Now the first race of the season is history and the Leopard guys and I are very happy to report about our first top five result in a UCI race. Giorgio Brambilla our "1900 Watt-boy" made a great race and finished fourth!
But that was actually the only interesting fact about the race. The race, which was cut from 194km to 168km, was started on very untypical circumstances for the Toskani. Zero degrees, very strong wind and a fifty percent chance of snow! Some guys on the start line were prepared like they were going to make a polar expedition. Luckily Craft and Northwave our clothes sponsors had great ideas and produced such a big variety of cycling clothes and accessories you can't even imagine.
But back to the race. We started at 11 o'clock and the first 20 kilometers it wasn't possible to tell if the neutral part of the race is already over or if we still have to pass kilometer zero… At the first turn where we left the coast road, a sudden feeling of racing finally came up when some guys started attacking. Nothing spectacular just some guys forcing the speed a little bit, but that was it! The group of the day was set and the peloton was happy. At least the three big Teams, Liquigas, Lampre and AG2R were satisfied with this situation.
The following 100km on several circuits - I think the biggest radius we had to Donoratico was 25km - were pretty boring and controlled by the big teams. Also, what astonishing was to me, Type 1 sanofis made a lot of pursuit work. So I think the actual start of the race was at kilometer 130 - maybe there was the missing kilometer zero sign!? AG2R was pulling at the front so strong, the three guys in the breakaway lost about three minutes during just one of the five final Laps. (1Lap=10km)
It just had to end in a mass sprint. There was no other possibility and nobody even thought of another possibility. Of course the last 20 to 30km were really hectic but I felt very comfortable. My legs were spinning good and the cold circumstances didn't influence me to much. I tried to stay close to our sprinter "Brambo" and moved myself through the peloton like I never had a winter break. My teammates Eugenio, Fabio, Joel, Alexander and I were launching the sprint for Brambo just as good as we could and the last 800m he was launched by Napolitano. Of course not on purpose but he took a good wheel. On the hectic and chaotic last kilometers it was almost impossible to create a working and controlling sprint train for a sprinter. Also the big teams had problems doing that.
The result was, as I told at the beginning, a fourth place of Brambo and a great start for the Leopard Continental Team! DS Adriano Baffi was very happy and I was told that even the big boss Johann Bruyneel was satisfied. Hopefully we keep going like this in the next few races!