Russia?s Alexandre Kolobnev (CSC) will go down in history as the first winner of the Monte Paschi Eroica, the new Italian race held on the breathtaking dirt roads of Tuscany.
The 26 year-old finished second to Paolo Bettini in the world championship road race in Stuttgart but won alone in the spectacular Piazza del Campo in the heart of Siena after making a lone attack on the final section of dirt road after 160km of the 180km race. CSC took first and second with Marcus Ljungqvist finishing at three seconds after making a determined chase after his team mate in the final kilometres. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ceramica Flaminia) was third at 39 seconds.
As expected the 60km of dirt roads created some spectacular racing with the likes of Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) all racing hard on the dirt roads that crossed the rolling hills of Tuscany. Simoni finished 12th at 6-02, with Pozzato winning the bunch sprint for 13th place at 6-46.
At the finish in the centre of Siena, all the riders were covered in dust as if they had raced Paris-Roubaix or gone back in time to race on the dirt roads of the turn of the century. The organisers now hope to create a weekend of racing on the dirt roads next October, perhaps with the professional race on the Saturday before the Sportif Eroica on the Sunday. It would make a great end of season weekend of cycling.
Dirt roads made up a fair portion of the Eroica course
Manuele Mori’s face says it all