Dion Smith sprints to his first professional victory at Coppa Sabatini

Thu 17 Sep 2020

New Zealander Dion Smith sprinted to his first professional victory today at Coppa Sabatini, following an impressive lead-out from his teammates, delivering him all the way to finishline on an uphill drag in Peccioli.

Konychev gets away
Within the opening 20km of the 200km day, a large group of 15 riders broke away from the bunch with Alex Konychev present for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

During the laps of the initial 21km circuit, the breakaway group reduced in size down to eight riders and their gap then stabilised around the three-minute mark.

Final catch
By the time the race entered the final 12.1km finishing circuit, the breakaway reduced in size even further down to just five riders thanks to a steep ascent to contend with each lap, with Konychev still present in the group of five at the head of affairs.

It wasn’t until the final lap that Konychev and the remaining breakaway riders were absorbed by the fast chasing peloton as new attacks began to fly.

The final showdown
With an uphill drag to the finish line, Mitchelton-SCOTT took complete control of the final two and a half kilometres, setting a fierce pace with no other teams able to get on terms.

One-by-one Smith’s teammates set a hard tempo at the front before peeling off as the finish line drew closer.

On the final climb up to the finish line, it was yesterday’s second place finisher Rob Stannard that ward off any late attacks with a furious pace, before Swiss rider Michael Albasini took over, covering a late acceleration by Lotto-Soudal to show his experience, keeping calm and keeping Smith in position.

In the closing metres, Smith launched from the wheel of his teammate and to his first professional UCI victory.

Dion Smith
“I have to thank my teammates they did such an impressive lead-out into the climb and then I had two guys left for the climb.

"All I had to do was sprint with 200metres to go, so it was a perfect lead-out and luckily I had the legs to finish it off.

“This is my first professional win; I’ve been close with second and third places before, but this is my first win, so it is one of the best results I have had.

“I have to thank everybody for all their support and believing in me. The climb was hard and we did it many times, it was like the Muy in Belgium but here in Italy.”

2020 Coppa Sabatini Results:
1. Dion Smith (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:48:58
2. Andrea Pasqualon (Circus Wanty Gobert) ST
3. Aleksandr Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates) ST

Photos courtesy Getty Images