Buongiorno and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the Trofeo Laigueglia.
As the Cyclingnews virtual blimp takes height, the riders are lined up and about to roll out of the start.
The riders awoke to this stunning sunrise and will race in warm, sunny weather.
What a sunrise from @il_Laigueglia! it will be a nice day, sure! #EOLOKOMETACyclingTeam #TrofeoLaigueglia pic.twitter.com/f7ekrn7oVyMarch 3, 2021
This was the scene at the sign-on earlier.
🇮🇹 @il_Laigueglia Team presentation ✅ We’re 40 minutes away from the start here in Liguria, a hilly 202km coming up for the boys, nice way to get our 2021 season rolling 💪#ChangingDiabetes#TrofeoLaigueglia pic.twitter.com/pK9vDBoQltMarch 3, 2021
The first race of the Italian season is 202km long with several different loops inland into the Ligurian hills.
The Trofeo Laigueglia is always a hard day in the saddle of climbs but also testing descents.
The cancellation and postponement of several races means the start list of the Trofeo Laigueglia has attracted a classic-like start list.
Big names include Vincenzo Nibali, Egan Bernal, Thibaut Pinot, Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana.
The riders are in the 1.5 neutralised sector. We are about to start racing.
The Trofeo Laigueglia is traditionally held in mid-February but has a new March date making it part of the Italian races. Indeed many of the teams and riders will head south from Liguria to Tuscany this evening to prepare for Saturday's Strade Bianche.
The Italian calendar then continues with the GP Industria & Artigianato, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-San Remo, the new one-day Per Sempre Alfredo race in Tuscany, the Settimana Coppi & Bartali and then the Giro di Sicilia.
The flag is dropped and the 58th edition of the Trofeo Laigueglia is under way.
Giulio Ciccone won the Trofeo Laigueglia last year while riding for the Italian national team.
He leads the Trek-Segafredo team this year, with Nibali and Mollema also in their strong line-up.
Sun, sea and good weather. Welcome to Laigueglia for the historical Trofeo @il_Laigueglia 🇮🇹202 km with an hectic finale 👊 Looking forward to see our guys in action 👉 @vincenzonibali @giuliocicco1 @BaukeMollema @glbrambilla @SunJjak @nikconci @ghebreigzabhie pic.twitter.com/aRD2RU2nvlMarch 3, 2021
The Deceuninck-QuickStep line-up is also impressive. It includes Omloop winner Davide Ballerini, Britain's James Knox, talented young Italian Andrea Bagioli who won the Royal Bernard Drome Classic at the weekend.
Getting ready for the start of the #TrofeoLaigueglia, our first Italian race of the season. pic.twitter.com/r18lpiM6ANMarch 3, 2021
The opening 26km head along the flat coast road but there have already been some attacks.
This is the moment the Italian officially started.
Al @il_Laigueglia grandi stelle al via e finalmente si torna a correre in Italia!Segui la diretta qui👉 https://t.co/nngI6bRsuH #tuttobici #tuttobiciweb #tuttobicitech #TrofeoLaigueglia pic.twitter.com/d6WaRW4nj3March 3, 2021
166 started the race. The seven riders from the Italian Continental team Giotti Victoria - Savini Due did not start.
We will try to find out why.
Crash! A number of riders in the gruppo go down but are quickly up and away.
180km to go
Despite a brief attack, there is no breakaway for now.
We have an attack of 11 riders. This could be the early move that shapes the race.
175km to go
The 11 riders head in land for the first hills of the race. The peloton is still on contact but this looks like the early break of the day.
The riders in the break are:
Edet (Cofidis), Bais (Androni Giocattoli), Hailemichael (Delko), Archibald (Eolo Kometa), Vacek (Gazprom), Stojinic and Iacchi (Vini Zabù), Salvietti (MG Kvis Vpm), Persico (Team Colpack), Stalnov (Astana Premier Tech), Cuadrado Ruiz (Euskatel-Euskadi).
They have been joined thanks to a late surge across by Juri Hollmann of Movistar.
The 12 riders lead the peloton by 2:45.
The gruppo is almost 4:00 behind the attack, with Trek-Segafredo on the front to keep the 12 within distance.
Davide Rebellin began his 2021 season at the Trofeo Laigeuglia despite being close to 50.
He is riding for the Italian Continental team Work Service. He is, of course, the oldest rider in the race.
150km to go
The work by Trek is pegging the break to around 3:30.
As we suspected, the Italian Giotti Victoria- Vini Due team didn't start this morning due to a COVID-19 case in the team.
According to reports in Italy, a rider from the team was positive for the virus in a test carried out on Monday and confirmed on Tuesday.
The team had travelled to the race but decided not to start on Wednesday morning.
