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Photo: Sebastian Marcovici


Mauro Finetto takes it all in Păltiniș

- double win for Southeast



The Italian Mauro Finetto of the Southeast Pro Cycling Team took the glory on the first mountain finish of this year’s Sibiu Cycling Tour. After an eventful 152.1 km he kept enough energy to overcome the 14.8 km closing climb to Păltiniș and win the sprint of a select group of riders ahead of his teammate and fellow countryman Simone Ponzi and veteran Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice). Finetto also took the lead in the overall classification and will wear the yellow jersey during tomorrow’s queen stage to Bâlea Lac. Best Romanian finisher was Serghei Țvetcov in 5th.


A hectic start

After yesterday’s reduced bunch sprint on the Bulevardul Victoriei, it was another rapid start today when the riders headed off for the stage at the Sibiu Aeroport. Several teams and riders who missed out yesterday tried to join the early breakaway and it took long to establish, with an average speed of 48 kph for the first hour of the race. Once around 20 riders finally got clear from the bunch, more than 40 km of racing were covered already.
With the three Southeast riders Andrea Fedi, Francesco Gavazzi and Elia Favilli, Josef Černý and Marek Rutkiewicz from CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Marco Bandiera from Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, and Antonio Nibali from the Nippo-Vini Fantini team of race leader Eduard Grosu, all four Professional Continental teams had placed themselves in the lead group. Nevertheless, the remaining riders of the breakaway, including Audun Brekke Fløtten (Team Ringeriks-Kraft), Janis Dakteris and Gediminas Kaupas (both Team Differdange-Losch), Dmitriy Samokhvalov (Itera-Katusha), Iltjan Nika (D'Amico Bottecchia), Szábolcs Sebestyen (Tușnad Cycling Team), Martin Reimer (LKT Team Brandenburg), Yannick Mayer and Timo Schäfer (both Bike Aid), could not benefit from this situation and were kept on a short leash by the big teams also controlling the pace in the peloton, not letting the gap increase to much more than 3 minutes.
All three intermediate sprints of the day took place in the early part of the stage, and were won by Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Jurgen van Diemen (Parkhotel Valkenburg CT) and Iltjan Nika (D'Amico Bottecchia). Team Differdange-Losch rider Gediminas Kaupas, who was in the breakaway during yesterday’s stage and only one point behind in the classification for the best sprinter of the race, also participated in the intermediate sprints to try to overtake the German Robert Kessler, but the young LKT Team Brandenburg rider could secure a second place in one of the sprints himself and thereby defended his blue jersey for at least another day.
Halfway through the stage the terrain got more lumpy, with the steep category A climb to Jina to follow shortly afterwards. The rapid pace took its toll and several riders were unable to follow any longer. Only nine riders remained in the front group, with Audun Brekke Fløtten being the strongest on the climbs, winning both the mountain classification on the 8.6% average 5.1 km climb to Jina and the less difficult one in Apoldu de Sus a 32 km later.

Uphill through the conifer forest

At this point of the race, the gap between the lead group and the peloton in the back was down to between 1 and 2 minutes, and the closer they came to the finish, the more it was reduced by the teams working in the back, so that only 50 seconds were left of it at the foot of the final and decisive climb to Păltiniș. More and more riders dropped back from the breakaway in the early slopes of the mountain, and with 12 kilometres to go, Antonio Nibali was the last one to be caught by the chasing bunch of about 20 riders.
The leader of the overall classification, Eduard Grosu, was already in severe difficulties at that time, so his Nippo-Vini Fantini team mate Didier Chaparro had free reins to go on the attack himself 10 km before the finish and try to get the stage win, but he couldn't create more than a small gap, and was brought back quickly. The pace of the group was kept high but steady until the final kilometre by Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), so that no one was able to attack successfully anymore. It came down to an uphill sprint of the remaining 12 riders, won by Mauro Finetto of the Southeast team. His teammate Simone Ponzi came seconnd, Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) third.
Besides being rewarded with the stage victory and the yellow jersey for leading the overall classification, Finetto also took the white points jersey and defended the green one for the best climber in the race. Serghei Țvetcov (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), who finished 5th today, is now the best Romanian and will wear the red jersey during tomorrow’s stage, while Øivind Lukkedal (Team Ringeriks-Kraft) was awarded with the orange jersey for the best young rider in the Sibiu Cycling Tour.

Stage 2 podium:
1.  Mauro Finetto (Southeast)
2.  Simone Ponzi (Southeast)
3.  Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
Classification leaders after stage 2:
 General classification:  Mauro Finetto (Southeast)
 Sprint classification:  Robert Kessler (LKT Team Brandenburg)
 Mountain classification: 
 Mauro Finetto (Southeast)
 U23 classification:  Øivind Lukkedal (Team Ringeriks-Kraft)
 Points classification:  Mauro Finetto (Southeast)
 Best Romanian classification:  Serghei Țvetcov (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)
 Team classification:  Southeast

Click here to access the full results.


Riders' reactions

Mauro Finetto, stage winner & new yellow jersey:
 "I am happy to have won, it was a demanding climb. My teammates supported me well, and I had a good rhythm going into the last kilometre. We were planning to set up Simone Ponzi as he's a very fast guy. But in the end I had the better legs, so I went for the stage. I waited until 500 metres to go as I didn't want to go too early, but then I went all-out and won.
If I do well I will probably secure the mountain jersey, but the yellow jersey is the most important for me now. Tomorrow I will go to the limit and hope I can defend it."

Serghei Țvetcov, fifth place on the stage & best Romanian:
"I did my best today. Fifth place is okay, and I have the red jersey. I'm going for the overall classification and will try to stay in the front group tomorrow, but the jersey is a nice bonus."

Øivind Lukkedal, 11th place on the stage & best U23 rider:
"It came as expected. There's a flatter part until the last kilometre, so I expected people to wait until then. I thought Rebellin would attack with 1 km to go as he had Mihaylov setting the pace all the way, but he waited, and it came down to a sprint.
I am satisfied with my result, took the U23 jersey, and will defend it tomorrow. That is a different, very difficult climb, twice as long as this one and steep as well - but I'll go for a good result again."
The break on the climb to Jina
Photo: Dragoș Dumitru
The front group on the final climb to Păltiniș
Photo: Dragoș Dumitru
The stage podium (L-R): Simone Ponzi, Mauro Finetto (both Southeast), Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
Photo: Lukas Knöfler
Mauro Finetto (Southeast) in the yellow jersey
Photo: Lukas Knöfler
The best Romanian, Serghei Țvetcov (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)
Photo: Lukas Knöfler
The orange jersey was taken by Øivind Lukkedal (Team Ringeriks-Kraft)
Photo: Lukas Knöfler
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