Primož Roglič powered away from an elite group in the final kilometre of Tre Valli Varesine 2019 to take another late-season victory.
The Slovenian Vuelta a España winner took the honours, despite a chaotic race that saw the chasing group taken the wrong way on the course by a race motorbike just over 10km from the line.
But the race wasn’t decided by the mishap however, as Roglič and a large group of hitters entered the final kilometre and caught a solo Luis León Sánchez (Astana). Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) then powered away from the group in the final 600 metres as no one was willing to follow, comfortably finishing ahead of Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM) in second and Toms Skujinš (Trek-Segafredo) third, following up on his 2018 victory.
The victory is Roglič’s second Italian one-day win in a week after the Giro dell’Emilia and only his second ever win in a one-day race.
How it happened
The 2019 edition of Tre Valli Varesine was fought over a 197.8km course from Saronno to Varese in Italy’s northern Lombardy region.
Riders faced a fairly mellow opening section before climbing at 75km then heading onto a shorter 13km circuit for five laps, and then two laps of a longer 25km loop that closed out the race, culminating in a sharp uphill finish.
An early breakaway of four riders set off up the road early in the day, consisting of Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo), Davide Ballerini (Astana), José Herrada (Cofidis) and Umberto Marengo (Nero Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM).
After building up a narrow advantage that never extended beyond 90 seconds, the breakaway began to fall apart inside 50km, with only Gogl and Ballerini remaining, before the were both caught with less than 40km to race.
Attacks for the victory then came thick and fast, as David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) launched first, followed by George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), which helped form an elite group of around 15 riders at the front, including Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Michael Woods (EF Education First), Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Eddie Dunbar (Team Ineos).
The group rode as a unit and pulled out a 28-second advantage over the chasing peloton, when Luis León Sánchez (Astana) attacked from the front group with 22km to race.
Chaos then unfolded with around 13km to the line, as the chasing group appeared to be led the wrong way at a roundabout by a race motorbike and were forced to stop, turn around and retrace their steps to get back on the course.
Sánchez was able to extend his lead to 42 seconds amid the upheaval.
But despite the disruption, the chasing group quickly began to close in on Sánchez and with 1km he had less than 10 seconds to spare.
Gianni Moscon (Team Ineos) launched a huge attack that reeled in Sánchez, but it was Roglič who countered almost immediately and pulled clear of his rivals.
There was no chase as Roglič time trialled his way to the line, with time to sit up and raise both hands at the line.
Tre Valli Varesine 2019: Saronno to Varese (197.8km):
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-40-46
2. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM, at 3 seconds
3. Toms Skujinš (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
4. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Andron Giocattoli-Sidermec
5. Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Education First
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
7. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
8. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Ineos
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, all at same time