Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Giro della Valle d'Aosta: Power Pulverizes Prologue

The opening prologue of the 52nd Giro della Valle d'Aosta wasn't probably going to be decided by fractions of a second but Robert Power (Australia) made damn sure that everyone knew who the favorite was heading into the rest of the race. The Western Australian, who had never ridden the climb before, put in an incredible effort on the 5.4 kilometer climb from Morillon to the ski lifts at Les Esserts.

Rob Power during the prologue
Photo: Giro della Valle d'Aosta
The climb itself averaged roughly 6.8% and the riders felt every bit of it. Isaac Carbonell, the coach's son from Team Ecuador, started the proceedings at 18.00 local time. While Carbonell would go on to finish 111th on the stage, it was another early starter that put up a big time. Last year's Junior World TT Champion Lennard Kämna (Stölting) who laid down the benchmark time of 13'44". That was 36 seconds faster than 2nd place at that point, Matvey Mamykin (Russia), and it was 13 seconds faster than last year's winning time by Ildar Arslanov, albeit that was in the rain.

Rider after rider came and went but Kämna's time wasn't in too much jeopardy. Kilian Frankiny (BMC Development) was the first rider after Kämna to hit the 14 minute mark but it was Edward Ravasi (Colpack) who came in with 13'57" that showed how well Kämna's time was holding up. Jack Haig came in under 14 minutes but with 18 riders left to go, Robert Power lit the climb on fire.

Photo: Giro della Valle d'Aosta

Power, who is coming off of a altitude camp with Team Australia, put in a time of 13'26", which was 18 seconds faster than Kämna. The gap from Power to Kämna was bigger than the gap from Kämna to 3rd place Simone Petilli, who finished just fractions faster than Ravasi.

Alexey Vermeulen (BMC Development) finished 11th and had this to say about the opening prologue: "Happy with my start...The climb was unrelenting after you made the left hand turn and saw the 5km to go to the finish. After racing this course as the TT last year, I knew that it was important to put your power in the right places. If you just try to hit one number for the entire effort, it's easy to blow early, which I imagined happened to a lot of strong riders. I talked to my coach (Lucas Wall) and we created a plan to maximize my numbers for the best possible time. It was a hard effort that surely shows people's form to an extent but in the end, we are 5.4 kilometers into a 700+ kilometer stage race. Seconds will become minutes very soon!"

The vast majority of favorites finished between 31 and 42 seconds in arrears to Power. This group included Simone Petilli (Unieuro Wilier), Ravasi, Haig, Giulio Ciccone (Colpack), Vermeulen, Simone Ravanelli (Pala Fenice), Laurens De Plus (Lotto-Soudal U23), Dan Pearson (Zalf-Euromobil) and Odd Eiking (Norway). Most GC riders did well enough but there were some like Ildar Arslanov (1'59" down) that tanked. My pick for the win, Keegan Swirbul, was a bit off the pace but perhaps that was too much expectation for a rider in his first European event. I was right with Kämna in 2nd though.

For full results, you can visit here from the race website.

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