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“We saw an active Angel Vicioso in the finale but we had expected it to be Luca Paolini in this race.  Unfortunately back luck ruined his chances. A flat tire at the worst moment made it impossible for him to go for the win,"...

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele








09.03.2014 @ 11:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One week ago, Luca Paolini crashed at the worst possible time when he was defending his victory in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Yesterday he had more bad luck when he punctured just when the riders hit the key gravel sector in the Strade Bianche and instead it was his teammate Angel Vicioso who shone for Katusha.


The 8th Strade Bianche lived up to pre-race expectations by providing plenty of dust and drama in the Tuscany region of Italy for Saturday’s 197km race.


Team director José Azevedo was on hand for Katusha Team and offered this assessment:


“We saw an active Angel Vicioso in the finale but we had expected it to be Luca Paolini in this race.  Unfortunately back luck ruined his chances. A flat tire at the worst moment made it impossible for him to go for the win.”


There were plenty of flat tires on the ten sections of sterrati that make Strade Bianche such an exciting race, opening up opportunities for some riders while ending the chances of victory for others.


Peter Sagan (Cannondale) initiated the winning attack with only Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) able to follow. Others tried to follow, including Vicioso, but the duo steadily built a gap to more than one minute, leaving the chasers to race for third place.


Inside the final kilometer, Sagan struggled on the last climb, opening the door for Kwiatkowski to come around his right side and easily take the victory in Sienna after more than five hours of riding. Alejandro Valverde took third at 36-seconds. Angel Vicioso was the highest placed team rider in 15th.


An early break of four riders took the gap out to 11 minutes but their efforts were brought back on the 11km dirt section with just under 50km to go. It was this section that provided the drama for the decisive move: attacks, dust, wind, crashes and flat tires split the peloton apart.


Luca Paolini suffered a flat tire here and lost time to the 22 riders that managed to escape. Rüdiger Selig worked for Paolini, trying to bring him back to the front, but the selection was already made and included Vicioso.


Further up the road, near 25km to go, Vicioso was part of a six-man group that managed to stay away for five kilometers, but it was at the time of their catch that Sagan initiated the attack that put him and Kwiatkowski ahead of the others all the way to the finish in the heart of Sienna.


Racing continues in Italy on Sunday with Roma Maxima and the 8-day Paris-Nice stage race gets underway.



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