Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC) conquered the inaugural Monte Paschi Eroica yesterday, a 180-kilometre race composed of le strade bianche (white gravel roads) around Siena, Italy. The 26 year-old, who claimed silver at the UCI World Road Championships last month, completed the last 40 kilometres solo. Second was taken by Kolobnev's Swedish team-mate, Marcus Ljungqvist, and third by Ukrainian Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ceramica Flaminia).
"It was a very particular race," said Kolobnev after the finish. "At the beginning of the day I did not think I could do something for the finale."
The race swung Kolobnev's way when he made an escape of 11 men at kilometre 74. "It was good to be at the front in this race. I had made the selection and then my solo move. Plus, having Marcus behind gave me confidence." His team-mate attacked upon reaching the city limits of Siena, the city famous for its bi-annual horse races, Palio di Siena.
The Russian enjoyed the landscape of the new race, despite the difficult conditions it provided. "It is a great zone, with olive trees," he noted. "Unfortunately, I could not see but 30 metres in front of me because of the dust."
Another Italian who enjoyed the race's scenery was Quick.Step-Innergetic's Paolo Bettini, who beat Kolobnev for the World Championship title in Stuttgart, Germany. While he didn't contest the event Bettini enjoyed his rare chance to be a spectator, rather than a competitor. "It was a spectacular race to watch with all the dust," noted the dual world champion.
Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir) was the first Italian to cross the finish line in fourth while two-time Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni, who rode the cyclo-tourist version on Sunday, finished 10th. Noted Classics riders Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) and Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) finished with the main group.