A surprising but well-deserved third place in Amstel Gold Race has left Bardiani-CSF sprinter Sonny Colbrelli undecided if his proverbial beer glass was half empty - having come so close to victory in a top World Tour event - or half full.
At the end of a tough, unpredictable and wide-open Amstel Gold, the Italian led in the shattered remnants of the peloton behind winner Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty - Groupe Goubert) and Michael Valgren (Tinkoff).
“It’s my first podium finish in a big Classic, so I can’t be too unhappy, but at the same time I didn’t win, so I’m not pleased about that,” Colbrelli said afterwards. “I’ve got mixed feelings.”
Colbrelli said he had come into the Cauberg climb ideally placed, just three riders back in the main peloton, but that he had made a mistake when Gasparotto went for it half way up the climb. “When I saw him go, I hesitated a bit, because I was expecting QuickStep and BMC to pull him back. If I’m honest, I waited for too long.
“Many great riders finished behind me, though, and this is the proof I did a great race.”
Reading the race, Colbrelli said, had in any case proved very tricky since the moment when Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), always a key factor in the Amstel Gold since 2010 and his first of three wins, surprisingly faded from the front end of affairs in the final hour. “It was a very different race, on the Cauberg things would have played out very differently if Gilbert had been there,” he observed.
Still, with his third place in Amstel Gold, Colbrelli recognised that he had reached another important milestone, after already taking sixth in the Brabantse Pijl last Wednesday and ninth in Milano-Sanremo, his first top placing in a Monument, this March.
Already clearly a very versatile rider capable of shining in both stage races and one-day Classics, last year Colbrelli won the Tour de Limousin outright as well as the GP Beghelli, and in 2014, in the space of 24 hours, he took back-to-back victories in the Memorial Marco Pantani and GP Industria&Comercio di Prato. Making it on to the podium in Amstel, though, represents a whole new league for the 25-year-old.
“This race will give me a lot of confidence for future Classics,” Colbrelli said. But first, though, will come two stage racing challenges for Colbrelli, the Giro di Trentino and then the Giro d’Italia, where a first Grand Tour stage win for the Italian sprinter could well be on the cards.
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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