Tre Valli Varesine preview – Ciclismo Internacional

By David Hunter

Saronno – Varese 195km

tre-valli

The run of Italian races continues with the 96th edition of this race. This week, in particular, is huge for Italian racing, culminating with Il Lombardia.

Route

The big climb comes early in the race, much too early to have an impact. This is all about the circuit in Varese.

tre-valli-1

The lap circuit contains two climbs, but they don’t look that hard in the above profile. Forgot what they look like, this is a very demanding circuit. The first climb is around 1km at 6%, followed by 2km at 4/5%. It’s not the gradient but the fact the riders complete this on nine occasions. Expect plenty of tired legs.

Tactics

This lap circuit was used in 2014 and 2015. Both times, it blew the bunch to pieces. In 2014, Michael Albasini won a sprint from a group of 6 riders. Last year, Nibali, attacked on the final climb and dropped everyone. Despite the climbing involved, Nizzolo was the last man dropped by Nibali.

It is a course that suits puncheurs but they still have to watchful of some sprinters. Climbers can also do well, just look at Nibali, but he was in sparkling form.

Like in any circuit race, there will be lots of attacks. Teams will try and place a rider in the break, to allow their teammates to rest up. The real action will begin with 3 laps remaining. A team will bring the break back and then the fun starts! We should have a group of around 30 riders for the final lap, with this breaking into a smaller group over the first climb. With 10km left, it’s hard for that move to stay away. The winning move should come on the final slopes, or it could be a sprint.

Contenders

Fabio Aru – his form continues to steadily grow, he was 4th in Emilia, after attacking too early. Despite his brilliance in 2015, Aru only has one win in 2016, at the Dauphine. He will be able to count upon the help of the defending champion, as Nibali should be riding as a domestique. Astana will have a large say in the outcome of this race.

Diego Ulissi – another rider who is enjoying a good end to the season. He is running out of races that suit him, so if he wants another win, this might be his last chance. Lampre don’t look very strong, Ulissi will have to follow wheels and hope to get lucky.

Michael Albasini – winner here in 2014, but very little form to speak of. I don’t see him winning it for a second time.

Kristian Sbaragli – one of the few sprinters who could make the finale, after finishing 6th in 2015. His recent form hasn’t been great, just sneaking into the top 10 in Sabatini and Beghelli.

Giovanni Visconti – wanting to end his Movistar career with a win. He was going well in Emilia, but suffered a puncture at the wrong moment. The Italian has all the characteristics required to win this race.

Sebastian Reichenbach -another rider who is enjoying a good end to the season. He would have preferred to have taken part in Milano-Torino, but that wasn’t possible. Instead, he lines up here, looking to breakaway before the final climb. He was at his attacking best in Wallonie and I hope for a similar performance here.

Rigoberto Uran – the Colombian just loves racing in Italy. He was 3rd in Emilia, a really good sign of what he might achieve this week. Although he is here to prepare for Lombardia, this race offers a chance for a win. Despite being fast, he needs to attack and drop the puncheurs, all of whom are faster than him in a sprint.

Simon Geschke – this is a great race for the German. He was going well in the Euro RR, but punctured at a bad moment. He’s a rider that doesn’t get to lead very often, I expect a big race from him.

Philippe Gilbert – with Lombardia looking too hard for him, this represents his last chance of a win in 2016. This route is wonderful for him, although, he wasn’t at his best in the Euros. The Belgian should be fighting it out for the win.

Sonny Colbrelli – the Italian loves this time of year. He won Agostoni, was 2nd in Giro della Toscana, won Sabatini and was 4th in Beghelli, where he was riding for Ruffoni. He was an unlucky 2nd in 2014 and will have high hopes of going one better. Of his 13 pro wins, only 3 have been in the first half of the year.

Pippo Pozzato – his 2nd place in Beghelli was a welcome return to form. Southeast are still locked in a battle for the Italian Cup and they would dearly love a win. In Fedi and Busato, they have other options too.

Pello Bilbao – 11th in Emilia was a good result for the Spaniard. A talented climber, with a fast sprint, this is a good race for him. If he follows the right moves, he could end up on the podium.

Prediction Time

Can the climbers eliminate the fast men? It’s going to be difficult to drop Colbrelli, Gilbert, Ulissi and Geschke. I’m going for a reduced sprint, with Colbrelli taking the win.

David Hunter

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