Thursday, July 17, 2014

Valle d'Aosta: Colpack dominates; 4-72 Colombia holds onto yellow

While there is only one road stage in the Aosta Valley during this year's Giro della Valle d'Aosta, it turned out to be a cracker of a stage. Favorites went down while others made themselves known. Even though the race only had a live ticker through a separate website, I was on the edge of my seat with the racing. I know there is no infrastructure to broadcast U23 races at this time but damnit, this is one of the races that deserves more coverage.

The race took off with 123 riders this morning with only 1 DNS, Xandro Meurisse of Lotto-Belisol U23, who broke his wrist in a crash in the prologue. Meurisse will heal up and hopefully be back for his stagiaire spot with Lotto-Belisol. A group of 23 got away early in the stage and included such names as TJ Eisenhart (BMC Development), Maxat Ayazbayev (Astana CT), Marlen Zmorka (Pala Fenice), Davide Martinelli (Colpack), Yuriy Vasyliv (Stölting) and many more. Nearly every team was represented and the gap on the breakaway got a gap of nearly 6 minutes on the mainly flat area of the course.

With 70 kilometers to go, the gap began to tumble as a 6 minute gap became a 4 minute gap and in the run up to the Col de St. Pantaleon, the gap was just 1'20" as the peloton, led by the Norwegian National Team, was getting ready to attack the two big climbs on the day. Luca Chirico (Mg.Kvis-Trevigiani) went out solo once the breakaway hit the St. Pantaleon climb with Eisenhart, Martinelli and Brecht Ruyters (Lotto-Belisol) chasing ahead of the peloton. Halfway up the climb, Chirico was brought back into the fold and a leading group of 25 was carved out. Giulio Ciccone (Colpack) led the leading group over the top of the St. Pantaleon climb, taking full GPM points ahead of Bernardo Suaza  (4-72 Colombia) and Tilegen Maidos (Astana CT).

On the descent off of the Col de St. Pantaleon, Iuri Filosi (Colpack) said toodaloo mothafuckas and went solo on the descent into Antey-Saint Andre. From there, it was straight up for the next 18 kilometers, while the final climb proper didn't technically start until the race hit Valtournenche. Filosi was the leader on the rode while being chased solo by Tilegen Maidos, roughly 40 seconds behind, with the remnants of the front group chasing behind him. Filosi, the winner of the Peaches and Nectarines overall and 2nd in last weekend's European U23 RR Championship, was going for broke but the move was in vein. First, the peloton picked up Maidos with 3.5 kilometers to go while Filosi lasted until 3 kilometers to go.

The lead group, which was 17 with 4 kilometers to go, detonated once the catch was made with a group of 5 splitting off the front including Manuel Senni, Giulio Ciccone, Edward Ravasi (all Colpack), Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia) and Matvey Mamikin (Russian National). Over the GPM points, Ciccone led the group over to sew up the mountains jersey while the group set it up for an uphill sprint. In the sprint, Manuel Senni beat out teammate Ciccone ahead of Mamikin and Suaza. 23 seconds in arrears, Floris De Tier (EFC-OPQS) led the remnants of the leading group including Sindre Lunke (Norway), Bram Van Broekhoven (VL Technics), Odd Eiking (Norway) and Daniel Pearson (Zappi's). Race leader Diego Ochoa came in soon after at 1'28" behind the leaders.

While Ochoa lost the leader's jersey, 4-72 Colombia was able to hold onto the leader's jersey as Bernardo Suaza took over the yellow jersey ahead of a trio of Colpack riders.

Stage (Full Results)

  1. Manuel Senni (Colpack)
  2. Giulio Ciccone (Colpack)
  3. Matvey Mamikin (Russian National)
  4. Bernardo Suaza (4-72 Colombia)
  5. Edward Ravasi (Colpack) +3"
  6. Floris De Tier (EFC-OPQS) +23"
  7. Sindre Lunke (Norway National)
  8. Paolo Bianchini (Delio Gallina)
  9. Bram Van Broekhoven (VL Technics)
  10. Andrea Garosio (Zalf-Euromobil)
  1. Bernardo Suaza
  2. Ravasi +22"
  3. Ciccone +24"
  4. Senni +28"
  5. Odd Eiking (Norway National) +38"
  6. Bianchini +44"
  7. Van Broekhoven +50"
  8. Mamikin +1'03"
  9. Lunke +1'04"
  10. Daniel Pearson (Zappi's) +1'06"
Colpack is obviously in the driver's seat with 2 more road stages and an uphill time trial. Suaza has proved his proficiency in the mountains with his ride in the Ronde de l'Isard, where he was 5th overall. Eiking and Lunke will be a two-headed threat for the Norwegian National team. Van Broekhoven was 2nd overall in the Course de la Paix (Peace Race) earlier this year and arguably one of the best climbers in the race. Mamikin is an unknown quantity to me as he was not the favorite compared to his teammates Foliforov and Arslanov. There are still 15 riders within 2 minutes of Suaza so the race is still wide open.

Some riders that weren't able to hold onto the front group today including TJ Eisenhart and Alexey Vermeulen (BMC Development), Silvio Herklotz (Stölting), Sam Spokes (Etixx), Oskar Svendsen (Norway), Simone Sterbini (Pala Fenice) and Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Astana CT). Some were in the early breakaway like Eisenhart while others weren't on top form but all of these riders are definite threats for stage wins even if they are out of the GC hunt.

Speaking of spectacular blow-ups, Alexander Foliforov, who I have mentioned previously having spectacular blow-ups, finished 27'16" down. Foliforov was listed as being with the front group with 30 kilometers to go. While that might have been mis-reported, that would have been pretty spectacular to go from the front to all the way to the back in 30 kilometers. Perhaps a crash or some other issue happened but it seems like Foliforov just can't keep his shit together for a stage race.

The race transfers to the Valais region of Switzerland for stage 2 and while just 120 kilometers, it has 5 categorized climbs with 3 category 1 climbs in the final 55 kilometers. It is going to be fun.

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