Monday, July 15, 2013

Valle d'Aosta wrap-up: Villella wins stage 4 and overall; Sütterlin takes final stage

After chipping away at Marc Garby's lead since stage 1, Davide Villella was on a mission to unseat the Dane and take the yellow jersey. Villella, who up until this past week had been having just a good year but nothing like his 2012 campaign, was just 28 seconds back heading into the fourth stage of the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta and right from the get go he decided to pressure Garby.

An early breakaway was away and the pack was quiet until the 3rd categorized climb of the day, the Col d'Ajonc, when an elite selection was formed from the peloton including Garby, Villella and others high on GC such as Clément Chevrier, Alexander Foliforov, Davide Formolo, Louis Vervaeke and Mikel Iturria. The elite selection joined the remainder of the breakaway, which included eventual KOM winner Simone Petilli, and the race was set.

As the leading group expanded to 18 after the descent, Villella was having none of the waiting game and on the early slopes of the Col de la Ramaz, he launched an attack that would put Garby on his limit. Villella drew out Formolo, Foliforov, Chevrier, Iturria, Vervaeke and Daniele Dall'Oste. The gap between that group and the yellow jersey was grow steadily on the Ramaz and maxed out at 1'28" but the Dane on the General Store amateur squad was not done fighting by any means. While Chevrier attacked ahead, Garby was pulling back time on the descent and on the flats on the way to the climb up to Morillon Les Esserts.

While Chevrier was pulled back, Garby was fighting tooth and nail behind to chase back on and along with Giulio Ciccone (Palazzago), Garby's deficit was eventually nullified and with 12 kilometers to go, he joined the leading group. While the grit and tenacity was admirably, the reality of the situation was about to take hold. Once again, it was Villella who attacked near the bottom of the climb and Garby and Ciccone were distanced and would never catch back on. The dream of yellow was over but damn was it good while it lasted.

Punch to the sky for Colpack's Davide Villella

Villella had the company of Foliforov, Formolo, Dall'Oste, Vervaeke, Chevrier and Iturria on the way to the summit of the climb but he wasn't happy taking them all to the line. Dall'Oste was the first to pop and soon after Iturria was gone. With 1km to go, Chevrier and Vervaeke were popped. Villella and Foliforov wound it up for the finish but Villella, the eventual winner of the points jersey, took the sprint convincingly. The seconds ticked by and when the 29th second ticked by, the leader's jersey belonged to Villella. Garby eventually finished 10th on the stage, 1'45" down. Behind Garby, it was another 8 minutes until 11th place rolled in with American Alexey Vermeulen coming in 9'33" down on Villella.

  1. Davide Villella (Colpack)
  2. Alexander Foliforov (Russia) +1"
  3. Davide Formolo (Petroli Firenze) +7"
  4. Louis Vervaeke (Lotto) s.t.
  5. Clément Chevrier (Chambery CF) +9"
  6. Mikel Iturria (Euskadi) +37"
  7. Daniele Dall'Oste (Trevigiani) +1'01"
  8. Pierre Paolo Penasa (Zalf Euromobil) +1'34"
  9. Giulio Ciccone (Palazzago) +1'38"
  10. Marc Christian Garby (General Store) +1'45"

Full Results

While Villella was ensconced in the yellow tunic, there was still the final stage that needed to be played out, a 90 kilometer romp back in Valle d'Aosta from Pré-Saint-Didier to Aosta with flat(ish) finishing circuits to help the weary legs. The majority of the race was made by a two-man breakaway of Felix Baur (Swiss National) and Jan Brockoff (Thüringer Energie), who livened up the pace and helped keep a high average of nearly 45 km/h. The duo got a gap of nearly a minute before the peloton decided that was too much and began to reel them in.

As the gap went down to just 15 seconds, Baur attacked solo and pushed the advantage back out. It was all for naught as with 30 kilometers to go a Colpack-lead peloton neutralized Baur. On the finishing circuits, there were no legitimate threats and as the race wound up, Zalf Euromobil put themselves on the front for their fast man Andrea Toniatti. While Toniatti was in prime position, it would not be enough on the day as Jasha Sütterlin, the German time trial powerhouse, freelanced his way to the front and held off Toniatti and Carlos Barbero to take the final stage win.

  1. Jasha Sütterlin (Thüringer Energie)
  2. Andrea Toniatti (Zalf Euromobil)
  3. Carlos Barbero (Euskadi)
  4. Rino Gasparrini (Trevigiani)
  5. Michele Senni (Colpack)

Final GC
  1. Davide Villella (Team Colpack)
  2. Davide Formolo (Petroli Firenze) +28" 
  3. Clément Chevrier (Chambery CF) +32"
  4. Louis Vervaeke (Lotto) +36"
  5. Alexander Foliforov (Russian National) +38"
  6. Marc Christian Garby (General Store) +1'17"
  7. Mikel Iturria (Euskadi) +1'43"
  8. Daniele Dall'Oste (Trevigiani) +2'29"
  9. Pierre Paolo Penasa (Zalf Euromobil) +3'50"
  10. Roman Semyonov (Astana CT) +11'04"
  • KOM: Simone Petilli (Delio Gallina)
  • Points: Davide Villella
  • Sprints: Marco Chianese (Palazzago)
  • Best Team: Colpack

Overall, it was a standout race for Davide Villella. After only one win this year compared to 8 at this point last year, Villella was visibly getting frustrated about being relegated from the top step. Valle d'Aosta turned it around and with a little less difficult parcours than last year, it played right into his hands. Villella will be riding with the World Tour Cannondale squad with summer on a stagiaire role along with a neo-pro contract starting in 2014. Whatever you do, do not forget Davide Villella. I'd prefer to see him on another team other than Cannondale due to their up-down track record with young talent but he will be good. 

Villella isn't the only talent in this group. Formolo, who also went to a Cannondale training camp this past winter with Villella, is emerging as a consistent climber who could potentially turn into a GC talent in the World Tour. Clément Chevrier comes from the same amateur team as Romain Bardet and his climbing abilities are top notch, especially on the HC climbs. Louis Vervaeke is just two years out of the juniors ranks and is already the best U23 climber from Belgium and a call up to the World Tour wouldn't surprise me. 

And Marc Christian Garby? Well you will have to wait a little bit for that because his story takes more than just a few blurbs to spell out. Watch out for an Espoirs Central exclusive...

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