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Italian National Championships: Elite Men's Road Race - Live
By Fabio
Date: 6/29/2008
Italian National Championships: Elite Men's Road Race - Live

Italian National Championships: Elite Men's Road Race - Live
Giovanni Visconti vs. Paolo Bettini vs. Damiano Cunego vs. Filippo Pozzato vs. Riccardo Riccò vs ... the rest of a helluva field, resulting in a helluva race. Follow the action live here.

Hello everyone, welcome to our live coverage of the top event at the Settimana Tricolore, the Italian National Championships. We're obviously talking of the Elite Men's Road Race, that runs today over 13 laps of a local circuit of 18.7 km. at Bergamo town (Lombardy), totalling 254.8 kilometres. The Colle Aperto ascent, coming in the last portion of the circuit and to be climbed a good thirteen times, will have the task to separate the men from the boys.

Last year's winner Giovanni Visconti will try to put in a successful defense of the title he won twelve months ago, but will have to fight off attacks from top-quality challengers such as Paolo Bettini, Luca Paolini, Damiano Cunego, Pippo Pozzato and Riccardo Riccò, just to name a few ...

Five men in the break climb the Colle Aperto on the sidewalk.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1510 CEST We join the race in progress with over 190 kilometres covered already, and the peloton chasing current frontrunners, Tuscany's Alfonso Falzarano (Team Cinelli) and Piacenza's own Giario Ermeti (Team LPR Brakes), with Fabrice Piemontesi (NGC-OTC Doors) in between and trailing the two leaders by 35 seconds. A six-man breakaway group (Gobbi, Donadello, Sestili, Corsini and De Nobile, plus another rider) formed a dozen kilometres into the race and managed to stay clear about one hundred kilometres. One member of such sextet, Luigi Sestili, was the last one to wave white flag as he put in a solo attempt while the others were being caught, but in the end he was reeled in too. The Quickstep Armada burst into spotlight as they picked up the pace about 100 km. from the finish; they didn't make the gap, but still sent a clear message to all of their opponents.

1516 CEST "Piedmontese" Piemontesi (despite being born in the Swiss town of Sion, Fabrice is from Borgmanero, a town near Novara in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy) closed down on Falzarano (who, just like Piedmontesi, became a pro the past season) and Ermeti. The newly-formed lead trio lead the bunch by some 90 seconds with about 3 laps and 6 kilometres (aka 60 kilometres) to go.

Today's bikefight is taking place in hot weather conditions (and this is no news these days), with the sun frequently leaving way to cloudy skies, and vice versa ...

1526 CEST Quickstep, Liquigas and Barloworld are amongst the most active teams on the front of the chasing peloton as the race is about to step into lap eleven.

1529 CEST The front trio keep working well together, but Piemontesi, Falzarano and Ermeti are not that likely to make it to the finish. The bunch keeps them within striking distance. The escapess make it to the summit of the Colle Aperto hill for the umpteenth time.

The group chases across the aggregate road.  Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Yesterday's event at the Italian Nationals was reserved for the Elite-2 (Elite without contract) guys, and won by Pagnoncelli's Giovanni Carini. The fastman from Brescia added a new tricolore jersey to the collection of the mighty orange team from Lombardy, and such accomplishment could well help him find a place in the pro ranks in the (near?) future. More details about this race to follow in a separate article.

1537 CEST Back to the Elite Men now, with Lampre's Francesco Gavazzi attacking the field (that went down to some 100 athletes) and starting his own chase of the three-man breakaway.

1541 CEST Good news for Francesco Gavazzi and his fans: the Lampreman from northern Lombardy, in the spotlight during the stage into Locarno at the recent Giro d'Italia, succeeded in his chasing bid and joined the front group. We have got four men in the lead now.

1544 CEST But there are some skirmishes in the peloton too, with a good eight riders trying to open some gap on the others. In the meantime the advantage of Piemontesi, Gavazzi, Falzarano and Ermeti fell under thirty seconds.

The stretched peloton, driven by Liquigas and QS, keeps making time gains on the four escapees as they ride on a flat part of the route.

1548 CEST Cooperation seems to be over on the front, with Falzarano attacking, Gavazzi covering his move, and Giario Ermeti being swallowed by the pack.

Giario Ermeti is replaced on the front by Davide Torosantucci of the Katai Cycling Team, a professional rider since the year 2005, but with no wins in the bag thus far. The guy is getting some well-earned exposure at least.

1553 CEST Davide "Il Toro" Torosantucci holds on to a small advantage on the pack with just two laps left. The others have been caught. But now a LPR guy comes and quickly passes him. It's the Veneto-based Neapolitan Raffaele Ferrara, winner of a "Baby Giro" a few years ago, ahead of a certain teammate named Franco Pellizotti.

