Ulissi takes his first pro win in Prato

Former junior wold champion wins three-rider sprint

Of his own admission, much has been expected of Diego Ulissi and today in Prato he delivered on that promise, beating Michele Scarponi and Alessandro Proni in a late-race selection that showed the future is bright for the young Italian.

And the 21-year-old, who was junior world champion in 2006 and '07, had an illustrious audience in front of whom to perform, with the legendary Alfredo Martini and current national team manager Paolo Bettini in attendance.

Ulissi also beat 2009 Prato winner and current Italian national champ Giovanni Visconti, who is preparing for next month's world championship road race in Australia, plus experienced sprinter Luca Paolini and the ever-reliable Alessandro Bertolini.

"I am growing stronger and finally the big result has arrived. Prato has brought me good rewards: a year ago I imposed myself here in the Coppa 29 Martiri di Figline. I still didn't know my role as a rider. It's taken a couple of years to understand even when I've felt more adapted to stage races," said Ulissi.

"I always have high expectations on my shoulders in the light of the junior world championship successes: for this reason I have to reset myself at the end of each year, look at my achievements and results and get back into the game. You never stop improving."

The 65th edition of the Gran Premio Industria e Commercio di Prato started with a bang and it wasn't until 43km in that the day's first move stuck. The aforementioned Bertolini (Androni-Diquigiovanni), Filippo Savini (Colnago-Csf Inox), Mauro Da Dalto (Lampre-Farnese), Ermanno Capelli (Footon-Servetto), Ruggero Marzoli (Acqua e Sapone), Stefano Borchi (De Rosa-Stac Plastic), Daniele Callegarin (Cdc-Cavaliere) and Swiss rider Bernhard Oberholzer (Price Custom) got away and built a maximum advantage of 1:15 after 85km of racing.

Just 25km later the break was annulled by the chasing bunch, having spent 67km leading the race. A further 24km later, defending champion Visconti forced the pace on the penultimate lap, taking Francisco José Ventoso (CarmioOro NGC), Francesco Gavazzi and Ulissi (both Lampre-Farnese), Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Acqua e Sapone pair Paolini and Alessandro Proni, and the Androni-Diquigiovanni trio of Scarponi, José Serpa Perez and Bertolini plus Alessandro Bisolti (Colnago-Csf) and Polish rider Przemyslaw Niemec (Miche) with him.

A crash for Gavazzi ruled him out of contention but fortunately the Italian wasn't badly injured, although it left the door open for Ulissi to demonstrate what he could do against a quality field.

With two kilometres to go it was Proni forcing the pace on two occasion, the second of which Scarponi joined him as they headed under the red kite. From behind came the remainder of the selection as Ulissi kicked hard in the final 205m to secure a narrow win, the biggest of his fledgling career.

"My sport director Fabrizio Bontempi, who won here in Prato in 1995, told me before the start that only champions usually win this race: I gave my best, now I hope that Bontempi's forecast could be true," said Ulissi.

"This first season as pro has been until now very satisfying and this victory enriched it. Today the team was amazing, it was a pity that Gavazzi had to gave up his chances of victory beacause of the crash: this fact gave me even more energy because I really wanted the team work to be rewarded with an important result."


#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini4:03:00 
2Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
3Alessandro Proni (Ita) Acqua & Sapone  
4Giovanni Visconti (Ita) ISD - Neri0:00:11 
5Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) CarmioOro NGC  
6Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone  
7Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
8Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox  
9Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale  
10Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Miche  
11Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli  
12Vladislav Borisov (Rus) Amore & Vita - Conad0:00:35 
13Ruslan Pydgornyy (Ukr) ISD - Neri  
14Eugenio Loria (Ita) CDC - Cavaliere  
15Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone0:00:40 
16Jure Kocjan (Slo) CarmioOro NGC  
17Aristide Ratti (Ita) CarmioOro NGC  
18Mirko Tedeschi (Ita) CarmioOro NGC  
19Daniele Callegarin (Ita) CDC - Cavaliere  
20Bernhard Oberholzer (Swi) Price - Custom Bikes  
21Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
22Oleg Berdos (Mda) De Rosa - Stac Plastic  
23Nicolas Schnyder (Swi) Price - Custom Bikes  
24Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Amore & Vita - Conad  
25Marcello Pavarin (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox  
26Clemens Fankhauser (Aut) Vorarlberg - Corratec  
27Krzysztof Szczawinski (Pol) Miche  
28Volodymyr Starchyk (Ukr) Amore & Vita - Conad  
29Elias Schmaeh (Swi) Price - Custom Bikes  
30Marco Cattaneo (Ita) De Rosa - Stac Plastic  
31Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
32Fabio Felline (Ita) Footon-Servetto  
33Julien Loubet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
34Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Vorarlberg - Corratec  
35Francesco Tizza (Ita) CarmioOro NGC  
36Davide Bonuccelli (Ita) CDC - Cavaliere  
37Ermanno Capelli (Ita) Footon-Servetto  
38Jure Golcer (Slo) De Rosa - Stac Plastic  
39Patrick Schelling (Swi) Price - Custom Bikes  
40Andrea Tonti (Ita) CarmioOro NGC  
41Enrico Magazzini (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
42Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Miche  
43Piergiorgio Camussa (Ita) Vorarlberg - Corratec  
44Enrico Zen (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox  
45Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone  
46Hubert Schwab (Swi) Price - Custom Bikes  
47Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
48Cristiano Fumagalli (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia  
49Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia  
50Carlos José Ochoa (Ven) Androni Giocattoli  
51Volodymyr Zagorodny (Ukr) Miche  
52Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) ISD - Neri  
53Luciano Barindelli (Ita) CarmioOro NGC  
54Alfredo Balloni (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
55Paolo Bailetti (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia  
56Adriano Angeloni (Ita) TFB  
57Diego Caccia (Ita) ISD - Neri  
58Leonardo Giordani (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia  
59Francesco Di Paolo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone  
60Enrico Rossi (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia  
61Simone Stortoni (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox  
62Markus Eibegger (Aut) Footon-Servetto  
63Alessandro Fantini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone  
64Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli  
65Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
66Arkaitz Duran Aroca (Spa) Footon-Servetto  
67Michele Gaia (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox  
68Leonardo Pinizzotto (Ita) Miche  
69Luca Zanasca (Ita) CDC - Cavaliere  
70Fabien Wolf (Swi) Price - Custom Bikes  
71Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini  
72Paolo Ciavatta (Ita) Acqua & Sapone0:02:05 
73Roberto Antonio Richeze (Arg) TFB  
74Leopoldo Rocchetti (Ita) Miche  


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