It is unclear what other actions the team will take and if there were close contacts within the team or elsewhere which will require riders and staff to self-isolate.
The riders are on the Cima Paravenna climb. It's the first categorised climb of the race and is 7.5km long.
Ineos are helping Trek set the pace in the peloton.
He appeared on form but has accepted that he will have to race with back pain throughout 2021 after his problems in 2020 and abandon during the Tour de France.
He was later diagnosed with the spinal condition scoliosis, which brought an end to his season.
Bernal spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport saying: "My objective for the Giro this year is to get back to being the Egan who likes to attack, the Egan who isn’t afraid of getting dropped."
"On the Ventoux, my back didn’t cause me too much pain. Unfortunately, I know I’ll have to live with the pain, at least for this year. I just want to enjoy this race, which I’ve wanted to do for several years. And what happens, happens."
After racing the Trofeo Laigueglia, Bernal will line up at Strade Bianche, an event that will serve as preparation for stage 11 of the Giro, which brings the gruppo over the dirt roads of Tuscany en route to Montalcino.
Bernal will remain in Italy to ride Tirreno-Adriatico and he will later complete his Giro build-up by competing at the Tour of the Alps in April. Last month, Bernal travelled to Italy to reconnoitre the finale of stage 19 of the Giro at Alpe di Mera.
"I’m preparing myself 100 per cent to arrive well at the Giro, but obviously the others are preparing themselves to win too. I won’t be racing alone," said Bernal.
Click below to read the full story.
Nicolas Edet of Cofidis is first to the top of the Cima Paravenna climb.
It's time for a feed and a sticky bidon from the Vini Zabnu team car for Marco Frapporti.
The Italian team have Iacchi and Stojnic in the break up front.
#TrofeoLaigueglia Una borraccia @Elite_cycling per @MFrapportiBidon time for Marco Frapporti#ForZabù pic.twitter.com/R5SnwZEfulMarch 3, 2021
The Giotti Victoria- Vini Due team have confirmed one of their riders tested positive for COVID-19 before the Trofeo Laigueglia, leading to DS Stefano Giuliani pulling the whole team from the race.
Giuliani told the Spaziociclismo website that all the team was negative on Friday but a positive emerged during testing on Monday. He suggested the rider did not have any contact with the rest of the team but he opted not to race to protect the race and other riders.
Here are Trek doing the hard work on the front of the peloton.
#TrofeoLaigueglia75 km covered in the race. 12 riders in the front with 3’35” on the peloton, led by our guys 💪 pic.twitter.com/kRNYbVFpPlMarch 3, 2021
After 85km, the work by Trek has reduced the gap to 2:45.
Trek's pace setting has split the peloton on the climb and descent. There are 50 riders up front, with around 100 in as second peloton.
The hills of Liguria are already hurting.
100km to go
After a first long loop into the Ligurian hills, the race is close to Laigueglia.
The riders will pass through the holiday resort from the east to tackle the Testico climb from another valley before returning to Laigueglia for four hilly circuits.
The time gap to the peloton in Laigueglia is 3:00.
The peloton has come back together along the coast road but the Testico climb will soon hurt the legs once more.
This is the moment the race passes through the finish.
🇮🇹 @il_Laigueglia First passage of the line and a little under 100km to go. Breakaway sitting around 3:00” ahead of the bunch. #ChangingDiabetes #TrofeoLaigueglia pic.twitter.com/s5FabLHThHMarch 3, 2021
The Testico climb is 7km and is often the point that shakes up the race. Movistar are on the front of the peloton, perhaps preparing for a surge.
These are the 12 riders in the break:
Edet (Cofidis), Bais (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Hailemichael (Delko), Archibald (Eolo Kometa), Vacek (Gazprom Rusvelo), Stojinic and Iacchi (Vini Zabù), Salvietti (MG Kvis Vpm), Persico (Team Colpack Ballan), Stalnov (Astana Premier Tech), Cuadrado Ruiz (Euskatel-Euskadi) and Hollmann (Movistar).
Some one will no doubt push on on the Testico to shake out the move.
Young Italian Davide Perisco is suffering in the Testico climb as Movistar ride tempo behind.
Niccolo Salvietti of the Mg.k Vis team is also distanced. The break is down to ten riders.
Hollmann of Movistar is first over the Testico climb, beating Edet to win the KOM.
The riders face a long descent back to the coast before the four finishing circuits that include the Colla Micheri and the easier but more famous Capo Mele climb on the coast.
The peloton is clearly faster than the break, passing the summit of the Testico just 2:40 back.
70km to go
Trek are back in charge at the head of the peloton.
