In 2017, the GranPiemonte was valid as RR event for the Italian Championship. The route, from Asti to Ivrea, was rather challenging, and the national champion’s jersey went to Fabio Aru.
In keeping with its principle of always reinventing itself year after year, in 2018 the race returned with a route that was tailored for sprinters.
Starting in Racconigi, and after a few kilometres around the Cuneo province, the course would then take a long ride through the Turin province, skirting the capital on all sides but never entering it. The finish was set in Stupinigi, just opposite the famous Hunting Lodge built by Filippo Juvarra in the first half of the 1700s.
It was a rainy day, marred by crashes, cold weather and echelons threatening, which made it even harder for sprinters’ teams to keep the peloton tight.
Taking advantage of this, the breakaway riders had sprinted by the Palace of Venaria (km 134) and the Castle of Rivoli (km 150) with a fairly good lead (trivia: both were royal residences of the House of Savoy, designed by Amedeo di Castellamonte with later contribution by Juvarra).
At 25 km out, near Piossasco (no royal residence here), Andriy Grivko was left out front alone, leading by over one minute.
Seconds kept tumbling off his advantage – 40’’ with 20 km to go, down to 20’’ with 15 km to go – until the Ukrainian stayer eventually surrendered to the returning peloton, led by Bardiani – CSF riders.
There was nothing left to do at that point but to wait for the sprint, which the bunch had been expecting and preparing since the start.
All of a sudden, however, Bardiani-CSF gave up after pushing throughout the day, working for Guardini. Senechal’s Quick-Step Floors moved up, followed by Lotto Soudal and Ballerini’s Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, but none of them could keep the peloton tight. The ensuing sprint was frantic, messy and amazing.
Colbrelli was left out front too soon without a teammate, so he did the only thing he could: he sprinted, from a distance, heading straight towards the Hunting Lodge he caught a glimpse of in the background.
Behind him, the others tried to respond, furiously, but failed to catch up with him and were left jostling for podium placement: Senechal finished in second and Ballerini in third.
Sonny Colbrelli was crowned king in Stupinigi that day, right in front of the hunting estate which had been the residence of Victor Amadeus II and Napoleon Bonaparte.