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In a new, harder version, the Coppa Bernocchi came down to a sprint from a 22-rider group where Viviani lived up to his status as favourite by beating Pozzato and Ponzi

Photo: Sirotti








16.09.2014 @ 16:32 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Elia Viviani (Cannondale) lived up to his status as favourite for the 96th edition of the Coppa Bernocchi when he won the race in a sprint from a 22-rider group. Having used his Cannondale team to create a selection on the new, harder course, he beat Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) and Simone Ponzi (Neri Sottoli) in the final dash to the line.


Having finished on the podium in the Brussels Cycling Classic and the GP de Fourmies, Elia Viviani again proved that he is one of the in-form sprinters at the moment when he won the 96th edition of the Coppa Bernocchi which opens the Trittico Lombardo race series. The Italian made use of a new, harder course to get rid of most of the pure sprinters before beating his rivals in a sprint from a small group.


Traditionally a race for sprinters, the event had been made tougher by the addition of more climbs and Cannondale rode hard on the hilly circuit to whittle the main group down to just 21 riders. They caught the four early escapees and then maintained a high speed in the run-in back to the finish in Legnano.


With Androni as the driving forces, the peloton tried to get back in contention and they made the junction inside the final kilometre. However, it was too late to get back in position for the sprint and it was Viviani who took the win by holding off Filippo Pozzato and Simone Ponzi in the final dash to the line.


The 96th Coppa Bernocchi which opens the Trittico Lombardo race series, took place on a new, tougher course that was still expected to suit the sprinters. The 190.3km started and finished in Legnano and first included a flat 48.4km section. The main part of the race consisted of 7 laps of a 16.7km circuit that included two small climbs before the riders travelled along flat roads for the final 27.6 back to the finish in Legnano.


The riders took the start under dry, cloudy conditions, with Leopold König (NetApp-Endura) being the only non-starter. As it is usual for Italian one-day races, the opening part of the race was very fast and it took a long time for the early break to form.


After 20km of racing, the bunch was still compact but now a 7-rider group with Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida) got a promising advantage. However, it was brought back after a few kilometres of chasing and the attacking could restart.


Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) and Giacomo Forconi (Nankang) were the next riders to get a small advantage but they didn’t have any luck either. Giorgio Cecchinel (Neri Sottoli) who had been very active, made an immediate attack and was joined by another two riders before he was brought back.


After more than 40km of racing, Yonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli), Maciej Paterski (CCC), Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne), Torres and Gianluca Leonardi (Aero Zero) got a gap and were later joined by Mirko Tedeschi (Idea). They managed to build the biggest advantage yet but were finally brought back too.


Astana were the most active team in keeping the situation under control, with Vincenzo Nibali doing a lot of work. They also neutralized an attack by Tiziano Dall’Antonia (Androni) and so things were still together by the time they hit the circuit after 48km of racing.


Caleb Ewan (Australia), Kenny De Ketele (Topsport) and Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia) made use of the hillier terrain to attack while Jaroslaw Marycz (CCC) set off in pursuit. Finally, the peloton slowed down and the front trio quickly got an advantage of 1.30.


De Ketele was dropped the first time up the Piccolo Stelvio climb and he fell back to Marycz. At the 55km mark, that pair was 1.10 behind while the peloton had lost 4.20.


The peloton was still taking it easy and the gap reached more than 6 minutes. The slow pace prompted Wackermann, Cecchinel, Johann Van Zyl (MTN-Qubeka) and Miguel Diez (Caja Rural) to attack. Meanwhile, Italy and Lampre-Merida hit the front when the gap had reached 8.30.


After a hard chase, De Ketele and Marycz reached the front duo after 90km of racing. The peloton had not gone into chase mode yet and at the halfway point, they were 10 minutes behind.


Cannondale and Astana had now taken control of the peloton, with Fabio Sabatini and Alexandr Dyachenko working hard to set up Elia Viviani and Andrea Guardini respectively. The Italian team was doing most of the work and they started to bring the escapees back.


With 80km to go, the gap was 7.35 and it was now Ivan Basso who worked hard on the front. At this point, the four chasers were still four minutes behind the escapees and it was clear that they would never make the junction.


Wackermann refused to give up though and he attacked his companions as they started the penultimate lap of the circuit. Cecchinel, Diaz and Van Zyl were all caught as the peloton had now reduced the gap to less than 5 minutes.


Under the impetus of Cannondale, the peloton exploded the penultimate time up the Piccolo Stelvio and it was a 40-rider group that brought Wackermann back and started the final lap with a delay of just 3.55. The final time up the climb, the selection was even bigger and at the top, the group was whittled down to just 19 riders.


Marycz was dropped from the breakaway while Mauro Finetto (Neri Sottoli) and Robert Power (Australia) made use of the hard racing to launch an attack. They stayed clear for a little while before they were brought back.


The main group now consisted of Nibali, Power, Diego Ulissi, Filippo Pozzato (both Lampre-Merida), Elia Viviani, Kristijan Koren, Peter Sagan (all Cannondale), Finetto, Simone Ponzi, Fabio Taborre (all Neri Sottoli), Davide Vigano (Caja Rural), Mirko Selvaggi, Kevin Seeldraeyers (both Wanty), Anthony Delaplace, Arnaud Gerard (both Bretagne), Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura), Sergey Lagutin, Ilnur Zakarin (both Rusvelo) and Fabio Chinello (Aero Zero). Alan Marangoni (Cannondale) and Van Zyl managed to join them as they started to head back towards Legnano.


With 25km to go, Marycz was brought back by the group which was 1.18 behind. A second peloton was at 2.50.


De Ketele was now unable to keep up with Valencia and Ewan and he was quickly swallowed up by the Viviani group. Ewan and Valencia fought hard to resist the catch but when the gap had come down to 10 seconds, Ewan decided to sit up.


Valencia continued for a little while but against the Cannondale-led group he had no chance. He was brought back and all was set for a sprint from the 25-rider group.


Marangoni, Power and Marycz were all dropped while Taborre punctured out of the lead group. Impressively, the latter managed to rejoin the group which was riding at full speed towards the finish.


The peloton was now getting closer and with 5km to go, they were only 22 seconds behind. While Cannondale fought hard to keep them at bay, Nibali made two short attacks but it was all futile.


With 3km to go, the gap was only 13 seconds, with Androni working hard in the second group. Nibali tried again but with 2km to go, the Astana leader was brought back.


The peloton made the junction inside the final kilometre but it was too late to get back in position for the sprint. In the final dash to the line, Vivani lived up to his status as favourite, holding off Pozzato and Ponzi.


Tomorrow the Trittico Lombardo race series continues with the Coppa Agostoni which has a much harder course and usually comes down to a sprint from a select group. The series ends on Thursday with the hardest and most prestigious race, Tre Valli Varesine, which is traditionally one for climbers.



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