#TrofeoLaigueglia75 km to the finish line. In front now 10 riders and the gap with the peloton is 2’13” pic.twitter.com/HNtzXUndcXMarch 3, 2021
On the fast descent back to the coast the gap to the break has fallen below 2:00.
As the race reaches Albenga, the peloton has swept up the two stragglers and is only 1:10 behind the break.
The USA's Ian Garrison of Deceuninck has crashed.
The long descent has caused a split in the peloton.
The Trofeo Laigueglia is a race for those who are not afraid of fast, technical descents, with the twisting roads making for a rollercoaster day in the saddle.
Perhaps realising the gap was coming down too fast too soon, the peloton has eased the chase.
The 10 attackers pass through the finish in Laigueglia. They face the four finishing circuits and the four climbs of the Colla Micheri climb.
The gap to the peloton is 1:40.
Edet has upped the pace on the Colla Micheri, there are just five riders left in the break.
Behind Landa attacks from the peloton!
The descent is a real test of nerves for the riders and the escort motorbikes.
The riders now face the Capo Mele but in the opposite direction to when it is raced in Milan-San Remo.
The peloton has split on the descent, with 15 or so riders up front.
Bernal is in the front split.
Only Hollman, Bais and Edet are left up front from the break.
Ciccone attacked and Bernal jumped on him. Now Nibali goes after Landa.
The Capo Mele is a gradual climb along the rolling coast but it hurts when ridden at 40km/h.
After the fast descent to Laigueglia the road kicks up again on the Colla Micheri.
Edet leads the trio as the peloton compacts behind them.
Now Ineos and Trek have to decide their tactics as Ballerini takes charge on the front for Deceuninck.
Edet looks strong as Arkea lead the peloton, no doubt working for Quintana.
Hollmann has been dropped from the break. He's done.
Only Edet and Bais remain out front.
Over the top of the Colla Micheri, Edet goes clear alone.
30km to go
The peloton of big-name favourites are only 40 seconds behind the two attackers.
Edet struggled on the descent and so both Bias and Hollmann are able to get back up to him.
They avoid the worst of the pot holes in the road and reach the coast road again.
This is the view on the coast.
#TrofeoLaigueglia. Less than 30 km to go. Two riders (Edet, Bais) are in the front with a 40 second over the group where all the favourites for victory in this @il_Laigueglia are riding. #EOLOKOMETACyclingTeam pic.twitter.com/v2tqtmDwiXMarch 3, 2021
The race is about to come back together, the gap to the break is just 20 seconds.
We're back on the Capo Mele as a chase group tries to join the attack.
Mollema is there for Trek, Knox for Deceuninck.
The race is fast and fluid at the moment.
Pello Bilbao is there for Bahrain.
25km to go
The Mollema group sweeps up Edet, Bias and Hollmann.
The big-name peloton is also closing the gap.
Talented young Spanish rider Carlos Rodriguez is up front for Ineos.
The strongest 30 riders have come together on the descent to the finish area in Laigueglia.
The view is stunning along the coast but the riders don't have time to enjoy it.
It's gruppo compatto as the third time up the Colla Micheri climb begins.
Ineos take it on with Dunbar accelerating hard.
Clément Champoussin of AG2R accelerates. Knox is on him.
Here comes Bernal!
#TrofeoLaigueglia. Around thirty riders make up the leading group. We are within the last 25 km. The attacks are back. #EOLOKOMETACyclingTeam pic.twitter.com/6R6nUepgnSMarch 3, 2021
Bernal blasts up and past them. Ciccone is trying to chase Bernal but he's pushing a huge gear.
Bernal accelerates out of every curve. Only Champoussin can hold his wheel.
Bernal is strong but there's still 21km to race.
There is a small group of chasers but the rest of the race is spread out down the climb.
22-year-old Champoussin hits the front and seems as strong as Bernal.
He was second at Faun-Ardèche Classic at the weekend.
Champoussin leads Bernal down the twisting descent.
The chasers can see them but the speed is high.
Fiver riders are closing the gap to Bernal and Champoussin.
Back on the flat roads and Bernal and Champoussin are joined by Landa, Mollema and Ciccone.
Madouas is 50m of the back but the riders up front ease to study each other.
Vansevenant is also there, as is Biniam Ghirmay of Delko.
Everyone else is spread out down the road in pursuit.
15km to go
Mollema attacks and opens a gap.
Ciccone rightly sits on Bernal's wheel. However here are some other talented riders in the attack he will need to watch.
Madouas tries to lead the chase but Mollema already has a lead of 20 seconds as he powers up the Capo Mele.
The chasers are working together but thy need to close the gap as soon as possible.
There is only one lap of the Colla Micheri and Capo Mele circuit left to race.
