Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Italian Roundup: Zalf likes to prove me wrong

In my head at least, I like to thing that Luciano Rui or some one high up with the Zalf-Euromobil team read my last article about Zalf being usurped by Colpack this year and gave it to everyone on the team as motivation to kick some ass. The past few days has saw some of the most important one-day races of the spring for Italian U23s with the Trofeo Piva, Giro di Belvedere and the GP Palio del Recioto. Zalf will not take being knocked off the top step of Italian amateur cycling lightly.

Trofeo Piva

The Trofeo Piva has a few steep climbs that always separates the race somewhat and leads to a small group coming to the line; at least since they changed the course a few years ago. The race this year really kicked off with 20 kilometers to go when the big hill on the course, which is unnamed because I cannot find a race website or map to save my life the Combai climb, that was 2 kilometers long and peaked at 20% gradient. A group of 15 riders managed to get off the front after the 2nd passage of the climb and the group featured some big names such as Rob Power, Silvio Herklotz, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Gianni Moscon, Loïc Vliegen, Simone Petilli and Ildar Arslanov as well as some young names like Patrick Müller, Artem Nych and Laurens de Plus.

Coming into the final kilometers, the group was holding off the chasing peloton but last year's 5th place Felix Großschartner (Felbermayr - Simplon) lept away on the slight uphill finish with Nych (Russia) and the Austrian Großschartner accelerated in the sprint to take the win and continue his strong early season. Davide Gabburo (General Store) led in the chasing group ahead of Gianni Moscon (Zalf) and Loïc Vliegen (BMC Development). The race broke a 4-year streak the Australians had going with getting a rider on the podium while the Austrians have a two-year winning streak going now. Last year's winner Gregor Mühlberger was in the final group but crashed out with 15 kilometers to go.

Full Results

Giro del Belvedere
What can be considered to be a home race for Zalf-Euromobil, the Giro del Belvedere is just 1 hour away from the team's base in Castelfranco Veneto. The race goes around the village of Villa di Villa and is punctuated by the Conche climb, which is smaller and done 10 times, and the Montaner climb, which is the big climb of the day that usually separates the race and is done twice.

The race saw a breakaway early on but the action came on the Montaner climb towards the later stages of the race. The first ascent saw Andrea Vendrame (Zalf-Euromobil) get away with Seid Lizde (Colpack), Geoffrey Curran (Axeon) and TJ Eisenhart (BMC Development). The quartet got a bit of a gap but on the twisting descent at Rugolo, Vendrame went full kamikaze and stretched his lead out. Lizde and Eisenhart were dropped while Curran followed just a small distance behind. On the 2nd ascent of the Montaner ,Vendrame led over the climb while a quartet of chasers formed behind him including Curran, Rob Power, Silvio Herklotz and Gregor Mühlberger. Again, Vendrame used some strong downhill skills to stretch his gap out to 20 seconds at a point and entering the final left hander to the finishing straight, he had enough time to look back and celebrate his first UCI victory of his career and Zalf's first major victory of the season.

Behind Vendrame, Curran put in a late surge and it wasn't until meters before the line until he was paseed by Mühlberger for 2nd. Power and Herklotz finished 4th and 5th to show that while they might not be on peak form, they are certainly their to challenge nearly any racer. The sprint for 6th was won by Colpack's champion sprinter Simone Consonni ahead of Trofeo Piva winner Großschartner and BMC's Loïc Vliegen.

Zalf was able to make it two in a row in this race after hometown boy Simone Andreetta won the race last year for them in a two-up sprint over Herklotz.

Many riders put in good back-to-back performances in the UCI rated Trofeo Piva and Giro del Belvedere including Loïc Vliegen (8th and 5th, respectively), Rob Power (13th and 4th), Herklotz (10th and 5th), Großschartner (1st and 7th), Lennard Kamna (25th and 9th), Sebastian Schönberger (14th and 13th), Ildar Arslanov (9th and 15th) and first year Patrick Müller (12th and 18th).

GP Palio del Recioto

This race began the season on the UCI calendar but reverted to an amateur race and lost a lot of the international racers that it has seen in previous years. Perhaps a budget move or to get an Italian winner after only having one in the last five years, the race featured mostly Italian teams with the Australian National Team making an appearance.

To make a long story short, the breakaway spent the majority of the day out front before Jack Haig (Australia) lept out of the chasing peloton to get away solo on the penultimate lap while a chasing group including Gianni Moscon, Simone Petilli (UniEuro Wilier, Giulio Ciccone (Colpack) and Davide Gabburo were shortly behind. While Haig plowed on ahead, Moscon attacked out of the chase group and on the final lap of the race, Moscon bridged to Haig with just a handful of kilometers left. Coming out of the final right hand corner, Moscon came around Haig with with 200 meters to go to take the 2nd big win for Zalf-Euromobil in as many days.

Gabburo brought up the chasers for 3rd ahead of Filippo Fiorelli and Stefano Nardelli. Colpack had 3 riders in the front chasing group in Giulio Ciccone, Edward Ravasi and Andrea Garosio but they couldn't finish better than 6th.

Along with a couple more local wins, Zalf was able to break the 10 win mark for the season and while they do have the largest and have the best funded Italian amateur team, they are not ready to relinquish their hold as the best team in Italy.

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