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“This is the most important victory of the season. It was a heavy course and the five-star contenders have made this race really hard."

Photo: Sirotti


27.09.2016 @ 22:22 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) confirmed his status as the leading Italian one-day racer when he claimed a dominant win at Tre Valli Varesine. After he has been part of a four-rider group that was caught with less than one kilometre to go, the Italian still had enough left to beat Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and Francesco Gavazzi (Androni) in a 15-rider sprint to claim his third victory in an Italian one-day race in September.


We have gathered several reactions.


Colbrelli: This is the most important win of the year

Bardiani-CSF don’t want to stop! The #GreenTeam and its strongest rider Sonny Colbrelli won Tre Valli Varesine, the fourth success in 15 days. Colbrelli won the small group sprint leaving behind Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and Gavazzi (Androni-Sidermec). He also won the Trittico Lombardo challenge which includes Coppa Bernocchi and Coppa Agostoni.


“This is the most important victory of the season,” said Colbrelli. “It was a heavy course and the five-star contenders have made this race really hard. Two years ago I got very close to win it, today I had my payback thanks to a great support of my team and a great team director who managed the race in the best way.


“Since the first kilometers we understood it should be a hard race. Five laps from the finish, a few attacks opened the fire and the race rhythm increased. The final action of Uran was decisive. I followed him with Ulissi and Gavazzi, saved as much energy as possible and waited for the sprint. Everything was perfect.


"The race was very hard. I did not expect it to be so tough. I handled the situation in an exceptional way, in the final. We can say that it was a hard-won victory.”


Colbrelli took his seventh success in 2016, a personal record og wins in a single season. His success tally in five years as a professional is now 16. For Bardiani-CSF the victory is number 13 in the season.


“I want to dedicate my win to the team and to the Reverberi family. They have a big merit when I achieve this level of performances. It was not an easy choice to change team next year, because I feel this group like a family, but I had a big chance to make a new quality step in my career.


“Any chances to be part of Italian team at the Qatar Worlds? Honestly, I did my best to convince CT Cassani and I don’t want to think too much about this right now. If I’ll receive a call, I’ll be supe -happy and proud to to wear the Italian team colours . If not, I’ll be the first supporter. I can give so much to the national team. Maybe I cannot compete with certain sprinters but in a certain type of race I can speak my mind or at least help the team. I cannot do more than that.

"Now I'm still waiting for the Gran Piemonte. If I look back, I have had a second part of the season beyond the best expectations. It seems strange to say but to have suffered from pneumonia after the Giro has helped me. For someone like me who does not know how to live without a bike, twenty days off helped me to recover. The turning point, however, was the podium at Amstel Gold Race. At the time I was disappointed but then I realized that I could battle with the best. It gave me confidence and my season turned around.”

Ulissi: I needed more help to get rid of Colbrelli

Ulissi was 2nd in the Tre Valli Varesine. The result was the same as in Coppa Agostoni where LAMPRE-MERIDA's captain was also beaten by Colbrelli.

In the final kilometers of the race, the blue-fuchsia-green riders Petilli and Mori led the peloton and increased the speed in order to launch Ulissi who attacked on the last climb. He also bridged the gap in the final kilometers to Brambilla and Uran and he tried to launch the sprint of the small group earlier than usual to try to anticipate Colbrelli who was the fastest rider of the group. Ulissi crossed the finish line afew meters behind Colbrelli, obtaining the 2nd place.


"After a series of good results, I wanted to get the taste of victory,” said Ulissi. “There were all the conditions to realize this ambition: a good team, good condition and an interesting course. Unfortunately, II did not get much help in my attempt to make a selection and the race situation was certainly not favorable. Nevertheless, I tried to do the maximum, especially knowing that Colbrelli was strong and had more waapon. There was no cooperation in trying to get rid of him before the sprint and Sonny was very good on the climb so he deserved the success."


Gavazzi: Colbrelli is almost unbeatable

Francesco Gavazzi finished third. 


"The condition is really good ,” he told  SpazioCiclismo. Unfortunately, Colbrelli is almost invincible. It is impossible to drop him on the climbs and he is strong in the sprint, but that's okay.  The strongest rider won the race.