1556 CEST 37k to go. Liquigas lined up on the front of the pack in order to drive the chase. Filippo Pozzato looks well determined to clinch his first ever white/red/green jersey as a pro. The race is about to hit Colle Aperto for the penultimate time.

1559 CEST Paolo Tiralongo, a Sicilian living in the Bergamo area, makes a move on the Boccola climb, and so does Quickstep's Matteo Carrara. The "Cricket Team" has got plenty of talented riders, and they're alternatively trying to go on the attack and make the difference. But the likes of Pozzato and Paolini look to be up to the task, and are not taken aback by such moves.

About 30k to go. And about a hundred guys still left in the peloton, all main suspects to take the title included. The race is taking on a descent now.

Riccardo Riccò follows Pippo Pozzato's wheels while Matteo Tosatto is trying to escape the marshalling of the peloton with 1.5 laps currently remaining.

1606 CEST Milan's own Marco Cattaneo (NGC-OTC Doors) tries a solo attack. The man is not new to winning at the Italian Nationals: just like Giovanni Carini did yesterday, Mr. Cattaneo won the Elite-2 Road Race with the Pagnoncelli outfit a couple years ago.

His move did not prosper today though. Things stay fluid enough, but it looks like we're in a "quiet before the storm" situation. And the storm is expected to come in the final lap of the race.

1609 CEST It's the turn of Leonardo Moser and Tinkoff's Luca Mazzanti to give it a shot at going away. But the 30-strong peloton, steadily breaking into pieces, getting and losing members all the time, is on their heels.

1612 CEST Some 10-12 riders, reigning champion Giovanni Visconti, ITT race winner Marco Pinotti plus LPR's Gabriele Bosisio and A&S's Luca Paolini included, try to distance themselves from the 24-strong gruppo containing Bettini, Riccò et al. The peloton is breaking apart in a flat section.

The recently formed breakaway group, that gained three new members (Pagotto, Nocentini and Enrico Rossi), opened up a solid gap of about 40 seconds with some 20 km. to go.

1615 CEST Rinaldo Nocentini rides tempo in the brand new front group as the bell signaling the last lap starts ringing. Alessandro Bertuola of the Preti Mangini-Prisma team is also there. Two Barloworld domestiques, working for Enrico Gasparotto, drive the chase group across the line for the penultimate time half a minute behind the breakaway.

1619 CEST Francesco Reda, Nocentini, Miche's Muto, LPR's Bosisio and Lampre's Bossoni and Ballan take turns on the front of the lead group. The breakaway apparently found back their cooperating ways after a moment of uncertainty. Now it's Visconti on the move, driving the breakaway charge as they are marching towards the last ascent of the day.

1622 CEST The escapees are NOT working well together though, with Visconti doing the lion's share of the work, and the Bettini/Pozzato/Cunego group says thank you and brings the gap down to a mere 18 seconds.

1624 CEST Breakaway over! It's GRUPPO COMPATTO again as they hit the Boccola for the last time. Alessandro Ballan speeds up the pace, but apparently he's working for Cunego and not aiming for personal glory. Oh well: Bertagnolli, Rebellin, Riccò and Pozzato follow his move on the way to the top of the climb, resulting in a five-man front group.

The five "fugitives" took some 100 metres out of the field as they crested the climb. They're coming down the Boccola with 13 kilometres to go. Liquigas got two men in the lead quintet.

More additions to the front group in this darn hectic race: and there's Damiano Cunego too! Paolo Bettini missed the move. The Cricket is trailing by some 20-25 seconds. Luca Paolini gives it a go at breaking away, but in vain.

Paolo Bettini takes a pull on the front of the chase. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1629 CEST The situation is steadily changing, and the apparent lack of cooperation in the newly-formed front group might bring new changes soon as the race steps into the last ten kilometres. Visconti is there, alongside three Lampres and two Liquigas, while neither Nocentini nor Riccò have got team mates around to help. So it's no wonder than Rinaldo Nocentini gives it a shot at going clear all by himself.

1633 CEST THE CRICKET is there too!! Paolo Bettini finally showed up and joined the lead group with basically all main favs inside. And some more riders are coming too, neo-pro Mirko Selvaggi as well as Federico Canuti included. As a result of such late additions the front group went up to about 30 riders with 6 kilometres left.

Young Tuscan Mirko Selvaggi, at his first race on his homeland's soil since he turned a professional rider, gets some exposure as he rushes to the front of the "gruppo".

1637 CEST But more attacks are about to come in the last five kilometres of the race. Now it's the turn of Flaminia's veteran Filippo Simeoni. He puts some 100 metres into the field.

Pippo Simeoni takes his lead on the "gruppo" up to a dozen seconds, but the peloton reacts and steps up some kind of chase. Riccò is strictly following Bettini's wheel.

