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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 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).
"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."
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
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
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).
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.
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