By Gregor Brown
Gabriele Bosisio turned his season up another notch by taking victory in the Good luck Beijing Invitational test Olympic road race Saturday in China. The 27 year-old Italian from the Lecco province successfully counter-attacked to victory in the 174-kilometre test, held on the same parcours as the 2008 Olympics, in the shadows of the Great Wall. Alexandr Dyachenko of Kazakhstan trailed in for second and Bosisio's squadra Azzurra team-mate Vincenzo Nibali finished in third.
"Thanks to everyone in the team, from start to end," said the recent winner of the Giro del Lazio after the race. "We had worked hard, taking the punches of the course, and our tactics awarded us the prize. The work of everyone was precious. I am very content for Nibali, after he had a long, solo escape, to come in third position."
Many nations sent teams to Beijing to race in the event as a reconnaissance for the 2008 Olympics. National Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini led a team of six in the weekend race, held 70 kilometres from Beijing. Fabio Baldato (Lampre-Fondital), recent Giro de Lazio winner Bosisio (Tenax-Salmilano), Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas), Raffaele Ferrara (Team LPR), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Fabio Sabatini (Milram) represented the Italian Squadra Azzurra while teams were also sent from Russia, Holland, Poland, United States, Spain, Kazakhstan, Australia and China
"The circuit was very good and extremely selective, even it was very particular with the climbs concentrated in the first half of the course," continued Bosisio of the 23.8 kilometres circuit. "While the second part is completely downhill and could have annulled the advantage taken on the climb. In the Olympics next year it will not be easier to make the selection."
"I am content that the team, which really did not know the parcours, responded well to the strains and it had read the critical moments very well. Everyone preformed their assigned roles well, and this enabled us to take control of the race.
"The actions of Nibali were important, he left at 70 kilometres to go and it strained our adversaries who were following and launched the action of Bosisio in the ideal moment, when the energies of all the rivals were exhausted from chasing. The good ride of Nibali was underlined by the fact that he was able to recover to control a rider of valour like Cadel Evans and then finish third."
The team will report back to the rest of the Italians who will try for a spot on the Olympic team. Nibali remarked on the course for next year and the team's likely leader, 2004 Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini. "The circuit is not easy to interpret and even if I personally liked it. Over the next year I believe that Ballerini will know how to form a squad able to compete for victory, and also because we are the reigning Olympic Champion and Bettini is able to do a double."