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Roma Maxima 2014

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Hello and welcome to the second of our Italian races taking place this weekend, with live coverage from Roma Maxima.

Today is the second edition of the Italian race and once again the start and finish is in the Italian capital, with the finish on the long straight Fori Imperiali in the heart of the city and with the Colosseum offering a unique back drop to the photograph of the winner.

Despite the 195km route including some testing climbs in the Roman hills, the final 40km are largely downhill and on flat and straight Appia Antica.

 

We have a break up the road so we'll bring you right up to speed with the details.

80km remaining from 180km

There's roughly 80km to go in the race and the seven riders up the road are Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling), Niccolò Bonifazio (Lampre Merida), Daniel Teklehaimanot ad Dennis Van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka), Kiel Reijnen (United Healtcare), Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale), Thomas Damuseau (Giant-Shimano). They held a lead of seven minutes at one stage but the gap is now down to four minutes.

Philippe Gilbert is here to lead the charge for BMC today, and Samuel Sanchez, is along with him. The Spaniard signed for the team after the Euskaltel team folded at the end of 2013.

The break are still working well together as back in the bunch Cannondale remain at the back of the peloton. Two MTN riders in the lead break will please the team after they failed to make the main break in yesterday's Strade Bianche.

The bunch are starting to oraniser a bit more of a chase and even though the gap is at around four minutes they've chipped a few seconds off the lead.

As Pozatto, who dropped out of the race yesterday, drifts back to the team car for some instructions. Movistar currently lead the field.

Belletti, a possible candidate for the finish, has also been back to the team car. He's no back in the bunch but rubbing his left knee.

63km remaining from 180km

Just under 65km remaining now as Movistar are looking for a bit more help in the chase. The gap is at 3'52.

The break take a sharp right hand corner as they head towards the hills. The bunch have them at 3'45 now.

Astana have started to move up towards the front of the peloton, as they sit just off the Movistar train.

Gilbert is riding near the front as well, with former Liege winner Iglingsky just to the Belgian's left. Ivan Basso, on the far ride of the peloton gets out of the saddle and starts to move to the front as well. Will the former Giro d'Italia winner try something today?

In theory, from looking at the route, it should come down to a small bunch sprint, but as last year's winner Kadri showed, anything is possible.

It's like the Rochester Classic out there, with cars parked on the road. A number of riders have to swing into the middle of the tarmac to avoid the vehicles.

But the gap is coming down, Movistar have the leaders at 3minutes. Valverde, third yesterday, is in the peloton. Ventoso too, so the Spanish team have a number of options.

Meanwhile, there are reports in Paris-Nice that Tejay van Garderen has abandoned the race.

Back to Roma Maxima and the leaders are on a small climb and the bunch have reduced the lead to 2'35.

Bardiani-CSF have now lifted the pace, giving Movistar a rest from pacing duties. The Italian team will be looking for a result today after missing out on top ten yesterday. Pagani was in the action yesterday but he was caught inside the final 30km.

Modolo is on Pozzato's wheel. Both Lampre riders are contenders for today with the latter having finished second here last year.

52km remaining from 180km

52km to go and the gap is at 1'38 as the leaders tackle the thrid climb of the day.

And now, with 50km to go the leaders have just one minute and already there are attacks from the seven man break with Gastauer on the move.

Bardiani have a swarm of riders on the front of the peloton with gaps starting to appear.

We're reaching a critical part of the race and we'll see who the potential favourites are with just under 50km to go. Gastauer is trying to replicate his teammate Kadri from last year.

Gastauer is on the descent of the climb now and flying along with 47km to go. He has 14 seconds on the chasers with the break at 54 seconds.

Only four chasers left, with the initial break splitting over the top of that last climb. Gastauer has 12 seconds.

No race radios so Gastauer is racing smart and trying to take advantage of the situation.

After a brief rest Anton leads Quintana and Movistar back to the front of the peloton.

Valverde has attacked in an attempt to soften up the field.

It's working with BMC upping the pace and three Sky riders dropped from the bunch.

Gastauer is out of the saddle and really pushing but the gap is coming down.

Ben Swift is off the back at the moment and he's struggling.

And now Nairo Quintana has tried to go clear.

The bunch is strung out and it's Movistar who are doing all the damage.

Just 11 seconds for Gastauer as Quintana again ups the pace.

And now it's Valverde's turn to attack.

Neither rider from the Spanish team have gone clear but they're pulling the peloton to pieces as Gastauer is pulled back with 37km to go.

Valverde lifts the pace once more but he's joined by around four or five riders with Pozzovivo in the mix. And the AG2r rider has gone clear.

Into the right streets at the top of the climb and Pozzovivo has a couple of seconds. He needs help if he's stay out there there as Valverde tries to come over.

