Thursday, May 9, 2013

Haugaard strikes in Flèche du Sud; Ruffoni puts Colpack on the board in Italy

Flèche du Sud Stage 1 

Dane Kristian Haugaard surprised the sprinters and took a fantastic solo win for the hometown Leopard-Trek squad. Haugaard, who isn't a bad sprinter usually, went really hard going into the final kilometer and no one was able to come around him. In 2nd was young Alex Darville, only in his first espoirs season, while 3rd was Argentinian ried Mauro Richeze (Nippo). Haugaard is having a fantastic year in his final U23 year as he was 5th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen Nations Cup and 4th in La Côte Picarde and was 7th overall in the Istrian Spring Trophy in March. Leopard-Trek comes here with a stacked team as this is a home race that they desperately want to win.

The 1st stage was more of a prologue than anything as it was only 82 kilometers around the town of Roeser, which is situated in the south in Esch-sur-Alzette. A group of four, including Oscar Clark (Hincapie Development), Christian Helmig (Differdange) and Jasper Ockeloen (Parkhotel) (I CANNOT FIND THE OTHER BREAK RIDER AND IT IS BUGGING ME) spent the majority of the day away as they were up front for over 60km of the 82km.

The break was brought back with just under 10km to go and then the peloton turned the dial to 11 and the pace became frantic. Luxembourgish rider Alex Kirsch (Leopard-Trek) hit the deck with 4km to go, apparently due to a Nippo rider getting into his way but didn't suffer any major damage. Coming into the final k, Haugaard found a gap and hit is hard and didn't look back and took his first win of the season. Post race, Haugaard was relieved to finally take his first win and get that monkey off his back.

There seems to be next to no coverage on the race so results are still hard to come by.

Top 5 Stage 1 Roeser - Roeser

1. Kristian Haugaard (Leopard-Trek)
2. Alex Darville (US National)
3. Mauro Richeze (Nippo)
4. Federico Pozzetto (Tirol)
5. Owain Doull (GB National)

Fleche du Sud might not sound like much but look at this group of winners from this race: Charly Gaul, Acácio da Silva, Alex Zülle, Kim Kirchen, Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas, Andy Schleck and Bob Jungels. That doesn't include any famous stage winners either!

Giro della Regioni Friuli Venezia Giulia Stage 1

Nicola Ruffoni (Colpack) got the race started off well for his team by taking a tight sprint over Filippo Baggio (Ceramica Flaminia) into Mereto di Tomba to kick of the 2013 Giro della Regioni Friuli Venezia Giulia. The name might be a mile long but it is simply the tour of the far northwestern region (Friuli Venezia Giulia) that abuts Slovenia and Austria.

The racing started off very quick as many tried to attack but with over a 50 kilometer average in the first hour, nothing was getting off the front. The course was nearly all flat except for a small climb near the middle, a climb won by Ruffoni's Colpack teammate Davide Orrico. While there was a group of 16 that got off the front during the middle bit of the race, they were brought back as Orrico summited the 4th category climb at 78.5 kilometers. With finishing loops around the finishing town of Mereto di Tomba, the peloton was not letting a big group get much of a gap. A group of 8, including Tour de Bretagne and Circuit des Ardennes winner Riccardo Zoidl (Gourmetfein-Simplon). This group lasted until the last 12 kilometer lap and was swallowed up with 6 kilometers to go as the sprinter's teams were trying to ramp up the pace.

To say this sprint was chaotic...well that is a downright understatement. No organization whatsoever. Hell, Filippo Baggio was EVERYWHERE in the final 200 meters and had to come across multiple riders in the final few meters to get 2nd. Nicola Ruffoni stuck to the inside and got his 3rd victory of the season, a welcome site for the team that has been relegated to the lower steps of the podium so many times this year.

1st  Nicola Ruffoni (Colpack) 3h41'09 " 
2nd Filippo Baggio (Ceramica Flaminia) 3rd David Gomirato (Podenzano) 4th Edward Theuns (VL Technis Abutrlek) 5th Hanis Dakteris (CCD Team Differdange Losch) 6th Andrea Dal Col (Treviso Dynamon Bottoli) 7th Paul Simion (Euromobil Zalf Desiree Fior) 8th Emiljano Stojku (Albania) 9th Jan Sokol (Team Gourmetfein Simplon) 10th Ruben Geerinkx (Ovyta Eijssen)

Tomorrow should be another sprint stage, this time into the the town of Pordenone.

REMINDER: Tour de Berlin starts tomorrow with a 164km romp around the suburb of Birkenwerder. Unless someone can pull a good U23 Marcel Kittel impression, it will be a sprint.

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