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[CT'19] Centovalli - Fiat | Z√ľri Metzgete
Race Review | Vilnius GP (C2HC)

A one-day team time trial - why did we actually go there? Well, because we had to, as the Vilnius GP is part of the mandatory C2HC category races. We didn't have any expectations besides not getting last - and we did even better than that! We finished 12th, which was better than the 15th place the bookies expected us to take. This effort by our very young squad was even worth some points, so we can even declare this race a success!


The boys advertising our beautiful country in Lithuania

Race Review | Nantahala Classic (C1)

We started our 5-day US journey with the Nantahala Classic, a hilly one-day race. In a very uneventful race, Simon Pellaud was able to keep up with the best until the Flame Rouge, but then unfortunately couldn't follow the big guns once they went full gas.

But he still fulfilled our Top 25 goal, getting 19th place, inside a first larger chasing group. Leading home the next group, we had Jan-André Freuler on 27th as well - a respectable result, but unfortunately just outside the points.

Given that the race was really close for so long, we sure hoped for an even better result, but knowing how hilly races have (not) worked for us so far, we'll take this Top 20 spot.

No picture this time - our riders unfortunately weren't active enough to get a mention.

Race Review | USA Pro Cycling Challenge (C2)

After a solid first day in the US, we continued our trip with one of the races we really looked forward to, bringing our strongest possible sprinter team.

And the start looked really promising, as we set up our famous train Stocker - Cissé - Guillén, with the Ivorian doing a perfect leadout, hitting the front just under the Flamme Rouge - but our lead sprinter somehow completely messed up his timing. In the end, Manuel Stocker even got our best stage result taking 7th, directly followed by Issiaka Cissé and Marco Guillén. Well, something went horribly wrong here, but we knew that the basics were there, so the hopes were still high for stages 2 and 3.

But well, you all know Murphy's law, don't you? We once again set up a good train on stage 2 - but then, there was that last corner with 1,500m to go, completely messing things up and leaving Marco Guillén all alone. He was in the wind way too early and only finished 11th - the next bummer.

In the last sprint stage, Issiaka Cissé once again did an amazing job, releasing Marco Guillén with just a few hundred meters to go - but it really wasn't our race. He completely cracked with a few meters to go, and dropped all the way down to 10th, making this race a complete disaster for us.

As expected, we didn't get any notable result in the short epilogue on day 4. Our best man was Max Walscheid in 40th, with Manuel Stocker getting our highest GC result with 35th place, thanks to his bonus seconds from stage 1. That's a really, really painful result.

In fact, our best rider was Thomas Boudat, loaned out to Philips for development purposes, who finished 2nd in the U25 standings with an outstanding epilogue. Congrats, Thomas, and we're looking forward to have you back fully developed in two years!


Issiaka Cissé doing another outstanding leadout for Marco Guillén - unfortunately to no avail this time.

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He'll do it next time. And Costa-Rican sprinter with surname Guillén - he reminded me a well-known climber, but not from Costa-Rica Smile
Let's save the history of PCM together!

Just write me a PM if you have something for old PCM Editions (from 2005 to 2014) - databases, stages, shirts etc. and we'll share it.
Well, he probably won't, as he's going to start declining by the end of the season. But thanks for commenting nonetheless Smile

But yeah, he'll do it in another race - I've got to catch up quite a lot Wink
August Preview

Although the Tour of Bulgaria is still missing from July due to technical reasons on the organizer's side, we go ahead and take a look at the next month. Of course, with our most important race - since we have a sponsor goal there - still missing, it's hard to draw a conclusion about July, but we definitely ended the month on a huge letdown. So it's time to turn things around immediately, and we're hoping to do so in the following races:

Aug 1 - 6 | Benelux Challenge (C2HC)



Clearly, this is another race we didn't choose to take part in, but we simply have to, as it's another C2HC one. Even though we already got some good result in hilly stages, we won't send our best puncheurs for the obvious reason that is stage 4 with its cobbles. And with just one more true hilly stage, we didn't want to take the risk.

Instead, we're on one hand putting our hopes in the two flat stages, and on some breakaway from our youngsters, of whom consists most of our roster:
Marco Guillén8182Ioannidis Kiriakidis6962
Issiaka Cissé7877Alessandro Fedeli6957
Max Walscheid7475Patrick Gamper6570
Pascal Eenkhoorn6468Gino Mäder6664

Clearly, our best bet will be our sprint train, this time consisting of Walscheid - Cissé - Guillén, with the German replacing Stocker in this position. We hope that racing again directly after his disastrous performance in the US will bring Guillén's confidence back - he's already shown that he still knows how to sprint, and the sprinter field shouldn't be as packed here as it was in the US.

As mentioned before, we don't send any of our best puncheurs; instead, we'll give our youngsters some chances to shine. Fedeli should lead our squad on this terrain in a few years - it's time he gets used to this already!

Finally, Gamper and Mäder are two of our best cobblers, with especially the Austrian having a bright future on this kind of roads ahead. And don't forget Eenkhoorn, who'll have a home race here!