1640 CEST Pippo Simeoni holds on to a ten-second lead WITH ONE KILOMETRE TO GO. But Liquigas are chasing hard while Riccò keeps fighting over the Cricket's wheels.

Simeoni desperately tries to keep Liquigas and the oncoming peloton at bay. It's one man against the world ... and ... and ...

and ... and ONE MAN WINS!!

Visconti and Pozzato battle for second as Simeoni crosses the line and...
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

FILIPPO SIMEONI is the brand new Italian National Champion!!!

Giovanni Visconti took the sprint for second place ahead of Filippo Pozzato.

Filippo Celebrates!! Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

The peloton perhaps underestimated Simeoni's skills as finisseur and let him take too much of a lead. So, when they started chasing for real, it was just a bit too late. The peloton veteran could stay ahead by the slimmest of margins and raise his arms across the line, even though he looked like he never believed that he could make it, until the very, very last metres in the race at least.

The name of Filippo Simeoni has been almost exclusively linked to his "Tour de France affair" with Lance Armstrong over the last few years, but now he has finally made the headlines with something different. Kudos to Filippo!!

Two riders born in the year 1971 made the top spots today: winner Simeoni (able to clinch the national title in his fourteenth season with the pros) and fourth-place finisher Davide Rebellin. The biggest loser of the day was arguably another Filippo, Liquigas' Pozzato, once more forced to postpone his "first time" in white, red and green colours as a professional bike racer. Oh well, Pozzato is younger than "fellow Pippo" by ten years, so he has got all the time to make up for that.

But in the meantime, all Pozzato and Liquigas can do is trade accusations with Visconti and Quick Step ("you didn't help the chase", "nope, you didn't!" and so on ...) whereas the only one really satisfied over the podium, Filippo Simeoni, can smile and salute the Bergamo crowd (up to 20,000 tifosi) while listening to Fratelli d'Italia, Italy's national anthem, with that white/red/green thingy finally on his shoulders.

That's all for the moment. Hope you enjoyed this very hectic race and its surprise outcome. See you later!

Tricolore podium: Giovanni Visconti, Filippo Simeoni and Filippo Pozzato
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Elite Men's Road Race - Top 10 Results
254,8 km - 6h19'15" -  40,311 km/h

1. Filippo Simeoni (Ceramiche Flaminia Bossini Docce)
2. Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step)
3. Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas)

A very happy Simeoni is congratulated by his team. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

4. Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
5. Luca Paolini (Acqua & Sapone - Caffè Mokambo)
6. Paolo Bossoni (Lampre)
7. Ivan Fanelli (Cinelli OPD)
8. Marco Marcato (Cycle - Collstrop)
9. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre)
10. Gabriele Bosisio (Lpr Ballan)

Filippo Simeoni in his new tricolore jersey of Italian Road Champion
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

11. Nocentini Rinaldo Alm
12. Cunego Damiano Lam
13. Commesso Salvatore Gap
14. Selvaggi Mirco Cos
15. Canuti Federico Csf
16. Quinziato Manuel Liq
17. Mazzanti Luca Tcs
18. Caucchioli Pietro C.A
19. Caruso Giampaolo Flm
20. Pierfelici Luca Asa
21. Tizza Francesco Ngc
22. Moser Leonardo Sda
23. Giordani Leonardo Flm
24. Ricco Riccardo Sdv
25. Cattaneo Marco Ngc
26. Rizzi Bruno Ngc
27. Bettini Paolo Qst
28. Bertagnolli Leonardo Liq 18"
29. Carrara Matteo Qst 47"
30. Frapporti Marco Csf 01'58"
31. Pinotti Marco Thr 01'58"
32. Maisto Massimiliano Ngc 01'58"
33. Bruson Simone Asy 01'58"
34. Sestili Luigi Flm 01'58"
35. Bertuola Alessandro Gap 01'58"
36. Agosta Domenico Nep 01'58"
37. Signego Alessio Ngc 01'58"
38. Marinangeli Sergio Lpr 01'58"
39. Gavazzi Francesco Lam 01'58"
40. Bono Matteo Lam 01'58"
41. D'aniello Antonio Flm 01'58"
42. Muto Pasquale Mie 01'58"
43. Anza Santo Sda 01'58"
44. Masciarelli Andrea Asa 01'58"
45. Tosatto Matteo Qst 01'58"
46. Marzano Marco Lam 01'58"
47. Bailetti Paolo Lpr 01'58"
48. Solari Luca Sda 01'58"
49. Giunti Massimo Mie 01'58" 
50. Rossi Enrico Ngc 01'58" 
51. Miorin Devis Nep 01'58"
52. Lagana Sergio Lpr 01'58"
53. Failli Francesco Asa 01'58"
54. Reda Francesco Ngc 01'58" 
55. Gilioli Fabio Amo 01'58"
56. Gasparotto Enrico Bar 02'05"

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