Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) confirmed his status as favourite for Saturday’s Tour of Lombardy by winning Thursday’s hilly Giro del Piemonte in Cherasco, Italy.
Gilbert launched a trademark final kilometre attack to clinch a solo win ahead of Italian Leonardo Bertagnolli (Androni Giocattoli) in second and Dane Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) in third.
Gilbert won the race last year before going on to win the season-ending Tour of Lombardy.
One of British-based Team Sky’s new signings for 2011, Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne), placed ninth.
Newly-crowned road race World Champion Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) made his debut in the rainbow jersey at the race, although he failed to make an impact on the final outcome and finished 14th.
“Today was fantastic, it was great to show my jersey to the public,” Hushovd said after the race.
“I wasn’t disappointed at all about the result, I was up there in the first group and the last days have been really busy so my legs where not that good today. I am pleased that Gilbert won today’s race.”
Brits Steve Cummings and Bradley Wiggins also took part in the race for Team Sky, but neither completed the race. Wiggins is set to end his season at the Tour of Lombardy on Saturday, his first outing at the race
Giro del Piemonte 2010: 194km
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto in 4-28-03
2. Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 2 secs
3. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank at same time
4. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha at 4 secs
5. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step
6. Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne
10. Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
Thor Hushovd makes his debut in the rainbow jersey
Philippe Gilbert repeats his 2009 win in the Giro del Piemonte