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Giro dell'Emilia 2009 (1. HC) - Report & Photos
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 10/10/2009
Giro dell'Emilia 2009 (1. HC) - Report & Photos

Giro dell'Emilia (1. H.C.)  -  Report & Photos
"The Battle of the San Luca" Young Guns shoot out for bragging rights and the podium in  the 92nd Edition; and the winner is...

23 year old Robert Gesink put in another outstanding performance this afternoon winning the sprint of three for the victory at the top of San Luca. The young Dutch rider bested his two almost as young companions in the final decisive move of the day.  24 year old Jakob Fuglsang of Saxo Bank finished second and 25 year old Thomas Lovkvist (Columbia/HTC) to join the younger Rabobank rider on the podium. 

Gesink gave his many fans something to cheer about, proving he is back with on form with a vengeance after his crash in the Vuelta a España last month. The rider demonstrated his class defying the fates after dropping to sixth on the G.C. after being at the top of the rankings during most of the race; he finished the race defending his sixth place in his first grand tour.

Robert Gesink celebrates an impressive win. Jakob Fuglsang on his wheel, Lovkvist follows at ten meters. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

The trio was part of an attack of four who escaped on the third lap of the 9.3 local circuit. The quartet formed when  Jakob Fuglsang attacked as the lone survivor of the early break of four, Eros Cappechi was caught. Thomas Lovkvist, Robert Gesink and Alexandr Vinokourov joined the Saxo Bank rider and the four got under way after gaining 30 seconds on a group containing the favorites led by Lampre's Damiano Cunego, Fuji/Servetto's Fredrik Kessiakoff and and world champion Cadel Evans.

Vinokourov faltered on the final climb of the Colle San Luca and was dropped. Behind the young trio a battle ensued with Cadel Evans getting the best of Alexandre Vinokourov by six seconds as the two battled for fourth and fifth place.

162 riders stepped to the line at the Piazza Garibaldi for the 92nd running of the Giro dell'Emilia. A perfect sunny day  for the Centenary edition of Italian Fall Classic first run in 1909. The riders were in for a tough day, even with pleasant fall weather over the 198.5 kilometer parcours in search of adding their names alongside the giants of the sport who have won the race, men like Fausto Coppi,
The course preview can be found here.

The day was animated by a break of four who opened a gap 44 kilometers into the race. The quartet: Vladimir Duma (Ceramica Flaminia/Bossini Docce), Vitaly Kondrut (ISD/Neri), Aristide Ratti (Carmiooro AStyle) and Alain Van Der Velde (Centri della Calzatura).

79 km - The four worked as a team building up a lead that reached its peak as they entered the province of Bologna at Zola Predosa for the first intermediate sprint. After 35 km of  attack our fab four had 9 minutes and 20 second the advantage over the peloton led by Liquigas and Silence/Lotto.

By the second sprint at Sasso Marconi our leaders had a gap of 8:45 as they started the first of the two climbs that followed in quick succession, the Loaino and the Monzuno.

Liquigas and LPR Brakes lead the chase of the fab four on the Monzuno. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

111.4 km - 87 km to go, Over the summit of the Monzuno the Centri della Calzatura rider Van Der Velde led ISD's Vitaly Kondrut and Aristide Ratti for the king of the mountains points. The peloton followed over the summit at 6:15 as the gap began to be eaten away under the pressure of Liquigas.

Carmiooro's Aristide Ratti took the max points on the summit of the Loiano followed by Var Der Velde, Duma and Kondrut. Liquigas followed over the summit with 77.8 kilometers to go at 5:10.

After 3 hours of racing at an average of 42.8 kilometers an hour the the leaders maintained a lead of 5:05 with 68 km to go; but the chase was on now for real as the peloton strung out mobilized to return the four before the final four circuits in Bologna. in the next half hour the gap shrank another 45 seconds to 4:20 as they entered the final circuits in Bologna.

The most demanding part of the race began for our four leaders,  Vitaly Kondrut (ISD), Vladimir Duma (Ceramica Flaminia), , Aristide Ratti (Carmiooro) and Alain Van Der Velde (CdC) as they started the climb of San Luca; by now the peloton or what was left of it at about 70 riders, was closing in and followed at the foot of the climb only 3:48 behind.

