Cimolai surged up the left hand side of the finishing straight in Vilanova i la Geltru to take a chaotic bunch sprint win in which the peloton only sucked up the last man standing from the breakaway - Cameron Meyer (Dimension Data) - within 50 metres of the line.
As Meyer finally sat up and drifted back on the right hand side of the finishing straight, Cimolai had timed his move well, finishing more than a bike length clear of Niklas Arndt . Arndt’s Giant-Alpecin squad is, curiously enough, the only other WorldTour squad along with Lampre still lacking a win in the WorldTour category this season so far.
Cimolai, 26, said that although his team had worked very hard to pull back the day-long break, the difficult terrain mid-stage, including a second category climb, and no less 11 riders up the road all gunning for a breakaway win at one point had made the task of ensuring the stage culminated in a bunch sprint an exceptionally tricky one.
“It was a very complicated stage to win, with so many riders ahead in the break to be honest I didn’t think we’d have any chance of taking the victory in a bunch sprint,” Cimolai commented.
“I have to thank the team, because this required a lot of hard work to succeed on their part. Without them, it wouldn’t have happened.”
A professional since 2010, Cimolai has often shone at his brightest in the spring in the past. Last year he won a stage of Paris-Nice and came second in another after taking a small group sprint victory in the Trofeo Laguiglea, then finishing eighth in the 2015 Milano-Sanremo. He has already taken a ninth place in this year’s Volta a Catalunya on stage 5’s finish at Valls behind lone breakaway Wout Poels (Team Sky).
Cimolai agreed that the absence of both Ben Swift (Team Sky), who did not start today’s stage, and above all Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), who won both stages 1 and 2 before abandoning, made it a different kind of challenge, one where there was less collaboration amongst sprinters teams present on Catalunya to work for a victory.
“They’re top names, and without them here, it was largely up to us in Lampre to keep the moves under control. So it was tough win, but a good one.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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