3/4/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
Moreno Moser wins with the Plasma Bar
Moser thrills tifosi with Strade Bianche win
Cannondale 1-2 as Sagan escapes for second
Moreno Moser became the first Italian to win the Strade Bianche race after executing a perfect Cannondale Pro Cycling team strategy with fellow young talent Peter Sagan that gave the Italian squad a rare one-two ahead of Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
Moser seems to carry the burden of a famous cycling name with ease, sharing the aggression and power of his famous uncle Francesco and the rest of the Moser family. He was not afraid to take his chance on the penultimate section of dirt road after almost five hours of racing, knowing that Cannondale could count on Sagan for the climb to the finish and any eventual sprint.
He went clear of the front group with a surge in speed at the start of the dirt road section. He swept up Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), and quickly dropped the tired Spaniard before crossing to the remains of the break of the day.
Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Michael Schär (BMC) were still working well together and Moser wisely let them stay on his wheel and only surged clear on the final steep section inside the final kilometre. The chasers were closing the gap and had Moser in sight but he powered away and then dived down into Piazza del Campo like a horse about to win the Palio, crossing the line with his arms in the air.
"I've always thought this race suited me. I like selective races because I know I'm competitive when it starts to hurt," Moser said after spraying his Tuscan tifosi with the winner's Spumante.
"On the dirt roads, it's all down to yourself and what you have in your legs. You can’t worry about tactics too much in this race. I went because it was the right thing to do. I got a gap, looked back and then went for it. Me and my uncle are different kinds of riders but I suppose we're similar in lots of ways too, especially in how we race."
2012 winner Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard) tried to inspire a chase and close the gap but Sagan followed him like a shadow and he was forced to concede defeat to the talented young Cannondale combo.
"We used our numerical advantage today. I worked for Peter on Thursday at the GP di Camaiore," Moser explained.
"We knew Peter would be marked closely today and so he helped me behind, closing down the attacks. I've got to thank all the team today. They all worked hard to help me in."
How it unfolded
A total of 79 riders finished this year's Strade Bianche, with the strong wind making the 188km and five hours in the saddle especially hard.
Most were excited about riding a unique race and the bunch chased down the early attacks and stayed together until the sight of the Renaissance Siena skyline and the first section of dirt road.
The breathtaking view inspired Michael Schär (BMC) and he was quickly joined by Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Giairo Ermetti (Androni) to form the break of the day.
The four covered 44.8km in the first hour and quickly opened a gap of four minutes after the first section of dirt road. The gap grew to a maximum of 10:50 after 69km and the second section of dirt roads near Buonconvento. However the chase was underway behind and picked up after the feed zone at the 106km mark.
The 11.5km fifth section of dirt road after 130km usually creates the key selection in the race and with Cannondale doing the work, the peloton split as the gap came down to 4:50.
Flecha tried a valiant but illogical lone chase but became stuck in no-man's land between the two groups, using up valuable energy. Everyone else was waiting for the final two sections of dirt road.
Cancellara looked strong and hungry for a third victory but had little team support. Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Sharp) was up there, while Cadel Evans was happy to play the role of BMC domestique for Greg Van Avermaert.
They were all perhaps waiting for Sagan and Cannondale to play their cards. Yet when Moser went, nobody got on his wheel. It was the moment the race was won.
Moser swept up Flecha and then dropped him on the final section of dirt road with a powerful surge while sat in the saddle. He crossed to the tired breakaway inside the final ten kilometres, while Sagan sat on Cancellara's wheel, following him all over the road to dissuade any chase.
Moser stayed cool up front, waiting for the final climb. He knew he had to win with Sagan so strong behind and did a perfect ride, accelerating away from the breakaway on the 18 per cent climb, able to enjoy every moment of solo victory in the stunning Piazza del Campo.
Plasma Integrated Compact Handlebar
Read more on Cyclingnews.com
Photo: © Roberto Bettini