Our journey through the five different facets of this Classic ends with the tale of the 2010 GranPiemonte, an edition that somehow incorporates all the possible shades of this iconic race, an edition that – considering its route – could culminate in any possible way, with victory going to any kind of rider.
The course was a 194-kilometre trek through the rolling hills of the Langhe, from Cossato, in the Biella province, to Cherasco, in the Cuneo province. The profile was hard enough for the climbers to try to make a difference, but short enough for some sprinters to try to hang on and jostle for a sprint victory.
There were more than a few untiring sprinters that day – most notably the newly crowned World Champion Thor Hushovd, and Daniele Bennati. With two thousand metres to go, the peloton was still over fifty men strong.
There was, however, one final impediment before a possible closing sprint: the kick up to Cherasco was short, but hard enough for somebody to try to reshuffle the deck.
Liquigas were around their leader Bennati, and Cervelo were sheltering Thor Hushovd. Early on the climb, however, it became clear that Omega Pharma-Lotto was the most combative team, working on behalf of their captain and odds-on favourite Philippe Gilbert.
Everyone had been keeping an eye on him, waiting for him to sail off. Still, when his much-anticipated attack came, no one responded.
Hushovd fell immediately far behind, and Bennati cracked spectacularly (he would eventually make it to the finish 1’30” behind). Quite surprisingly, Bertagnolli and Breschel managed to contain the damage.
At that point, however, Gilbert had jumped 20 metres forward, and nobody – none of the climbers, sprinters or stayers, none of the many riders who had taken it to the start line to battle for victory that day – could stop him.
And so Philippe Gilbert pushed on to win his second consecutive GranPiemonte. He was the last rider to succeed in doing so, and (not surprisingly) he is one of the few extraordinarily talented riders to have career victories at four of the five Monument races.