Trofeo Laigueglia 2019 Preview

Now a yearly staple for my blog, the Italian Cup starts this weekend with the 56th edition of Trofeo Laigueglia on Sunday. A tricky race for this early in the season given the punchy climb on the closing circuit, it is often a race decided by a reduced bunch sprint or a solo rider escaping over one of the climbs and arriving at the finish ahead of the rest. In 2018 we saw a rather electric attack from Moreno Moser on the penultimate climb, which completely blew everyone else away. By the end the Astana man, riding for the Italian national team on the day, finished with a 43 second buffer over the remnants of the peloton: the biggest winning margin in recent years.

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Moser arrives here to defend his title and looking to complete a hat-trick of wins at this race. First though, let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

Identical to 2018’s parcours, the organisers obviously liked the one extra lap around the closing circuit that they added last year.


The early climbs of the Paravenna (6.6km at 5.9%) and Testico (8.47km at 3.7%) won’t be decisive but they’ll certainly sap the legs of the peloton. I’m thankful for the figures on the profile above as trying to find the length/gradients of the latter climb was a real ball-ache last year…

Moving swiftly on, the crux of the race is the circuit that we have around Laigueglia itself.

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The toughest part on the course is the climb of Colla Micheri and that is the point at which Moser launched his winning attack last year, with Felline doing the exact same before going on to win in 2017.


Averaging almost 8% for 2kms it will be attacked at a ferocious speed. Not long enough for a pure climber to make a difference, it certainly suits a puncheur that can hold a good amount of power for the 5 minutes it takes to get up it. Last year showed that the differences can be much greater on the final time up the ascent because of the extra lap and the more tired legs because of it. With the final 500m being the most important part and the area where the most hurt can be put on.

A fast descent follows before a few kilometres of flat and a final little kick up Capo Mele. It’s not a tough climb averaging only 3.5% for 1.9km but there are a few steeper ramps that can act as a launchpad if riders are stalling and looking at each other; just like Andrea Fedi did in 2016 before going on to win the race.

Once over the crest of Mele, the riders only have 2kms left of shallow descent and a flat run in to the finish.


Despite the race being .HC in category, we only have two World Tour teams at the start of the race. Although to be fair, that is an improvement on last year’s one! Consequently, it could potentially be an open race that is difficult to control but I think we’ll see things kept in relative check until the closing couple of laps as some of the Italian Pro Conti teams will more than happily share the pace making.

Marco Canola.

On the team of the defending champion, I think Canola offers Nippo their best chance of taking the race. A consistent rider after his return to the European peloton, his 2018 failed to live up to the incredible 2017 he had, although several top 10s and podium places to his name so it wasn’t too bad a year; it was just a win that eluded him. He can climb well on the short slopes and with his fast sprint, he is a good candidate for this type of parcours. Having already got some racing in his legs over in Valenciana, he’ll be wanting to put that to good use tomorrow.

Anthony Roux.


The current French champion will most likely be Groupama’s man for the day but without any racing for him so far this year, it is hard to know where his form is at. Last season was re-breakthrough (if I can call it that) year for the 31-year-old with him managing to take three victories and some other strong results including an impressive 3rd place in San Sebastian. If he is close to a similar level like he was on that day, then he should be in the mix here. I’m just not too sure if he will be.

Benoît Cosnefroy.

The 2017 U23 World Champion had a solid neo-pro year with AG2R in 2018, with the highlight being a 3rd place in his last race of the season at Paris Tours. Spending the opening part of the season in Australia saw the Frenchman get some racing in his legs, where he picked up an 11th place finish in Cadel’s race. A bit of a punchy all-rounder, he theoretically should be able to go well here and I imagine he’ll lead the AG2R squad.

Fabio Felline and his Trek buddies.

Winner in 2017, the Italian will once again ride for the national team and as a “squad” they are looking for their third win in a row at this race. With a mix of youth and experience in the team to help him, Felline will be confident of being at the pointy end of things come the finale. His 2018 wasn’t as strong as his 2017, but he did seem to finish the year off well and pick up a few good results. This season he’s already been racing in Spain and France, with a 9th place finish overall in Bessèges. One of the massive advantages that Felline has is the strength of his team, with both Ciccone and Brambilla potential winners of this race as well. With all three of them riding for trade-team Trek Segafredo, they should be able to communicate and work well together on the day. Whether that admitting your legs aren’t good, or bouncing attacks off of each other. I would be very surprised if we didn’t see one of them on the podium.