"Today  I was especially motivated. There is Gran Piemonte, but it is a race for faster people.  I cannot say that I am dissatisfied with my season. I broke the drought and got two victories. That's okay.”


Slagter: The podium would have been nice

Cannondale was among every bit of the action. A trio of riders escaped early and Cannondale-Drapac controlled the chase, bringing the move back just inside 50 kilometers still to race. When the attacks began to fly, the green team was in every move. Rigoberto Urán was the final escapee. The Colombian was brought back just beyond the flamme rouge and Tom-Jelte Slagter sprinted in for fourth place.


”Good day for us #TreValliVaresine Team made the race hard, happy with 4th place although podium would have been nice,” Slagter tweeted.


Movistar stagiaire impresses, Visconti sprints to fifth

It was a good performance by the whole Movistar Team in Tuesday’s 196km Tre Valli Varesine (1.HC), the first of four one-day events the Eusebio Unzué-managed squad - directed from today, and up until Il Lombardia (Saturday), by José Luis Arrieta - will complete to fulfil the 2016 European campaign. The Blues fought in all decisive breaks plus the final sprint on a very open circuit, with the climbs towards the Montello and Via Trentini creating a small field where in-form Sonny Colbrelli (BAR) prevailed in the end.


Three men from the Blues shone in the moves, with Dayer Quintana, Jonathan Castroviejo - on the pursuit after several moves attempted to create chaos in the peloton with still three laps to go - and, above all, an excellent Richard Carapaz (32nd) featuring prominently. The man from Ecuador went after all attacks, even in the final lap, and left an excellent taste in his 18th racing day as a Movistar Team rider.


In the decisive sprint, a tough one due to the hard pace all day and the continuous ups and downs, Giovanni Visconti took the day’s 5th place, the Italian set to lead again the Blues tomorrow at Milano-Torino, the oldest race in the UCI Europe Tour, on Wednesday.


Gilbert: It was not the best result and it wasn’t the worst result

Philippe Gilbert sprinted to sixth place in the nail-biting finale of Tre Valli Varesine which saw a select group battle to the line, with Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) taking the win.


With the breakaway reeled in 50km before the finish line there was plenty of time for multiple attacks to go off the front, including those with Alessandro De Marchi and Damiano Caruso.


BMC Racing Team took control of the race with three laps remaining and set a high pace that made attacks difficult in the closing stages of the race.


Eventually it came down to a group of around 30 riders, including Gilbert, who went clear in the final 2km. Although a four-rider group looked set to challenge for the win the larger group with Gilbert caught brought it back together 500m before the line, setting the stage for the reduced-bunch sprint.


Philippe Gilbert said:


“It was really hard. I was feeling ok and I always like when it’s a circuit race, any type of circuit. We decided to control the race with three laps to go because it was a bit out of control and we didn’t want a group to go away in case we didn’t have anyone in there. That’s why we tried to regroup and work together as a team and I think it was a good decision. Of course I was maybe alone in the last 2 or 3km but that’s a risk you take. In the finale I was between the two group but then we came back together and it came down to a sprint. It wasn’t the best result and it wasn’t the worst result.


“Many guys say that Giro del Piemonte, my next race, is completely flat. Others say that there are some little climbs at the end so we’ll have to see when we get out there and until we see the official parcours we don’t know how it will go.”


Sports director Valerio Piva added:


“At the end it was a small group arriving at the finish line with Philippe Gilbert. We controlled the race in the final three laps to keep the pace high and stop any attacks as Philippe was feeling good. He was hoping to attack on the last climb and he was good, but not good enough to go early. He was able to stay up there to contest the sprint.


“The team worked really hard today. Alessandro De Marchi and Damiano Caruso jumped in two different breakaways but it was clear that there were a lot of teams chasing hard and the race came back together on many occasions. That is why we wanted to bring Philippe to the finale with a good positon as he is one of our faster guys. We didn’t get the win but I’m very happy with how the team worked and their ability to control the race.”