Ciccone sits at the back as the other take turns to lead the chase but Mollema is extending his gap, even with a quick super tuck.
#TrofeoLaigueglia Gooooo Bauke! Behind Giulio Ciccone is taking a free ride in the small chase group.We have a good situation happening... pic.twitter.com/V6RH3AvnIUMarch 3, 2021
Mollema sweeps onto the Colla Micheri climb. He leads by 25 seconds.
Will it be enough?
Bernal attacks in pursuit of Mollema.
Bernal is away and in pursuit of Mollema.
Bernal dances on the pedals but Champoussin going across to him.
Landa is there too.
Vansevenant is also close, as the other suffer slightly.
Ciccone is trying to close the gap but Landa attacks to up the pace.
Mollema leads by just 15 seconds as they near the summit.
Mollema seems to be pacing his huge effort.
The chasers have to work together otherwise Mollema will stay away.
This is hurting!
Vansevenant cracks as Champoussin ups the pace.
Champoussin and Landa have a slight gap on Bernal, Ciccone and Vansevenant.
Mollema lives in nearby Monaco and so has perhaps trained on the race route and so knows the descent of the Colla Micheri.
He leads by 18 seconds as the five chasers comeback together.
Mollema dives over the rough roads and is on the flat.
6km to go
Mollema looks strong but the chasers can see him on the long straight road.
Can they catch him on the Capo Mele? It is probably too much of a gap for a solo attack to go across.
Mollema won the first stage of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var and is on form.
He looks as strong as he did when he dominated Il Lombardia in 2019.
Mollema is suffering on the Capo Mele but leads by 30 seconds.
#TrofeoLaigueglia Oh, this is looking good!Who else thinks @BaukeMollema is going to hold this lead??? pic.twitter.com/Yr4z2m4YxkMarch 3, 2021
The five chasers have started to think about second place.
Vansevenant attacks and opens a gap on the other chasers.
But Mollema is on the way to victory. He begins the fast descent to Laigueglia with a leads of 30 seconds.
This is a huge solo effort from the Dutchman but it is about to pay off.
Mollema emerges from the tunnels and tucks low trying to find every bit of speed.
They ease off the speed behind, thinking of the sprint for second place.
Mollema also eases and punches the air as he rides to the finish line.
Mollema sits up, looks back, straightens his jersey and wins with one arm in the air!
It's a sprint for second place.
Ciccone kicks it off early but Bernal comes back to take second place.
Bernal congratulates Mollema with a first punch exchange. Chapeau to the flying Dutchman.
#TrofeoLaigueglia A beautiful solo win! pic.twitter.com/fWmI8MegJ0March 3, 2021
Mauri Vansevenant finished third in the sprint, just behind Bernal.
This is the top ten:
1 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 4:57:05
2 Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:39
3 Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
4 Clément Champoussin (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
5 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
7 James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:57
8 Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team 0:01:01
9 Biniam Girmay (Eri) Delko
10 Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
Here's Mollema on the attack.
Mollema was happy to win his second race of 2021.
"It was super nice to win here. I felt really good in the last few weeks and so wanted to start ther season in a nice way. It’s good to have two wins already. This parcours suits me and we had a strong team, so the goal this morning was to win the race," he said post-race.
Trek-Segafredo are on a roll.
Brambilla also won the final stage and the GC of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, while Mads Pedersen won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
"We’ve already have five wins at the start of March so I think the team is riding really strong, in Belgium, in Italy and in France. I hope we keep going like this in the races coming up," he said.
Mollema's victory makes him a favourite for Saturday's Strade Bianche.
"Now I’ll race Strade Bianche and GP di Larciano on Sunday, then take a break to prepare for the Ardennes and the Giro," he explained.
Egan Bernal was perhaps the most aggressive rider of the race, attack several times and looking strong, despite revealing he still feels pain in his back.
Mikel Landa was another rider to impress. He was making his season debut but made the decisive attack and finished sixth.
Here's the shot of Mollema winning alone.
The twisting descents lead to some crashes. This one include Michal Kwiatkowski of Ineos and Andrea Bagioli of Deceuninck.
Kwiatkowski quickly posted on social media that he only suffered bruising.
Bagioli came off worse, suffering a cut near his eye.
This shows the sprint for second place and how much Bernal fought for it.
It was a superb day of racing at Laigueglia. The decision to move the traditional Italian season-opener meant the race attracted some of the best teams and riders, making for a more aggressive race.
Click below to read our full race report and to see our growing photo gallery and full results.
The sprint for second place was this close.
It was a great day of racing at Trofeo Laigueglia.
Thanks for joining us for live coverage from Trofeo Laigueglia. We'll be back for Strade Bianche on Saturday with full live coverage of both the men's and women's races.
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