The whole of Androni, basically.

Looking at the teams, Androni have the most amount of riders who I think could win this race with Gavazzi, Cattaneo, Busato and Montaguti all potential candidates. Without any real fast climbing-sprinters at the race, I think Gavazzi would be the team’s best shot at winning in a reduced gallop to the line. However, I do expect them to be one of the teams to animate the race so they might try to avoid that outcome if possible, with maybe Cattaneo or Montaguti riding solo to the line.

Giovanni Visconti.


In the twilight of his career, Visconti switched teams in the winter and returned to his former PCT outfit now known as Neri Sottoli, in the search for some more personal success and to help the younger Italian riders. On paper, this is a parcours that is made for the Italian with the short punchy climbs suiting his characteristics. He made a slow start in Argentina but now back on home soil he is a threat and one that most of his opposition will have an eye on.

Given the large amount of Continental teams here, there are a few riders who could pull out a surprise performance. Others to watch include Paolo Totò of Sangemini who was second here last year; Marco Tizza of Amore & Vita; plus youngster Andrea Bagioli (Team Colpack) who I think will be a star of the future.


Looking at the strength of their team, I would be surprised not to see the Italian Trek conglomeration make it three wins in a row and I’ll go with Felline to be that man.


Thanks as always for reading, who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.


Trofeo Laigueglia 2018 Preview

Italian Cup racing kicks off this weekend with the 55th edition of the Trofeo Laigueglia. It is a race I have grown more fond of over the past few years as it always produces some exciting racing but I imagine many of you won’t care for it too much. Does that make me a “cycling hipster”?

Last year’s race was won by a fantastic Fabio Felline who rode away from everyone on the last major climb of the route and wasn’t seen again by the peloton, taking the day with a 25 second margin.


A small group then sprinted for the minor places with Hardy beating Finetto to second place.

Will we see something similar this year? Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.

The Route

After years of changing the route for almost every edition the organisers have stuck with the same course in the past few seasons although they have made one minor change for 2018; one extra lap of the closing circuit. Now this might seem like much but a 200km, quite climbing heavy one-day race this early in the season certainly could throw a few cats among the pigeons.

Trofeo Laigueglia 2018

The early climbs of the Paravenna (6.8km at 5.9%) and Testico (16.4km at 2.9%) won’t be decisive but they’ll certainly sap the legs of the peloton. I’m thankful for the figures on the profile above as trying to find the length/gradients of the latter climb was a real ball-ache last year…

Moving on, the crux of the race is the circuit that we have around Laigueglia itself.


The toughest part on the course is the climb of Colla Micheri and that is the point at which Felline launched his successful move last year.

Colla Micheri

Averaging almost 8% for 2kms it will be attacked at a ferocious speed. Not long enough for a pure climber to make a difference, it certainly suits a puncheur that can hold a good amount of power for the 5 minutes it takes to get up it.

A fast descent follows before a few kilometres of flat and a final little kick up Capo Mele. It’s not a tough climb averaging only 3.5% for 1.9km but there are a few steeper ramps that can act as a launchpad if riders are stalling and looking at each other; just like Fedi did in 2016!

Once over the crest of Mele it is only 2kms to the line. Will we see a sprint or a solo winner?


For a .HC race it is a shame to see only one WT squad arrive here considering we had four last year. I guess that’s the impact of having smaller teams etc.

Anyway, we still have plenty of exciting riders here who should make this a good and competitive race to watch.

One team stands out above the rest in terms of quality and options in their team; Androni.

I imagine that Cattaneo or Gavazzi would be their go to riders here. The former really took a step up last year and started to deliver on the promise he showed when winning the Baby Giro back in 2011. He seems to go well on the short climbs and would hope to be in with a chance of contending for the win tomorrow. The one issue is that he currently seems to be a nearly man, albeit a consistent one, as he only has one pro win to his name thus far despite a string of strong top 10 results last year. I would expect Gavazzi to make the finish tomorrow if we don’t see any crazy attacks on the climbs. Although saying that, the Italian was very impressive in the Tour of Turkey’s Queen Stage last year so who knows. He has a good chance of winning a reduced sprint.