Expectations: 2 Top 10 stage result, Top 25 GC

Aug 7 - 13 | Int. √Ėsterreich Rundfahrt (HC)


For the first time in our team's history, we'll get to race on HC level, thanks to the wildcard from the √Ėsterreich Rundfahrt organizers! Thanks a lot for letting us play with the big guns there!
Of course, everyone on the team wanted to do this race, but given especially the first two stages, it was clear that the priority would be on our climbers. Obviously, none of them can keep up with the Top PCT mountain goats, so our big hope will be on the breakaways. Let's take a look at the roster:
Gian Piero Signorini7865Gino Mäder7068
Andrea Manfredi7865Alessandro Fedeli6461
Mirco Saggiorato7766Patrick Gamper6269
Fausto Masnada7571Manuel Stocker6069

Once again, we bring our Top 4 climbers to Austria, augmented with climber talent Mäder. Whereas Fedeli is here to gain some experience, we couldn't deny Gamper's wish for participation in his home race. We hope he'll enjoy the closing ITT - a discipline where we expect him to shine in a few years.
Finally, Stocker is the sole representative of our sprinter department - he sure can keep up with the flat powerhorses, let's see if he's able to partake in the sprints, too.

As we already said, we won't have a chance against Pluchkin et al. if we hit the final climb together with them, so we definitely hope our climbers will try an early move. Stage 4 seems to be especially well designed for this - let's see!

Expectations: 2 Top 15 stage results, GC Top 25

Aug 9 | Rio Vista Chinesa (C2)


While the climbers are in Austria, the puncheurs will head to Brazil for our last C2 outing of the season. Another hilly one-day race - but this time with the finish line after a descent, and we've already shown that we can handle this... Let's see which riders should pull off a good result here:
Simon Pellaud776565Miltiadis Giannoutsos687164
Jan-André Freuler757267Pascal Eenkhoorn676964
Cyrille Thièry747072Max Walscheid625574
Aimiliano Vila696566Riccardo Minali575273

Whereas Pellaud still is our best pure puncheur, Freuler will probably be our best bet, as he handles the longer climbs - whereof we'll have plenty - pretty well, too. And he's already won a hilly stage in Hong Kong this year - precisely after a final descent. And if Thièry should survive the last hill, he'd be our trump card in a bunch sprint - so we definitely hope for a rather easy race, like we've already seen plenty this year.

Expectations: Top 15

Aug 20 - 21 | Grand Prix Cyclistes (C2HC)



After a rather long break, the puncheurs will travel back to America - but this time to the North, more precisely to the French speaking part of Canada. Two hilly stages in Québec and Montréal are awaiting us - and we're actually pretty excited for these! There are no really long climbs, and again a stage ending after a downhill. The first stage will just see a short final hill - let's see if our pure puncheurs like that one better!
The roster will look pretty much as you could expect it:
Simon Pellaud776565Gino Mäder667067
Jan-André Freuler757267Patrick Gamper656263
Cyrille Thièry747072Manuel Stocker656076
Alessandro Fedeli696464Max Walscheid625574

Given the profiles, our main hopes probably are on Thièry, as he's the best sprinter among our puncheurs. But Freuler's great resistance and his downhill skills might come into play once more, while Pellaud should have some chances on stage 1, too. It's finally a race that doesn't feature a lot of climbing, so that should suit him well - just one short sprint up to the finish line, that's what he was waiting for.

And we bring Manuel Stocker and Max Walscheid just in case the race isn't too hard on day 2 - they should fancy their chances from a reduced bunch sprint. Let's see if that happens - and else we still have the puncheurs.

Expectations: 2 Top 10 stage results, GC Top 15

Aug 23 - 31 | Tour de l'Avenir (U23)

Profile not unveiled yet.

It is THE race for all U23 riders, a race where they can show what they'll be capable of in a few years in the big races, a race where they can already shine now. We're glad to announce our roster, consisting of four of our own talents, and four young riders from other teams:
Gino Mäder706668Gabriel Cullaigh757767
Stephen Williams706866Pier-Andr√© C√īt√©676855
Pascal Eenkhoorn696764Patrick Gamper637069
Yuriy Natarov696664Alessandro Fedeli646763

Williams and Cullaigh join us from cycleYorkshire, while C√īt√©'s and Natarov's home team is Rakuten Pro Cycling. Both teams are in PCT and were kind enough to complete our squad. By the way, our three Greek talents Vila, Giannoutsos and Kiriakidis will be riding with their home team Festina.

Our biggest hopes are certainly on Cullaigh, who will try to get a good stage results or two from the sprint stages. Unfortunately, we won't be able to set him up a train, so he'll be on his own.

For the inclines - long or short - we won't be able to keep up with the likes of Padun, but Mäder and Williams will hopefully join some breakaways and show our jersey there. But most of all, we hope they'll all have some fun out there - for great results, we'll hopefully be back next year.

Expectations: Have fun.

Another interesting month of racing is awaiting us, with 6 C2HC race days, a single and final C2 one-day race, the Tour de l'Avenir - and our first HC race! Let's have some fun out there!

Race Review | Benelux Challenge (C2HC)

Well, the last "Challenge" - the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, finishing two days ago - clearly didn't work out in our favor, and so we headed over to Netherlands with very mixed feelings. Moreover, the first stage, a short prologue in Maastricht, definitely wasn't what we needed to re-gain some confidence.

