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Rebellin, Nibali and Scarponi escaped in the finale and the former two held off the small peloton before Rebellin beat Nibali in a two-rider sprint to win Coppa Agostoni; Bonifazio completed the podium

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COPPA AGOSTONI - GIRO DELLE BRIANZE

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DAVIDE REBELLIN

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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16.09.2015 @ 17:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Davide Rebellin (CCC) that he is still not slowing down when he added another victory in a big Italian one-day race to his palmares in the 2015 Coppa Agostoni. After escaping with the Astana pair of Michele Scarponi and Vincenzo Nibali on the final climb, he beat Nibali in a two-rider sprint while Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida) won the bunch sprint for third just seconds later.

 

At the start of today’s Coppa Agostoni, the big question was whether Vincenzo Nibali was still in good condition after he was disqualified from the Vuelta a Espana almost before the race had really started. After the race, the former Tour champion has definitely proved that he is ready to play a major role in the final part of the year.

 

However, it was another Italian cycling star that came away with the spoils in the big race that is part of the Trittico Lombardo race series. Davide Rebellin who won the Giro dell’Emilia almost a year ago, proved that he is still one of the very best Italian one-day riders when he beat Nibali in a two-rider sprint after the pair had escaped with Nibali’s teammate Michele Scarponi on the final climb.

 

In the middle section of the race, the riders would do four laps of a circuit that included the Lissolo climb before they followed flat roads for the final 43km. At the bottom of the final ascent, the early break had been brought back after Astana had been riding on the front all day.

 

Moments later, Nibali launched his expected attack and he was only joined by Scarponi. Later Rebellin also made it back to the Astana duo to form a strong Italian trio.

 

Gianni Moscon (Italy) and Marco Tizza (Idea) took off in pursuit while Mauro Finetto (Southeast) and Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty) formed another duo further back. The latter pair quickly passed the two youngster who were brought back by the 30-rider peloton.

 

The front trio crested the summit before the chase got disrupted by crashes from Alberto Bettil (Italy) and a Colombia rider. The former had to change his bike and lost a lot of time.

 

More riders joined the peloton which was now 50 riders strong and 30 seconds behind. A second group was at 1.10.

 

The Italian national team took charge of the chase while a strong Gasparotto made it back to the front. Finetto was still behind and could watch how Gasparotto again lost contact.

 

Bardiani were joining forces with the national team which was now 56 seconds behind. Gasparotto was at 18 seconds and Finetto at 30 seconds with 45km to go.

 

The front trio crested the summit of the final climb while Niccolo Bonifazio lost contact with the main group that had been distanced by 56 seconds. Meanwhile, Gasparotto and Finetto again joined forces.

 

Bonifazio managed to rejoin the main group while Gasparotto dropped Finetto who was caught. This prompted Southeast to start to work with Bardiani but the gap was still 55 seconds with 36km to go.

 

Gasparotto also had to surrender while Scarponi took some huge turns in the front group to keep the gap stable at around 55 seconds. Gradually, the trio started to lose ground though and the gap was down to 30 seconds before the balance again tipped.

 

With 26km to go, the gap was 43 seconds and Bardiani and Southeast were not getting any closer. AS they started the first of two laps of the 9.8km finishing circuit, it had gone out to 50 seconds even though Moscon was now also working for the national team in the 30-rider group.

 

With 15km to go, the gap was 42 seconds and as Lampre-Merida also started to chase, it continued to come down. With 8km to go, the Italian team and Southeast were on the front and had brought It down to 16 seconds.

 

Bardiani, Southeast and the national team were in control with 5km to go but their progress had stalled as the gap was still 13 seconds. Things only got worse when a crash split the field.

 

Less than 4km from the finish, Nibali tried the expected move but Rebellin was quick to react. Scarponi was caught by the peloton which was 14 seconds behind with 2km to go.

 

At the passage of the flamme rouge, the gap was only 8 seconds but it was enough to decide the race in a two-rider sprint. Here Rebellin proved to be the fastest while Bonifazio beat Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) in the sprint for third.

