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Having survived a category 1 climb in the finale, De Negri emerged as the fastest when 50 riders sprinted for the win in stage 2 of the Tour de Slovenie; Ovechkin retained the leader’s jersey

Photo: Sirotti










19.06.2015 @ 19:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Pier Paolo De Negri (Nippo-Vini Fantini) showed that he has finished the Giro d’Italia with an excellent condition when he won the hard second stage of the Tour de Slovenie. The Italian survived a category 1 climb in the finale before powering clear to win a 50-rider bunch sprint, holding off Antonio Parrinello (d’Amico) and Simone Ponzi (Southeast). Artem Ovechkin (Rusvelo) rejoined the peloton on the descent and retained the leader’s jersey.


Pier Paolo De Negri may not be a household name in professional cycling but he has slowly improved his level. With his fast sprint and good climbing skills, he has gradually started to pick up major wins in both Italy and Asia and is now one of the leaders of the Nippo-Vini Fantini team.


In 2012, he took the biggest win of his career when he won the hard Italian one-day race Trofeo Matteotti and in both 2013 and 2014 he won stages in the Tour of Japan. This year he returned to the Giro d’italia for the first time since 2012 and even though he failed to make much of an impact in the grand tour he has apparently finished the race strongly.


Today he opened his 2015 account when he emerged as the strongest in the hard second stage of the Tour de Slovenie. With a category 1 climb summiting just 38km from the finish, the stage has often finished in a reduced bunch sprint and this made it an obvious target for the Italian who made everything right to come away with the win.


An in-form Davide Appollonio had made the stage a big goal and his strong Androni team whittled down the peloton on the main climb. They kept attacking riders Mauro Finetto (Southeast) and Alex Cano (Colombia) within a reasonable distance and whittled the main group down to just 35 riders at the top of the climb.


A regrouping took place on the descent as a few riders, including race leader Artem Ovechkin, managed to rejoin the peloton. Androni maintained their fast pace and managed to bring the escapees back, setting up a sprint from a 50-rider group.


De Negri had made the selection and he positioned himself well for the final battle. He came out on top as he held off Antonio Parrinello and Simone Ponzi, taking his first win in 2015.


Ovechkin survived a difficult stage and so retained the leader’s jersey which he will wear in tomorrow’s queen stage which will probably end his time at the top of the leaderboard. After a flat start, the riders will tackle two category 2 and one category 3 climb before they hit the bottom of the category 1 climb to the finish at 1189m of altitude.


A mountainous stage

After the opening time trial, the riders already faced some significant climbing in stage 2 which brought them over 182km from Skofja Loka to Kocevje. After a flat start, the riders tackled a category 2 and category 3 climb in quick succession before another section gave them a bit room for recovery. The main challenge was the category 1 Strma Reber climb which summited just 38.1km from the finish. From there it was either descending or flat to the finish where a reduced bunch sprint was expected.


It was a cloudy and pretty cold day in Slovenia when the riders gathered for the start in Skofja Loka. All riders who finished yesterday’s stage were present.


The break is formed

The hilly course was an obvious chance to ride aggressively and so it was no surprise that the stage got off to a very fast start. Numerous offensives were lost but after 20km of racing no one had managed to escape.


A big crash brought down Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) and riders from Meridiana Kamen and unfortunately the former who was one of the pre-race favourites, was forced to abadon. Moments later, Simone Sterbini (Bardiani), Jarl Salomein (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Klemen Stimulak (Adria Mobil) escaped and they had a 20-second advantage when Stimulak beat Sterbini and Salomein in the first intermediate sprint after 30.3km of racing.


KOM points for Salomein

The peloton slowed down and so the gap was already 1.30 at the 34km mark. Moments later, Salomein beat Stimulak and Sterbini in the first KOM sprint.


The gap went out to two minutes before the peloton upped the pace. When Salomein beat Stimulak and Sterbini in the second KOM sprint, the gap had stabilized at around 2 minutes but the escapees still managed to extend it to 3 minutes when Salomein beat Stimulak and Sterbini in the second intermediate sprint at the 71.1km mark.


Rusvelo in control

Rusvelo was setting the pace in the peloton and they kept the gap between 2.30 and 3.30 for a long time. When they passed through the feed zone, it was still 3.20.


Rusvelo upped the pace as they approached the main climb and at the 110km mark, the gap was only 1.50. It came down to a minute before the escapees responded and they managed to reopen the advantage to 1.40.


Finetto takes off

As the fight for position for the climb started, the gap melted away and it was just 35 seconds when they hit the ascent that averaged 8.8%. Moments later the front group was caught by the splintering peloton.


Giacomo Berlato (Nippo) and Mauro Finetto (Southeast) attacked but the latter was clearly the strongest, quickly leaving his companion behind. 3km from the top, he had an advantage of 20 seconds  over a 40-rider main group.


De Negri takes the win

Alex Cano (Colombia) took off in pursuit and was just 10 seconds behind when he crested the summit n second position. Gianfranco Zilioli, Simone Stortoni and Davide Appollonio (Androni) led a 35-rider main group across the line with a deficit of 55 seconds to Finetto.


Artem Ovechkin had been distanced on the climb but he made it back to the group on the descent. Moments later, Finetto and Cano were both caught and it was a 50-rider group that entered the final 12km with an advantage of 2 minutes of a second group with 17 riders. In the end, a reduced bunch sprint decided the race and it was De Negri who came out on top.



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