Milano-Torino review

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) soloed to victory after jumping clear 1km from the summit of the final climb of the Superga which overlooks Turin. He displayed the same form that saw him animate last weekend’s World Championships road race to take – incredibly – his maiden one-day race victory since turning professional in 2002. Rounding out the peloton was Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) ahead of Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana). Pre-race favourite Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) finished fourth.

Contador dedicated his unexpected win to Victor Cabedo, the young Euskaltel-Euskadi rider who was killed after colliding with a car in training the week before, and his teammates. He explained afterwards:

This is a great win. My teammates believed I could do it from the start of the race and so I couldn’t mess it up. After all the work they did for me at the Vuelta, I still feel indebted to them and wanted to pay them back with another win.

This morning, when I woke up, I weighed 2.4 kg more than in the Vuelta, I knew there were 190km, that I hadn’t trained yesterday, and the day before yesterday I did only 40km, but the point was to get to the finish line with strength in my legs.

It was a maximum effort. Joaquim [Rodriguez] took a few metres and I started to work, I caught him, I took a breath on his wheel, and then tried to go. I’m very, very happy to win, especially in Italy.

Milano – Torino 2012 podium (image courtesy of official race site)

How the race unfolded

The 193.5km race was dominated by a breakaway duo of Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Federico Rocchetti (Utensilnord-Named), who slipped away early on and managed to gain a lead of over eight minutes after 60km. At this point Liquigas-Cannondale assumed control of affairs and led the peloton in hot pursuit. With 25km to go and the advantage down to around 90 seconds, Balloni went off on his lonesome.

This encouraged Eros Capecchi (Liquigas) and Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-ISD) to bridge across on the first ascent of the Superga and leave behind the early leaders. With only the final ascent remaining, they were joined by a group that included Kessiakoff, Kevin De Weert (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Contador and his teammate Chris Anker Sorensen, Ulissi, Marco Marzano (Lampre-ISD) and Stefano Locatelli (Colnago-CSF Inox).

Initially, it looked very much as if either Ulissi or Kessiakoff was going to win, but Contador put in one of his trademark accelerations to ride alone to the finish to take victory in the first edition of the race to be held since 2007.

Alberto Contador wins Milano-Torino 2012 (image courtesy of official race site)

Closing thoughts

Contador might be a couple of kilos over his ideal racing weight but it didn’t seem to slow him down today – quite the opposite – and he declared he was looking forward to riding in the Giro di Lombardia this weekend.

In the end, Rodriguez’s fourth place garnered him sufficient points to keep him in pole position on the UCI leader board. But the day’s main protagonists were largely those that figured in last weekend’s World Championships road race. With Philippe Gilbert (BMC) opting to skip tomorrow’s Giro del Piemonte, the racing in Saturday’s Il Lombardia will be eagerly awaited.


1. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) 3:32:12

2. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) same time

3. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) s/t

4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) s/t

5. Carlos Betancur (Acqua & Sapone) s/t

6. Fabio Taborre (Acqua & Sapone) s/t

7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) s/t

8. Chris Anker Sorensen (SaxoBank-Tinkoff Bank) s/t

9. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) s/t

10. Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) s/t

Links: Preview, Official website

Milano-Torino preview

This year in particular we’ve been bemoaning the disappearance or shortening of certain races as a result of the current economic climate. But here’s a race that’s making a welcome return to the calendar. Milano–Torino is a semi-classic ranked 1.HC on the UCI Europe circuit which hasn’t been run since 2007. The event is owned by RCS  – proprietor of La Gazzetta dello Sport, Giro d’Italia, Milan-San Remo etc – was first run in 1876, making it not only the oldest of the Italian classic races but also one of the oldest in the world.

Prior to 1987 the event was held the week before Milan-San Remo but on account of increasingly inclement weather at that time of year, it was switched to October just before the Giro di Lombardia and formed part of the autumn treble with the Giro del Piemonte. In 2005 it returned to its traditional date in early March but was then moved back again for 2008 only to be cancelled. An agreement was eventually reached between the race owners and the Associazione Ciclistica Arona, who will organise the race for the next three years.

What sort of race is it?

Milano–Torino is one of the fastest of the Classics-style races. Swiss rider Markus Zberg holds the record average speed of 45.75kph when he won in 1999. Italian Costante Girardengo took a record five victories between 1914 and 1923. The last winner in 2007 was Danilo ‘The Killer’ Di Luca (Liquigas).

What happened last time?

Danilo Di Luca (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The 92nd edition of the race started in Novate Milanese, just to the north-west of Milan, and headed in a south-westerly direction on broad flat roads for 95km before tackling the Vignale Monferrato climb followed by undulating terrain until Asti after 130km. Here the parcours turned north-west towards Turin climbing steadily before crossing the Colle di Superga, 16km from the finish line. It was then a swift descent down the Strada Panoramica to the finish in the Fausto Coppi velodrome.

Di Luca attacked on the final climb, the Superga, along with Juan Mauricio Soler (Barloworld), and claimed victory in the resulting two-man sprint. Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) was the best of the rest some nine seconds back to round out the podium.

Here’s Di Luca’s winning attack:

After the race, speaking to La Gazzetta, Di Luca explained:

In a sense, I was a little stupid on the climb. I went better than I had envisioned and I was able to make the difference. On the other hand, on the descent there were two or three types of turns I did not like. But Soler and I were able to hold a good advantage. Then in the sprint I went well.

1. Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) 4:32:40

2. Juan Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) same time

3. Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) +0:09

4. Stuart O’Grady (CSC) s/t

5. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ceramica Flaminia) s/t

6. Christian Moreni (Cofidis) s/t

7. Daniele Pietropolli (Tenax) s/t

8. Gabriele Bosisio (Tenax) s/t

9. Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile) s/t

10. Luca Solari (Lampre) s/t

This year’s race

The new organisers have sought to make the parcours a bit more interesting by making better use of the iconic Superga climb with its basilica at the top, overlooking Torino.

Race route

After 170km on pretty much flat roads, the riders will climb the mountain twice, starting from different sides with a quick trip into Torino in between. The final climb will take the classic route up to the basilica from Sassi. This will probably be one of the most challenging finishes of any of the big one-day races – 5km at an average of over 9%.

This isn’t dissimilar to the San Luca climb in the Giro dell’Emilia which is a bit steeper but only 2km in length. The Superga has similar ramps to the San Luca but also some longer stretches at slightly easier grades taking the average just below 10%. With the first ascent going up another slightly longer and easier 7km route the finale should be more selective.

Who to watch

Defending champion Di Luca (now Acqua & Sapone) will be wearing the number one bib and will be hoping to retain his title. He’ll have support from Colombian climbing sensation Carlos Betancur. Most teams feature riders who played a key role in Sunday’s World Championships road race, although not Philippe Gilbert (BMC). However, his Belgian teammates Kevin De Weert and Dries Devenyns (both Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who worked hard to control the race for PhilGil, will be taking part along with other animators such as Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) plus., Vincenzo Nibali and Moreno Moser (both Liquigas-Cannondale).

Garmin-Sharp is coming with Giro winner Ryder Hesjedahl while the Colombia Coldeportes team is packed with capable climbers and shouldn’t be discounted. Damiano Cunego, assisted by the wonderfully named Columbian Winner Anacona (both Lampre-ISD) might be looking to salvage something from a disappointing season. However the hot money, given the 18% ramps on the final ascent of the Superga, is likely to be on two pocket rockets: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Domenico Pozzovivo (CSF-Colnago).

There is no live coverage of the race although RAI will be showing an hour of highlights this evening.

Link: Official website