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"It's great to win my first race for Cannondale. I'm really motivated this year because it's a new state after four years at Orica. I love racing in Italy and know these roads because I raced for the ISD team that is based...

Photo: ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - ZENNARO - PERI

ANDREA FEDI

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BORA-HANSGROHE

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CESARE BENEDETTI

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EF PRO CYCLING

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ESTEBAN CHAVES

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GP INDUSTRIA & ARTIGIANATO - LARCIANO

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GIOVANNI VISCONTI

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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SIMON CLARKE

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SIMON GERRANS

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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VALERIO AGNOLI

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VINI ZABU KTM

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06.03.2016 @ 23:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Simon Clarke got the perfect start to his European racing schedule for Cannondale as he won his first race on the continent for his new team, the hilly GP Industria & Artigianato. With a powerful attack on the final climb of San Baronto, he dropped everybody else and held his chasers off on the descent to claim the win. Andrea Fedi (Southeast) attacked to take second while Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) won the sprint for third.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Triumphant Simon Clarke: I am really motivated to well with my new team

Cannondale Pro Cycling Team scored its third win of the season when Simon Clarke soloed to victory in Larciano to win GP Industria & Artigianato on Sunday. A strong team effort netted Clarke the victory on a day that saw four Green Argyle riders finish in the top nine.
 
“I went in knowing we had an awesome team,” said Clarke. “We all knew with the team we had there, we should come away with the win if we did everything right.”
 
Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters expressed pride in the new signing who he sees flourishing at Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.
 
“Simon’s victory was just a matter of time. He’s an experienced and talented rider who just needed the right chance,” said Vaughters.

 

Ramunas Navardauskas set the scene for a Cannondale Pro Cycling Team victory in Larciano when he made the early selection. The Lithuanian champion flew the Green Argyle flag in an escape of 20 riders at the start of the 200-kilometre day.
 
“The guys were not working together,” explained sport director Fabrizio Guidi. “Four from that group went away, and we had Ramunas inside. The bunch catch the rest, and Ramunas and his group get the lead with four minutes.”
 
The peloton struggled to catch the breakaway riders when they began to chase. It took a concerted effort by Astana to close the gap. With the breakaway’s advantage waning, Ramunas set off alone.
 
“The climb is really steep in the first half and the second half is quite flat, false flat, like two or three percent,” explained Clarke. “We got to the last 100 metres of the really steep part to get to the false flat, and I saw Ramunas in the front. I looked around, and we still had five guys from the team in a very small group. I know it’s better to be in front of a race than trying to play catch-up, and that’s when I decided to jump across to Ramunas.”
 
By that point, Navardauskas has spent nearly 200-kilometres at the front, but Clarke was confident in his teammate’s ability to help him get a gap over the reduced bunch.

“We all know how strong Ramunas is,” Clarke said. “If he saw me coming across, even though it was in the break all day, I knew he could give me a couple more strong turns. It’s exactly what he did.”
 
Clarke had 20 seconds over the peloton at the top of the climb. There were 6km remaining – a 4km descent followed by a 2km flat run-in.
 
“I only needed to hold it to the finish,” said Clarke.
 
Clarke didn’t just hold the gap, he stretched it out even further, crossing the finish line 33-seconds ahead of a trio of riders including teammate Rigoberto Uran.
 
“I knew if I was given the opportunity, if I saw the opportunity, I could deliver,” said Clarke. “The team’s just had a really good camp in Tenerife. We all worked really hard over there. I did everything I thought was right these last couple weeks, and I knew I had good condition.

 

"I really enjoy racing in Italy. I had already done this race in 2010, I was motivated to get back here and get a good result. I dedicate the victory to the team.  I am one of the new guys and I was really motivated personally to do well and to prove that I am still strong.  I thank them for giving me the opportunity to win.

 

"I wanted to do well today, but also the whole team had good expectations. I was not expecting to win and it was a great day." 

 

"It's great to win my first race for Cannondale. I'm really motivated this year because it's a new state after four years at Orica. I love racing in Italy and know these roads because I raced for the ISD teamthat is based here.

 

"I wasn't expecting to win but we knew we had to give it everything after Navardauskas went in the break and worked so hard. When the chase group was closing own on him on the last climb, I decided to spark a surprise and jump across to him. We got together before the summit of San Baronto and then he helped me gain 25 seconds at the top. I dived down the descent and knew I had a great chance."

 

"Next up is Tirreno-Adriatico and were all motivated to do well. We spent a lot of time at altitude and that allowed us to work hard and get to know each other.”

 

Andrea Fedi: I am now a regular top finisher in the best Italian races

"This morning I would have signed for the second place when I looked at the start list,” Fedi told Spaziociclismo. “Then seeing how she started the race unfolded I started to hope for a good result because I was pretty well. I struggled a bit on the climb as it was truly fast. At the last passage I was a few metres behind and then I managed to get back. I tried on the descent because it was where I could play my cards . I made ​​it with my eyes closed and I arrived with 50 meters over the rest of the group. Unfortunately, however, Clarke had made ​​a nice attack uphill and there was no way to bring him back." 

 

"I have started to be a regular finisher in the top positions and I am very happy about it. This year I have done four races and I was in the top five thrice. The consistency in the results is what I want to achieve as it allows me to see things in a different light. For now everything is going well.”
 