But Max Walscheid, our best rider in this discipline, got a very solid 24th place, which gave us - and especially him - hope for the upcoming stages.
And this definitely showed in the finale of stage 2, where he set an amazing pace within the final 5 kilometers, tearing the pack apart - a job that's usually done by Stocker - and getting us a great position for the final sprint. And guess what? Marco Guillén had the perfect strategy for once, putting his nose in the wind only with 500m to go - and this time he pulled through until the line! It was win number 3 for our Costa Rican sprinter, leaving Freuler again behind in this respect. Unfortunately, he had lost a lot of time on stage 1, therefore not having any chances of getting the yellow jersey. But if you can't get yellow, maybe get green?

On stage 3 - a rather hilly one - we weren't expecting much, having left our puncheurs at home. But all of a sudden, Marco Guillén found quite a lot of punch in his own legs, not only finishing inside the front group, but even taking an amazing 4th place on this stage - and taking over the green jersey from Keough by this fantastic performance! And, crazily, he even was our best rider in the GC after this stage. Well, strange things happen...

But that didn't repeat on the dreaded stage 4 with its cobbles. Surprisingly, our best cobbler Patrick Gamper was only our 3rd best rider on that stage, losing more than 2 minutes in 56th. Pascal Eenkhoorn and Issiaka Cissé got our best results on that stage, losing a bit more than a minute on a dominant OMV duo.

Stage 5 then definitely was the hardest one - which didn't keep Gino Mäder from finally joining a breakaway on that day. There were plenty of KoM sprints on the menu, and he collected enough of them to finish 7th in the KoM standings. But that wasn't all: The breakaway stayed ahead until the final climb, and Mäder kept up with the race leader almost until the KoM sprint - but unfortunately just almost. Nonetheless, he then hung on to the GC contenders - and suddenly became one of them, too! He finished 8th on that stage, moving up to 10th in the GC, and 3rd in the U25 standings! Wow, what a stage by our youngster!

The final stage 6 then was something for the sprinters again. Marco Guillén still had the green jersey on his shoulders - and we thought it might be a good idea to let the breakaway get the points, to be sure to win this jersey.
But, no. Guillén told his teammates he had great legs, and so we kept pushing hard to finally reel in the escapees with 5km to go. And the train Walscheid - Cissé - Guillén worked amazingly well once again, delivering the green jersey up front with 500 meters to go! And he didn't miss that great opportunity, on the contrary - Marco Guillén got his second stage win of the race, hereby sealing the green jersey as well! Wow, what a reply after a disastrous last race - just amazing!

Gino Mäder taking 9th place in the GC contributed to a huge and much-needed team result, taking furthermore 3rd in the U25 standings and 7th in the KoM standings, too. Yeah, sometimes things can turn around really fast, and without anyone knowing why. But we'll definitely take this one, and we really hope that high will last for the whole month!


Marco Guillén winning the final stage - wearing the green jersey!

Race Review | Rio Vista Chinesa (C2)

We're only in August, but the trip to Brazil was our final C2 showing of the year. We hoped that the hilly parcours - partially matching the 2016 Olympic RR route - could suit some of our riders well, given the flat finish with a likely bunch sprint from a reduced group of riders.

But for this, the race shouldn't be ridden too hard, as we know by now that our puncheurs struggle on the longer hills. Yet, it was a hard race. A very hard one.

Max Walscheid didn't fear the difficulties, despite the parcours not really fitting his main strengths, and joined the breakaway. However, without too much surprise, he was the first rider to be dropped from the same.

So all our hopes were finally on Cyrille Thièry, who still was within the front group of just 15 riders, chasing a trio of breakaway riders, with one final lap over the hills to go. On the final long climb, he even tried to follow the move of later race winner Hoelgaard - but he pushed a bit over his limit and later fell back some positions.

Still, Cyrille Thièry held on to a group that was finally fighting for 8th place - and being by far the best sprinter in this group, he got this 8th place! He really had a huge day, securing a Top 10 spot in such a high quality field - hats off!

And Jan-André Freuler made it an even better result for us, sprinting to 12th! He was nowhere to be seen throughout the race - and finally even snatched a Top 15 result. We had a Top 15 goal here, which we reached - and we got a Top 10 in addition! This definitely gives us some hopes for the remaining hilly races this year - stay tuned!


Cyrille Thièry mastering the sprint of his group, flying to 8th place!

Race Review | Int. √Ėsterreich Rundfahrt (HC)

Due to our sponsors' regional focus, we applied for a wildcard for the HC category Int. √Ėsterreich Rundfahrt - which we finally received, and so our boys got to race as the lone CT team amidst of a really strong PCT field.

We knew we wouldn't be able to keep up with Pluchkin, Uran, Amador & Co., so our plan was to be present in as many breakaways as possible. A plan that failed miserably on stage 1. Not only did we miss out on the breakaway, but none of our climbers really seemed to care about a good stage result. Andrea Manfredi's 42nd place was our best result - clearly not enough, not even for a CT team.

