Andrea Piechele, a rider of the Veneto-based Unione Ciclisti Trevigiani, claimed victory in Thursday's second leg of the 46th Giro del Friuli Venezia Giulia, from Pordenone to Casarsa della Delizia over a 158-kilometre course. Piechele had the fastest legs in the bunch sprint the stage came down to (as fully predictable, given the flat parcours).
The bunch took to the startline in downtown Pordenone around 1030am local time, and once more the pace was high since the early miles, so that nobody was able to make the gap and stay away. The first intermediate sprint (Aviano, km. 20) was won by Marco Benfatto (Zalf) ahead of fellow Italian Daniele Canziani (Pagnoncelli) and Daniel Schorn of the Austrian National Team.
The group stayed together until the first and only KOM sprint of the day, near the Caneva castle: Federico Vitali (Faresin Panni-Velo Club Breganze), currently sitting atop the mountains classification, tried to anticipate the bunch, but in vain; so his main rival Andrea Piechele gave it a go at conquering those two points he needed to steal the leadership, but he earned just one as he was outsprinted by Colombia's Rafael Infantino Abreu (GS Podenzano), to the delight of Vitali, that consequently maintained the red jersey. Attacks came also in the descent that followed, but again the very high tempo kept by the pack prevented anyone would-be escapee from fulfilling his objective.
At least until km. 65; that's where some kind of "breakaway of the day" finally formed: the first to make a move was an Italy-based young gun from Albania, Ervin Haxhi (Team Ciaponi); Niek Van Gestel (Bel - Profel Prorace CT) and Italy's Luca Fioretti (Monturano) covered such attack, and were soon followed by other riders. Such that at the feeding zone (km. 77) we had eleven riders - most of whom from the host country - on the front: Haxhi, Van Gestel and Fioretti as well as Marco Stefani (Danton Caparrini), Philip Ludescher (Austrian NT), Luca Zanderigo (Filmop), Paolo Capponcelli and Alan Marangoni (Fausto Coppi Gazzera), Paolo Tomaselli (Pagnoncelli), Werner Falthainer (Aut - Sava Kranj) and Derik Zampedri (UC Trevigiani), with the bunch a few seconds back.
The escapees opened a maximum gap of 1 minute and a dozen seconds. The second and last intermediate sprint, coming on the first passage over the finishing line (km 109), was won by Austria's Philip Ludescher from Tomaselli and Zanderigo. But with 30k to go, the sprinter's royal guards – among them the British National Team, working for Jonathan Bellis, plus Italy's Ciaponi, Marchiol and OTC-Progettociclismo – committed themselves to the chase and closed down on the breakaway group, that got reeled in about 10 km from the finish.
Hence there was room for nothing else than the bunch sprint finish: Andrea Piechele, in the best young rider's green jersey took his redemprion after narrowly missing victory the previous day and had a powerful sprint in the middle of the road, beating Marco Benfatto (Zalf) and the 20-year-old Russian Alexander Serebryakov (Gruppo Lupi), with Jonathan Bellis sprinting to a solid fourth place finish. The GC leader's white mantle stays on the shoulders of Slovenia-man Uros Silar (Sava Kranj), who finished inside the first group.
"Today I wanted to wait for the final sprint" said the 21-year-old from Cles, who took his first success of the season "(prior to that) I just went for the KOM points. Plus, we got Zampedri, our expected man for the overall, in the breakaway group, so we could just sit inside the bunch and wait and see what was going to happen. I definitely want to dedicate this victory to my teammates, who led me out perfectly with 200 metres to go, and my directors, who believed in me and brought me here".
At his turn GC leader Silar made the following after-race comments: "I wanted to give it a try at the sprint, but one of my teammates fell in front of me. Still, it's okay, as I managed to keep the jersey. Let's see what happens in the next stages, but (I can tell you) for sure that our main goal is to win stages".
Pictures from the race HERE
Stage 2: (Pordenone to Casarsa, 158 km): Top 10 Results
1. PIECHELE Andrea (Ita - UC Trevigiani) in 03h24'03"
2. BENFATTO Marco (Ita - Zalf) - s.t.
3. SEREBRYAKOV Alexander (Rus - gruppo Lupi) - s.t.
4. BELLIS Jonathan (GBR - Great Britain NT) - s.t.
5. PINOS Andrea (Ita - Basso Piave) - s.t.
6. BOZ Marco (Ita - Faresin Breganze) - s.t.
7. BUTTAZZONI Alex (Ita - Marchiol Emisfero) - s.t.
8. DI NIZIO Sante (Ita - Hadimec) - s.t.
9. OGRIZ Vid (Slo - Loborika) - s.t.
10. JORGENSEN Jonas Aaen (Den - Team GLS) - s.t.
* Complete Results HERE (pdf file)
GC after Stage 2: Top 10 Spots
1. SILAR Uros (Sol - Sava Kranj)
2. PIECHELE Andrea (Ita - UC Trevigiani) - at 02"
3. CAMPA Rudy (Ita - OTC-Progettociclismo) - s.t.
4. KLYUEV Andrey (Rus - San Marco Caneva) - s.t.
5. VITALI Federico (Ita - Faresin Breganze)
6. DE MARCHI Alessandro (Ita - Bibanese) - s.t.
7. CANZIANI Daniele (Ita - Pagnoncelli) - s.t.
8. COLO’ Alessandro (Ita - Promociclo) - at 06"
9. GIACOMIN Andrea (Ita - Parolin) - at 26"
10. PINOS Andrea (Ita - UC Basso Piave) - at 01'08"
* Full GC after Stage 1 HERE (pdf file)
Points: Standings after Stage 2
1. PIECHELE Andrea (Ita - UC Trevigiani)
2. SILAR Uros (Slo - Sava Kranj)
3. DMITRIYEV Valeriy (Kaz - Kazakhstan NT)
Hot Spot Sprints: Standings after Stage 2
1. CANZIANI Daniele (Ita - Pagnoncelli)
2. LUDESCHER Phillip (Aut - Austrian National Team)
3. BENFATTO Marco (Ita - Zalf)
Mountains: Standings after Stage 2
1. VITALI Federico (Ita - Breganze)
2. PIECHELE Andrea (Ita - UC Trevigiani)
3. INFANTINO ABREU Rafael (Col - Podenzano)
Young Riders: Standings after Stage 2
1. PIECHELE Andrea (Ita - UC Trevigiani)
2. KLYUEV Andrey (Rus - San Marco-Caneva)
3. DE MARCHI Alessandro (Ita - Bibanese)
News courtesy Giro del Friuli.
* 46th Giro Ciclistico del Friuli-Venezia Giulia - Stage One