Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took an impressive victory at the Roma Maxima today, only just getting to the line before the charging peloton could catch him. Davide Appolonio (AG2R La Mondiale) finished in 2nd and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani) was 3rd.
Valverde broke away with Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) 37 kilometres from the finish and was able to open up a 35 second lead on a 12 rider chase group. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung was represented in the chase group by Sergio Pardilla. Ultimately the chase group would be caught in the final 7km’s by a Team Sky led peloton as Valverde held on to his advantage but only just. The fast finishing peloton caught Valverde and Pozzovivo but the Spainard was carrying enough speed to still cross the line first while Pozzivivo was passed by the first 3 sprinters in the peloton.
The day got off to a fast start when 7 riders broke clear of the bunch after only 15km of racing. In the break, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had two riders present, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Dennis van Niekerk both made the move. They were able to gain just over 6 minutes on the bunch before the peloton realised the danger of this break and chased them down. The tactics were clear from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung though, as DS Manel Lacambra points out.
“The team raced very well today. From the start we were in all the moves and in the break of the day we had Daniel and Dennis there. The goal was to have them at the front after the last climb to help Sergio in the last move but Movistar chased hard all day and closed the break before the last climb. Then Sergio was with the group of the stronger riders but Sky had not one in the front group and so they chased very hard from the peloton,” said Lacambra.
Although Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung didn’t achieve any real result today it was promising to see the African team race from the front with a real plan in mind. Lacambra couldn’t have asked for more from his troops.
“In general I am happy because we raced well and we did all we can. When the final group caught Sergio we knew he could not sprint against those sprinters. Some teams changed their rosters in the last 3 races and we haven’t and so every day with each race we just got better and better. This gives us great confidence for the next races,” concluded Lacambra.
The next race on the Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung calendar is the Tirreno-Adriatico. This will be the first World Tour race of the year for the African team and they will certainly be looking to impress. The racing kicks off with 17km team time trial on Wednesday.
Strada Bianche (Italy) – (8 March/UCI 1.1) and Roma Maxima (Italy) – (9 March/UCI 1.1)
Sergio Pardilla (ESP)
Kristian Sbaragli (ITA)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI)
Jani Tewelde (ERI)
Meron Russom (ERI)
Dennis van Niekerk (RSA)
Songezo Jim (RSA)
Adrien Niyonshuti (RWA)
Staff: Manel Lacambra (Sports Director), Paolo Baldi (Soigneur), Raul Matias (Soigneur), Daniele Nieri (Mechanic), Andreas Black (Mechanic)