Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) won the opening stage of the Giro della Toscana from Arezzo to Montecatini Terme. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) was 2nd and Daniele Bennati (Italian National Team) placed 3rd.
The first stage of the Giro della Toscana saw the riders take on a 174km route through the Tuscan countryside. 6 riders got the stage off to a fast when they attacked inside of the first 10km and started to open up a gap on the peloton. The peloton were happy to let them go and during the stage their advantage would reach a maximum of 5 minutes.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka placed Daniel Teklehaimanot at the head of the peloton with a rider from Movistar and Bardiani to control proceedings. Teklehaimanot did a great job pacing on the front for the majority of the stage. A 10km climb to Olmo that came with 80km to go saw the gap reduced to 2 minutes, while one breakaway rider also dropped back to the pack. From then on it was quite clear this early break would be caught as the race approached Montecatini.
The break was caught with 28km to go and just before the first of 2 final climbs around Montecatini. New attacks came on the climb and the peloton was strung out. Our African Team was doing a great job, as all our riders bar Teklehaimanot where contributing to the chase. Unfortunately on the descent Steve Cummings crashed and was not able to continue on in the race, fortunately his injuries were not too severe in the end.
As the race passed the finish-line in Montecatini before starting 1 final local lap of 14km, a 7 rider break had formed with Visconti, Colbrelli, Bennati and Fabio Aru (Astana) part of this selection. The peloton came passed some 30 seconds later with our African Team in command of the main group. The fire power up ahead was just too much though and they would just survive to take the stage honours. Mark Cavendish was our best placed rider on the stage in 7th position.
Oliver Cookson – Sport Director
We looked at the stage last night and it really looked a hard stage actually. The 10km climb at 80km and then the Papi climb which our riders who live around here know very well along with the final climb on the circuit. Our plan was to engineer the right breakaway, and then look after Mark Cavendish and Kristian Sbaragli. Following the big climb it was important that we came into the penultimate climb in a good position. Then we would decide if we would go for Kristian or Mark after the climb and Mark showed he was going well by staying with the front group over the top. Unfortunately on that descent Steve went over the edge but luckily he is okay and already back with us in the hotel after being checked out by the doctors. After this scenario there was a bit of confusion and 7 riders with some important names got away. We were working on the front tentatively at this point because our guys weren’t sure if Stevo was there or not, he went so far over the edge that nobody saw him. Once they realised Steve was not there they started to pull but with such a high caliber of riders in the lead it was always going to be hard with smaller teams. Everyone is okay though, Cavendish showed he has really good legs so we will live to fight another day.