In the evening of that stage, DS Rubens Bertogliati recalled them what we were here for - and he seems to have found the right words! Fausto Masnada and Gian Piero Signorini made it even two riders in the breakaway, with Masnada doing a lot of work for Signorini. But unfortunately, the latter once more struggled in the end due to his sub-par stamina - but Fausto Masnada held on to fend off almost the whole peloton! He finished 3rd on that stage, behind his breakaway companion Bonnin and race dominator Pluchkin - a first HC stage podium for us, well done!
And to be fair, Gian Piero Signorini did a good job as well, finishing 8th - meaning we had already accomplished our goal of 2 stage Top 10 finishes on day number 2!

The third stage then was a lame one, as Manuel Stocker seemingly hadn't understood that we sent him here for the sprints. Well, he didn't sprint. At all.

Anyway, the stage we mainly had in mind before the race was number 4, with a big mountain at about halfway into the race. Our strategy played out really well, as we got Andrea Manfredi, local hero Patrick Gamper and again Fausto Masnada in the breakaway of the day. Gamper had to let go rather early - as expected - but the two others held on until the end.
In the finale, Fabbro set a strong attack, but this time we distributed the roles the right way, with Andrea Manfredi doing a huge amount of work to reel him in. Manfredi went on to finish 6th that day.
And his work really paid off, as Fausto Masnada won that stage! But he not "only" won the stage, he took over the green jersey as well, and jumped up to 3rd in the KoM standings - definitely one of the greatest results in our short team history! With the 20th place in the GC, he had a great situation to accomplish our Top 25 goal, too.

We even hoped for Fausto Masnada to gain some spots in the GC on stage 5, as he was among the better puncheurs in the peloton - but unfortunately, he wasn't quite able to keep up with the top guns after his great effort the day before. He finished 32nd, but was still able to defend his 20th GC position.

Which he easily did on an uneventful stage 6, too, where Manuel Stocker again decided not to participate in the sprint. He may be a great leadout, but he definitely lacks some confidence to deliver good results on his own...

The final stage 7 then was a 24km ITT - another discipline we're not too fond of (yet). And it showed, as we were unable to bring a rider into the stage Top 50. But 54th place was still enough for Fausto Masnada to gain a spot in the GC, getting him a 19th place in this race - a really great showing from our top transfer target! Andrea Manfredi was able to finish within the points as well, getting the 44th place. Mirco Saggiorato, who had a rather disappointing race without a single breakaway attempt, finished just outside the Top 50, losing two places in the ITT.

But overall, we can be really satisfied with what we got from our first ever HC race! Fausto Masnada, in addition to his two stage podiums and the 19th GC position, finished 3rd in the KoM and points standings. The whole team proved that we can compete with the "big boys" - although it took some luck with these successful breakaways. But that was our plan right from the start, and it's cool when your plan plays out that well! Let's see if that's going to be the case in the next races, too!


Fausto Masnada winning stage number 4, with Andrea Manfredi right behind in 6th place!

Race Review | Grands Prix Cyclistes (C2HC)

After a rather successful intermezzo in Brazil, our puncheurs travelled northwards for their next mission, a two-day hilly stage race in Canada.

The first day was the easier one, featuring a circuit around Québec. And for once, the finish line was on top of a real puncheur hill - meaning that for once, we didn't rely on Cyrille Thièry or Jan-André Freuler (who finished 26th and 32nd, in the first chasing group), but it was a finale made for Simon Pellaud, who delivered by far his best performance this year by getting 4th place! We knew he had everything it takes, and now we got a route that really suited him - and he showed perfect racing!

For the second - and final - stage, we travelled over to Montréal, where we had a much tougher circuit. We actually thought it would be a day for our stronger climbers, but Cyrille Thièry and Jan-André Freuler unfortunately both had an absolutely catastrophic day, finishing even behind our sprinter Manuel Stocker...
So all of our hopes were on Simon Pellaud to get some notable result - well knowing that the hills on this second stage were actually too long for him. But he really pushed to his limits, and got a 15th place on this stage - which is more than okay given his skillset! In total, this means a 9th place in the GC, which is even more than what we expected - very well done, Simon!

This unfortunately can't be said of the rest of our team - but our three puncheurs - reinforced by Masnada - will soon tackle the hills in Britain - a great chance to redeem themselves! See you then!


Simon Pellaud (left border of the picture) getting his best result of the season with a 4th place on the first stage!

September Preview

While Tour de l'Avenir has just started, the MGUCI has somehow found a way to start the September races in parallel - so it's high time to do a preview for those upcoming races! After a pretty successful month - scoring more than 10 Points per Race Day in all of our races - we hope to continue on this high, right from the start of the month:

Sep 1 | Philadelphia International Championship (C2HC)



First day of the month, first out of four C2HC races. For four of our fellow CT teams, this flat one-day race is kind of a prologue to the Tour of America, starting the day after. Not for us, though, but we'll actually already be racing earlier the same day (see next race).

In Philadelphia, it's clearly a day for the sprinters, and so our lineup is surely no surprise:
Marco Guillén8182Aimiliano Vila6667
Issiaka Cissé7877Miltiadis Giannoutsos6465
Manuel Stocker7677Pascal Eenkhoorn6468
Riccardo Minali7373Ioannidis Kiriakidis6370

Our sprinters have quite bad memories of the last flat race we had over here in the US - so it's redemption time! Guillén has already done well in several flat one-day races, but is still missing a win in those - maybe this time? He'll have the best possible support, with Stocker and Cissé leading him out - a train that has definitely left its traces in the CT so far. Which means that the hopes are high once again!

