Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) continued his run of excellent early season results but yet again was forced to play the role of bridesmaid at the Strade Bianche race, taking third place behind the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team duo of Moreno Moser and Peter Sagan.
The Tuscan rider was in the thick of the action at the Tour of Oman and finished third in the GP di Camaiore behind Sagan. His consistency has given the Ag2r-La Mondiale team an unusually solid start to the 2013 season. Nocentini wore the yellow jersey for eight days at the 2009 Tour de France but then missed most of 2010 season after fracturing his leg in a crash at the GP dell'Insubria in Italy.
"It's a good moment for me. My form's good at the moment and this is my second third place in just three days. Unfortunately these young guns keep getting in my way…" he told Cyclingnews.
"My career was almost over two years ago but I feel that it has helped me stay fresh and hungry even though I'm 36 now. I hope I've got several years left in my legs and that I can continue to pick up some good results and even win sometimes."
Nocentini admitted there was little he could do against the combined tactics of Moser and Sagan but he promised he will return to next year's Strade Bianche race. He lives just 40km away, near Arezzo, but this year was his first taste of racing on the dirt roads
"When Moser got away Sagan showed he's one of the strongest in the peloton by the way he controlled the attacks and then jumped away to get second. There wasn't much I or anyone else could do," he said.
"It's the first time I've ridden Strade Bianche but it won't be the last. It's not an easy race but when you've got the form, it's great to be able to race on the dirt roads. I'll be back to have another crack at it next year."