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Having made it over the Massino Visconti climb twice, Nizzolo emerged as the fastest when 50 riders sprinted for the win in GP Nobili; Ponzi and Haller completed the podium

Photo: Trek Factory Racing








19.03.2015 @ 15:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a frustrating start to the season, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) finally opened his 2015 account when he won the GP Nobili Rubinetterie, the big Italian warm-up race for Milan-Sanremo. The Italian survived both passages of the Massino Visconti climb and then beat Simone Ponzi (Southeast) and Marco Haller (Katusha) into the minor podium spots when 50 riders sprinted for the win.


The start of the 2015 season has been a frustrating one for Giacomo Nizzolo. Having been set back by injury in December, he arrived at the Tour Down Under short of form and it required lots of hard work for him to rebuild his condition.


He suffered through Etoile de Besseges before he finally seemed to be back on track when he delivered a great showing in Le Samyn despite a mechanical failure that made him unable to keep up with the best on the pave. In Paris-Nice, he did a great uphill sprint in stage 3 to finish on the podium to prove that he is now close to his usual sprinting level.


However, the victory had still eluded him and so he lined up at today’s GP Nobili Rubinetterie in a determined mood. The Italian one-day race has become a key preparation event for Milan-Sanremo and so had a formidable line-up but Nizzolo still stood out as one of the fastest riders in the field.


To get a chance to sprint, however, Nizzolo had to survive two late passages of the small Massino Visconti climb which has often crushed the dreams of ambitious sprinters. Things didn’t get any easier when a frantic early pace made it impossible for anyone to attack until 28 riders finally got clear after 87km of racing.


Movistar and Ag2r were determined to bring that group back and the junction was made at the bottom of the final climb. This was the point where the climbers had to make their moves and when the dust had settled, Alejandro Valverde  (Movistar) and Davide Rebellin (CCC) crested the summit with a gap.


The two veterans worked well together to extend their advantage to 35 seconds. However, more riders had now rejoined the peloton and when a 50-rider group had gathered, Cannondale-Garmin and Katusha started to chase hard.


Just after the 10km mark, the junction was made and so it all came down to a reduced bunch sprint. Here Nizzolo proved his good condition by beating Simone Ponzi and Marco Haller in the final dash to the line.


After the GP Nobili, the attention turns to Sunday’s Milan-Sanremo, the first major classic of the year. Many of the riders used today’s race as a final test and with today’s win, Nizzolo is ready to ride in support of Fabian Cancellara in La Primavera.


A tricky course

The 18th GP Nobili Rubinetterie took place on the same 187.5km course that had been used for the two most recent editions of the race. The riders started in Suno and travelled along mostly flat roads for the first 130km. Then they did two laps of a small circuit with the difficult Massino Visconti climb. After the descent, however, the riders faced 16.5km flat kilometres along the coast before they reached the finish in Stresa.


The peloton had perfect weather conditions when they left Suno under beautiful sunshine but two riders never made it to the start. Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk) and Magnus Cort (Orica-GreenEDGE) who had fallen ill, had both planned to do the race but they were registered as non-starters.


A fast start

As it is often the case in Italian one-day races, the race got off to a very fast start with lots of attacks and it took very long time for the break to get formed. First a 10-rider group got clear but under the impetus of Idea and CCC they were brought back.


Alessandro Malaguti (Vini Fantini) and Lucas Gaday (Wilier) were the next to get a gap and when they were brought back, Bartlomiej Matysiak (CCC) gave it a go. Later it was Adriano Brogi (D’Amico) and Branislau Samoilau (CCC) but they didn’t have any luck either.


Still no break

After an hour of racing, no one managed to escape despite the many attempts from riders like Tomasz Kiendys (CCC), Riccardo Stacchiotti (Vini Fantini) and Andrea Peron (Novo Nordisk). The riders covered 49.1km in the first hour and at the first passage of the finish line, no one had gone clear.


