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After 12 top 5 results in 2014, Colbrelli finally takes the elusive victory when he beats race leader Matthews to win a 36-rider sprint at the end of a hard second stage of the Tour de Slovenie

Photo: Sirotti

BARDIANI CSF FAIZANE

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MICHAEL MATTHEWS

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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TOUR DE SLOVENIE

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20.06.2014 @ 18:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) finally took a long overdue first professional victory when he won today’s second stage of the Tour de Slovenie. The Italian emerged as the fastest when a reduced 36-rider peloton arrived at the finish to decide the stage in a sprint, holding off Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) who defended his leader’s jersey.

 

Going into the Tour de Slovenie, Sonny Colbrelli had finished in the top 5 no less than 12 times in the 2014 season but for some reason that elusive first professional victory seemed to always elude the talented Italian. Today he finally broke his drought when he won the second stage of the Tour de Slovenie.

 

The win came in a race that suited Colbrelli’s characteristics. A hard category 1 climb in the finale was set to whittle down the peloton significantly and when the pure sprinters are left behind, the Italian is usually one of the fastest.

 

Colbrelli dug deep to make it over the top of the climb with the best and so was part of the 36-rider group that roared towards the finish. A few riders tried to escape in the finale but there was nothing to be done to prevent a sprint finish.

 

Here all eyes were on race leader Michael Matthews but Colbrelli managed to deny the Australian a second consecutive victory. Grega Bole (Vini Fantini) continued his successful return after having had difficulty finding a new team by sprinting across the line in third.

 

The stage took place on a 160.7km course from Ribnica to Kocevje and had a very hard start. Right from the beginning, the riders went up a category 3 climb but from there the roads were completely flat until they hit the category 1 climb Reber. A fast descent led to the final 26km that were completely flat.

 

The hard stage animated the racing from the beginning as a lot of riders wanted to make it into the early break but it was Emanuele Selle (Androni), Sergey Firsanov (Rusvelo), Stefano Tonin and Giorgio Cecchinel (Neri Sottoli) that escaped on the first climb. The quartet was allowed to build a 3-minute gap before Orica-GreenEDGE took control and the Australians kept the gap stable at around that mark for almost the entire day.

 

As they approached the Reber climb, the pace went up and at the bottom, the four escapees only had 1 minute in hand. NetApp-Endura upped the speed as soon as they started to climb while Tonin was the frist to get dropped from the breakaway.

 

Firsanov escaped on his own and did well to stay clear for a long time while Colombia now had taken over the pace-setting in the bunch. They launched Robinson Chalapud off in an attack but a few kilometres before the top, both Chalapud and Firsanov were back in the fold.

 

25 riders crested the summit together, with Davide Villella (Cannondale) being the first rider at the top, but a few more riders rejoined on the descent until a 36-group had formed. They kept the speed high all the way to the finish and neutralized the few attacks before Colbrelli beat Matthews in the sprint finish.

 

With no bonus seconds in the race, Matthews defended his 6-second lead over Kristijan Koren (Cannondale) but faces a much harder test in tomorrow’s queen stage. The stage includes three smaller climbs in the first part before it all comes to a very exciting end on a hard category 1 climb to the finish.

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