DENVER, Colorado (VN) — Manuel Senni loves to attack. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.
In stage 3 of the Colorado Classic, Senni’s aggression paid off. On the roads above Golden, Colorado, the 25-year-old Italian attacked repeatedly, eventually breaking free and earning the overall lead of the four-stage race by 15 seconds over Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly).
“I did months working for the team. Here they gave me the chance to play my cards. I have in my DNA: attack, attack, attack, and today was a good day,” Senni said after the stage.
Senni played a major role in making it a demanding day of racing from the start. The plan was to ramp up the aggression on the very first climb.
“It was Senni’s plan. It was our plan because it was his plan,” teammate Brent Bookwalter said. “We thought he was crazy, looking at the profile. We didn’t think there was going to be areas to make that much separation. It just goes to show you never give up.”
When Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) attacked on the first categorized climb on Twin Spruce Road, however, his strong effort squashed Senni’s efforts to go harder. Being at altitude, Senni smartly eased back to avoid pushing himself over his limit. He came back to the group until his legs started to feel better. Then, it was game on.
His final attack in the final kilometer of the last categorized climb on Golden Gate Canyon set him free.
“The legs started to be better; I attack, I jump away from the breakaway, and I saw in the descent that the group was not so many riders so it could be a great chance to attack. So I try,” Senni said.
BMC director Steve Bauer advised him to wait for the assistance of Tvetcov who attacked to follow the Italian. The pair worked together down the descent of Golden Gate Canyon.
Senni’s teammate Brent Bookwalter had a bird’s eye view of how it all played out.
“Everyone looked at him like he was crazy,” Bookwalter said. “He had already been trying so much, and there was only a K left in the climb. How much could you do?”
Bookwalter estimates they had 30 seconds over the top of the KOM point. Bauer reckons they added another 45 seconds or more on the descent. The deciding factor may have been wet, fast, and somewhat technical descent. According to Bookwalter, Trek-Segafredo was leading the charge and taking it gingerly. Senni took another approach.
“Senni’s a mad man. From racing with him over the years and doing training camps with him, he likes the wet technical downhills,” Bookwalter said.
Tail winds further aided Senni and Tvetcov as they charged to the line. The two motivated riders proved a formidable force for the chasing group.
“It was still wet, and kind of dangerous, and I didn’t want to take a risk, but Manuel was descending very well,” Tvetcov said. “It looked like he trains there every day.”
Now Senni only has stage 4, a flat, fast downtown circuit race, between him and his first overall stage race title. Earlier this season he was third overall at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana as well as third overall at the Giro Dell’Appennino.
Senni was approached one month ago by the Bardiani team manager who made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Next season, racing for the Pro Continental squad, he believes he will have the freedom to more frequently employ his aggressive racing tactics rather than continue to work for others. BMC Racing did not bring Senni to the Giro d’Italia in 2017; Senni hopes his new team will.