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Did you say: “sprinters”?

06/10/2022

Some might have expected a soporific race, with an already written script: a breakaway of just a few riders to spice up the day, the sprinters’ squads controlling and then catching up, punctual like a Swiss train, to set the last few kilometres on fire. And the way the stage had started, that seemed to be the case: the bravery of Marco Tizza (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Andrea Pietrobon (Eolo-Kometa), Kamil Malecki (Lotto Soudal) and Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), who had broken away after less than 5 km from the start, was destined to come to nothing, because the finish line of GranPiemonte is too prestigious for the sprinters to let it slip through their fingers.

The only minor discomfort in an otherwise flat race is a climb 60 kilometres from the finish, Il Pilonetto, which doesn’t frighten too much as it is only a little over 3 kilometres long and located far from the end. Besides, does anyone really want to mess around with sprinters such as Elia Viviani, Olav Kooij, Giacomo Nizzolo or Mark Cavendish? Come on, the fate of the race is already written and this year, just like last year, it will be a bunch sprint.

Instead… well, instead, on the climb of Pilonetto it is absolute anarchy, the main bunch begins to lose pieces, riders come out like bullets, they try to put together an attack from afar, while in front are only the indomitable Jorgenson and Malecki. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) attacks, Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) attacks, Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) attacks, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) attacks. Viviani, Kooij and the other sprinters just can’t put up with these bolts and are forced to raise white flag.

It is a coup, sportingly speaking, and it bears the name of two teams, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert and Israel-PremierTech, represented respectively by Rein Taaramäe, man of the match for his incredible work over the last 40 km, and Daryl Impey. Despite the attempted comeback from behind carried out by battleships such as Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma and BikeExchange-Jayco, the patience and endurance of Taaramäe, above all, and Impey meant that the sprinters’ group never made it closer than 45 seconds, when Kooij, Viviani and Groves had no more men to spend in the chase.

The 106th edition of the GranPiemonte is therefore down to the 35 men left in front after the Pilonetto climb. And with no pure sprinters, glory goes to the one who, among the survivors, most resembles one, and that man is Ivan Garcia Cortina (Movistar), who, with a splendid comeback, outsprints Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) and Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies). The major leaders in the uprising against the sprinters, namely Intermarché and Israel, go home with a 6th place by Madis Mihkels and a 7th place by Corbin Strong, respectively. A meager loot indeed given the effort they put in!

For Cortina, a new dad since a couple of weeks, this is the third success in his career. The last one had come almost three years ago: “In Spain, when a child is born, we say that ‘he/she always arrives with a loaf of bread under his/her arm’, that is, with some sort of gift. Well, the bread my baby brought me is GranPiemonte!”.

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