If neither of those guys are firing then Androni still have to potential other cards to play in their squad with Torres and Masnada. Both put in respectable performances in San Juan but it was Torres who looked the best on the climbs there. You would think 2km at 8% would be too short for him to ride away from everyone but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do just that.

There are plenty of other riders though who will hope to break the theoretical dominance I’m granting Androni.

Mauro Finetto.

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A classy bike rider, the Delko rider always seems to feature at the finish in these types of races. He can climb fairly well and sprint fairly well which is always a good combination to have! Now into his second season with the French team, he’ll be more comfortable with his surroundings which should help him out a lot. Delko as a team have had a great start to the year and they’ll be wanting Finetto to continue that here.

Gianluca Brambilla.

Arguably the “quality rider” in the Laigueglia peloton, the Italian moved to Trek over the winter period. He performed well on his debut with a solid 4th place in Mallorca. If he continues that here then he’ll be a tough rider to beat as he should be able to out-climb most here. Riding for the Italian National Selection means he won’t have much help so will have to rely a lot on Moreno Moser who himself is a winner of this race in the past. The Astana rider was plagued by illness last season but hopes to put that beyond him this year. He was going OK in Valenciana so he should stay with Brambilla for a while or he might even be a dark horse to watch out for as well.

Silvan Dillier.

On his first outing for new team AG2R, I’m intrigued to see how the Swiss champion goes on a course like this. His climbing improved a lot in 2017 and he managed to pick up a Giro stage on steep kick to the line. A lot like Finetto in some respects, he seems to be able to climb fairly well but he also has an explosive kick. I think he’ll surprise here.

Guillaume Martin.


2017 was a breakthrough year for the talented Frenchman as he took three wins throughout the season along with completing his first Grand Tour. He should be even stronger this year because of that. There won’t be many riders here who are better on the climbs than him and I’m looking forward to him attacking at some point. He started his season off with a solid 5th in Marseille so he must have some good early-season form. Keep an eye on him!

Marco Canola.

Nippo’s only real chance of winning this race, Canola also had a good 2017 taking 6 wins. Admittedly, 4 of those came in Japan so the level of competition was slightly lower, but a win is a win. He’ll potentially go missing on the climbs, but if things are taken easy after and there is a regrouping of around 15 riders then he has a great chance of winning a sprint.

Ben Hermans.

The Belgian rider always seems to start the season well and he produced a solid result in Valenciana where he finished 11th on GC. He’ll lack any real support from his team late on in the race, but he might sneak into the race winning move. I’m not sure if he’s explosive enough to take hom the win though.


The cream to rise to the top and Brambilla to win in an almost deja-vu scenario for last year where a Trek rider on the Italian National Team takes home the spoils!

Watch out for Dillier as well though, I think he’ll go close.


Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? The race itself will be shown live on the PMG website I think, so we should be in for a nice afternoon of racing. Anyway,

Those were my Two Spokes Worth.


Trofeo Laigueglia 2017 Preview

Trofeo Laigueglia 2017 Preview

After the GP Etruschi last weekend, Italian Cup action returns this Sunday with the 54th edition of the Trofeo Laigueglia.

Last year’s race was won by a late attack from Andrea Fedi in the final kilometres, holding off a small group behind that had escaped on the closing circuits around Laigueglia. With Colbrelli edging out Bole in the sprint for second place.


The Route

After changing the route almost every other year, the organisers have this year stuck with the parcours that has been used in the past two editions.


Big loop -> Medium sized loop -> Circuits of a small loop!


The first GPM in Paravenna at 60km is 6.8km long, averaging 5.6% in gradient. Not overly tough for the peloton, but certainly a leg opener for later in the race.

We then have a descent and long flat section before the highest peak of the race at erm, ahem, Testico.

Now this climb was a real ball-ache to try to find figures for so I reverted back to what works best and made a Strava profile.


Now, including that long false flat drag, the climb is 13.9km at 3% in gradient. However, starting at the 7km mark, the remaining 6.9km averages 4.6% with some sections over 9%.

Again, it’s not really challenging for the pros but it will sap the legs for the closing circuit. Speaking of which…


As per, I’ve also made a strava profile that you can view here.