Expectations: Top 5

Sep 1 - 5 | Tour of Britain (C1)


As mentioned before, our day on the 1st of September will already start earlier. We stay with the same language (well, more or less), participating in our final C1 stage race of the season back in Europe. The Tour of Britain is a race for Hilly-ITT-hybrids - something we unfortunately don't have on offer yet. But we still have some hopes for a good points haul here, which should be accomplished by the following riders:
Fausto Masnada757175Alessandro Fedeli696164
Jan-André Freuler756872Gino Mäder666870
Cyrille Thièry746670Patrick Gamper656962
Simon Pellaud776665Max Walscheid626155

For the puncheur stages, we once again bring our Swiss trio Freuler - Thièry - Pellaud, but given their lack of ITT skills, our leader should be Fausto Masnada, who's on a high after his great performance in Austria. He should be able to keep up with most of the puncheurs, and could even have the edge over them on the longer hills thanks to his good climbing skills. Furthermore, he's a better time trialist than most pure puncheurs in the race - let's hope he can capitalize on this!

Expectations: 2 Top 10 stage results, GC Top 15

Sep 10 - 13 | Euskal Bizikleta (C2HC)


We'll then travel to Spain for our second - and final - stage race this month, with the traditional race in the Basque Country awaiting us. It's once again a race for the puncheurs, and so our roster should look somewhat familiar to you:
Simon Pellaud776565Pascal Eenkhoorn676964
Cyrille Thièry747072Gino Mäder667067
Alessandro Fedeli696464Patrick Gamper656263
Miltiadis Giannoutsos687164Max Walscheid625574

There really are too many of these puncheur races, and so we unfortunately can't bring all of our good puncheurs. Still, the profiles on stages 2 and 3 should suit Thièry pretty well, as he can hold on on the shorter climbs and then should be one of the better sprinters among the puncheurs. On the last day, he'll hopefully be able to pull off a good result as well, having pretty decent climbing skills.
For Pellaud, there's unfortunately no stage that would suit him really well - no short, steep home stretch. But he just showed in Canada that he can in fact handle the longer climbs, too - so we definitely put some hopes in him, too!
The rest of the lineup basically consists of our young riders, who are here to support the puncheurs. But Fedeli, Eenkhoorn and Mäder have already gotten some pretty good results from breakaways - why not here?

Expectations: 2 Top 10 stage results, GC Top 15

Sep 24 | Transfagarasan GP (C2HC)



After a break of more than a month, the climbers will finally be back into action - for the last mountain race this year. It's a short one, with just 88km - but the main obstacle, the final climb, is definitely long enough! Only the best climbers will be able to pull off a good result here, and so we send the best we have:
Andrea Manfredi78Jan-André Freuler72
Gian Piero Signorini78Gino Mäder70
Mirco Saggiorato77Alessandro Fedeli64
Fausto Masnada75Max Walscheid55

It's our final mountain race of the season, as only flat and hilly ones will be left after this one. So it's the last chance to get a great result on a moutain-top finish - let's see if any of our climbers will have his best day of the season here! A breakaway will probably not be an option, given the shortness of the stage, so it will be an attrition race - hopefully with Centovalli coming out on top! But realistically, our expectations should be a bit lower.

Expectations: Top 10

Sep 29 | Milano - Torino (C1)



We're closing our C1 racing season with another home race, the hilly classic Milano - Torino. Unfortunately, it clashes with another race - see below - so we can't send all of our top puncheurs. Some of the climbers will jump in instead - and given the profile, this actually shouldn't be a bad thing at all! So let's see who we actually send to Italy:
Fausto Masnada7575Pascal Eenkhoorn6569
Jan-André Freuler7572Gino Mäder6670
Mirco Saggiorato7377Andrea Manfredi6578
Aimiliano Vila6965Patrick Gamper6562

Given how the season went so far, the second-to-last and the final hill should definitely require some true climbing skills, so the pure puncheurs might be rather lost - although the hill stat will surely come into play, too. Something that could be pretty good especially for Masnada, but Saggiorato and Freuler should do well, too. Manfredi might lack a bit of punch - let's see if his climbing skills are still enough to get a good result.
One thing is sure: With the finish line in our secondary sponsor's home city, we definitely have to shine in this race - and the riders know this. We're really looking forward to this one!

Expectations: Top 10

Sep 29 | GP Yekaterinburg (C2HC)



The final race of the month is - another hilly one! Given the clash with Milano - Torino, we had to split our puncheur department, and we think we've done it rather well. Let's see who will be riding in Russia:
Simon Pellaud7765Manuel Stocker6576
Cyrille Thièry7472Max Walscheid6274
Alessandro Fedeli6964Marco Guillén6181
Ioannidis Kiriakidis6963Riccardo Minali5773

We're hoping for the final hill not being too long for Pellaud - if it really isn't, he could get a great result here! If it's too long, Thièry would be our best bet, as he handles the longer ascents somewhat better - and he's a good sprinter.
When talking of sprinters - yeah, we had to fill our squad with them, as we didn't have enough more suited riders left. But who knows - Guillén already got a 4th place on a really hard stage in Benelux. That's quite improbable here, but with a lot of luck - who knows?

