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One year after his teammate Colbrelli’s win, Ruffoni took his first big classics win in a reduced bunch sprint at the GP Beghelli; Pozzato was second and Keukeleire third

Photo: Feltet.dk / Henriette Brandt

BARDIANI CSF FAIZANE

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FILIPPO POZZATO

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GP BEGHELLI

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JENS KEUKELEIRE

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NICOLA RUFFONI

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25.09.2016 @ 17:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Niccola Ruffoni (Bardiani) continued his breakthrough season by claiming his first big classics victory in the GP Beghelli. One year after his teammate Sonny Colbrelli had won the race, he made it two in a row for Bardiani by coming out of top in a 34-rider sprint. Filippo Pozzato (Wilier) finished second and Jens Keukeleire (Orica-BikeExchange) completed the podium.

 

In 2014, Nicola Ruffoni showed that he has the potential to become the next Italian top sprinter when he nearly beat Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel on two separate occasions at the Tour of Britain. However, a bad 2015 season may him disappear from the radar and it seemed like he would never live up to the lofty promises.

 

Luckily, Ruffoni has managed to turn things around in 2016 as he has been riding better than ever. He won two stages in the Tour of Austria during the summer and at the Tour of Britain he was again close to the best. Last week he finished second in the Coppa Bernocchi but no really flat races left on Bardiani’s calendar, he told Spaziociclsimo that his season could be over.

 

Apparently, his good form was enough to convince the team management that he deserved a chance in today’s GP Beghelli. The race is often decided in a sprint but a tough climb on the circuit means that is a race more for strong sprinters than really fast guys like Ruffoni who is not known for his climbing skills.

 

However, Ruffoni showed how much he has improved as he made it into the 34-rider group that sprinted for the win after Orica-BikeExchange had tried to blow the race to pieces. In the end, he used his impressive speed to beat Filippo Pozzato and Jens Keukeleire to take his first win in a major classic.

 

The 21th edition of the GP Beghelli was held on a 196.3km course that both started and finished in the city of Monteveglio. In the first part, the riders headed along flat roads to the city of Vignola where they did two laps of a flat circuit on the northwestern outskirts of the city. From there, they headed back to Monteveglio along the same flat roads before they got to the finish line after 63.3km of racing. The final part of the race was made up of 10 laps of the well-known 13.3km circuit on the southern outskirts of the city. It was mainly flat but included the Zappolino climb (1.5km, 7%) 8.2km from the finish. After the descent, the roads were again flat and only the final kilometre was slightly uphill at an average gradient of 1%.

 

It was a great sunny day in Italy when the riders gathered for the start and surprisingly, the early break as established almost straight from the gun. Odd-Christian Eiking (FDJ), Yuma Koishi (Nippo-Fantini), Diego Rubio (Caja Rural – Serguros RGA), Alberto Nardin (Androni-Sidermec), Artur Ershov (Gazprom - RusVelo), Thierry Hupond (Delko Marseille) and Andrea Ruscetta (GM Europa) had an advantage of 2 minutes after just a few kilometres and it soon went out to five minutes. However, the peloton refused to give them too much leeway and so the situation had stabilized after an hour of racing.

 

Several teams were contributing to the chase and so the gap had dropped to 2.50 after 65km of racing. The effort got slightly disrupted by a crash that involved a dozen riders. Meanwhile, an ill Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) left the race.

 

While Koishi worked his way back to the front group after a puncture, the gap went back out to four minutes where it stabilized as they tackled the first laps of the circuit. However, BMC soon decided to make the race harder and as they gathered on the front, the advantage again started to come down. At the 100km mark, it was only 2.32.

 

The situation again stabilized and nothing had changed as they hit the final 60km after three hours at an average speed of 44.7km/h. That’s when the peloton again upped the pace and as they hit the final 50km, the escapees were only 1.40 ahead.

 

The cooperation in the front group had gone and it was Rubio and Nardin who tried to get rid of their companions. Ruscetta and Koishi fell back to the peloton immediately and Eiking and Hupond were also brought back soon.

 

At the start of the third last lap, Nardin and Rubio were 15 seconds ahead of Ershov and 55 seconds ahead of the peloton which soon caught the Russian. With 26km to go, they also caught the two leaders and so everything was back together.

 

Orica-BikeExchange tried to make things hard and as they went down the descent, seven of their riders made it into a 12-rider group that was formed. Eduard Grosu and Grega Bole were also there for Nippo-Vini Fantini. They quickly pushed the advantage out to 35 seconds and it had even gone out t 42 seconds with 20km to go.

 

A regrouping took place and 43 riders had gathered in front when they started the final lap. A second group was 1.08 behind and seemed to be out of the battle for the win. Lampre-Merida and Caja Rural had missed the move and were chasing hard.

 

With 10km to go, the gap had gone out to 1.20 and as the front group continued to ride hard, a few riders were dropped, leaving just 34 riders in the front group at the top of the climb. Bardiani and Orica-BikeExchange took control and with 5km to go, CCC also moved up. In the end, the group sprinted for the win and here Ruffoni turned out to be the fastest as he beat Filippo Pozzato and Jens Keukeleire. Sonny Colbrelli made it two Bardiani riders in the top 4 and Simone Consonni (Italy) completed the podium.

 

With GP Beghelli done and dusted, the attention turns to Tuesday’s Tre Valli Varesine which is the first of four Italian one-day races that will be held next week.

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