As the riders passed the 60km mark, Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale), Matysiak and Giacomo Berlato (Vini Fantini) were among the active riders and later Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) and Sergei Tvetcov (Androni) also gave it a try. However, at the 70km mark it was still a compact peloton.


28 riders get clear

A 14-rider group briefly got clear and when that move had been neutralized, Sylwester Szmyd (CCC) gave it a go. When he was brought back, the attacking continued until a break was finally formed after 87km of very fast racing.


When the elastic snapped, it was a big 28-rider group that had taken off and at the 91km mark, Marco Canola, Nicolo Pacinotti (Italy), Eugenio Alafaci, Marco Coledan, Calvin Watson, Laurent Didier (Trek), Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ), Winner Anacona, Enrique Sanz (Movistar), Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE), Zepuntke, Lasse Norman Hansen (Cannondale), Pavel Kochetkov, Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Franco Pellizotti, Marco Frapporti (Androni), Kiendys, Matysiak (CCC), Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia), Stacchioti, Malaguti (Vini Fantini), Eugert Zhupa, Mauro Finetto (Southeast), Dylan Girdlestone (Drapac), Christopher Williams (Novo Nordisk), Giovanni Carboni (Uniero) and Marco Tizza (Idea) were 1.50 ahead. However, Ag2r had missed the move so they went straight to the front to chase.


Movistar start to chase

Nonetheless, the gap went out to 3.08 at the end of the second hour before the escapees started to lose ground. As Movistar came to the fore to lead the chase, the gap came down even further and those two teams had brought the gap down to 1.40 at the 120km mark.


Movistar were the most active and at the bottom of the Massino Visconti climb after 130km of racing, the Spanish team had reduced their deficit to just 33 seconds. Coledan and Williams were dropped immediately and later the group disintegrated completely until only Canola, Anacona, Meyer, Kochetkov, Vorganov, Pellizotti and Finetto remained in the lead. They were 38 seconds ahead while Sanz was a few seconds further behind.


Popovych goes down

At the top of the climb, the gap was only 25 seconds and Movistar were still chasing hard. They allowed the gap to get back up to 1.05 before they again upped the pace.


As the riders approached the climb for the second time, the fight for position was hard. As a consequence, Yaroslav Popovych (Trek) and Michele Gazzara (MG Kvis) hit the deck.


The break is caught

The Italian national team led the peloton onto the climb where the break was caught on the lower slopes. The attacking started immediately as Kochetkov, Vorganov, Pellizotti, Davide Rebellin (CCC), Damiano Cunego (Vini Fantini), Finetto and Francesco Reda (D’Amico) made a move.


That group was quickly brought back and then it was Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who made a move. The Spaniard was joined by Enrico Gasparotto (Italy) but they were both brought back.


Valverde and Rebellin attack

Valverde refused to give up and so he made another move with Rebellin. After a little while, they had a 10-second gap over Cunego while Gasparotto and Reda were at 15 seconds. A 23-rider group followed a little further back.


Reda and Gasparotto were both caught while Cunego continued for a little while. However, he was also brought back as the riders now headed down the descent.


The gap grows

Valverde and Rebellin still had an advantage of around 15 seconds while more riders managed to rejoin the peloton which got bigger and bigger. Cannondale-Garmin had now taken control but inside the final 20km, the gap was still 18 seconds.


At the end of the descent, the gap was 20 seconds and Valverde and Rebellin even managed to extend it to 28 seconds when they reached Arona. It went out to 35 seconds with 15km to go while Fabio Taborre (Androni) and Sergey Lagutin (Katusha) fought their way back from a puncture.


The chase gets organized

Katusha had now joined forces with Cannondale and their work started to pay off. With 12km to go, the 50-rider group was only 21 seconds behind and it was now coming down quickly.


At the 180km mark, Rebellin and Valverde were finally brought back but Katusha continued to ride fast. Inside the final 5km, Cannondale took over but in the end it was Nizzolo who won the sprint.



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