Expectations: Top 10

After a series of decent results, our expectations are definitely higher this month. We might not reach all of our goals, but we're sure our boys will give their best out there!

Race Review | Philadelphia International Championship (C2HC)

First day of the month - first two races, thereof the one-day classic in Philadelphia. We had a pretty flat profile, with just a few bumps - ideal terrain for our sprinter star!

The team knew this, and they worked hard all day long to keep the escapees at bay. There were attacks left on the final kilometers. We were chasing the last one with 1,500m to go - but unfortunately, the coordination among the sprinter teams wasn't good enough, and so 5 late attackers made it to the line.

Marco Guillén actually did a good job, finishing 4th from the bunch - but overall, this was just the 9th place. We definitely won't blame him, we and the other sprinter teams were just not good enough to reel these escapees in again, so what would have been a Top 5 - which was our internal goal - it was "just" a low Top 10 result. Let's hope for some more luck in the races to come!


Marco Guillén crossing the finish line in 4th place.

Race Review | Tour of Britain (C1)

We're only in the beginning of September - but the 5-day long Tour of Britain was already our last C1 stage race of the season. Therefore, our puncheurs were fully motivated to get another stage win at this level - with our biggest hope being the breakaways.

However, that didn't go as planned on stage one, as no rider even tried to go clear of the pack. Nonetheless, it was a pretty successful stage for us, as Fausto Masnada, Jan-André Freuler and Cyrille Thièry finished inside the favorites group, taking 11th, 12th and 13th places. No points, but a great starting position for the stages to come.

Stage 2 then was predestined for the sprinters, which is why we brought Max Walscheid. However, he didn't feel very comfortable at this level yet and finally renounced participating in the sprint. His 30th place was still our highest finish on that day.

As expected, our best result was even worse on the 3rd day, consisting of a grueling 53km ITT. But Fausto Masnada was able to limit the damage, only dropping to 15th in the GC - meaning he'd just reach our Top 15 goal. But the race was of course far from over, with two hilly stages yet to come.

On the fourth stage, we really hoped for some breakaway action - but again, no-one tried. Moreover, Fausto Masnada wasn't having the best of days, finishing on a rather disappointing 24th place. Yet - and most important - he was able to defend his 15th place. Given that the final stage should suit him more, we were even hoping to gain a few positions. But we had fixed two Top 10 stage results as a goal, too - so we really needed some breakaway action on the last day!

And this time, our riders finally attacked - not one, but two were able to join the BotD, with Jan-André Freuler and Simon Pellaud. The former, having already won two stages this year, was once again our main hope.
And he didn't disappoint: After Simon Pellaud had already lost contact with about 25km to go, Jan-André Freuler was on the right side of that split and was fighting for the stage win against 4 breakaway companions. He attacked with about 5km to go - and rode to a great solo win on this final stage!

Fausto Masnada was able to stay with the big guns and finished the stage in 9th place - meaning the boys reached both goals, two Top 10 stage places AND a Top 15 GC! Masnada finally moved up two spots to finish 13th, which is a really decent result. Jan-André Freuler (19th) and Cyrille Thièry (24th) added two more good GC results, with Freuler taking 6th in the points and 7th in the KoM standings as well.
Gino Mäder had a pretty solid race, too, and got an 8th place in the U25 standings, whereas the team finished 6th in the team standings - for a C1 race, that's a really good result!

All in all, the start of the month went pretty well once again - but given that our direct competition is winning a lot of points, too, we'll have to step up even more! Stay tuned!


Jan-André Freuler wins the final stage in Britain!

Edited by Fabianski on 27-07-2020 14:26
Race Review | Euskal Bizikleta (C2HC)

The race in the Basque Country would traditionally be decided in the hills, so we sent some of our best puncheurs here. But first, there were two flat stages. With our main sprinters being short of available race days, our man for these stages was Max Walscheid.

And he didn't disappoint: With a 7th and 5th place on the first two stages, we already had the expected Top 10 stage results in the bag and were then targetting the Top 15 GC result on the following stages.

But what happened on stage 3 left us kind of speechless. First, everything went well, as Simon Pellaud was able to join the breakaway of the day. He collected some valuable KoM points, but the breakaway was reeled in already 30km before the finish line, on a category 1 climb. But the really bad thing happened shortly afterwards: Pellaud, who was done after his breakaway effort, was dropped from the pack - and the whole team joined him! The boys were probably hoping to come back after the summit - but they went on to lose more than 11 minutes. What a catastrophic strategy!

And as none of our DS had actually given the order to support Pellaud, things were really heating up during the supper. The boys finally understood they should never have taken such a decision - at least not all of them, thereby wasting all options for a good GC result. Given that the front group contained still 35 riders, they knew at least some of them could have easily kept up...

But well, the only option was to forget what happened and do better on the final day. Things looked pretty decent in the beginning once again, as we had Miltiadis Giannoutsos and Pascal Eenkhoorn in the breakaway. But soon they couldn't keep up - and the whole breakaway was reeled in with 35km to go. With about 15km to go, on the descent of the second-to-last climb, Simon Pellaud attacked once again - and he held on to the lead until 4km to go. Unfortunately, he still isn't a premium climber, and was dropped again soon after.

