Surrounded by a huge crowd, Mitchelton Bike Exchange’s Aussie won the 80th edition of the U23 International classic. Italy’s Christian Scaroni and Matteo Sobrero rounded out the podium in Villa di Cordignano (Northern Italy)
Giro del Belvedere confirmed its international prestige: Robert Stannard claimed an historical edition of the “Easter Monday Classic”, the 80th, enhanced by the huge crowd cheering for the race protagonists in Villa di Cordignano (Treviso, Northern Italy). Following Swiss Patrick Müller (2016) and Belarussian Aleksandr Riabushenko (2017), an Australian rider celebrated for the first time in the U23 international classic, grabbing the first seasonal win and his first career success in Italy.
After yesterday’s second place at Trofeo Piva, the Mitchelton Bike Exchange 19-year-old rider, came on top of a 6-man sprint among the breakaway riders that had launched the decisive attack on the tough Montaner climb. Behind the winner, Italy’s Christian Scaroni (Petroli Firenze Hopplà Maserati) and Matteo Sobrero (Dimension Data for Qhubeka) rounded out the day’s podium. “I’m happy – said the winner – Giro del Belvedere is one of the most important races in U23 cycling. I knew I had a great chance at the sprint: I controlled the last kilometers, pushing hard in the final straight with the last forces remained”.
Battle from first to last kilometer characterized the 80th Giro del Belvedere: after many attempts in the first two laps of the Conche circuit, four athletes moved on the attack at Km 30 – Cianci (Palazzago), Taglietti (Biesse Carrera), Jorgenson (USA) and Burger (WGA) – then joined by five more riders – Konyaev (Russia), Pietrini (Maltinti), Donegà (Cycling Team Friuli), Maldonado (Aix en Provence) and Gent-Wevelgem Kattekoers’ winner Ziga Jerman (Ljubljana).
The escapees reached a 3:52 maximum advantage at Km 65, but in lap 6 Dimension Data forced the pace in the peloton to cut down the margin and bridge back to the breakaway group before the first passage on the Montaner ascent. In the second passage of the race’s iconic climb, the eve’s favourites sparkled the battle for win with Aleksandr Vlasov in first line. The Russian rider showed its climbing skills but was not enough. In fact, the five chasers – Stannard, Scaroni, Sobrero, Battistella (Zalf) and Grodzicki (Palazzago) – rejoined the race’s leader with a few kilometers to go, just in time to contest the win in the final sprint.
Italy Team’s Coach Davide Cassani celebrated the excellent performance of the home riders, four in the day’s top-5. “I wish to congratulate with the organizers, that show great passion in setting up a big event, a benchmark for U23 cycling. It was a beautiful day and I go back home with good feelings for the future of the Italian cycling”.
Finally, the head of the organizing committee Gianfranco Carlet remembered the late Ezio “Stecca” Piccoli, the historical race’s organizer. “We dedicate to Ezio an historical edition characterized by emotions and a big show. We celebrate the success of a prospect like Stannard, hoping that this represents a first, important step towards a prestigious professional career”.