In 2017, the GranPiemonte changed once more. With the event doubling as the Italian National Championships, the stakes were twice as high that year: in addition to the Classic itself, the much-coveted national champion jersey was up for grabs as well.
A very challenging course had been designed on this occasion, which included a quite manageable climb in the first part of the race, followed by a grand finale with an ascent up the Serra di Ivrea to be repeated four times.
The Serra di Ivrea is Europe’s largest morainic hill. It stands out among the Po Plain, appearing as a long, straight ridge – almost as a wall if you look at it from a distance, perfectly flat at the top, and more than 25-kilometre long.
The field of participants was a star-studded lineup of A-list Italian riders only, such as Diego Ulissi, Gianni Moscon, Vincenzo Nibali, Giulio Ciccone, Damiano Caruso, Fabio Aru, Matteo Trentin and Sonny Colbrelli.
As expected, the race came to life along the decisive circuit around Ivrea. More precisely, along the climb up the Serra in the last lap. Even more specifically, two and a half kilometres from the summit.
Astana Pro Team’s Dario Cataldo was setting the pace at the front of the lead group. Behind him, his captain Fabio Aru was ready to go flat out.
And so the next second, the Sardinian climber pulled out of his slipstream, splitting the gruppetto in the blink of an eye.
Only Moscon and Caruso attempted to go off in pursuit, but eventually had to sit up and wait to be reeled in by the other chasers.
Grinding on the steepest gradient of the final kick up, Aru stretched out his advantage and cleared the summit 35” ahead of the chasing group.
Ivrea was still 12 kilometres away, six downhill and six on level roads, which were usually not his favourite terrains. That day, however, the ‘Knight of the Four Moors’ was in a state of grace: after keeping his chasers at bay along the descent, he even managed to widen the gap, instead of losing terrain, as the road flattened out.
He pushed on, far off the front. His rivals could still see him, but he was just out of reach, like the profile of the Serra. He soloed over the finish in Ivrea with his arms aloft, 40” ahead of his immediate chasers, scoring a sensational double win of both the GranPiemonte and the Italian National Championships.