Gaviria sprints to second despite crash
Laurens De Plus was forced to abandon the 100th edition of Gran Piemonte after hitting the ground.
Etixx – Quick-Step started the Italian one-day race as one of the favourites, but was soon struck by bad luck, as three riders crashed in the opening kilometers of the event which took the peloton from Diana d'Alba to Aglié, over 207 kilometers: Laurens De Plus, Fernando Gaviria and Pieter Serry. After landing on his right side, Laurens had to abandon and was taken to the Casale Monferrato hospital, where the X-rays didn't seem to show any fractures, but a strong right hip contusion that puts his Il Lombardia participation under a cloud.
Although both Fernando and Pieter remounted after the crash, it wasn't an easy task for them to continue the race, as the bunch put the hammer down and rode at an average speed of 49 kilometers for more than an hour. Eventually, when things settled down, a large group went clear, but with many dangerous riders – including Matteo Trentin – booking a place in that move, the pack wasn't willing to let them go.
After the group was reeled in, Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) attacked and established a consistent margin of six minutes, which allowed the Frenchman to stay at the front until the last three kilometers, when the peloton led by Etixx – Quick-Step swept past him. The sprint, a very technical one, with several tricky corners, saw two of our riders finish in the top 10, same time as winner Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy): Fernando Gaviria, who came second, and Zdenek Stybar, who concluded the 100th edition of Gran Piemonte in 8th place.
"I had good legs, but not powerful enough to beat Giacomo, who was better today and deserved the victory. Overall, I am happy, because I could continue the race and keep my focus, despite crashing. It wasn't easy, so to get second is still a good result and I want to thank the team for their work. To me it's important that I'm on the right track, especially as I'll race Tour de l'Eurometropole, Binche-Chimay-Binche and Paris-Tours in the space of just one week, before going to the World Championships", said 22-year-old Fernando, who has six victories and six podiums in his first season as pro.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele