It took just six races for Amore Vita-Selle SMP's Luca Benedetti to score his first professional win, which came Wednesday at the UCI 2.2 Tour de Beauce in Quebec.
Benedetti signed with the Italian-based, Ukrainian-registered Continental team on June 1 and raced with the outfit for the first time earlier this month at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic, where he placed fourth. He followed that up by winning the mountains classification at the Grand Prix Saguenay last week before winning a bunch sprint during stage 1 in Beauce.
"He is a rider for the future," said Amore Vita director Phil Cortes. "He won 11 races last year and four races this year as an amateur. He was signed with the team, but he waited to come up to the pros because his wife gave birth to a baby girl in March. So he wanted to take the time until he was really ready, and that's why he signed his contract on June 1. But he is very good, and he is the future of the team."
Benedetti benefited from solid team tactics on Wednesday after his teammate Leonardo Pinizzotto was one of the last riders to bridge to a breakaway group of 10 riders that stayed away until the closing kilometers. When the breakaway looked certain of being caught, Pinizzotto jumped away again and stretched his time off the front into the final 3km, giving the team the opportunity to wait until the last minute to take over the front and set up a lead out for their new sprinter.
"It was a good sprint for me because I was fresh," Benedetti said. "I didn't have to race a lot because one of my guys was in the front, so I was pretty fresh and really ready for that sprint. Our goal was to race hard but conserve our energy during the whole race. We were confident we could fight back and reach the group of riders in the front."
The team's confidence paid off when Benedetti delivered the win in front of Optum Pro Cycling's Eric Young and Christina Watches' Asbjorn Kragh Anderson. The stage win also delivered Benedetti into the lead of the points competition, but he is focused now on keeping yellow. That task could be a tall order as riders will face the race's Queen stage, a 167.4km route that finishes with the climb up Mont Megantic. But Benedetti's confidence remains high.
"I'm going to fight tomorrow for the yellow jersey," he said. "When I was a junior I was a really good climber, but I don't know how I will react tomorrow. It will be my first real climb in the pros, but I am confident to do it. I know what to expect tomorrow, so I'm going to go for the yellow jersey."
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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