Kristijan Durasek (Lampre) made the Trittico Lomabardo race series a big success for Lampre when he won its prestigious final, Tre Valli Varesino. The Croatian escaped with Francsco Bongiorno (Bardiani) on the steep 9% climb to the finish and the young Italian had no response to Durasek's devastating acceleration inside the final 200m.
Kristijan Durasek was signed by Lampre on the back of some very solid showings in the Italian one-day races but until now the Croatian has had a tough time as a ProTeam rider. Today he finally showed the kind of talents that made him join the elite ranks when he won Tre Valli Varesine, one of Italy's biggest one-day races.
Durasek had already indicated that he was riding well when he played a key role in Tuesday's Coppa Agostoni and today he once again proved his strength when he joined Francesco Bongiorno's late attack on the final steep climb to the finish. The duo cooperated well to keep a chasing Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) at bay and so were set to decide the race.
Durasek accelerated hard inside the 200m, leaving a fighting Bongiorno behind. He took a highly convincing solo win and was joined by Bongiorno and Kolobnev on the podium.
With Tre Valli Varesine now done and dusted, the Trittico Lombardo race series has come to an end. Filippo Pozzato (Lampre) won the Coppa Agostoni on Tuesday while Sacha Modolo (Bardiani) beat Roberto Ferrari (Lampre) in a sprint finish in yesterday's Coppa Bernocchi. With today's win, Lampre has put a rider in the top 2 every day, making their participation in their home races a huge success.
A 12-rider group goes clear
The 199,3km Tre Valli Varesine was the biggest race in the Trittico Lombardo series and a fitting way to round off three days of exciting races. The race took place on a hilly route near Lake Lugano and finished with a long flat run and a steep 3km, 9% climb to the line.
The first riders to get a noticeable gap were Marek Rutkiewicz (CCC) and Emanuele Sella (Androni). They got company from Kevin Reza (Europcar), Francesco Gavazzi (Astana), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Jan Polanc (Lampre), Sacha Modolo (Bardiani), Gianfranco Ziliolo (Androni), Jonathan Monsalve (Vini Fantini), Mateusz Taciak (CCC), Serguei Klimov (Rusvelo), Jim Songezo (MTN-Qhubeka) and Andrea Fedi (Ceramica Flaminia) in what was today's early move.
Europcar leads the chase
Reza was unfortunate to puncture out of the break which was quickly allowed to build up a 6-minute gap when Topsport Vlaanderen decided to control the advantage. With Reza back in the peloton, Europcar had no rider in the escape and so decided to start the chase, bringing the gap down to 4-5 minutes where it stayed for most of the day.
Klimov crashed while riding in the breakaway and was taken away from the scene of the accident in an ambulance. Modolo struggled on some of the climbs and fell back to the peloton which was still controlled by Europcar.
Bardiani takes control
With Modolo no longer in the front group, Bardiani decided to up the pace and for a long time, the Italian team was in control. Angelo Pagani did the early work but it was Stefano Pirazzi who led the peloton for an impressive amount of time.
With the gap coming down, Sella upped the pace on a small climb. Fedi, Songezo, Taciak and Rutkiewicz all fell off the pace while Polanc had to dig deep to close a small gap on the subsequent descent.
Pirazzi launches an attack
Pirazzi had now moved away from the front of the peloton which almost came to a standstill. That was unacceptable for the Giro king of the mountains who launched his own attack, only to get brought back by Enrico Gasparotto (Astana).
Once again Pirazzi took responsibility for the chase and picked up Fedi, Songezo, Rutkiewicz and Taciak. With the latter two back in the peloton, CCC Polsat decided to contribute to the chase and moments later, Rusvelo also decided to cooperate. The two Eastern European teams had some of the favourites Davide Rebellin and Sergey Firsanov in the ranks.
All back together
Ceramica Flaminia also joined forces with those teams and the hard chase from no less than 4 teams brought the breakaway to an end. With a little less than 25km to go, it was all back together.
Nicola Dal Santo, Lukasz Owsian, Pirazzi, Taciak, Rutkiewicz, Pavel Kochetkov and Ilnur Zakarin kept the pace high to discourage any attacks. Nonetheless, Pirazzi tried a final move with 10km to go but the Italian was reeled in a few moments later.
Battle for position
As the battle for position intensified, Astana and Androni both moved to the front, hoping to see Fabio Aru, Simone Ponzi and Franco Pellizotti take today's win. When the peloton turned onto the final 3km climb, it was, however, Lampre that had taken control.
Leonardo Duque (Colombia) launched an immediate attack but was reeled in by Gasparotto. Vini Fantini upped the pace a further notch when Pier Paolo De Negri moved to the front.
Bongiorno makes decisive move
When De Negri stopped his work, the peloton slowed down. Bongiorno exploited the situation to attack and only Durasek was able to respond.
The two riders built up a big gap to Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini) who was in lone pursuit while the select group of favourites came to a virtual standstill, none of the main riders having any domestiques left. Kolobnev sensed that something had to be done and attacked on his own, passing a fading Rabottini in the process.
Kolobnev fails to join the leaders
The Russian got close to the front duo but never made the junction. Instead, all would be decided between Durasek and Bongiorno as the peloton was still far behind with less than a kilomtre to go.
Durasek launched a furious acceleration with 200m to go and took a beautiful solo win. Kolobnev held on to 3rd while Ivan Rovny led the favourites across the line a few seconds later.
1. Kristijan Durasek 5.01.21
2. Francesco Bongiorno
3. Alexandr Kolobnev
4. Ivan Rovny
5. Davide Rebellin
6. Franco Pellizotti
7. Fabio Aru
8. Simone Ponzi
9. Matteo Rabottini
10. Sergey Firsanov
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