Matt Walls powers to Gran Piemonte 2021 victory ahead of some of the world's best sprinters

The British Olympic gold medallist made it through the chaos to out-sprint the field

Matt Walls sprints to Gran Piemonte victory
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Matt Walls sprinted to his second win in his first year as a professional rider at the Gran Piemonte Classic in Italy, beating Giacomo Nizzolo among others.

Walls, who rides for Bora-Hansgrohe, showed that he had a superb turn of speed to put in a hard acceleration to the line. Walls' first career win was at the Tour of Norway, this year.

The 23-year-old managed to get through the gaps with Nizzolo (Qhubeka-NextHash) taking second and teenager Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) holding off Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) for third.

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The penultimate Italian Autumn Classic of the season, Gran Piemonte, took place between Rocca Canavese and Borgosesia over 168km featuring a few climbs but a flat finish.

Five riders went up the road early on and got a maximum gap of three minutes. Those riders were Marc Soler (Movistar), Matthias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo), Manuele Boaro (Astana-Premier Tech), Marco Frapportti (Vini Zabu) and Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto-Soudal), with Frapportti being dropped after about 60km of racing.

Their gap started to tumble just before the halfway point of the race with all the major climbs dealt with. The peloton brought the gap down to two minutes with 85km to go as the sprinters’ teams took control.

It was held at just under a minute by the peloton up until 35km to go as the gap suddenly dropped to 22 seconds which saw Boaro put in a move with Soler looking to join him as Skjelmose and Moniquet dropped away.

The young riders did make it back to the two attackers though as they continued to work with 33km to go and a 15-second gap.

They were finally caught with 27km to go but Boaro tried yet again. He was caught just a kilometre later. Euskaltel-Euskadi tried a couple of times to get out of the bunch in the final 20km but nothing was getting away.

Kooij crashed with 18km to go but the 19-year-old sprinter worked hard and did get back on with his team, who were waiting to bring him back towards the front. Jumbo-Visma got to the front with 8km to go along with Bahrain Victorious and Movistar.

Ineos Grenadiers were the next team to come up along with Astana-Premier Tech and Jumbo-Visma at the 3km to go mark. Biniam Ghirmay (Intermarché) also looked to get a good position on Nizzolo and his Qhubeka-NextHash train.

A very tight chicane saw multiple riders pushed out of contention including Elia Viviani (Cofidis) where, thankfully, no-one came off their bike. 

Jumbo-Visma took control of the bunch into the closing 600 metres but a gap opened with about 200 metres to go and Walls kicked for the line. He had a perfect uninterrupted line all the way to the finish, whereas Nizzolo had to come from way back.

Gran Piemonte was the final Italian Classic before the last Monument of the season, Il Lombardia, which takes place on Saturday, October 9, closing out multiple riders seasons.

Results

Gran Piemonte 2021: Rocca Canavese to Borgosesia (168km)

1. Matt Walls (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-34-47
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka-NextHash
3. Olav Kooij (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Biniam Ghirmay (Eri) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
6. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Vini Zabù 
7. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
8. Arvid de Kleijn (Ned) Rally Cycling
9. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkéa-Samsic
10. Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto-Soudal, all at the same time

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