“San Remo is a very tough and long race. I'm going there with the understanding that I can do well but if I am dropped I will not be seeing a drama as it will be the first participation and it is a very important race with so many champions at the start.”

 

Giovanni Visconti: This is a third place that I really enjoy

A late solo attack by Simon Clarke (CPT) on the last of four climbs brought him victory in the 199.2km GP Industria e Artigianato in Larciano, Tuscany, on Sunday, at the end of a race characterised by splits in the group and early abandons. Movistar Team’s prelude to Tirreno-Adriatico, which gets underway on Wednesday, also in Tuscany, took place in rain which fell over the entire course almost all day, only relenting near the finish on the last loop. But the conditions made no difference to the group directed by José Luis Jaimerena, who attacked continuously. 

 

Jasha Sütterlin spent 150 kilometers in the day’s early four-man breakaway with Lang (IAM), Schwarzmann (BOA) and Navardauskas (CPT). The Lithuanian dropped his companions on the last San Baronto ascent, as Clarke first bridged across to him then set out alone towards victory. Meanwhile, the Movistar Team riders sought to animate the front of the chasing group.

 

First, Ventoso and Visconti joined a five-man move on one of the downhill sections. Then Marc Soler did an impressive job at the front of the bunch, trying to pilot Visconti back to the fore. Soler ultimately helped launch Visconti towards his 3rd spot, after Clarke and Andrea Fedi (THA).

 

"It is a third place that I enjoy in front of the fans,” Visconti told SpazioCiclismo. I tried to do my best and the condition is there. The weather was not favorable, but I'm happy with the result.”
 

Cesare Benedetti impresses on home soil

Bora-Argon 18 had Michael Schwarzmann in the early break while Cesare Benedetti finished 6th.

 

“Normally I don’t like cold and rainy weather, but today I did not not freeze at all,” Benedetti said. “When we entered the last climb I still felt good, so I decided to go in the attack on the flatter part of the climb over the top. I thought if I start the decent in a good position there is also a good chance to fight for the win, but it did not work out like this. I could not go clear and in the downhill the group split. I was sprinting for 5th place then. It was a hard race and finishing it in 7th place is a good result and also a boost in confidence for Tirreno next week.”

 

“I think it was a good move to be in that breakaway group,” Schwarzmann said. “With such weather conditions you never know what happens. Everything was ok until the first climb. It was ok uphill, but on the decent I was freezing so much, I could not properly brake anymore. That’s why I lost contact with about 50k to go.”

 

“Today was a really though day. In these weather conditions you don’t want to ride a bike at all, but as a pro it is part of the job. Schwarzi (Schwarzmann) was in the group of the day which was good for us because we could wait and see how the race unfolded. Unfortunately, he had some problems when we entered the finishing circuit. In the end Cesare was really strong. He attacked on the last climb but in the downhill he was a little bit back in the group and missed the split. But 7th place in a race like this is a really strong performance,” Steffen Radochla, sports director, said.

 

Young Lampre-Merida talent shows his potential in star-studded GP Larciano

LAMPRE-MERIDA were looking for interesting feedbacks from the young talented riders and they had a good result from Simone Petilli.

 

The 22 years old Italian climber obtained a place in the top 10 for the first time this season, reaching the finish in 10th position in the second group of chasers behind the winner Clarke.

 

The key moments were the downhills from San Baronto to Larciano: the peloton was reduced to no more than 20 riders and LAMPRE-MERIDA was always present with Mori, Ulissi (despite the efforts made on Saturday in the Strade Bianche), Cattaneo and Petilli.

 

This latter rider was brilliant enough in the final lap of the San Baronto circuit to be in the chasing group behind Clarke. He used the remaning energies to obtain a place in the top 10. His team mate Mori was 26th.

 

No title defence for Orica-GreenEDGE with Gerrans, Yates and Chaves

The 39th edition of the GP Industria and Artigianato di Larciano has been won by Simon Clarke (Cannondale) with 2014 winner Adam Yates and Esteban Chavesfinishing in the top twenty for ORICA-GreenEDGE.

 

“The weather was truly terrible today,” said sports director Neil Stephens. “We expected intermittent rain but it was basically relentless, along with the low temperatures it made life difficult for the whole field.

 

“In those kind of racing conditions it can be very difficult to maintain focus and coherence out on the road. We lost Simon (Gerrans) after 120 kilometres and the boys did well to regroup and find some rhythm.”

 

“Esteban (Chaves) and Adam (Yates) worked really well together going over the last climb and it was a shame that we couldn’t hold onto the fourth and fifth wheels on the descent,” explained Stephens. “They both arrived in the top twenty and we can be satisfied with the result.”

 

Taking in to account the weather conditions and the difficult parcours, Stephens was pleased with the teams overall performances this weekend.

 

“The aim of these races for us was to get some racing rhythm under our belts in preparation for Tirreno-Adriatico. I think we have achieved that and we can go into Wednesday’s race feeling positive and prepared for the next challenge.”

 

Valerio Agnoli takes over from Nibali and Fuglsang in Larciano

As star riders Vincenzo Nibali and Jakob Fuglsang failed to deliver, Valerio Agnoli was the best rider for Astana in 24th.

 

"It was not an easy day but the approach to Tirreno-Adriatico is going well,” he said.

 

"Compared to Strade Bianche, all the team and I improved and I am sure that we will give a great contribution to our captain Vincenzo Nibali.”

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