Ulissi takes his first pro win in Prato

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."


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


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