• Italy's rider Giacomo Nizzolo ofthe Italian national team crossing the finish line to win the Gran Piemonte (ANSA - BAZZI)Source: ANSA - BAZZI
Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) proved the strongest at the finish of the 100th edition of the Gran Piemonte, sprinting clear of the pack in the hectic reduced bunch finish to take the win ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) and Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff).
Cycling Central

30 Sep 2016 - 7:26 AM 

The race started off with a hard climb to begin and the peloton kicked off the race fast, splitting the race into three pieces initially, with the remnants of the peloton only just able to re-coalesce later in the piece.

With the two main groups of the peloton behind the front of the race reforming, it allowed a more sustained chase of the front group and the advantage of the first split was quickly reduced.

As the riders present in the move realised that the catch was inevitable, Romain Hardy and Stephane Rosetto (both Cofidis) jumped off the front to try and reinitiate hostilities but no one went with them and Hardy soon sat up but Rosetto continued, plowing a lonely trail in front of the peloton.

Other moves tried to bridge over, only to be swiftly shut down, but the peloton were happy with the solo move and allowed Rosetto a maximum advantage of four minute and a half minutes.

Fierce pace-making up the final climb of the day saw the peloton reduced drastically to a group of 40 and the gap to Rosetto fall to the point where the front bunch had Rosetto in sight.

Rosetto struggled on manfully to avoid capture until the final two kilometres of the race went he was swept up by the peloton jockeying to place their sprinters for the slightly uphill dash to the line.

In the end it was Nizzolo who showed himself to be the quickest, holding off a challenge from Gaviria to take the win.

“I'm happy especially because of the great feelings I've experienced all the way today,” said Nizzolo. “I couldn't ask for more in my last race before the Worlds.

“To win such a fast race against rivals of such a high level is fantastic. With the national champion jersey as a member of the national team it's even better.

“My goal from Nationals and onwards was always the Worlds. I have had a very good approach. I did not get the results I wanted in Eneco but I had a good feeling and they were very good again today. This is the proof.

 "I do not feel like an alternative option at the Worlds, not because I want to be a phenomenon but because I worked hard to be 100% at the Worlds and I was clear with Cassani.

“I do not want to be the alternative of anyone. With Viviani there is respect and esteem. We will find an agreement, but do not call me an alternative.”

The win comes in the context of the sprinter-friendly world championships in Doha, Qatar in a few weeks. Riding for the national team, Nizzolo showed that he is ready to lead Italy at the World Championships and the naming of the long list for the Italian national team included himself and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) as the main sprinters.

At the moment, a lot of national coaches are considering which one of their two star sprinters they will choose to support at the World Championships.

 In France, bitter rivals Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ) both want to lead the team and in the German camp, it seems that André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) has come out on top in the battle with Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep).

Runner-up Fernando Gaviria will ride for Colombia at the World Championships and had this to say after the race.

"I believe that, unlike myself, Nizzolo knew the finish and it made a difference,” said Gaviria. “He was the strongest too.

“It was a hard finale and I lacked a bit of legs. But I feel good. I'm in the form I wanted to have ahead of the World Championships and I have two more weeks to get into the perfect shape.

“I have enjoyed this race a lot because we rode at a high rhythm and it's exactly what I needed to prepare for the Worlds."