Colombian climbers do not usually excel in wet and cold conditions but José Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) showed he is far more than a specialist climber by winning the Giro del Friuli in northern Italy.
Serpa beat Russia’s Pavel Brutt (Katusha) in a two-up sprint after the pair broke away in the final kilometres of the race. Denmark’s Nicki Sörensen (Saxo Bank-Sungard) finished third but only 25 riders completed the race because of the terrible weather condition currently battering northern Italy. Temperatures rose little above freezing all day with snow and cold rain making the 187km race especially tough.
Cadel Evans (BMC) made his season debut in the race but did not finish. Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) also climbed off after getting 100km in their legs.
A snow shower just after the start in Pordenone quickly made a selection in the peloton, with a group of 31 forming up front as others began to retire. BMC missed the move and so took up the chase, with Evans doing a lot of the work. He rode to help teammate Mauro Santambrogio go across to front group and then headed to the showers.
The San Floriano climb reduced the front group to just 16 as the laps ticked down. Patxi Vila (De Rosa-Ceramica Flaminia) went on the attack but was caught before the last time on the climb.
20 riders started the climb together but Serpa, Paterski, Spilak and Brutt got a gap over the top. They were joined by Vila and Klostergaard, with Stangelj, Bole and Tosatto not far behind.
Despite the dangerous conditions, Brutt and Serpa opened a gap on the descent to the finish in Gorizia and had a 16-second lead with five kilometres to go.
Brutt won the Clasica Sarda last Sunday in Sardinia but Serpa got the better of him in the sprint, winning by a bike length.
Serpa won a stage at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January but had since racked up six second places in other races. He had stood out in the peloton for his broad moustache but recently shaved it off, worried it was a bad luck curse.
“There was a risk that finishing second was becoming a curse,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I felt good today, I stayed in the front group I could count on the support of my teammates who worked for me. I was the first to attack on the first climb and on the second one. I think I won the sprint pretty well.”
Brutt was not happy with second place: "Despite the hilly route and the bad weather conditions, I did a good performance but having lost the sprint annoys me, even if it wasn't my kind of sprint because it was flat and I needed more speed than power.” Brutt said.
“I had some troubles with my Achilles tendon during the race but I hope to keep my conditions and try to win a stage at Paris-Nice. It's not my kind of route, but with this form, I’ve got to try and do something.”
|1||Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli||4:47:20|
|2||Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha Team|
|3||Nicki Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard||0:00:05|
|4||Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:08|
|5||Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - ISD|
|6||Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD||0:00:25|
|7||Simon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana|
|8||Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard|
|9||Patxi Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) De Rosa - Ceramica Flaminia||0:00:27|
|10||Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Pro Team Astana||0:00:31|
|11||Michael Mørkøv (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard||0:01:33|
|12||Pasquale Muto (Ita) Miche - Guerciotti|
|13||Mitja Mahoric (Slo) Adria Mobil|
|14||Andrey Klyuev (Rus) Amore & Vita|
|15||Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone|
|16||Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard|
|17||Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Pro Team Astana|
|18||Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Acqua & Sapone|
|19||Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre - ISD||0:03:06|
|20||Jure Kocjan (Slo) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis||0:05:10|
|21||Kristjan Fajt (Slo) Adria Mobil|
|22||Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|23||Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Androni Giocattoli|
|24||Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Pro Team Astana|
|25||Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team|