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2nd Monte Paschi Eroica - 1.1

Italy, March 8, 2008

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Cancellara tops Ballan in Eroica duel

By Gregor Brown in Siena

Fabian Cancellara (CSC) wins the tough Italian race on over gravel roads – a sign for another Paris-Roubaix victory?
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Fabian Cancellara duelled with Italy's Alessandro Ballan to win the second Monte Paschi Eroica after 181 kilometres of racing. Cancellara, the 2006 Paris-Roubaix champion, attacked with the Lampre rider before the start of the seventh and final gravel sector to catch the last of the day's escapees, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Slipstream Chipotle - H30). They maintained a 30-second advantage over the chasers heading into Siena's Piazza del Campo, where Cancellara took the win after hitting the front with 150 metres to go.

"I did not feel good this week. I was not 100 percent. Above all, I came here to see how I am going for Belgium," said Cancellara on Siena's Piazza del Campo, where the famous twice-yearly horse races – Palio – is held. "I would say that now I am in a good position for the next races."

Ballan had an optimum position, behind Cancellara, in the final kilometre, but didn't have the legs to finish off his sprint, which he started with 200 metres to go. "Maybe I went a little too early," noted the winner of the 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen after his second place.

German Linus Gerdemann (High Road), who held the maillot jaune after winning a stage in the 2007 Tour de France, led a group of six home for third position over Martyn Maaskant (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) and Baden Cooke (Barloworld).

Alessandro Ballan shows the efforts towards the end of the race
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"You have to give your all to win, and see where the limits are," said Cancellara, who added to his first season win, the Tour of California's prologue. "At the end [of the race], I had a lot of emotions in my head, and this drove me on to give my maximum. ... We hit the last curve, I was in front and I knew it would be hard for him [Ballan] to pass after that.

"It means a lot to win in front of Alessandro, he has won Flanders. It is also good for the race, to have two riders like us on the podium. There is a future for this race, it is beautiful race. Here, there isn't the pavé, like in Roubaix, but gravel."

The 2007 edition was won by Cancellara's team-mate, Alexandr Kolobnev, under sunny and warmer conditions, which were lacking today, as the tifosi gathered in Siena's Piazza del Campo in cooler conditions. "The only thing was the weather, but it can go like this anywhere, you never know with the weather."

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) on the lam with less than 27 kilometres to go
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Hesjedal was happy with his effort after being caught so close to the line. The 27 year-old rider from USA's team Slipstream was part of an early attack which went away after just 26 kilometres before attacking solo, 27 kilometres from the line. He was caught by the winning duo 18 kilometres later.

"I was just happy to be at the top of the climb, but they came by so quick," he noted. "I could see the other guys coming, and I knew [team-mate] Martyn Maaskant would be there in the finale."

He was impressed with the 'cool' race, "I just gave it all today. The plan was just to have a good ride, so 'mission accomplished.' Now, I will build for Tirreno-Adriatico and ride the Giro d'Italia."

Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) was part of the day's escape, and was impressed with Hesjedal's move while not so happy about his escape companions' unwillingness to cooperate. "It went well in the escape," he noted while sitting on the pavé in the finishing piazza. "The attack by the Slipstream rider was good, while the others just watched each other. I tried, but we were all tired. The gap was dropping [to the main group - ed.]. Then Ballan and Cancellara hit us on an uphill [in the gravel sector]."

63 riders finished, with World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) finishing last, at 10 minutes down with Fabio Sabatini (Team Milram).

How it unfolded

Clouds gather half-way through the race
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The second edition of Eroica started under cool conditions in Gaiole in Chiant with 118 riders; Carlo Westphal (Gerolsteiner) was the only non-starter. Italian cycling legend Mario Cipollini saw the riders off with race organiser RCS Sport at 11:19.

