27-year old Czech rider Jan Barta (NetApp) triumphed in the final individual time trial – his team having already won the earlier team time trail – to take the overall win in this year’s edition of Coppi e Bartali. Various members of the team had graced the leader’s jersey since the second day’s team time trial. This overall performance rather confirms RCS’s decision to award the team a Giro wild card and silences the doubters.
The team rode a canny race. Apart from winning the two time trials outright, they kept their riders well positioned throughout and, as a consequence, placed not one, but two riders on the podium. Second overall was Barta’s Polish teammate Bartosz Huzarski, while double stage winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) was third.
Stage 1: Misano Adriatico to Riccione, 140.8km
The opening stage was won by 23-year old neo-pro Andrea Palini of Italian Continental team Idea, ahead of Cesare Benedetti (NetApp) and Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), who left some big names trailing in their wake. A break of five, including the winner, went away after only 7km and built up a lead 2:40 with just over 55km to the finish. Two riders were dropped but a further group of six riders, including Benedetti and Serry, bridged across. Despite the combined efforts of riders from Liquigas, Farnese Vini, Acqua & Sapone and Astana, the escapees contended the bunch sprint finish in Riccione. He who dares wins as Jens Voigt would say!
Stage 2a: Gatteo to Gatteo, 99.5km and Stage 2b: Gatteo, 14.9km team time trial
Elia Viviani (Liquigas) outsprinted Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Nippo) and Enrico Battaglin (Colnago-CSF Inox) for his sixth victory of the season on the short 99.5km stage 2a around Gatteo. Overnight leader Andrea Palini finished fourth and retained the overall lead, while Viviani moved up into second place, four seconds down. Cesare Benedetti (NetApp) held onto third place, on the same time as Viviani. Stage 2a was the first of two stages on the same day, with the team time trial taking place later in the day.
NetApp rocketed around the afternoon’s team time trial at 54.3kph in a time of 16:28 beating Endura Racing by eight seconds. This put Cesare Benedetti into the overall lead, ahead of teammates Daniel Schorn and Jan Barta. Androni Giocattoli rounded out the top three, 15 seconds behind the winners. Pevious race leader Andrea Palini’s Idea squad ceded nearly 33 seconds to NetApp, dropping Palini to 25th overall. Afterwards NetApp directeur sportif Jens Heppner said:
The team had a great race. We prepared specifically for the team time trial. And now it has paid off. Today’s course was technically demanding with several tight curves. But the team mastered it wonderfully. The fact that we were the clear winners and even managed to claim the leader’s jersey, that just rounds it all off. I’m very proud of the team.
Stage 3 – Fiorano Modenese to Levizzano, 151km
Lampre’s 22-year old Diego Ulissi secured his and his team’s first win of the season as he claimed the uphill sprint from Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) and Danilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone). Cesare Benedetti (NetApp) retained the leader’s jersey with a four and six-second lead respectively over teammates Bartosz Huzarski and Jan Barta.
Last year’s race winner Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) was part of the early breakaway trio who were out in front for much of the day but got taken back with 19km left on the taxing finishing circuit in Levizzano, an 11km loop covered five times at the stage’s conclusion.
Stage 4: Pavullo to Pavullo, 159km
Wins are like buses, they come in twos. Diego Ulissi registered back-to-back wins in a difficult sprint from a six-man break to beat Danilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone) to the line. Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp) was third and slipped into the leader’s jersey vacated by teammate Cesare Benedetti.
The winning break came on the final day’s climb, the Valico di Gaiato, with 9km to go to the finish and comprised the initiator Ulissi, Di Luca, Huzarski, Androni Giocatolli teammates Jose Serpa and Jose Rujano, plus Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox). The group of six managed to finish ahead of a small chasing group who finished seven seconds down.
Afterwards Ulissi said:
At first no opponent managed to stay with me during my acceleration, then a group of five riders joined me and we came to last kilometre together. Rujano tried to surprise us but Huzarski reacted, taking us back to the Androni Giocattoli rider. About 500 metres from the finish I launched my sprint and resisted the comeback of Di Luca.
Stage 5: Crevalcore, 14.3km individual time trial
Jan Barta crowned NetApp’s successful Coppi e Bartali by winning the final time trial and taking the overall classification from teammate Bartosz Huzarski, who finished second.
Barta completed the course in 16:46, five seconds ahead of Italian time trial champion Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD), while Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) was third-fastest.
Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD), who won two stages back-to-back earlier in the week, placed ninth in the time trial to hold onto his third place overall by a five-second margin from Garzelli. He also took home the points jersey and the one for the best young rider. The King of the Mountains was Androni Giocattoli’s Miguel Angel Rubiano and, unsurprisingly, NetApp were the top team.
This was a race where points needed to be made and they were. NetApp justified their Giro selection ahead of Acqua & Sapone, the team with two former Giro winners – Stefano Garzelli and Danilo Di Luca – in their twilight years. Androni Giocatolli couldn’t repeat their recent success at the Tour de Langkawi but were responsible for animating the race, placing their two top guys, Serpa and Rujano, in the overall top ten and winning the mountains jersey with Rubiano.
It was pleasing to see the young guns continue to shine with Liquigas’ Elia Viviani taking a stage and Lampre’s Diego Ulissi winning two, including his and his team’s first of the season. Also noteworthy were performances from youngsters Adriano Malori (Lampre) and Moreno Moser (Liquigas). Here at VeloVoices we were keeping an eye on Colnago-CSF Inox’s Enrico Battaglin, who placed third on one stage, fourth in the points competition, was the tenth-placed young rider – an indication of the depth of young talent on show in the race – and finished 54th overall.
There were a couple of surprises. Farnese Vini’s Andrea Guardini couldn’t follow up his successes in the Tour de Langkawi. And Astana were almost invisible, apart from animating a few of the breakaways. Endura Racing were again in the thick of things but this time with Paul Voss, demonstrating that they’re not a one-trick pony.
1. Jan Barta (NetApp) 14:00:21
2. Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp) +0:13
3. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) +0:21
4. Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) +0:26
5. Francesco Reda (Acqua & Sapone) +0:29
6. Paul Voss (Endura Racing) +0:30
7. Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale) +0:34
8. Jose Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) +0:39
9. Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) +0:47
10. Danilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone) +0:51