Marc Hirschi (UAE-Team Emirates) won the 2nd Veneto Classic today at the end of a 190 km route comprising road, cobbles and gravel between Treviso and Bassano del Grappa, attacking on the highly technical gravel descent from Diesel Farm inside the final 10 km, and finishing 10 seconds ahead of his teammate Davide Formolo, with Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck) third at 29 seconds.
1- Marc Hirschi (UAE-Team Emirates) 190 km in 4h39’54”, ave. 40.727 kph
2- Davide Formolo (UAE-Team Emirates) at 10”
3- Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck) at 29”
It took 30 km and 40 minutes for the first breakaway to stick. On the approach to the Muro di Ca’ del Poggio, Michael Belleri (Biesse Carrera) attacked alone. Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno X) and Nils Brun (Tudor) gave chase, to be joined by Riccardo Tosin (General Store) and Matteo Zurlo (Zalf Euromobil Fior). Belleri crossed the Muro alone, and the five came together on the descent. After 100 km, the peloton trailed the five by 4’23’. After a crash at km 35, Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Premier Tech) abandoned. After 150km, the first passage of the beautiful, narrow, twisting, cobbled, 300m climb at Tisa reduced the leading group to three, as Zurlo attacked alone, and Belleri and Brun closed him down on the descent. Moments later, with 37 km to go, Alpecin-Deceuninck, UAE-Team Emirates and Astana Qazaqstan led the peloton back to the leaders, bringing the field together. Two more passages of the Tisa, and then the climb to Diesel Farm, remained. With 33 km to go, on the approach to the Tisa, Miguel Ángel López, one of the favourites for the win, crashed. Alpecin-Deceuninck and UAE-Team Emirates forced the pace on the Tisa, forming a group of about twenty at the front. With 26 km to go, Davide Formolo (UAE-Team Emirates) and Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) attacked. Four riders bridged across: Cristian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan), Rémy Rochas (Cofidis), Marc Hirschi (UAE-Team Emirates), Stefano Oldani (AlpecinDeceuninck).
Behind them, Amanuel Gebreighzabier (Trek-Segafredo) singlehandedly led the peloton to within 12 seconds of the leaders before the third and final ascent of the Tisa. There, Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) attacked out of the chasing group and darted across to the leaders, gaining the leaders on the descent with Mathis Vacek (Trek-Segafredo) and Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal). That made nine riders in the lead. In the pause before the final climb to Diesel Farm, the rest of the chasing group bridged to the leaders, making a front group of about 23, including Italiqn champion Flippo Zana (Bardiani).
With 13.4 km to go, Trentin attacked, to be closed down by Vacek and Scaroni. 13 km to go, Oldani goes with Hirschi on his wheel, but they too are closed down. Kron followed suit, but his attack too failed to prosper. With 10. 2 km to go, on the gravel climb to Diesel Farm, Hirschi and Nicola Conci (AlpecinDeceuninck) attacked, opening a small gap. Conci then opened a gap of his own, at which Davide Formolo passed his teammate Hirschi and closed on Conci. Those two, with Hirschi several bike lengths behind, led the race.
On the descent, Hirschi dropped Conci and Formolo and rode alone to victory. Formolo darted past Conci to take second place, with Conci third.
Marc Hirschi (UAE-Team Emirates), winner: The Veneto Classic is a good race and it suits me. It’s always small climbs, and I like it. I like Italy. We are almost an Italian team, so I’m happy to win. I reconned the gravel climb and descent in training, and even though this year was slightly different from last, it was a similar kind of race. For our team the best option was to attack and we played our cards right. We planned to start the racing on the first cobbled climb. On gravel you have to start at the front because it’s really hard to overtake. It’s about power but it’s also about technique. I just knew I wanted to be close the front. I have done some cyclocross in the past, although I’m no specialist.
We attacked early on the climb, then on the gravel we came together and full gas to the top, everywhere with two guys. I had reconned the gravel descent in training, so I tried to force a mistake from the others. I just rode on instinct. I went full gas, I knew Davide [Formolo] was alone but I didn’t know what was going on behind. I got some time gaps but they were hard to understand so I just went full gas.
[After taking 4 wins this season: It’s difficult to compare [this season with 2020]. My season has been better than I could have expected after the hip operation on January. It was a short season for me,although I had good preparation and I was able to do a lot of kilometres in training. I caught Covid-19 in the Tour de Suisse. I hoped I’d be in the Tour team, but I was told I was not 3 or 4 days before it started. I understood, although I was really sad because I’d spent 4 weeks in altitude camp. Then Trentin got Covid-19. They took me, but I was not good enough. I keept hoping I’d get better after the next stage or the rest day. It was important for the team becaose we didn’t have a lot of guys. I had a knee injury from a crash, then after the Tour I took a break for a month, then built up again, and now I came into the end of season races fresh physically and mentally.
Overall I’m really happy, and I hope I can carry this form into the new season.
Davide Formolo (UAE-Team Emirates), second: I was following Conci, then I saw Conci didn’t have the power. I could see Marc ahead of me but I didn’t want him to wait for me because I was going to finish second anyway.
The Tisa is pure emotion. I like cyclocross. I’ve done Strade Bianchi twice, and the first time I was second. I like riding on gravel although on today’s descent, a bit less. On some curves you risk finishing the race.
Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck), third: When I attacked [on the climb to Diesel Farm] I didn’t think much about the finish. I felt I could ride at a good rhythm on the climb, but Marc passed me on the descent and did one or two curves better than me. I didn’t want to take risks because you can gain a few metres on every curve, but you can also finish your race. After the descent, I didn’t have the legs to get back to Marc, then Davide obviously saw I didn’t have the legs, and attacked me. I can’t have any regrets after this season.
I had iliac artery trouble when I was at Trek and I decided to have the operation last season. This year I felt like a neo pro again, but [after a spell with Gazprom] I found an excellent team [in Alpecin-Deceuninck] and I am looking forward to next season with optimism.
Davide Rebellin (Work Service – Vitalcare – Dynatek, above), 30th today at 4’08”, rode his last professional road race today at the age of 51 years and 67 days.
With the Veneto Classic, the Ride the Dreamland race series organised in Italy’s Veneto region by Filippo Pizzato’s PP Sport Events draws to a close. After the Gravel World Championship at the weekend, Ride the Dreamland comprised the Giro del Veneto on Wednesday, Friday’s Serenissima Gravel, the VENEtoGO Social Ride on Saturday and today’s Veneto Classic. Many thanks for following the series and we look forward to welcoming you in 2023.
Foto Credits: Poci’s