One day after finishing second at Trofeo Piva 19-year-old AustralianRobert Stannard went one better for Mitchelton-BikeExchange, sprinting to an impressive win at the 80th edition of the Giro del Belvedere in Italy.
Nine riders formed the early breakaway over the course of the opening circuits and the peloton tapped out a steady rhythm for the next 60kilometres, holding the leaders at close to three minutes until the group started to split with 50kilometres to go.
Sam Jenner and Stannard worked themselves into the first and second groups on the road after strong work from Jacob Hennessy and Brayan Chaves drove the pace as the race headed into the final circuits helping the Stannard group to reduce slightly as it gained time.
Over the last climb, the leading group was down to seven as it approached the finish with Stannard launching early and gaining a couple of bike lengths on his rivals. An advantage that he held to the line for a convincing win.
Robert Stannard – Winner:
“I am very happy to have achieved the win today, it’s my first of the season and my first ever in Italy. I have to say a huge thankyou to the guys, they were all fantastic today and for the first three hours I hardly touched the pedals they looked after me that well.”
“We knew from last year that the last two circuits would be the important ones and first Jacob, then Brayan really drove the bunch onto the penultimate climb and I kept the pace high all the way up to maintain momentum before Sam took over and shredded the group for the last ascent.
“Going into the finish I knew I was the strongest out of the group, there was only climbers left in there, so I set a pace I knew they couldn’t live with over the last kilometre and I was confident that I wouldn’t get caught in the sprint. It’s such a good feeling and I am pleasantly surprised with where my form is at this stage.”
Sport director James Victor:
“The Giro del Belvedere is a big race in Italy and has been for a long time so we’re very happy to have finally gotten the victory here. We’ve come close before with second in 2017, but to do it in this way with such strong teamwork is fantastic.”
“The team were given a plan and they stuck to it perfectly, the guys looked after Rob until the two last laps and from there he showed he was the strongest rider in the race, there was no holding back today and to start our European campaign off with a victory and a second place is almost perfect.
“It’s great for the confidence within the team and sets us up nicely for some of our big season objectives. Brayan gained a lot of valuable experience from his first European race days and performed very well whilst Jacob showed no signs of fatigue from Langkawi. Sam and Rob are both in good shape and will now look ahead to Belgium and Flanders at the weekend.”
Giro del Belvedere results:
1. Robert Stannard (Mitchelton-BikeExchange)
2. Christian Scaroni (Petroli-Firenze) ST
3. Matteo Sobrero (Dimension-Data) ST