Italy's Eddy Ratti
soloed to victory in the 32nd edition of Gran Premio Industria & Artigianato di Larciano, held in Tuscany today, with the San Baronto hill to be climbed several times.
The 32-year-old from Lombardy racing for Nippo-Endeka finished six seconds clear of a three-strong group, with the neopro Francesco Ginanni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) prevailing in the small bunch sprint for second place ahead of the Colombian Luis Felipe Laverde Jiménez (CSF Group-Navigare) and Giairo Ermeti of Team LPR (now Team LPR-Ballan). Ratti, a professional rider since the 2000 season, winner of the Tre Valli Varesine summer Classic in the days of 2002, got his third success so far this year, after taking a stage and the overall victory at Istrian Trophy in Croatia back in March. Three more Italians made the race top ten: Pasquale Muto (Miche-Silver Cross, 5th place finisher), Luca Paolini (Acqua e Sapone-Caffé Mokambo, 7th) and Ratti's comparatively unknown teammate Vincenzo Garofalo (Nippo-Endeka, 10th).
The first key moment came as the peloton split in two on the first uphill portion, 18 kilometres into the race. With riders from 15 out of 17 participating teams in the 39-strong front group, it was clear that nobody back in the second peloton was going to take over the chase, and that victory had turned into a matter of the frontrunners only, amongst whom were defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) as well as the likes of Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Frank Schleck (Team CSC), and the legendary veteran Andrea Noé of Liquigas - 39 and still kicking. Such that very few were really surprised as the advantage rapidly ballooned to ten minutes. No true chasers=no need to cooperate in order to keep chasers at bay. Such that very few were really surprised as the battle inside the front group broke out when they were still far from the finish, on the penultimate passage on the San Baronto, resulting in just 17 riders left in the lead.
More attacks came, and the good one was launched by Ginanni (a fellow townsman of the Italian NT coach Franco Ballerini), Ratti and Ermeti about 20 km. from the line. Laverde started a solo chase of the trio and quickly managed to close down on them. The Fab Four worked together for about a dozen kilometres until Ratti, aware of his poor chances in a small bunch sprint against faster rivals, gave it a shot at powering away with 5k to go. He didn't succeed - Ginanni was good at covering this move - but didn't give up either, and when he tried again in the last 2 kilometres none of three others, not even the man from Ballerini-land, had enough gasoline left in his legs to follow him. To the delight of Ratti as well as Nippo-Endeka's team manager Fabrizio Fabbri, a former DS at Mapei who made his comeback into a team car this year.
Top-class bike racing stays on Tuscan soil: much of today's peloton is set to move a little southward and get back in the saddle tomorrow for the 81st Giro della Toscana, running in the Arezzo area, with Passo dello Spino and Scarpaccia as main difficulties, both coming a bit too early in the race though.
32nd GP Industria Artigianato Larciano: Top 10 Places
1. Eddy Ratti (Ita - Nippo-Endeka) - 04h50'00"
2. Francesco Ginanni (Ita - Diquigiovanni-Androni) - at 06"
3. Luis F. Laverde Jiménez (Col - CSF Group-Navigare) - at 06"
4. Giairo Ermeti (Ita - Team LPR-Ballan) - at 06"
5. Pasquale Muto (Ita - Miche-Silver Cross) - at 26"
6. Dainus Kairelis (Lit - Flaminia-Bossini) - at 28"
7. Luca Paolini (Ita - Acqua & Sapone-Mokambo) - at 28"
8. Ruslan Ivanov (Mol - Diquigiovanni-Androni) - at 28"
9. Kjell Carlström (Fin - Liquigas) - at 28"
10. Vincenzo Garofalo (Ita - Nippo-Endeka) - at 28"
Photos 32nd GP Industria Artigianato Larciano
Gilberto Simoni leads the climb. Photo ©
Eddy Ratti finishes solo for the win. Photo ©
Francesco Ginanni wins the sprint for second place over Luis Laverde
and Giairo Ermeti. Photo ©
A very happy Eddy Ratti celebrates. Photo ©
Congratulations from a friend. Photo ©
The 2008 GP Larciano Podium: L to R - Francesco Ginanni, Eddy Ratti
Luis Felipe Laverde Jiménez. Photo ©