24-year old Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) lit up today’s stage in his mud-spattered dayglo kit as he took his maiden Giro win atop Pian dei Resinelli. He’d ridden on his own – having dropped initial fellow escapee Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale) on the first climb – for most of the cold, wet and foggy stage. To maintain his hard-fought advantage over the chasing group, he’d indulged in some harum-scarum descending on the penultimate climb, slid off on a treacherous curve, remounted and soldiered on. More importantly, he delighted the home crowd and every single television viewer when he dug deep into his surely extinguished reserves to find the grit, determination and strength of mind to beat off Joaquim Rodriguez‘s (Katusha) last-minute challenge in the final few hundred metres to the summit.
The 48th International Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey (Turkish: Cumhurbaşkanlığı Bisiklet Turu) is an eight-day stage race which runs from Sunday 22nd until Sunday 29th April. It started in earnest in 2002 and initially attracted little attention either from Europe’s major cycling teams or its best riders. However, the Tour’s recent elevation in ranking has attracted an increasingly competitive field. It 2006 it was ranked a 2.2 event, before being upgraded to 2.1 in 2008, and then again to 2.HC for the 2010 edition. This year sees 25 teams take to the start, including nine ProTeams, 14 ProContinental and two local Continental teams.
Cycling in Turkey has made much progress in recent years where it’s a rapidly growing sport, probably in no small part due to the Tour. In the last four years, the Turkish cycling federation has created seven international lower-level, four-day races. Two continental teams have been set up, both of which will taking part in this year’s race – Salcano-Arnavutkoy and Konya-Torku Seker Spor. In addition, for the first time since Montreal 1976, Turkey will field a team of three ex-mountain bikers in the London Olympic road race.
Pocket rocket Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) took the biggest win of his career – his first for two years – and recorded a prestigious victory and welcome boost for his ProContinental team ahead of the Giro d’Italia, when he emerged victorious to win the 36th edition of the Giro del Trentino. In addition, he won both the third stage and the mountains classification.
With the exception of the team time trial on stage one, won by BMC, this really was a race for diminutive mountain goats – the more diminutive the better. On the queen stage three, we were treated to that rare spectacle, riders in 34×29 granny gears, moving as if in slow motion, up the 15% average gradient along little more than a track to Punta Veleno. Runner-up Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) said it was even worse than the Zoncolan! Sylvester Szymd (Liquigas-Cannondale) rewarded his team’s efforts by hanging onto third place overall. Continue reading