The first climb on the circuit is 2km long, averaging 7.8% with ramps of 15% around some of the hairpin turns. Climbing this 3 times with the pace on will certainly hurt and it is a great place for a group to go clear; like we saw last year!

We then get a fast descent, that starts off technical, before reaching the flat roads through Andora and back to the coast line. The road then climbs again for 1.5km, averaging roughly 9.5%. Crest the climb with a good advantage and you have a good chance of making it to the line as there is 2km of a shallow descent followed by a flat finish to home!

How will the race pan out?

It’s only fair really to take into account the last two editions of the race as the course varied so much in the past.

Back in 2015, it was Lampre sprinter Davide Cimolai who managed to take the win. Beating Gavazzi and Tsatevich in a reduced 24-rider bunch sprint. Last year’s event, as mentioned earlier, was won by an attack from Andrea Fedi in the closing kilometres on the final downhill. He managed to hold off a pursuing group of 9 who sprinted for the remaining top 10 places.

I think we’ll see an aggressive race again this year, with maybe 15 riders at most coming home within 30 seconds of the winner.


Diego Ulissi has to start as the favourite for this race.


Off the back of a solid showing at the Tour Down Under, he went on to win GP Etruschi last weekend in miserable conditions. Attacking on the footslopes of the last climb, he quickly built up a good lead and was never seen again by the peloton. Making his move right at the bottom of the climb highlights to me the confidence he has in his condition just now and going off of that performance, he has every right to be confident!

However, the quality of climbers at Etruschi was not as strong as it is here this weekend so Ulissi won’t have it all his own way.

Etoile de Bessèges winner, Lillian Calmejane, arrives with a strong Direct Energie team. The young Frechman has the climbing ability to be able to match Ulissi here and will also be confident after last weeks showing. Having the likes of Chavanel and Voeckler to rely on will be a big aid for him. Being able to send riders on the attack and not have to follow everything, like Ulissi might have to do, should mean Calmejane is well rested for the final circuits. He is certainly capable of winning again this weekend!

Following on from his 3rd place in Etruschi, Francesco Gavazzi will be aiming further up the podium here. Not the best naturalised climber in the peloton, he will be hoping for a coming together in the closing kilometres and a reduced bunch sprint to the line.

Winning the only race he’s finished this year so far, Arthur Vichot will be hoping to continue his 100% record.


A rider who has promised a lot in one-day races in the past, he certainly has the solid climbing abilities and good kick to contend here. Has he recovered from his flu that saw him pull out of Bessèges?

Delko Marseille will have a couple of cards to play in the form of El Fares and Finetto. The former finished 4th in Marseillaise at the start of the year so seems to be in good form. Likewise, Finetto finished a respectable 7th in that race, before coming home 3rd in a stage at Bessèges; beating Samuel Dumoulin in a sprint. Finetto normally goes well in these types of races and I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t manage a top 5 placing here!

Astana arrive here with an interesting squad, but I imagine it will be Moreno Moser who will be leading the team. The 2012 winner of this race has struggled in the past after his incredible neo-pro season. However, last year he seemed to return to form with good showings in the Giro and Vuelta and I expect big things from him this year again. With a return from altitude camp on the cards and no racing in his legs, it will be very interesting to see how he performs here.

The team with my favourite hashtag in the peloton, Willier Triestina, will be looking towards Pozzato to either roll the clock back or for Matteo Busato to continue the good progression he showed last year. Although he’s not taken a professional victory yet, Busato took a number of Top 10s last season, including a very impressive 2nd place on the final stage at the Giro del Trentino. Following a pretty much non-existant Dubai Tour, I’m sure he’ll want to impress back on home soil. #LoveMyWillier.

The Italian National team has three candidates to go well here; Felline, Trentin and Bettiol. All on their day have the credentials to take a podium place here but I’m unsure of what their current form will be like.

Other names to keep an eye on are; Andreetta, Bouet and Torres.


Ulissi is the clear favourite but I have a sneaking suspicion that Moser will be fired up for this race. He won’t get many chances to lead Astana this year so will want to make his mark nice and early!


There is absolutely no PFCL fantasy team bias in this preview at all…none…ok…maybe a little.


Thanks for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated as always! How do you think the race will play out? Will it be a solo winner, or a reduced bunch sprint? I shall have an Oman GC preview out tomorrow evening sometime. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.