Pozzovivo can see the Spaniard coming but he pushes once more as the climb steepens yet again.

Valverde has made contact as they crest the top of the climb.

BMC are leading the peloton at the moment with a handful of riders in between the leading pair and the bunch.

The two leaders have 22 seconds on a 12 man chase that includes Quintana with 31km to go.

Two riders went clear yesterday and held off the chase. Can it happen again? The two leaders are working well together for now.

Valverde almost loses it on a corner but he manages to hold it together.

There's a rider from Scinto's team trying to bridge up to the leaders. It's Rabottini

The road flattens and Valverde accelerates, the gap at 17 seconds.

Pelizotti is in the chase group along with Ancona

Onto the next climb and Pozzovivo leads, the gap still at 18 seconds.

The chasers aren't giving up just yet as a Bardiani rider tries to attack but Rabottini has been caught and is about to be dropped.

As Valverde just follows the AG2R rider's wheel before coming through once the road smoothens out.

The leaders have just 13 seconds now.

Rabottini is still hanging in there though.

Valverde takes over the climb. He's recovered very well since his third place in Strade Bianche yesterday.

The chase group is splitting up as Bongiorno is in third place on the road and all on his own.

24km remaining from 180km

24km to go and the leaders have 26 seconds, so it's slowly creeping up.

Valverde has the bit between his teeth and is leading the charge down the descent but more and more riders are joining the chase group.

Pozzovivo is struggling to hold the Spaniard's wheel at times but he's still there, and taking the odd turn.

Under the 20km to go banner and the leaders have 29 seconds and Bongiorno has been caught. Quintana is no longer in the chase so it's all on Valverde for Movistar.

Two AG2R riders in the chase but they won't do a tap.

Dilema for Pozzovivo. Does he work and probably finish second or does he stop working and wait for his teammates?

Pozzovivo may not know any of this though as there's no race radios and his team car isn't here. Valverde has the info as his car has made it up to him.

Pozzovivo is at least given an energy gel by the Movistar team car, which is a smart move from the Spanish team.

14km remaining from 180km

The gap between the leaders and the chase is at 28 seconds. Valverde is doing a lot more of the work.

The riders in the chase are Nocentini, Dumoulin, Anacona, Bongiorno, Pardilla, Tschopp, Hoogerland, Pellizotti, Kangert, Dupont, Hermans and Rabottini

Pelizotti has sat up with cramp.

But the lead pushes out to 34 seconds.

And there are attacks from the chase group. It looks like Valverde has this race in his hands.

Rabottini has attacked from the chase but he's got 36 seconds to make up. Not going to happen.

We're into the final 10km of racing and Valverde continues to lead Pozzovivo. Has the Spaniard done too much? Can Pozzovivo take him on in the sprint?

Rabottini is still out there on his own but he can't make any impression on the leaders.

7km remaining from 180km

Valverde, out of the saddle again, keeps the pace high.

Sky lead the peloton at the moment and they're at 51 seconds.

Pozzovivo is struggling to hold Valverde's wheel yet again but he manages to drag himself back but the peloton are closing and they're are 47 seconds with 4.7km to go. This could be close. We had no time checks on the bunch but all of sudden they're in with a chance.

4.2km to go and the gap is at 50 seconds with Valverde now holding off both the break and Team Sky.

It looks like the chasers have been caught apart from Rabottini

3km remaining from 180km

Just over 3km to go and the peloton are at 37 seconds. This could all come back together.

The two leaders are messing around and talking, they're hesitating and the bunch are now at 27 seconds.

2.3 km to go and the bunch are at 23 seconds.

Valverde has to push here.

He grits his teeth and takes one huge pull on the front. Can he hang on?

No help from the AG2R rider.

And Sanchez has attacked for BMC.

1.7km to and Pozzovivo takes a turn at last.

Just over 1km to go as they head to the finish.

Valverde accelerates and they still have 27 seconds.

900m left and Valverde leads as Sanchez has been caught.

Valverde looks over each shoulder, waiting for an attack.

Here come the bunch.

It's going to be close.

250 to go.

Valverde goes.

Valverde takes it.

The Spaniard takes the win but Pozzovivo was caught on the line by the peloton. An incredible finish to the race.

Valverde the strongest rider in the race, rode his luck a bit in the finish but also showed character and experience to close out the win and hold off the bunch.

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
2 Davide Appollonio (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
4 Antonio Parrinello (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
7 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
10 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Yellow Fluo

So AG2R finished with a rider on the podium in the end. It looked like they helped in the chase/leadout but second was probably the best they could have hoped for in the closing few kms of the race.

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our report, results and photos, right here.

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