Italy’s Filippo Pozzato took a confidence-boosting victory Sunday after taking the flowers at the Herald Sun World Cycling Classic Ballarat. “Pippo” out-kicked Manciej Bodner (Pol) with Chile’s Carlos Guinez taking a surprise third to round-out the podium.
Fabian Cancellara (Swis) crossed the line fourth in the 130km race while Aussie favorite Simon Gerrans was 15th.
The Italians dictated the action from the first lap with five men in an initial breakaway of 13 riders before the leading group expanded to 25 riders including Pozzato, Cancellara and Gerrans in the second half of the classic. In the second last lap of seven, the top four finishers broke from the leading group to hear the bell 48 seconds ahead of the peloton before Pozzato prevailed on the downhill finish.
“I was confident before this race because in the Vuelta I was very strong,” Pozzato said. “This race was important for all the team to stay together and to do a race together without radio systems and find the right positions for the team.”
Riders will not use radios for the first time in years at the world championships.
Gerrans placed 15th on Sunday in a bid to gain racing time after his professional team, Team Sky, withdrew one week into the Tour of Spain due to the death of a masseur.
“I went out there and did what I had to do, it was a good really incident free hit out,” Gerrans said. “It didn’t feel fantastic out there but that was why I was there to blow a few cobwebs.”
Earlier in the day, Trixie Worrack displayed the strength of the German team ahead of next week’s world cycling road championships winning the women’s event. Worrack outsprinted Belgian Liesilot Decroix and South Africa’s Carla Swart to win the 90km race in two hours 26 minutes and 50 seconds around Buninyong in central Victoria.
The leaders encountered a feature of cycling in Australia during spring, with a magpie swooping the riders in the final lap.