By David Hunter
Welcome to an action packed week of Italian cycling:
Tuesday – Coppa Bernocchi
Wednesday – Coppa Agostoni
Thursday – Tre Valli Varesine
Saturday – Memorial Marco Pantani
This week is crucial for the fight to win the Italian Cup and great preparation for the World Championships.
Of the 4 races, Bernocchi, is the one most likely to end in sprint. Sacha Modolo has 2 consecutive wins to his name and he takes aim, at a hat trick.
The 2 climbs are fairly steep, and we usually get a small breakaway, but the gap isn’t normally big enough, to take them all the way home. The problem for the climbers is the 30km of flat, towards the end of the race. That being said, if you get the right mix, in the break, it could surprise!
We have 27 teams in the race, 2 of those are national squads. Both Italy and Australia are using the race as preparation for the Worlds, especially for their under 23 riders.
The Italian Cup is crucial for Neri Sottoli. They have been devastated by the positive test of Rabottini, that’s 3 in the last 12 months. They know it will be difficult to get a wildcard for the 2015 Giro, but if they win the Cup, they are automatically selected. They need this!
We have some superstar riders here: Nibali, Scarponi, Guardini, Paolini, Modolo, Ulissi, Pozzato, Basso, Viviani, Sagan and Konig.
Ulissi returns to action, for the first time, since being suspended by his team, at the Giro. The UCI, never banned him, and now the team have decided to bring him back to racing. A very strange case!
The role of Sagan will be interesting. He will ride this race and Tre Valli, as he prepares for the World Championship Road Race. It’s his first action, since quitting the Vuelta, during stage 14. Don’t expect too much, as he’s using this as training for the big one!
Cannondale will be looking towards Elia Viviani. He has some impressive form, 2nd in Brussels and 3rd in GP de Fourmies, last week. This is a race he would like to win.
As I’ve mentioned, we should get a sprint. Here are the contenders:-
Guardini, Pelucchi, Ewan, Modolo, Bonifazio, Viviani, Belletti, Ruffoni, Colbrelli, Andriato, Vigano, Napolitano, Delle Stelle and Grega Bole.
The two time champion, Modolo, is not in the best of form. Bonifazio, will be on stand-by.
Nicola Ruffoni is sprinting well. He achieved 2nd and 3rd, in the Tour of Britain, and is starting to show some real promise. He should be fighting for the podium.
I can’t wait to see Caleb Ewan. He rides for Australia with the super talented Robert Power and Jack Haig. This will be one of his last races, before he races in the Orica jersey. He might only be 20, but he is very, very fast!
Matteo Pelucchi had a terrible Vuelta. A stage win in Burgos, had increased expectations, but he was ill and had to abandon on stage 15. If he’s recovered, he could have a big say, in this race.
Andrea Guardini is not the best climber. If he makes it over the climbs, he’s probably, the fastest sprinter. If he has great legs, from the Vuelta, he might just climb well.
Modolo might be the two time defending champion, but so are Bardiani! I don’t think Modolo has the form, so I’ll turn my look to Ruffoni. He was very close to beating Marcel Kittel, in Britain, and I think he’ll take his first major win. Viviani should be his closest rival.
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