Immediately Vitaly Duma was in trouble on the climb and was dropped. The three forged on to the top of the 2 kilometer climb continuing to resist the chase; Duma followed and rejoined the trio on the descent. The fast moving peloton of 70 followed at the base of the climb at 2:48 continuing to close in on the remaining three riders.

With 27 km to go the gruppo held on to 1:40. As they started the second climb of the San Luca the break lost its organization as Aristide Ratti attacked followed by  Kondrut with Duma and Van der Velde chased with the peloton at 28 seconds.

Columbia's Thomas Lovkvist led the bunch catching Duma, Van der Velde and Kondrup. Over the summit Ratti held on to claim the max KOM points followed by Leonardo Bertagnoli (PVC Serramenti).

Fuglsang and Fuji/Servetto's Eros Capecchi attacked, Ratti caught their wheels as they passed by the bottom of the descent the trio had 16 seconds on Fuglsang. Soon after Capecchi dropped the exhausted Ratti who could no longer hold his wheel. Behind Lovkvist and Gesink chased at 19 seconds Vinokourov adrift in between; with the peloton of sixty in hot pursuit led by Emmanuel Sella, Ivan Basso, Evans at 35 seconds.

Gesink leads Fuglsang, Lovkvist and Vinokourov. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

On the Penultimate circuit Fuglsang, Lovkist, Gesink were joined by Vinokourov; the "new fab four" led the first chase group by 30 seconds with 13 km to go and two more climbs of the Saint Luke climb.

Over the top of San Luca the four had 16 seconds on first chase group led by Cunego, Kolobnev, Sorensen, Kessiakoff, Fernandez, Pozzovivo, Soler and Bertagnolli. The peloton had split and the second chase group followed trying to rejoin the front of the race as they entered the final circuit.

Jakob Fuglsang Attacks!  Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

With 2 km to go on the final climb of the San Luca Fuglsang attacked and got 5 seconds on Lovkvist, Gesink and Vinokourov. Fuji/Servetto's Fredrik Kessiakoff  closed in to 17 seconds on the quartet with the Cunego and Evans group at 36 seconds.

With a mile to go, first Vinokourov weakened and then Lovkvist lost the wheels on the 18% steeps. Lovkvist rallied to join the  pair ahead as Vino lost ground with Evans on a solo attack at 28 seconds.

With a kilometer to go it was Gesink on the attack leading as the road flattened on the summit to take the win closely followed by Fuglsang an Lovkvist in the same time.  Cadel Evans blasted up the climb to catch and pass Vinokourov for fourth, 25 seconds behind the lead trio. Vinokourov followed six seconds later.

The Italian bike racing season ends with a 14 day spectacle of first class one day races that started on October 3rd with the Memorial Cimurri, yesterday's Coppa Sabatini followed by today's race. Next up for the riders is the G.P. Beghelli Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli all in the Bologna area in Northern Italy, then the Giro del Piemonte... and then the grand finale of the pro season -  the Giro di Lombardia on October 17th.

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2009 Giro dell'Emilia podium: Jakob Fuglsang, Robert Gesink and Thomas Lovkvist. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Giro dell'Emilia - Granarolo del Centenario
Sassuolo - San Luca (Bologna)

198.5 km - 4:49:31 - 41.240 km/h
1) Robert Gesink (Rabobank)   4:49:31
2) Jakob Fuglsang (Team Saxo Bank)
3) Thomas Lovkvist (Team Columbia HTC)

4) Cadel Evans (Silence/Lotto) a 25"
5) Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) a 31"

Gesink cools down after the race; the scars from his injuries in the Vuelta easily seen here on his left knee and elbow.    Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

6) Fredrik Kessiakoff (Fuji Servetto) a 35"
 7) Alexandr Kolobnev (Team Saxo Bank) a 43"
8) Chris Sorensen (Team Saxo Bank) a 45"
9) Alberto Fernandez (Fuji Servetto) a 46"
10) Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre NGC) a 53"

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