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3/25/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!

Cunego wins at Piane di Mocogno

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali 2013

Ulissi retains overall lead

Damiano Cunego claimed victory on stage 3 of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali atop Piane di Mocogno while his Lampre-Merida teammate Diego Ulissi retained the overall lead.

It was Cunego’s first victory of the season and it arrived in typical fashion, as he rattled off a quick-fire sprint from a small group at the summit of the finishing climb. Cunego beat the in-form Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) while Matej Mugerli (Adria Mobil) held off Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat Polkowice) for third.

“The sprint was very difficult because in the closing kilometres, Diego and I had to mark all of our rivals, which was only logical,” Cunego said. “Santambrogio went from distance because he is excellent when he builds up his speed in progressione. I hung on in there and I managed to get around him. I didn’t raise my arms but it’s better to be certain and raise on them on the podium afterwards.”

The early exchanges were animated by a ten-man group, which zipped off the front after 40 kilometres. Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole – Csf) started the attacking, and he was joined Fabio Felline (Androni), Jaroslaw Marycz (CCC Polsat Polkowice), Leonardo Duque (Colombia), Klemen Stimulak (Adria Mobil), Chrisopher Jones, Keil Reijnen (Unitedhealthcare), Manuel Amaro, Filippo Savini (Flaminia-Fondriest) and August Jensen (Team Oster Hus Ridley) at the front.

By kilometre 70, however, Pirazzi had tired of the company, and he went clear alone, opening up a lead of two minutes over his erstwhile companions and four minutes on the main peloton. Approaching the climb of the Passo delle Cento Croci, however, Lampre began to take up the pursuit, and with 27km to go, they were just 1:48 down on Pirazzi, who now had Felline, Duque, Stimulak and Jones breathing down his neck.

Felline duly passed Pirazzi on the steepest section on the Passo Cento Croci and crossed the summit 22 seconds ahead of Stimulak, but the Lampre-led bunch was now just a minute down on the leaders. On the descent, Lucas Euser (Unitedhealthcare) managed to escape the bunch and then catch and pass Felline at the foot of the final climb to Piane di Mocogno, but the American’s stay in front would be short-lived.

Lampre’s pace-making brought the race back together and reduced the leading group to just twenty riders on the final ascent. With one kilometre to go, Cunego and Santambrogio attempted to slip away, but they were brought to heel. Ivan Basso (Cannondale) was the next to try his luck, but he was unable to get away as the road began to flatten out.

The stage was set, then, for the group sprint, and Cunego duly opened his effort from distance and held off Santambrogio to claim his first win of the season. Overall, his teammate Diego Ulissi leads Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni-Venezuela) by 58 seconds, while Cunego himself lies 3rd at 1:07.

“We had two objectives, to defend my jersey and help Damiano win the stage and we’ve done the double,” Ulissi said. “The team was fantastic in helping us do that, and then Damiano and I showed great understanding in the finale.”

The race continues on Saturday with a 14.2km time trial at Crevalcore.

Read more on Cyclingnews.com
Photo credit © Bettini




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