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The Italian emerges as the fastest when a small group arrives at the finish to decide the win, and he beats Colbrelli and Ulissi into the minor positions on the podium

Photo: Liquigas-Cannondale

DIEGO ULISSI

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MAURO FINETTO

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VINI ZABU KTM

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02.03.2014 @ 18:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In just their third European race of the season, YellowFluo took their second win when Mauro Finetto emerged as the strongest in today's first Swiss race, the GP Lugano. On the hilly course near the Italian border, he survived the many climbs and finally beat Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) and an aggressive Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) in the final sprint.

 

With the doping cases of Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio, YellowFluo had a very difficult 2013 season but the team has had every reason to celebrate right from the beginning of 2014. After Simone Ponzi won their very first race at the GP Costa degli Etruschi, Mauro Finetto took their second win in just their third European race of the season.

 

The scene of the success was the hilly Swiss one-day race GP Lugano that suited Finetto's characteristics down to the ground. The numerous hills made it a race for the strong climbers and with a fast sprint, Finetto was a man to finish it off.

 

YellowFluo tried to play it aggressively in the finale when Matteo Rabottini continued his excellent early-season form by launching a strong attack but despite being joined by Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) he got nowhere. The team then decided to play the Finetto card in the sprint but first they had to fend off the attacks from big favourite Diego Ulissi.

 

The Lampre-Merida rider made several accelerations inside the final 5km but failed to get clear and so a small group had to decide the race in a sprint. Finetto proved his speed when he held off Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) and Ulissi to take his first win in almost 5 years.

 

Many of the riders in today's race will be back in action on Thursday when the Italian season continues with the GP Cita di Camaiore. The combination of those two hilly one-day races traditionally serves as the perfect tune-up to the first RCS races in the weekend: Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima.

 

A hilly course

The 169.4km started and finished in Lugano and consisted of an opening lap on a shortened 33.4km circuit followed by four laps on the full 34km one. The circuit had three tough climbs in the second half and from the top of the final one, only 5 very fast kilometres remained.

 

Almost from the gun, the first big break took off when 18 riders managed to escape and already after 3.5km of racing they were 20 seconds ahead.  Daniele Ratto (Cannondale), Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida), Simon Yates and Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE), Marco Canola (Bardiani), Francesco Failli (YellowFluo), Sergei Klimov (Rusvelo) Sergey Nikolaev (Itera), Igor Frolov (Itera), Davide Ballerini (Idea), Matteo Colledel (Idea), Tom Thill (Leopard), Giovanni Carboni (Aero Zero),Luca Chirico (MG Kvis), and Andrea Vaccher (Marchiol) made up the group that had extended its lead to 1.28 at the 14km markwhile a chase group was 42 seconds behind.

 

The break splits up

The chasers were caught but the peloton was reluctant to give such a big group too much leeway. The gap started to come down, reaching 1.10 which prompted some of the escapees to attack.

 

At the first passage of the finish line, Yates, Howard, Canola, Klimov, Ballerini, Colledel, Carboni, and Vaccher had escaped to form an 8-rider front group while their former companions were all caught. Meron Russom (MTN-Qhubeka) briefly tried to bridge across but it was always an impossible mission and he was quickly back in the group.

 

Lampre-Merida lead the chase

After 50km of racing, the escapees were 6.43 ahead but that was as much as they would get. The peloton brought it down to less than 6 minutes and kept it stable between the 5- and 6-minute marks.

 

With 74km to go, the advantage was down to 4.42 and Lampre-Merida were now controlling the peloton as they were eager to set up Ulissi for the win. Howard and Vaccher fell off the pace and were quickly back in the pack but the remaining escapees still had 4.10 in hand with 47km to go.

 

Yates and Canola take off

Lampre-Merida now started to chase hard and brought the gap down to less than 1 minute when the riders entered the final 25km. 5km further up the road, Yates and Canola escaped on their own while their former companions were all swallowed up by the peloton.

 

The front duo worked well together and managed to keep the gap stable at around 30 seconds for quite some time. Lampre-Merida still set the pace and appeared to have everything under control  even if they briefly allowed the gap to come up to 42 seconds.

 

Rabottini tries his hand

With 10km to go, the gap was just 15 seconds and a little later it was all back together. This was when Rabottini tried to take off and he was joined by Cunego and Montaguti.

 

A crash brought down De Negri, Petilli and Mengardo while the front trio was quickly neutralized. Instead, Ulissi tried a few accelerations on the final climb but his attempts weren't succesful.

 

Instead, it all came back together for a sprint from a diminished front group and here Finetto proved his speed. He held off Colbrelli and Ulissi to make it another fantastic day for YellowFluo.

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