GP Costa degli Etruschi gets Italian season underway on Saturday
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Thursday, February 02, 2012

GP Costa degli Etruschi gets Italian season underway on Saturday

by Reno Van Dael at 5:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Viviani seeks to repeat 2011 victory with Liquigas team

Elia VivianiThe Italian cycling season kicks of on Saturday as it traditionally does with GP Costa degli Etruschi, to be held between San Vincenzo and Donoratico, both bordering the Tyrrhenian sea on the Western side of Italy. Coincidently, these two towns also form the start and finish of the team time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico on March 7th, as announced last Wednesday.

Like pretty much all of Europe, the Western coast of Italy is suffering sub zero temperatures, making the race not quite ideal as a season opener, but the route is not too hard on the riders. The only big obstacle en route to the finish line is the 364 meters high Monteverdi Marittimo, to be climbed at the 83 km mark. From there on, it's all downhill and the race traditionally ends in a sprint on a finishing circuit in Donoratico.

Last year, the race was controlled and dominated by Team Liquigas, which sent a strong team consisting of Classics riders and sprinters. When the three men lead group was reeled in, it was Tiziano Dall´Antonia, Kristijan Koren, Daniel Oss and Davide Cimolai from Team Liquigas who kept the pace high enough in the finale to prevent any attacks. In the last kilometre, it was Peter Sagan who launched team mate Elia Viviani (pictured) to his first win of the season, while Sagan slipstreamed to a fourth place behind Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli) and Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini).

This year, a similar scenario is to be expected, but it’s not a given that Viviani will walk away with the flowers and kisses. Viviani's form is good, based on his stage win in the Tour de San Luis, but the temperature difference of nearly 40 degrees could prove to be a shock to his system.

Other riders vying to grab the win include Danilo Napolitano (Acqua & Sapone), Danilo Hondo (Lampre), Manuel Belletti (AG2R Mondiale), Sascha Modolo (Colnago-CSF) and Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini), among others.

Five time winner of GP Costa degli Etruschi, Alessandro Petacchi, is absent. Like last year, he chooses to run his early season in warmer areas, and will line out in the Tour of Qatar.

The race will also mark the European debut of the new Colombia-Coldeportes team, managed by Claudio Corti.

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