Gravel sectors and length:

1: km 35.0 at 13.5km
2: km 53.9 at 5.5km
3: km 82.3 at 11.9km
4: km 95.2 at 8.0km
5: km 132.4 at 11.5km
6: km 163.7 at 3.3km
7: km 170.4 at 2.4km

A group of 25 went clear at kilometre 26, before the first sector in Colle Malamerenda. Noted riders in the group were Russian Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) and Italian Champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step), who were joined by Mauro Facci (Quick Step), Francesco Bellotti and Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld), Stéphane Augé (Cofidis), Emanuele Sella, Maximiliano Richeze and Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare), Danilo Hondo (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner), Marco Pinotti and Kanstantsin Siutsou (High Road), Christian Murro and Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre), Frederik Willems (Liquigas), Luca Celli and Riccardo Chiarini (LPR Brakes), Eros Capecchi and Ermanno Capelli (Saunier Duval-Scott), Ryder Hesjedal (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), Matti Breschel and Anders Lund (Team CSC), Fabio Sabatini (Team Milram) and Ignatiev's team-mate, Alexander Gottfried (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

The escape group that formed 26 kilometres from the start
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Unfortunately, the race did not start out well for Italians Diego Caccia (Barloworld) and Emiliano Donadello (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), who crashed in the first sector. The latter suffered facial scrapes while Caccia, from Ponte San Pietro, was worse off, with a nose fracture and lacerations to his right eye area. "I will no longer race Tirreno, but I hope to be back in time for Sanremo," said the optimistic rider on his way home.

The group steadily gained time, dropping Pinotti and Gottfried, to the point of its maximum advantage. By kilometre 94, at the end of the third sector, there was a gap of 2'48" over the peloton, being mostly led by teams Lampre and LPR Brakes.

After three hours and four sectors of le strade bianche ('the white roads'), the average was 40.5 kilometres per hours. Dall'Antonia and Capecchi hit their fellow escapees in succession at kilometres 135, and while only getting a small advantage, it signaled the end of the big group and the formation of a more manageable-sized group.

There were now 13 leaders (Visconti, Bellotti, Chela, Hondo, Siutsou, Murro, Santambrogio, Willems, Capecchi, Hesjedal, Ignatiev, Breschel and Dall'Antonia), who had a lead of 1'25" with 30 kilometres and two sectors left to race.

Russian Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) was part of the early escape group
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

MTB rider Hesjedal saw his chance and took off at 27 kilometres to go, before the start of one of the hardest sectors, sector six in San Giovanni. His move put the nail in the coffin of the escape group while the remnants of the peloton were closing in. He quickly had 14" while the main gruppo, led by LPR, was at 1'25"; his gap grew to 25" at 25km to go and then 40" at 18km.

Hesjedal's gap fell back down to 15" at the start of the seventh sector, while Ballan launched the decisive attack, with the race winner in tow. The duo caught the Canadian at nine kilometres to go and were 30" ahead at five kilometres to race.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net