Keukeleire shows improved climbing skills at Tre Valli Varesine

Vuelta a España stage winner Jens Keukeleire had an impressive ride today to finish in a respectable seventh place, in what was a hard and aggressive one-day race, Tre Valli Varesine. 


The 27-year-old Belgian displayed his top form, able to follow many moves to stay in contention in the hectic unpredictable finale.


Keukeleire followed an attack with just 2.5kilometres to go however, the race eventually came down to a reduced group sprint.


Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) proved to be the fastest on the day taking the race victory with Keukeleire fighting hard to claim seventh place.


Sport director Dave McPartland was impressed with Keukeleire’s showing and his aggression in the final kilometres.


“Today really showed Jen’s top condition at the moment,” said McPartland. “He is really motivated and only a year or two ago we would have said this course isn’t for him but today he showed that he is capable.”


“He probably paid for it a little bit when he went with the move on the final climb. He could have afforded to be a little more patient but he chose to put it out there and really try for the win.” 


A breakaway of three-riders animated the first part of the race but were finally brought back and the race instantly lit up with numerous attacks starting with still 70kilometres left to race.


“It is a hard circuit but it was made even harder by all the teams,” McPartland continued. “The race was already on with six laps to go. Today for us was about being a little more conservative early on and Keukeleire did a great job in the final.”


Brambilla animates Tre Valli Varesine

The Italian national team tried with Gianluca Brambilla in the finale.


"Bravo to Brambilla who tried,” says national coach Davide Cassani. “It is a shame that he didn’t succeed. "


The next event for the national team is Gran Piemonte, September 29 where the team will line up Edoardo Affini, Michael Bresciani, Marco Coledan, Simone Consonni, Fabio Felline, Filippo Ganna, Riccardo Minali and Giacomo Nizzolo.


Aru: This gives me confidence for Milan-Turin and Il Lombardia

“I think we did a very good performance as a team,” commented Fabio Aru after the end of the race. “I’ve tried on the first longest climb of the Varese circuit in the last lap. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an advantage and nobody could.


“Then there were some riders faster than me in the sprint and I finished 9th,” concluded Aru. “It is a position in the top ten that is good, looking ahead to tomorrow’s Milano – Torino and Saturday’s Lombardia.”


Nibali optimistic after comeback race

Today’s Tre Valli Varesine was the last race in Europe for Vincenzo Nibali wearing the Astana Pro Team jersey.


“It was my first race after the crash at the Olympic Games and I was happy to ride with dossard number 1 due to last year’s victory here in Varese. Talking about the performance, I can say I’m satisfied because I demonstrated that I’ve worked at my best to recover from the injury. I was at the front and this is a good thing for me.


"At first I felt good. Then in the last 4 laps the pace was high and I felt that something was missing in my legs but with 25 days of training, I could not ask for more. I had fun.”


Aggressive Sbaragli: It was good to try a new approach

Today’s 3 attackers were caught with 50km to go by an already reduced peloton. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had Kristian Sbaragli, Omar Fraile, Serge Pauwels, Igor Anton and Kanstantsin Siutsou present for the definitive part of the race.


Initially Omar Fraile, Igor Anton and Kanstantsin Siutsou were working to keep the race together for Sbaragli but when the Italian showed he had some great climbing legs, the African Team started participating in a few attacks to make the race harder.


It wasn’t until the final lap of 12km when a race winning selection formed. On the final circuit climb, Ulissi countered an attack from Fabio Aru and Gianluca Brambilla (Italian National), Colbrelli and Sbaragli followed. With just 2km to go, the quartet were hesitant to work together and another 15 riders were able to come back to them. Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) was the next to surge ahead but he was caught just after passing the 1km to go banner and the road continually dragged upward. Sbaragli had clearly spent a lot of energy following the attacks on the climbs and so when it came to the sprint finale, he was missing that final kick. In the end Sbaragli could still muscle his way into 10th place, an impressive ride on a difficult course.


Kristian Sbaragli said:


”The race today was super hard. It felt very similar to an Ardennes classic actually.  I was feeling good and at 5km to go when Ulissi and Brambilla attacked I was able to go with them. Unfortunately we looked at each other too much and a small group came across to us with 2km to go. I wanted to try something today and it didn’t work out in terms of getting the win but it was nice to try a different approach.”


