Stannard signs off in style with victory at Piccolo LombardiaSun 7 Oct 2018
It couldn’t have worked out better for Mitchelton-BikeExchange and Australian Rob Stannard at Piccolo Lombardia in Italy today as the 20-year-old sprinted to a stunning win in his last race with the UCI Continental outfit.
Attacks came flying out of the neutral zone and although two separate groups formed, they gained little ground before the race split definitively over the Madonna del Ghisallo and sorted the contenders from the pretenders.
GP Belvedere winner Stannard was well positioned over the climbs and animated the finale as part of a strong group that went on to contest the result.
Timing his attack to perfection, Stannard sprinted clear of a group of nine to take the race win.
A sunny Autumn day on the shores of the picturesque Lake Como welcomed the riders to the start of the 90th edition of the U23 version of cycling’s end of season monument Il Lombardia, with a quartet of riders immediately taking advantage of the conditions and attacking to form the early breakaway.
Despite their efforts the original move didn’t get far, and the peloton reformed after 50kilometres of racing before the next group tried their luck as this time three riders skipped away gaining three minutes on the bunch by the halfway point.
As the bunch hit the first real climb of the day, the iconic Madonna del Ghisallo with less than 70kilometres to go, the leaders saw their advantage slashed to one minute before being caught as the race blew apart over the climb.
Stannard was a part of a lead group of around 30riders that pushed on towards the final two climbs and reduced further as more attacks started to fly, eventually shattering inside the last 20kilometres with a quartet that included Stannard taking control.
The quartet swelled to nine as the chasers made contact over the last climb and the group started to eye each other for the sprint with Stannard hitting out early and strong to win ahead of Andrea Bagioli (Colpack) and Clement Chevrier (AG2R-La Mondiale).
“It’s awesome to have been able to get the victory today, there’s no better way to finish my last race with Mitchelton-BikeExchange and no better way of saying thank you to everyone involved with the team for everything they have done for me over the last couple of years.”
“The early attacks weren’t really any threat today and the pace didn’t increase significantly until we hit the Ghisallo and then it was full gas. We raced the climb hard and a large group formed that stayed together until the Colle Brianza – which is really steep and caused more splits.
“There were nine of us going into the final and I was saving myself for the sprint, so I followed all the moves over the last 20kilometresand shut them down because I felt confident in my own sprint and I wanted to make sure the group stayed together.
“I attacked over the last few hundred metres and no-one managed to come around me and I think tactically we played it perfectly today.”
Piccolo Lombardia results:
1. Rob Stannard (Mitchelton-BikeExchange)
2. Andrea Bagioli (Colpack)
3. Clement Chevrier (AG2R-La Mondiale)