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Having survived the many climbs in the finale, Cimolai made it into a 25-rider group and finally beat Gavazzi and Tsatevich to win the big Italian one-day race Trofeo Laigueglia

Photo: Sirotti

ALEXEI TSATEVICH

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DAVIDE CIMOLAI

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FRANCESCO GAVAZZI

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TROFEO LAIGUEGLIA

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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19.02.2015 @ 17:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida) became a hugely surprising winner of the Trofeo Laigueglia when he took his first professional win in the Italian one-day race. Having survived the many climbs on the tough course, he beat Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast) and Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) to make it three in a row for Lampre-Merida in the race.

 

Davide Cimolai has been a professional for more than 5 years but until today, he had never won a race. Instead, he has built a reputation as an important lead-out man in the Lampre-Merida train and he has rarely got the chance to sprint for himself.

 

Going into today’s big Italian one-day race Trofeo Laigueglia, he was again expected to play the support role for Niccolo Bonifazio if the hilly event came down to a sprint from a reduced peloton. However, the Italian exceeded expectations by surviving the climbing challenges and when his captain lost contact, he suddenly got the chance to sprint for himself.

 

However, it was not evident that the race would be decided in a sprint. After Cannondale-Garmin had worked hard all day to make the race as tough as possible, their fast pace on the penultimate climb with less than 10km to go made it impossible for anyone to attack. Hence, it was a 25-rider group that crested the summit as a compact unit and while Bonifazio had fallen behind, Cimolai was still there.

 

Most teams had now used up their domestiques and this opened the door for Linus Gerdemann (Cult) to attack on the descent. He was joined by Simone Stortoni (Androni) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) on the descent and the trio managed to get a 10-second advantage by the time they hit the small 2km Capo Mele climb with less than 5km to go.

 

Zakarin tried to use the rise to get clear but he was brought back by his two chasers. Meanwhile, Lampre-Merida had decided that they would give it all for Cimolai and they were now chasing hard.

 

The three attackers were caught just before the flamme rouge and so it came down to a 25-rider sprint. Lampre-Merida had strength in numbers and they managed to set Cimolai perfectly up for the sprint. The Italian held off Francesco Gavazzi and Alexey Tsatevich to open his professional account and take the third consecutive win for the Italian team in the hilly race.

 

The Italian cycling season now takes a break for a few weeks but the best Italian teams will be in action on Sunday March 1 at the GP Lugano just over the border. On March 7, they will be back on home soil for the Strade Bianche while many of today’s riders will already be back in action on Saturday on the first stage of the two-day Tour du Haut Var in France.

 

A hilly course

The 2015 edition of the traditional Italia none.day race Trofeo Laigueglia was held on a 191.8km courset hat started and finished in the coastal city of Laigueglia. After a flat start, it was a day of significant climbing as the riders tackled four bigger climbs – including the Cima Paravenna twice and the Testico once – before they descended back to the coast for a short flat section. In the end, they did a 10.8km finishing circuit that included the Colla Micheri (2.1km, 7.8%) and the Capo Mele (2km, 3.5%) before they headed downhill for the final 2km.

 

157 riders took the start under a beautiful sunny sky in the Ligurian town and they got the race off to a very fast start. As it is custom for Italian one-day races, there were lots of attacks in the beginning but after 8km of racing, no one had managed to escape.

 

A fast pace

Novo Nordisk, Nippo-Vini Fantini and GM Cycling Team were among the most active teams and the fast pace caused a crash that saw Emanuele Sella (Androni) end up with a broken femur, with the Italian being the only rider to hit the deck. Five riders used the confusion to get clear but they were quickly brought back.

 

As they approached the first big climb of the day, Andrea Piechele (Bardiani) tried to attack but he was caught almost immediately. Things were still together when they hit the ascent but an unfortunate crash brought down a BMC and a Europcar rider as they fought for position.

 

The break is formed

Riders immediately started to drop off while Jonathan Paredes (Colombia) made a strong attack. Jerome Cousin (Europcar) and Nicola Gaffurini (MG Kvis) took off in pursuit and they made contact with the lone Colombian.

 

At the 32km mark, they were 15 seconds ahead of lone chaser Adriano Brogi (D’Amico Bottechia) while 20 riders had now been dropped from the peloton. Brogi joined the leaders while the peloton finally decided to slow down and after 37km of racing, the four escapees were 3.13 ahead.

 

Lampre-Merida start to chase

At the top of the climb, the gap had been increased to 6.15 and there was still no reaction from the peloton. It even reached 7.37 before the peloton finally upped the pace.

 

Lampre-Merida had started to chase and they led the group onto the Cima Paravenna for the first time. When Gaffurini beat Paredes and Brogi in the KOM sprint, the Italian team had brought the deficit down to just 4.42.

 

Katusha lend a hand

As the riders descended back to the coast, the peloton split but as they again hit bigger roads, it came back together. Katusha now also started to work with Lampre-Merida and the gap continued to come down, reaching 3.30 at the halfway point.

 

On the flat roads along the coast, Katusha and Lampre-Merida kept the gap stable around the 3-minute mark but as Cannondale-Garmin also started to chase, the escapees again lost ground. With 75km to go, the gap was 2.30 and at the top of the Testico climb – where Gaffurini beat Brogi and Cousin in the sprint – it was only 2.10.

 

Fast pace by Cannondale-Garmin

With 60km to go, the gap was down to less than 2 minutes and all the work was now done by Cannondale-Garmin. The American team was really accelerating and at the bottom of the Cima Paravenna, it was less than a minute.

 

As the gap was down to less than 30 seconds, Cousin launched a big attack. Brogi immediately decided to sit up and moments later Gaffurini and Paredes were also caught.

 

Cousin is caught

Cannondale-Garmin were setting a brutal pace and now riders were getting dropped in large numbers. Nonetheless, Cousin managed to maintain a 30-second advantage for a long time but with less than 500m to the summit, he was finally caught. Instead, Jonathan Monsalve (Southeast) and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) accelerated to crest the summit a bit ahead of the 80-rider peloton.

 

The two attackers were brought back while Cannondale-Garmin continued to set their fast pace. As they tackled the tricky descent, Scott Ambrose (Novo Nordisk) suffered an unfortunate crash but that didn’t stop the American team from doing their work.

 

Big attack from Zakarin

With 20km to go, Lampre-Merida again came to the fore and they joined forces with the Cannondale riders to keep the pace high as they approached the decisive late climbs. They led the group onto the Colla Micheri where Cannondale-Garmin set a brutal pace.

 

Just before the top, Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) attacked while Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) tried to bridge the gap. However, they were both caught before they crested the summit and instead it was Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast) who led Zakarin, Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) and Simon Spilak (Katusha) over the top.

 

25 riders were still together as they descended to the bottom of the Capo Mele and this is where Gerdemann made his move. However, it didn’t pay off and instead Cimolai took the first win of his career.

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