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After attacking with around 25km to go, Bakelants joined forces with Fedi and Madrazo before dropping the pair inside the final kilometre of the steep San Luca climb to ride to a solo win in the Giro dell’Emilia

Photo: A.S.O.








10.10.2015 @ 17:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) continued the dream end to his season by taking the biggest classics win of his career in the Giro dell’Emilia. On a soaking wet day in Italy, he attacked on the descent from the San Luca climb with less than 30km to go, bridged across to Andrea Fedi (Southeast) and Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural) and finally launched a successful bid for victory less than one kilometre from the top of the final passage of San Luca. Fedi took second and Madrazo third.


It took a long time for Jan Bakelants to take his first win in Ag2r colours but now he has really got the ball rolling. After he showed great form in the Canadian one-day races, he has been unstoppable and today he took his second win for the team in the Giro dell’Emilia.


Bakelants came up short in the GP de Wallonie where he was a marked man and had to settle for second despite being the strongest rider. However, he finally opened his account in GranPiemonte where he surprised the sprinters by launching a strong solo attack in a very wet finale.


Apparently, Bakelants likes the rainy conditions in Italy as he made use of more bad weather to take his second big win in Emilia. The Belgian used the slippery and technical descent from the landmark climb of San Luca to get clear and then joined the duo of Andrea Fedi and Angel Madrazo who had attacked a bit earlier. The peloton would never see the trio again and Bakelants finally took the win when he accelerated with less than one kiloemetre left of the final passage of the steep slopes.


As usual, the race ended with four laps of a 9.3km finishing circuit that included the famous 2.1km climb of San Luca, meaning that the riders had to tackle the uphill finish no less than 5 times inside the final 40km. After a brutally fast start, the early break was caught with 46km to go and it all came down to the battle on the circuit.


Bardiani took control as the peloton approached San Luca for the first time but it was CCC that led the 70-rider group onto the ascent. Antonio Nibali (Nippo) launched an immediate attack and was joined by Andrea Fedi (Southeast) and last year’s big protagonist Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural).


The trio managed to build an advantage of 28 seconds over Alessio Taliani (Androni) who took off in pursuit but he would never make the junction and fell back to the peloton. At the end of the descent, the gap was 40 seconds and as they hit the climb for the second time it was 49 seconds.


Nibali was unable to keep up with Madrazo and Fedi and also lost ground to the peloton which was led by Ag2r. The French team was doing some damage and whittled the group down to 50 riders as they crossed the line 50 seconds behind the leaders. Nibali was at 37 seconds.


With 26km to go, Nibali was brought back but moments later his Nippo teammate Giacomo Berlato went on the attack when he joined Jan Bakelants (Ag2r) who accelerated on the descent. However, the Italian was unable to keep up with the Belgian who was just 33 seconds behind at the start of the third passage of the climb, with the peloton following at a minute.


Bakelants used the climb to get closer and when he reached the finish line to start the penultimate lap he was just 14 seconds behind. The peloton was at 44 seconds but as they went down the descent, Southeast hit the front to slow down the 25-rider group and so the gap went out to more than a minute.


Just at the bottom, Bakelants made it back and he immediately went to the front to force the pace. Fedi was the first to surrender but finally Madrazo also had to give up, dropping back to the Italian. Meanwhile, the peloton was exploding as Franco Pellizotti (Androni), Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) and Davide Rebellin (CCC) were among the riders to get dropped.


The front trio found back together while Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) forced the pace on the climb to whittle the group down to just himself, Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r), Eduard Prades (Caja Rural), Edoardo Zardini, Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani), Mauro Finetto (Southeast), Damiano Cunego (Nippo) and Pellizotti who had made it back. Bongiorno was the next to get dropped and Finetto also fell back.


At the bottom of the final climb, the gap was still 45 seconds and it was looking promising for the escapees. The climb immediately took its toll as Pozzovivo and later Zardini were the first to get distanced from the main group.


As they passed the flamme rouge, the gap was still 32 seconds and now it was time for Bakelants to make his move. The Belgian accelerated strongly and got an immediate gap while Prades, Cunego and Polanc did their best to get back in contention.


Bakelants quickly got an advantage of 14 seconds and from there the outcome was never in doubt. The Belgian rode to a solo win before Fedi beat Madrazo in the battle for second. Cunego was the best from the group of favourites, taking fourth followed by Prades, Polanc, Pellizotti, Finetto, Zardini and Kudus.


There’s now only one Italian classic left. Tomorrow most of the riders will be back in action at the GP Beghelli whose much flatter course will bring the Italian season to a close.



A difficult course

The 2015 edition of the Giro dell’Emilia was held on a 200km climb around the city of Bologna. After a flat start, the riders headed into the hills south of the city where they tackled three big climbs before they returned to the hosting town. Here the ended the race by doing four laps of a 9.3km finishing circuit that ended at the top of the famous 2.1km San Luca climb, meaning that the riders would have to tackle the dreaded ascent a total of five times.


It was a cold and raining day when the riders gathered for the start in Bologna. One rider was absent as Luca Chirico (Bardiani) was still suffering from his crash in the Coppa Sabatini.


A fast start

Italian one-day races are often very aggressive and the Giro dell’Emilia was no exception. The start was extremely fast and no one had managed to get a significant advantage after 8km of racing.


Sergey Nikolaev (Rusvelo) and Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini) briefly surged clear but they were brought back at the 13km mark. Lampre-Merida and Androni were trying to control thing and so no one had escaped when Grosu beat Bocchiola and Owsian in the sprint after a little more than 20km of racing.


CCC in control

Grosu also won the second sprint as no one had gone clear at the 30km mark. Riders were now getting dropped as Simone Sterbini (Bardiani) was one of the riders to lose contact.


CCC had taken control after 40km of racing and they prevented anyone from escaping. Meanwhile, the rain had stopped.


Two riders get clear

The peloton was still together as they hit the first climb after more than 55km of racing. Here they got some help from Androni but finally allowed Marco Frapporti (Androni) and Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne) to get clear.


The pair managed to build and advantage of 2.58 before Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast), Fabio Duarte (Colombia) and Heinier Parra (Caja Rural) took off in pursuit. Meanwhile, Bardiani took control in the peloton but they had allowed the gap to go out to 3.20 at the 80km mark.


The peloton splits

The peloton accelerated near the top of the climb and got closer to the three at the end of the second hour when they had averaged 43.5km/h. Moments later, Bideau led Frapporti over the top of the second climb where the chasers were still 3 minutes behind.


On the long descent, the peloton split into three groups and the first of those quickly caught the three chasers. They brought the gap down to 2.30 while the second group was at 2.40 and the third at 3.15 at the halfway point of the race.


Ag2r take control

The three groups merged as they finished the descent 2.40 behind the escapees and the gap again went out to 3 minutes as they entered the final 90km under a heavy rain. However, Ag2r now kicked into action and brought the gap down to 2.10 before they allowed it to go out to 3 minutes again with 80km to go.


Entering the final 70km, Sergei Tvetcov (Androni) made it back after a mechanical just before the peloton crested the summit of the third climb, 2.00 behind the leaders. Pierre-Roger Latour was riding on the front for Ag2r and he brought the gap down to 1.40 as they went down the descent.


Frapporti distanced Bideau who sat up to wait for the peloton which was now only a minute behind Frapporti. However, the Androni rider decided to sit up and with 46km to go, it was all back together.



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