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In the special team time trial where each team is split into two 4-rider squads, Swift, Kennaugh, Kiriyenka, and Cataldo take a dominant win ahead of Rusvelo to defend Swift's overall lead

Photo: Sirotti














27.03.2014 @ 18:01 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After Ben Swift's win in the opening half stage, Team Sky continued their dominance in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali when the team won today's second half-stage, and 11.2km team time trial in Gatteo. With the stage having a special format, each team was divided into two four-rider squads and the combination of Ben Swift, Dario Cataldo, Peter Kennaugh, and Vail Kiriyenka took a dominant win when they put 15 seconds into one of the Rusvelo teams on the short course.


Team Sky have stamped their authority on the Settimana Internazional Coppi e Bartali right from the beginning. Earlier today Ben Swift won the opening half-stage of the race when he emerged as the fastest in a 50-rider sprint and now the team has also added the win in the afternoon team time trial to their list of victories.


For the second year in a row, the organizers of the four-day Italian race used a special format for the stage that saw the team getting split into two, with two four-rider teams doing their own race. Team Sky had made up a very strong team consisting of their race leader Swift and strong time trialists Peter Kennaugh, Vasil Kiriyenka, and Dario Cataldo.


The team was the second among the Sky teams to hit the course and they faced the difficult to task of beating the time of 15.45 set by the first Rusvelo team of Sergey Lagutin, Kirill Pozdnyakov, Sergey Pomoshnikov, and Arthur Ershov. The Russian quartet had been the third team down the ramp but no team had been able to match their speed until Sky started their race.


The quartet from the British team clearly demonstrated their rouleur skills when they put in a dominant showing and distanced the Russian leaders by a massive 15 seconds on the short course. Impressively, the depleted Cannondale squad of Alberto Bettiol, Matej Mohoric and Guillaume Boivin which was clearly the B team of the Italian formation took third, 3 seconds further adrift.


Defending champion Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) got his race off to a disappointing start as his 4-rider team could only manage 15th and lost 35 seconds to Sky. As opposed to this, Cannondale leader Damiano Caruso got a nice beginning as his team took 6th and so he gained a few more seconds after already scoring bonus seconds in the opening half-stage.


The YellowFluo team was another big winner as the team managed to take 4th and 5th with their two teams to set Mauro Finetto and Matteo Rabottini well up for a fine GC result.


With the win, Swift of course defended the lead he took in the first half-stage and he heads into tomorrow with a 6-second gap over his teammates.


The race continues tomorrow when the riders tackle a tough 160.2km second stage. After a flat start, the stage ends with five laps on a difficult circuit that contains a big climb that is followed by a downhill run to the finish. The stage is the only chance for the climbers to gain time ahead of Sunday's time trial.


A short, flat affair

After the opening half-stage, the Italian race continued with a short 11.3km team time trial that started and finished in Gatteo. Even though the second part was slightly uphill, it was a predominantly flat affair that was expected to suit the biggest specialists.


The first team down the ramp was the first of the two Unitedhealthcare squads but their time of 16.33 was beaten by the second team from Bardiani. However, many expected a good performance from the track specialists of Rusvelo and so it was no surprise when the Russians lowered the mark by posting a time of 15.45.


Cannondale get close

The first Topsport Vlaanderen team got close when they set a time of 15.53 and the next team to go below the 16-minute mark was the first Androni team with a time of 15.57. None of the continental teams were any match to the bigger squads and so the next interesting time was expected to come from Cannondale.


Despite being down to just three riders, the three youngster Mohoric, Bettiol, and Boivin crossed the line in 15.48 to move into second. The first Neri Sottoli team finished in exactly the same time a little later while the first Sky team was far off the mark with a time of 16.28. Adria Mobil was the first continental team to go below 16 minutes when they posted a time of 15.56.


Good ride by Rusvelo

It was now time for the second wave of teams and again Rusvelo was the first to go close when the second team finished in a time of 15.54. Topsport Vlaanderen continued their good showing by positing a time of 15.56 while Androni set Franco Pellizotti and Diego Rosa up for the GC by finishing in 15.57.


Again Cannondale was the next team to be up there when Caruso continued his good start by setting a time of 15.52 while YellowFluo was slightly better with 15.51. However, all eyes were now on Sky and the British team lived up their role as favourites when they crushed the opposition, going 15 seconds faster than Rusvelo.


The only team among the late starters that could be expected to challenge Sky was the Lampre team of defending champion Ulissi but when they crossed the line in a disappointing time of 16.05, Sky could celebrate their second win of the day.



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