the win. Ulissi again proved that he is a very fast finisher when he beat Montaguti and Arredondo into the minor podium spots while Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) won the sprint of the chase group a little later.

 

With the win, Lampre-Merida have taken their second win in Italy after Jose Serpa won the Trofeo Laigueglia. The victory is also the second for Ulissi who won a stage of the Tour Down Under earlier this year.

 

The Italian racing season continues in the weekend when the Saturday's Strade Bianche will make for some great racing on the gravel roads near Siena while Sunday's Roma Maxima will deliver some stunning images. Most of today's riders will be back in action but they will be joined by a host of stars to make it some high-calibre racing in the first RCS events of the year.

 

A hilly race

This week's trio of Italian one-day races kicked off with the GP Camaiore which covered 186km starting and finishing in Camaiore. From the start, the riders did two laps of a flat 12.3km circuit in the city before they headed into the hills to climb the two main climbs of the day, the Monte Pitoro and Montemagno. From there, they headed down to the finish where they started five laps of23.9km circuit that would be the scene of the final action and contained both climbs. From the top of the latter, only 6.2km remained and they were mostly downhill and ended with a flat stretch to the finish in Camaiore.

 

As it is typical for Italian racing, the race was off to a furious start and it took a long time for the early break to be established. MTN-Qhubeka were active in controlling the early affairs as attacks were constantly launched in both sides of the roads.

 

The break takes off

After the first hour, the riders had covered an impressive 51km but a group had still not managed to escape. Shortly after that point, however, the peloton decided that it was time to take it a bit easier and so they were content to let Daniele Colli (YellowFluo), Silvio Giorni (Aero Zero), and Riccardo Donato (MG Kvis) head up the road when the trio opened a small gap.

 

Johnny Hoogerland (Androni) set off in pursuit and after a short chase, the Dutch champion bridged the gap, making it a front quartet. At this point, the escape was already 2.40 ahead of the peloton which was being controlled by Sky.

 

A battle for KOM points

The escapees passed the main climb of Monte Pistoro for the first time with a 3.38 gap when Colli beat Giorni, Donato, and Hoogerland in the battle for the KOM points. As they passed the finish line for the first time, they were 5.29 ahead of the main group which was still led by Sky.

 

Colli was faster than Donato and Hoogerland when they climbed Pistoro for the second time and they passed the finish line for the second time with a 7.14 gap. However, that was the maximum they would get as Astana had now started to chase, keen to set up Vincenzo Nibali and Francesco Gavazzi in the finale.

 

Astana bring down the gap

The advantage started to come down and when Giorni led Donato, Hoogerland, and Colli over the top of the main climb, it was down to 6.20. When Giorni beat Colli and Donato one lap later, Astana had brought it down to just 2.55.

 

At the passage of the line where the riders started the penultimate lap, the gap was 2.30 while Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) had to change his bike after a small mechanical that briefly disrupted Astana's chase. As the break kept losing time, however, Colli decided to take off on his own but he was brought back in time for the next climb to start.

 

The break splits up

The gap was now down to less than a minute and so Colli and Hoogerland decided to up the pace. The duo crested the summit of Pistoro ahead of Giorni but their gap was now down to 30 seconds.

 

While Giorni and Donato were reeled in, the front duo managed to extend their lead to 55 seconds on the descent. The peloton's hard pace on the climb had caused several splits and the main group was now broken into pieces.

 

The break is caught

At the penultimate passage of the finish line, the front duo were 47 seconds ahead of the first peloton while a second one followed at a minute. Despite the battle for position being fierce in the main group, the front duo managed to reopen their gap to 55 seconds.

 

However, Astana was still riding hard on the front, with Gasparotto doing a lot of work and by the time, they hit the Monte Pistoro for the final time, Colli and Hoogerland were back in the fold. From the bottom of the climb, it was Lampre-Merida who upped the pace, trying to set Diego Ulissi up for his second win of the season.

 

Nibali takes off

Nibali showed his first signs of form in 2014 when he attacked on the steep slopes and he was joined by Julian Arredondo (Trek). Davide Villella (Cannondale) and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) took off in pursuit.

 

The move was brought back but Arredondo refused to give up. He kicked again and at the top of the climb he had been joined by Ulissi and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r) to form a trio that was a handful of seconds ahead of the first group.

 

Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) made the junction with the front trio that was 11 seconds ahead of the group with 8km to go. Behind, YellowFluo led the chase as they were keen to set up GP Lugano winner Mauro Finetto and GP Costa Degli Etruschi champion Mauro Finetto up for a sprint win.

 

Despite their hard work, however, they failed to get much closer to the escapees and when they passed the 3km to go banner, the quartet was actually 20 seconds ahead. Montaguti was doing most of the work and was very keen to take a top result in one of the big Italian races.

 

The quartet managed to stay away to the finish and had to decide the race in the sprint. Ulissi again proved his fast finish when he held off Montaguti to take another big win in Italy.

 

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