Usually when a rider finds themselves draped in ribbon at the end of a bicycle race, it means they're going home with a trophy. But for VF-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè rider Alessandro Tonelli, it meant watching potential victory in the first stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana disappear from his grasp.
🚧What a nightmare for @Bardiani_CSF during today's stage of @VueltaCV luckily it all worked out in the end! 🏁Check out our race report 👉 https://t.co/ZboJu9erbk#75VCV #VoltaValenciana #VCV2024 pic.twitter.com/u3LvYo44KZJanuary 31, 2024
In this case, it was the ribbon marking the course that had become tangled in his handlebars, with his breakaway partner initially setting off up the road with only 800m to go.
Thankfully, Tonelli's breakaway partner was also his team-mate, fellow Italian and Bardiani rider Manuele Tarozzi. When he saw Tonelli was still tangled, he eased up; Tonelli was quickly freed and the pair rode side by side into the finish at Castéllon, with Tarozzi ushering Tonelli over the line first.
The pair, who had broken away on the final climb of the day 20km previously, took a wrong turn at a roundabout on the outskirts of Castellon, riding into the ribbon despite the protesting screeches of a marshal's whistle. Tonelli clearly found it easier to ride into than out of, but with the help of a spectator he was free within a few seconds, with their minute-plus lead never having been in real danger.
Post-race quotes from the team's website studiously skirted around the incident, with Tonelli simply saying, "A beautiful day, I must thank my teammate Manuele Tarozzi for this success, who helped me throughout the race."
The pair had been part of an early breakaway on the stage, which ran 167 hilly kilometres from Benicàssim to Castellon. At one point the break gained more than nine minutes on the peloton, before the two Italians broke away on the final climb of Desert des Palmes.
The result means that Tonelli and Tarozzi lie top of the overall standings after this first stage, with VF-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè leading the team classification.
The five-day stage race finishes on Sunday with a 93km stage based on Valenciana itself.
Last year the race, ranked at UCI 2.Pro level, was won by Rui Costa (Intermarché-Wanty) 16 seconds ahead of Guilio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), with Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) a close third at 19sec.
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