Guldhammer and Wegmann come up short at Tre Valli Varesine

After an animated final, the Italian autumn classic Tre Valli Varesine (1.HC) was decided in the sprint of a small group. Rasmus Guldhammer was the best-placed Team Stölting Service Rider in 21st place.


Fabian Wegmann and Rasmus Guldhammer were still present in the first group with two laps to go, but couldn’t follow the favourites’ moves on the final lap. The last three kilometres were mostly uphill, and several riders tried to get away, but eventually Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani – CSF) won the sprint of a small group, sixteen seconds ahead of Guldhammer who finished 21st.


“It was a very strong peloton with ten WorldTour team,” said Sports Director Jochen Hahn. “Fabian and Rasmus did well, after all we had a totally different preparation than the top teams. Looking back on how the race developed, we got a good result.”


Barguil optimistic after aggressive ride at Tre Valli Varesine

Team Giant-Alpecin were active in the finale, especially with Warren Barguil and Simon Geschke trying to get away. For the team, Warren Barguil was the first rider home in 25th place, closely followed by Sam Oomen in 31st place.


Both Johannes Fröhlinger and Fredrik Ludvigsson were involved in a crash in the feed zone and were unable to finish the race.


Warren Barguil said: “I felt really good today and I am very happy about that. In the finale, I attacked but the bunch brought me back. In the last laps, I focused on a sprint finish but I came up a bit short in the end. However, I am satisfied with my shape today, after a challenging day of racing.”


Coach Aike Visbeek added: “It was a difficult finale to today’s race. We were a bit unfortunate with a crash where we lost Johannes and Fredrik. Overall the guys rode an offensive race but we missed one important break. We were able to bring the race back together with strong work from Simon and Tobias [Ludvigsson]. In the finale, we went for Warren but in the last 3km he wasn’t able to follow the small group that made it to the finish.”


Tre Valli Varesine circuit too hard for Bennati and Tinkoff

Tinkoff tackled the first of three back-to-back one-day Italian races, Tre Valli Varesine today, which culminated in a tough finishing circuit that prompted an attacking end to the race. Having tried to cover the moves before setting up Daniele Bennati in the final kilometres, Tinkoff missed out on the final selection which fought out the race win.


Sport Director for the Italian races this week, Lars Michaelsen commented after the finish:


“We knew it was a hard circuit, and it turned out to be a tough one that came down to the final climb, so in the finale it was the strongest who survived. I think that today we simply didn’t have the horsepower to make the front group.


“Michael Gogl got into a strong move with only two laps to go, but he was struggling with his breathing and that didn’t survive, and then we went for Benna at the end. However, the pace on the last climb proved too much. We’re just getting started here in Italy so we can refocus on tomorrow and the days to come. Tomorrow is another day and we have some other guys coming in so hopefully we can make a good plan for the coming races.”

Having been positioned near the front by his teammates, Bennati gradually slipped back at the pace kicked up on the rise, while at the front a select group formed that would hit the finishing straight together to sprint out the victory.


The team is in action at tomorrow’s Milano-Torino, the second of three UCI 1.HC races in three days, will then head to the Giro del Piemonte, before tackling Il Lombardia, the final WorldTour race of the season, this Saturday.


Voss takes over from ill Bennett at Tre Valli Varesine


Unfortunately, Sam Bennett still suffers from bronchitis and was not able to start today. Therefore, Paul Voss was BORA – ARGON 18’s leader today.


Zak Dempster, today’s birthday kid, started the race aggressively and managed to jump into the break of the day. The now 29-year old Australian was in the lead until 45km remained.


With two laps to go Paul Voss was still positioned well in the peloton. In the end, he had to settle for one of the groups that was dropped.


“Again a hard race here in Italy. Unfortunately, Sam is still ill, he could have played a role today. Paul was our leader then, but he already did a lot of races from the European Champs onwards, so he was not fresh enough anymore in the final to follow the best. Zak did strong race today on his birthday. He presented our colours well in the beginning of the race which was great for us,” said André Schulze, sports director.



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