Monday, July 18, 2016

Valle d'Aosta Wrap-Up: The Rise of Mark Padun, Part 1

While trying to focus on work, I was scrolling through Twitter updates about the first stage from the Giro della Valle d'Aosta to see what the hell was happening. When I saw who was in the breakaway, I shook my head. Mark Padun (Colpack) got himself into the breakaway with a handful of others and I was wondering to myself if the riders behind knew who they were dealing with. Padun was 8th in the 2015 edition of the U23 Peace Race/Zavod Miru and while his international results this year haven't been as good as they could be, he has been riding very strongly in Italy and was just 2nd in the Medio Brenta the other day.

Without giving a verbatim re-telling of the ticker, Padun accelerated on the Saxonnex climb to separate himself from the breakaway while Zilio and Bagioli (both Zalf) came across on the descent along with Ben Brkic (Tirol). On the Saint-Gervais climb,  Padun accelerated with Bagioli and then in the final kilometers of the climb, Padun moved away from Bagioli and took a beautiful solo win.

From Espoirs Central preview:
Padun could certainly win a stage if he gets it right... 
Behind, the peloton was not taking any time out of Padun, as if they didn't know of the threat that they had. The group of favorites stayed together behind until finally accelerating towards the end with Enric Mas (Klein Constantia) coming across the line in 3rd on the same time as Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon) and Edward Ravasi (Colpack) while Bjorg Lambrecht, Thomas Vereecken, Steff Cras (Lotto-Soudal U23), Killian Frankiny (BMC Development) Hernan Aguirre, The Wrath of God (Manzana Postobon), Markus Freiberger (Tirol) and Tobias Foss (Norway) coming across within 10 seconds of Mas.

With Padun in the yellow leader's jersey, stage 3 rolled out from Quincinetto on a flatter circuit with only a couple of climbs until Piani di Tavagnasco, the brutal ascent out of the Dora Baltea river valley that averages nearly 11.5% for almost 10 kilometers.

The day's breakaway had real power with U23 World TT medalist Max Schachmann (Klein Constantia) joined by Pavel Sivakov (BMC Development), Jose Luis Rodriguez (UCI) and Luca Raggio (Viris Maserati). Raggio was shed coming into Tavagnasco and the breakaway got a maximum advantage of 7 minutes. The trio kept moving while behind it was Scott Davies and Dan Pearson (both Wiggins) attacking the peloton and made it up to Raggio and quickly passed him but passed them but were unable to join the leaders up front before the climb started.

On the lower slopes of the climb, the breakaway moved well together but Schachmann soon distanced himself as the best climber in the group and toddled up the climb faster than Sivakov and Rodriguez but Sivakov was doing well to keep the gap manageable. While the yellow jersey group accelerated behind and whittled down to a group of just 5, Schachmann continued to stretch his advantage on the chasers.

In the end, Schachmann took the fantastic win on the very steep Tavagnasco with Sivakov coming in 40 seconds down and Rodriguez just making it ahead of the steaming chasers. The Balaeric rider Mas launched a flyer and took 11 seconds out of Kilian Frankiny with Hernan Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Padun and Reyes coming in just seconds behind him. Padun kept his grasp on the yellow jersey very strong while GC became more defined with Mas & Frankiny looking to be the next two in contention with Manzana having the strongest overall team.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Wrap-Up with steep climbs, dirt roads and more drama than the Tour de France has provided so far.

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