By Laura Weislo and Brecht Decaluwé
The 'master of the mud', Sven Nys, has been dethroned in Italy by his compatriot, Bart Wellens. Wellens showed that he, too, can be king in bad conditions, as he powered away early on, and then kept extending his lead throughout the race.
Beaming with joy at the finish while being congratulated by his family and girlfriend Lentel, Wellens told Sporza TV, "I had to wait for this moment for so long but now I'm enjoying really great sensations. This is my first big win of the season, being only my third victory actually. I got the victory on a nice course and in my opinion I did it in a great way in a man-to-man duel; this is really morale-boosting."
The Belgian then explained his fierce tactics at the beginning: "That wasn't planned but I decided to pull through anyway," he said. "Only when I started the ultimate lap did I realised the victory was for me."
Wellens has tried the early attack before only to be overhauled by Nys midway through the race, but this time his gamble paid off. Nys, who found himself too far back after a furious start by the Fidea team, got caught up behind Erwin Vervecken, who had some trouble on one of the many short, steep climbs.
The UCI points leader wasn't too disappointed after being beaten by his career long rival. "I shouldn't be apologising for a second place in a world cup race," he said. "I just didn't have the legs I hoped for, while Bart had a really good day. If I would've been riding on my normal level, we would've seen a great race."
See the full report, results and photos here.