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One month after his relegation on the final stage of the Giro, Nizzolo took his first Italian road race title by beating Brambilla in a sprint duel; Pozzato won the sprint for third

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

FILIPPO POZZATO

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GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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GIANLUCA BRAMBILLA

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NATIONAL CHAMPIONSSHIPS

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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26.06.2016 @ 18:50 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) continued his winning form after the disappointing relegation on the final stage of the Giro d’Italia by riding to an impressive victory in the Italian road race championships. Having joined a five-rider group on the final climb, he made it across to lone attacker Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) on the descent and then beat his companion in a sprint duel. Filippo Pozzato (Wilier) won the sprint for third.

 

No one can deny that Giacomo Nizzolo was the strongest sprinter in the second half of the Giro and the Italian was a deserved winner of the points classification. However, the race ended in frustration as he failed to take the elusive stage victory that he has been agonizingly close to for several years. The frustrated reached its climax on the final stage when he was relegated after having crossed the line as the first rider.

 

Nizzolo got his first small revenge when he won the GP Gippingen in early June but his next big goal was today’s Italian road race championships. Many had predicted it to suit the strong sprinters but a short, steep ramp with 3km to go threatened to throw a spanner in the works.

 

However, Nizzolo proved that he is more than just a sprinter as he joined four puncheurs on the final climb and then got back to Gianluca Brambilla who has escaped on the descent. When the pair arrived at the finish together, the result was a foregone conclusion as Nizzolo easily won the sprint.

 

The 2016 edition of the Italian Championships was held on a 227.8km that started and finished in Darfo Boario Terme. The first part was made up of a long gradual uphill section to the city of Ponte di Legno at 1258m of altitude. After around 75km, the riders turned around and headed along the same road back to the finish where they crossed the line for the first time after 148.3km of racing. The final part of the race consisted of four laps of a mostly flat 21.1km circuit that had a small 500m climb with a 17% section inside the final 5km. However, the final 3km were made up of a descent and two flat kilometres in the end.

 

It was a cloudy and dry day when the riders gathered for the start and they got it off to an aggressive beginning. After a 10-rider group had been brought back at the 6km mark, Davide Leone (D'Amico-Bottecchia), Giorgio Cecchinel (Androni-Sidermec), Michele Scartezzini (Norda-MGKvis) and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF) were allowed to escape and they already had an advantage of 1.07 at the 12km mark.

 

With the peloton showing no urgency, the gap went out to 6.20 after 24km of racing before Lampre-Merida hit the front. The Italian team slowly started to bring the group back and after one hour at an average speed of just 38.7km/h, they had already brought the gap down to 3.41.

 

Lampre-Merida kept the gap stable as they went up the Ponte di Legno climb, with the advantage hovering between the 3- and 4-minute marks. Then they slowed down again and it had gone out to 5.40 after 104km of racing.

 

The gap had been reduced to 3.40 when they hit the circuit and it was still Lampre-Merida doing all the work. As they approached the line, Giacomo Berlato (Nippo) made a failed attack but Lampre-Merida soon went back to work. Meanwhile, Fabio Aru (Astana) had to chase to get back following a puncture.

 

With 75km to go, the gap was down to 2 minutes and this prompted the escapees to accelerate. Cecchinel was the first to get dropped and when Leone also lost contact, only Tonelli and Scartezzini remained in the lead.

 

With 63km to go, the leading duo had an advantage of just one minute where Lampre-Merida kept it stable until Androni took over. The fight for position slowly started as BMC and Trek also moved forward before Valerio Conti again took over for Lampre-Merida.

 

Lampre-Merida strung out the group as they hit the small ramp for the third time and riders started to drop off. Andrea Guardini (Astana) was one of the riders to lose contact before the escapees were brought back.

 

The attacking started again when Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale) and Antonio Di Sante (GM) took off. Pier Paolo De Negri (Nippo) was the first to join them and later Conti and Marco Frapporti (Androni) also made it across. When Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) and Elia Viviani (Sky) made the junction, Trek had to react and they started to chase.

 

Viviani and Bettiol surged clear and were then joined by Di Sante and De Negri while Conti, De Marchi and Frapporti were caught. Diego Rosa (Astana) tried to bridge the gap but it all came back together.

 

Salvatore Puccio (Sky) and Gianfranco Zilioli (Nippo) both made solo attacks before they hit the climb again where Daniele Colli (Nippo) surged clear. He was quickly brought back and so things were back together as they started the final lap.

 

The impressive Conti set the pace and didn’t respond when Berlato launched a strong attack. The Italian did a great job to build a small advantage but with 3 Lampre riders lined out on the front, he was caught with 8.5km to go.

 

Nippo continued their aggressive riding as Iuri Filosi and Riccardo Stacchiotti made a double attack for the team. Mirko Selvaggi (Androni) and Daniel Oss (BMC) joined them but they were quickly brought back.

 

Oss took over the pace-setting before Tinkoff hit the front with Manuele Boaro, Matteo Tosatto and Oscar Gatto leading as they hit the climb. Here Nizzolo took over before Gatto made his big attack.

 

Nizzolo and Gianni Moscon (Sky) responded immediately and then Gianluca Brambilla and Francesco Gavazzi (Androni) also got back. Brambilla went straight past and the five riders gained some ground before they crested the summit.

 

Brambilla showed his great descending skills by riding away and Gatto was unable to close the gap. Nizzolo passed the Tinkoff rider and then made it across to the Etixx rider.

 

Nizzolo and Brambilla worked well together to maintain a 100m advantage over a small chase group in which Moreno Moser (Cannondale) was working hard. They managed to stay clear and the Trek rider easily won the sprint before Filippo Pozzato came out on top in the battle for third place.

 

Nizzolo won’t do the Tour de France so it is unclear when he will make his debut in his new jersey.

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