 

The sprinters will get a chance to take revenge in tomorrow’s Coppa Bernocchi which traditionally comes down to a bunch sprint and is the second of four one-day race in Italy in a very busy week.

 

A hilly race

The 69th edition of the Coppa Agostoni was held on a 198.2km course around the city of Lissone. After a relatively flat start, the riders would do four laps of a tough circuit that included the Lissolo climb. In the end, they descended to Lissone where they did two laps of a flat 9.8km finishing circuit. The top of the final climb was located 43.6km from the finish.

 

Endi Sirol (Meridiana) was absent on the rainy day in Italy when the riders gathered for the start but that didn’t dampen the aggression. The riders did more than 20km of constant attacking without anyone getting clear. The peloton even split briefly before Gianfranco Zilioli (Androni), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora), Miguel Benito (Caja Rural), Mattia Pozzao (Nippo), Davide Ballerini (Uniero) and Giacomo Tomio (Roth Skoda) got a small advantage.

 

Eight riders get clear

Stefan Schumacher (CCC) and Rafael Andriato (Southeast) bridged the gap to the break that had a 100m advantage for some time before the peloton finally surrendered. At the 31km mark, the gap had gone out to 1.16 and after the first passage of the finish line it was 1.53.

 

Astana took over the pace-setting in the peloton while Michele Gazzara (MG) and Felix Baron (Colombia) tried to bridge the gap to the leaders. At the same time, Giovanni Carboni (Uniero) was involved in a small crash.

 

A crash splits the front group

At the 44km mark, the peloton was 2.05 behind while the two chasers were at 1.22. However, the pair never got any closer and a little later they were more than 2 minutes behind. At the 58km mark, they were at 2.22 while the peloton was at 4.10.

 

As they hit the Lissolo circuit, a crash brought down Pöstlberger and Andriato and while the latter quickly returned, the former fell back to the chasers who were now 2.42 behind. Meanwhile, Mauro Finetto (Southeast) crashed in the peloton but he was quickly back on his bike.

 

Baron crashes

Pöstlberger had to stop for a bike change and now decided to wait for the peloton which was led by Astana and 3.52 behind at the 76km mark. Moments later, Baron dropped Gazzara who also dropped back to the peloton.

 

At the start of the second lap, Ballerini punctured out of the lead group but he managed to get back. Moments later, Baron crashed and even though he was quickly riding again he was now just 40 seconds ahead of the peloton which was at 4.06.

 

Astana ride hard

As the peloton hit the Colle Brianza, the pace was upped, and a big selection was made. This ended the day for Baron who was brought back with 100km to go and the gap quickly dropped to just 2.25.

 

Astana were doing the damage as the rain started to fall again after a small break. At the start of the third lap, three riders hit the deck and Marco Canola (Italy) punctured. The gap was now down to just 1.14.

 

The break splits up

The many crashes continued when riders from Caja Rural and Southeast went down but that didn’t stop Astana. As they hit the climb, they had brought the gap down to less than a minute.

 

This prompted the escapees to accelerate and this was too much for Tomio who was dropped. Andriato was the next to surrender and then Pozzo fell off.

 

Zilioli takes off

Zilioli and Schumacher attacked and quickly put 10 seconds into Ballerini and Benito. The latter two made it back and the quartet extended their advantage from 30 to 60 seconds. Meanwhile, the rest of the early break was caught by the peloton which had been whittled down to around 50 riders.

 

Zilioli was clearly the strongest and attacked again to crest the summit as the lone leader. Benito was 18 seconds behind and Ballerin at 32 seconds while Astana led the 70-rider peloton at 1.08. A big group had already been distanced by 5.32.

 

The three chasers joined forces 30 seconds behind Zilioli while the peloton slowed down in the flatter section and allowed the gap to go out to 1.26. However, it was again down to 1.12 as they started the final lap. The group accelerated hard as they hit the climb and while lots of riders were dropped, Zilioli was brought back. Moments later Nibali made the race-winning move.

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