Results - 181km

1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                                     4.34.41 (39.536 km/h)
2 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - Fondital                                   
3 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team High Road                                    0.15
4 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30                 
5 Baden Cooke (Aus) Barloworld                                                
6 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Barloworld                                           
7 Niklas Axelsson (Swe) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli       
8 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team High Road                                        
9 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems                                0.38
10 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30                  
11 Giairo Ermeti (Ita) LPR Brakes                                             
12 Borghini Longo (Ita) Barloworld                                            
13 Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita) Barloworld                                        
14 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas                                          1.10
15 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) LPR Brakes                                       
16 Steven Cozza (USA) Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30                    
17 Ángel Gómez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Scott                                    
18 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC                                           
19 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team High Road                                         
20 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli         
21 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                          
22 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                     
23 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Saunier Duval - Scott                             
24 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas                                             
25 Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC                                              
26 Volker Ordowski (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                     1.50
27 Marco Velo (Ita) Team Milram                                               
28 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - Fondital                                 
29 Anders Lund (Den) Team CSC                                                 
30 Florent Brard (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                      
31 Ivan Rovny (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems                                    
32 Julien Loubet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale                                       
33 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas                                              
34 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC                                              
35 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30              
36 Emanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Group Navigare                                    
37 Tiziano dall'Antonia (Ita) CSF Group Navigare                              
38 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step                                         
39 Francesco Ginanni (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli    
40 Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) CSF Group Navigare                         
41 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Barloworld                                    2.20
42 Mauro Facci (Ita) Quick Step                                           4.10
43 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Ag2r-La Mondiale                                      
44 Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems                              
45 Matteo Priamo (Ita) CSF Group Navigare                                 5.20
46 Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Col) CSF Group Navigare                       
47 Christian Murro (Ita) Lampre - Fondital                                    
48 Jure Golcer (Slo) LPR Brakes                                               
49 Stéphane Augé (Fra) Cofidis                                                
50 Kilian Patour (Fra) Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30                   
51 Giampaolo Cheula (Ita) Barloworld                                          
52 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas                                            
53 Bert Grabsch (Ger) High Road                                           7.15
54 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) High Road                                        
55 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott                              8.20
56 Ermanno Capelli (Ita) Saunier Duval - Scott                                
57 Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat) Saunier Duval - Scott                            
58 Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) LPR Brakes                                         
59 Paolo Bailetti (Ita) LPR Brakes                                            
60 Lars Bak (Den) Team CSC                                                9.30
61 William Frischkorn (USA) Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30              
62 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Team Milram                                      10.00
63 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step                                             
DNS Carlo Westphal (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                           
DNF Alessandro Proni (Ita) Quick Step                                           
DNF Andrea Tonti (Ita) Quick Step                                               
DNF Jean-Charles Senac (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale                                   
DNF Blaise Sonnery (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale                                       
DNF Rene Mandri (Est) Ag2r-La Mondiale                                          
DNF Ludovic Turpin (Fra) AG2r - La Mondiale                                     
DNF Diego Caccia (Ita) Barloworld                                               
DNF Marco Corti (Ita) Barloworld                                                
DNF Jean Eudes Demaret (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                  
DNF Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                     
DNF Maryan Hary (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                         
DNF Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                       
DNF Steve Zampieri (Swi) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                      
DNF Filippo Savini (Ita) CSF Group Navigare                                     
DNF Francesco Tomei (Ita) CSF Group Navigare                                    
DNF Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli       
DNF Denis Bertolini (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli       
DNF Emiliano Donadello (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Manuel Belletti (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli       
DNF Roberto Traficante (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Thomas Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                            
DNF Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                      
DNF Oscar Gatto (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                              
DNF Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                        
DNF Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                             
DNF Kim Kirchen (Lux) High Road                                                 
DNF Marco Pinotti (Ita) High Road                                               
DNF Fabio Baldato (Ita) Lampre - Fondital                                       
DNF Emanuele Bindi (Ita) Lampre - Fondital                                      
DNF Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Lampre - Fondital                                    
DNF Roberto Longo (Ita) Lampre - Fondital                                       
DNF Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - Fondital                                       
DNF Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas                                                
DNF Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas                                            
DNF Alberto Curtolo (Ita) Liquigas                                              
DNF Matej Mugerli (Slo) Liquigas                                                
DNF Luca Celli (Ita) LPR Brakes                                                 
DNF Claudio Cucinotta (Ita) LPR Brakes                                          
DNF Raffaele Ferrara (Ita) LPR Brakes                                           
DNF Denis Flahaut (Fra) Saunier Duval-Scott                                     
DNF Raúl Alarcón Garcia (Spa) Saunier Duval - Scott                             
DNF Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca (Bra) Saunier Duval - Scott               
DNF Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Slipstream Chipotle - H30                            
DNF Michael Friedman (USA) Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30                 
DNF Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team CSC                                            
DNF Matthew Goss (Aus) Team CSC                                                 
DNF Martin Müller (Ger) Team Milram                                             
DNF Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Team Milram                                          
DNF Enrico Poitschke (Ger) Team Milram                                          
DNF Elia Rigotto (Ita) Team Milram                                              
DNF Alexander Gottfried (Ger) Tinkoff Credit Systems                            
DNF Nikita Eskov (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems                                   
DNF Bernardo Riccio (Ita) Tinkoff Credit Systems                                
DNF Alberto Loddo (Ita) Tinkoff Credit Systems                                  
DNF Ilya Chernetskiy (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems                               

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