At least, he went on to finish 21st on that stage, which was 4 spots behind Cyrille Thièry, who confirmed he'd have been a Top 15 candidate if not for this horrible stage 3... Although this final stage showed us that we are competitive at this level, day number 3 made us leave Spain with really, really low morale. We're truly hoping for some better moments later this month...


Simon Pellaud about to be caught after his solo attempt on the final day.

Race Review | Transfagarasan GP (C2HC)

After the puncheurs weren't able to deliver in Spain, it was now the climbers' turn in Romania. A race of less than 90km - but with the final third only leading upwards. A true dream of a race for the mountain goats!

Despite the unlikeliness of a breakaway success in this race, Alessandro Fedeli joined the breakaway of the day. He was caught with about 15km to go, while all of our climbers were still comfortably sitting in the pack.

Unfortunately, none of them were able to follow the decisive move - mainly due to rather poor positioning, as some of those who were able to get away are not stronger climbers. But at least Andrea Manfredi tried to limit the damage by riding away from the pack later on.

He arguably did too much of the chasing work, as he was left behind by Cort Nielsen - a rider he should definitely beat in the mountains. Still, an 8th place in this one-day mountain classic meets our expectations, and it's a good result for Andrea Manfredi. We finally had 5 riders in the Top 50, but only Gian Piero Signorini added a few points with his 23rd place.

That was of course much better than what we got in Spain, and a Top 10 is definitely nice to take, but we once again weren't able to value our team's depth in the mountains. So this was one more of those "good, but..." races. Let's see if we can make the end of the month even better...


Andrea Manfredi leading the chase.

Race Review | Milano - Torino (C1)

For the end of the month, we had one of the season's key races on the program: the autumn classic Milano - Torino. With the finish line close to our secondary sponsor's HQ, a good result was a must-have - kind of a difficult task when you have Kinoshita, Beltran et al. in the same race...

In this stacked field, our best guess was a breakaway attempt - and with Andrea Manfredi and Aimiliano Vila, we had even two riders going for it.

It was a smart move, given that all our other riders were dropped rather early. Once the breakaway was caught, both riders did a great job of hanging on - although only Andrea Manfredi was finally able to deliver a good result, just missing out on the Top 10 and getting the 12th place. In this field, such a performance must be considered a success! Although our sponsors would have preferred a Top 10 finish, they were delighted by the fighting spirit of our two attackers - get on like this, boys!


Andrea Manfredi on his way to 12th place.

Race Review | GP Yekaterinburg (C2HC)

Clashing with Milano - Torino was our second-to-last C2HC one-day race in Russia, the GP Yekaterinburg. Just as the classic in Italy, it was a hilly race - so we had to split our puncheurs.

It was one of those races with almost no action until the final kilometers. And unfortunately, our riders were obviously lacking some punch. Three of them - including sprinter Manuel Stocker (who finished 36th) - were ranked s.t. with the winner, but none of them was able to claim a Top 10. Cyrille Thièry, another good sprinter but not among the top puncheurs, got our best result with 15th place. Simon Pellaud scored some additional points with his 20th place - he'd certainly have hoped for more...

So the month ends with three Top 20 results in two races - which pretty much sums up our season: we're pretty good, but nowhere near the top yet. Let's see what the final month brings...

Nothing to show this time...

Race Review | Tour of Bulgaria (C2)

After the race organizers experienced some serious technical difficulties, the Tour of Bulgaria could finally be started close to the end of the season! As this stage race with three mountain-top finishes and a TTT was our 3rd goal race of the season - the sponsors expected a Top 10 GC result - we brought all of our best climbers, hoping at least one of them would be able to shine.

Stage 1 was one of those dull stages where the whole pack stayed together until the final kilometers. Hence, a group of thirty riders made it on s.t. with the winner - including three of our riders. Whereas this was expected from Mirco Saggiorato (13th) and Fausto Masnada (27th), it was definitely a nice surprise to see Jan-André Freuler (28th) that far ahead. On the other hand, we couldn't find an explanation of why Andrea Manfredi (31st, + 47") and Gian Piero Signorini (40th, + 1'29") weren't able to keep up. Hence, it was clear very soon that Saggiorato and maybe Masnada would be our main trump cards - not a good start to see two team leaders fall out of contention on day one...

Given the huge amount of s.t. on day one, the second stage with its 22km team time trial was now very important. In the preview, we were ranked 15th - but the boys did an amazing job by losing only 34" and crossing the line in 9th place!
As a result, Mirco Saggiorato, Fausto Masnada and Jan-André Freuler were ranked 15th to 17th after this stage, about 30" behind the 10th place that was our target. Furthermore, our performance brought us up to 3rd place in the team standings!

