Sonny Colbrelli: Call me Rain Man

Bahrain-Merida sprinter wins rain-soaked Gran Piemonte

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) ended his 2018 season with another sprint win in the rain at Gran Piemonte on Thursday, confirming he is the rain man of the peloton. 

The Italian sprinter has the bike skills and the mindset to excel when the skies are grey and the roads wet. This time, after racing for more than four hours in the pouring rain around Turin and the flat Piedmont countryside, Colbrelli beat Florian Sénéchal (Quick-Step Floors) and Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) on the long straight finish that leads to the stunning Palazzina di Caccia that once hosted hunting trips and celebrations with Napoleon and the Savoy and Italian royal families.

"I always perform well in the rain because I know a lot of other riders don’t like it," Colbrelli said. "I use the tough conditions to my advantage. I’ve always preferred the rain to the heat of the summer. Even when I was young, I was happy to train in the rain. I’m happy that people call me 'Rain Man'."

Colbrelli has won four times in 2018, including beating Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the rain at the Tour de Suisse. He also finished second seven times, including twice behind Sagan in Tour de France sprints and behind Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) at the Gran Prix Cycliste de Montreal a few weeks ago.

"The second places at the Tour de France were a big regret because I was so close, so too was the Gran Prix Montreal. I thought I'd won it and then Matthews passed me on the line," Colbrelli explained, able to see the long-term benefits of defeat.

"They're big, big races. They're Classics and so they also give me the optimism and confidence for 2019. The Tour de France was an important moment in my season and my development as a sprinter and Classics contender. It's been a season full of second places, but there were some prestigious second placings too. I hope to turn them into wins in 2019."

Colbrelli wants to be known as a Classics contender as well as the Rain Man.

"I love the Tour of Flanders and want to be ready for it next spring," he said. "This year I fell ill after Strade Bianche and that wrecked my chances. As an Italian, Milan-San Remo will always be a goal, but the Tour of Flanders is the one I really want to win."

Before thinking about the 2019 season, Colbrelli will enjoy becoming a father.

"I'm happy to finish the season with a final win, and now it’s time to focus on becoming a father. My daughter is due in 10 days time. We're going to call her Vittoria (Victory in Italian). It seems the right name for a sprinter’s daughter."

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