Viviani takes Turkey stage as HTC train derails in last corner
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Viviani takes Turkey stage as HTC train derails in last corner

by Bjorn Haake at 10:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results

Elia Viviani won the stage seven 'sprint' against Giovanni Visconti and Andrea Grendene, after the HTC-Columbia train almost entirely went off the road in the final turn. Rain had made the roads in Antalya slippery and the Columbia train overshot a right hand bend with a good half  kilometer to go. Greipel and Co crashed into the barriers, with the first 20 riders following suit.

Viviani reacted the quickest, but was challenged by Visconti on his left and Grendene on his right. Visconti looked as if he could pass, but the room had gotten too tight. He gestured wildly towards Viviani after the line, but the results stood.

It was the first professional win for the neo-pro Viviani. "Before the turn I had a good position that allowed me to watch the crash and to hit the brakes just in time. I accelerated hard as I thought I could go."

But a few other riders had gone past the crash quickly as well. "So I decided to wait and save my legs for the final sprint. I launched the sprint at the right time to avoid being passed."

Visconti felt he was impeded, but Viviani disagreed. "I am sorry that Visconti, a rider who I appreciate and esteem, felt obstructed. The TV images clearly show that I did not do any maneuvering to close him in. He tried to pass where there was no space."

Other riders had an even closer view on the crash, such as Xacobeo Galicia's Nelson Oliveira. "I was close to the front when two riders from Columbia passed me going into the [final] turn. But the corner wasn't quite as open as it first appeared - it sort of closed in at the exit. The rider who was in front hit the brakes since he was unable to make the turn. He went over the bars and as a result his teammate crashed. I was in third position and also went down, like a lot of other riders."

Italy versus Japan

The stage was very short, 114km stage between Finike and the seaside town of Antalya. Despite the many climbs along the road, the race was rather flat, following the main highway along the coastline.

Five riders went clear after ten kilometers: Adriano Malori, Gustavo Rodriguez Iglesias, Aristide Ratti, Cheng Ji and Giairo Ermeti. They quickly had more than half a minute on the peloton.

At the first sprint, at km 17, it was already almost two minutes. Ermeti was ahead of Ratti and Rodriguez Iglesias. The gap stabilized around two minutes. At the only KOM it was Malori, Ji Cheng, Rodriguez Iglesias and Ratti who received the points.

The gap then went out to 2'30, but with 50km to go, the peloton had gone to work. The gap was quickly reduced to under the minute-mark, when the sprinters' teams decided to let it open up again a bit. With under 40km to go, the difference was 1'20.

The second sprint again wasn't contested, with Ermeti going through before Rodriguez and Ratti. That was 37km from the finish and the five men were still around 1'16 ahead. At this point the sun made way to some rain, which was not welcomed by the riders and especially the sprinters started to look worried.

David Moncoutié, who was the third-placed rider in the overall, kept sitting in the back, where a crash could have greatly delayed him.

With a little more than 209km to go, the gap dipped below the minute-mark again and the time of the break would soon come to an end.

The break knew this and Ji quickly sped away, but a kilometer later Ji was caught again. Malori, Ermeti and Ji then left the other two behind 16km from the finish, but the peloton was then already only half a minute behind.

But the bunch eased up and some attacking on the front, where Ji started to sit on, brought the gap back up to 1'00, with 12km to go.

Ji then attacked with six kilometers remaining, with the bunch again half a minute behind. Malori and Ermeti passed Ji, but were caught with about 2.5km to go.

Stage results

1. Elia Viviani (Liquigas)
2. Giovanni Visconti (ISD)
3. Andrea Grendene (Lampre - Farnese Vini)

Overall standings after stage 7

1. Giovanni Visconti (ISD)
2. Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia) at 0'29
3. David Moncoutié (Cofidis) at 0'33


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