Stage 3 then saw a rather short final climb, and given the passivity of the pack on day 1, only small gaps were expected. So an early attack might have been a good recipe to speed up the race.
Indeed, we were able to place Miltiadis Giannoutsos in the breakaway. Although they weren't able to make it to the line, he did a good job in collection KoM points, getting him to 4th in this standing after stage 3.
As expected, the GC favorites didn't attack early once again, meaning there were just small gaps once again. This time, a major split occurred behind 20th place - and this time only 2 Centovalli riders made it with the first group, Mirco Saggiorato in 11th place and Fausto Masnada in 17th place, both losing 18" to the stage winner. Jan-André Freuler (25th, + 1'04") was again our number three - which is another good performance by him, but another big disappointment by our Italian climbing duo Manfredi (35th, + 1'39") and especially Signorini (45th, + 2'55"). We really found no explanation for their abysmal performance.

Day number 4 was kind of a rest day for us. The flat stage went to a breakaway, and given that we didn't bring a sprinter, we didn't have to do any work in the pack. Patrick Gamper (45th) finished highest this day.
Ahead of the final stage, our two best riders were still 13th and 14th in the GC, needing to find just 3 seconds to jump into the Top 10 - would they be able to do so on the final day?

The final climb - almost 20km long, but not very steep - would decide. But first, it was breakaway time again for Miltiadis Giannoutsos, who scored some more KoM points to end up 3rd in the final standings!
Moreover, the breakaway even had a shot at the stage win - and they did it. Unfortunately, not our man, who was reeled in by Pinot, who was the fastest from the peloton. Still, Miltiadis Giannoutsos was our best finisher on the final stage, getting a good 14th place. Mirco Saggiorato (19th), Fausto Masnada and - for once - Andrea Manfredi were part of the same group, too. Unfortunately, Jan-André Freuler had a very bad day, losing about 3'30" to the main group and dropping way behind the scoring spots...

But more important was to see Mirco Saggiorato and Fausto Masnada moving up to 9th and 10th in the GC! They may not have had their best race, and they didn't even attack once, but their consistency made us finally achieve a sponsor goal - well done!
Andrea Manfredi's good performance on the final day made him score some minor points, too, whereas we already mentioned Miltiadis Giannoutsos' great 3rd place in the KoM standings. Furthermore, he finished 7th in the youth classification.
The final proof of a consistent performance by the whole team was the 2nd place in the team standings, yielding some more valuable points.

Even though we didn't get a single Top 10 stage result (except for the TTT), we achieved a sponsor goal - even with 2 riders - and we saw a very solid team performance. We'll need some potential winners for next year, but for the time being we and our sponsors are pretty satisfied!


Centovalli - Fiat moving fast in the stage 2 TTT.

Race Review | Giro dell'Emelia (HC)

After we already had an HC wildcard in Austria, we got to ride even two HC classics on the same day today! Unfortunately, both of them were hilly races, but as they were held in Italy and Switzerland, we had to apply for both - and we were accepted in both.

Nominating the squads for these races was fairly simple: Italians to Italy, Swiss to Switzerland. And so, our best puncheur at the start line in Bologna was Fausto Masnada - but with a hill stat of just 75 our best guess was - as usual - a breakaway.
Unfortunately, none of our riders were able to break free, and so they all suffered the war of attrition on the many hill climbs. Even worse, none of them had a decent daily form, and so with 15km to go, all of them were behind the front group and therefore out of contention.

Finally, Andrea Manfredi managed to finish just inside the Top 50 (43rd), leading home a bigger group 5'55" behind the race winner. Fausto Masnada (67th) finished inside the same group, as did our loan-out Fabian Lienhard (51st), who definitely will be a great addition to our hills squad next year!

But all in all, what we take from this race is mainly some lessons learnt, as we weren't able to snatch any points here. At least for our Italians, it surely was a cool experience!

We couldn't spot our jersey in the race reports, so nothing to see here.

Race Review | GP Lugano (HC)

From the start of the transfer period, we were hoping for a spot in this HC band to remain open, so we could apply for the GP Lugano - and so it was! So here we were, competing in our one and only true home race of the season, in the middle of our beautiful Canton of Ticino - in the GP Lugano!

As this race was undisputedly one of the season's highlights for our Swiss riders, and so our roster contained only two non-Swiss - an Austrian and a German, with the Italians all racing in Emelia at the same time. Once again, we knew that our strongest puncheurs - Simon Pellaud and Jan-André Freuler - would probably not be able to challenge the PCT aces in the final stage of the race, so our strategy was once again laid out for breakaway attempts.

However, we didn't attack early in the race. Instead, Jan-André Freuler rode away from the pack after the halfway mark - and with 45km to go was leading solo!
However, his breakaway companions caught him back soon after, and with about 20km to go the peloton swallowed all of them. Our riders really suffered on the final climb - but four of them made it across the finish line inside the 60-men front group. Unfortunately, none of them was able to sprint for a decent result, Simon Pellaud being the best finisher in 41st place. Cyrille Thièry (44th), Mirco Saggiorato (56th) and Jan-André Freuler (60th) finished inside this group as well.

After it looked good for a moment with Freuler leading the race, the final result was a bit of a bummer, both for us and for the sponsors. Although we are "just" a CT team, we should have been able to deliver a better result, at least getting some points, but no. Not this year. We'll definitely be back next year to improve on this - if there's a free spot for us. For now, all that remains is the great atmosphere with lots of friends cheering for our boys throughout the race. Let's soak that in - and hopefully it gives us some wings for the remaining races!


Jan-André Freuler leading the race.

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