|Team UnitedHealthcare’s Alessandro Bazzana Takes 3rd Place in Stage 1a of 2013 Settimana Coppi e Bartali, Teammate Kiel Reijnen Finishes in 7th Place
Gatteo, Italy – Thanks to the help of his teammates, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Alessandro Bazzana, captured 3rd place in Stage 1a of the 2013 Settimana Coppi e Bartali. The Italian sprinter secured the final spot on the podium at the end of the 99.5km-opening stanza of the popular race, finishing in third place behind a pair of Androni-Giocattoli riders, winner Fabio Felline and runner-up Mattia Gavazzi, both from Italy as well.
Following the race, Bazzana commented on his result, stating, “It was good to get our first podium in Europe today. Personally, I’m very happy, but I have to give credit to my teammates for everything. They were outstanding. I actually got dropped on the climb, but I could count on (Kiel) Reijnen’s work to get back on. He was tremendous in getting me through today, as were all of our guys. From the start, our guys covered all the moves and kept me in position to sprint for the win.”
The finish of the race proved to be chaotic and Bazzana described the events that transpired in the final 2km of the opening stage.
“Heading into the finish, I was on Kiel’s wheel again. There were about four roundabouts over a 2km space. Getting to the last roundabout I just followed Kiel but kind of got boxed in between, so it was very chaotic for sure. (Teammate) Chris Jones crashed in there fighting to help me. Needless to say, we’re all glad he’s okay. We are getting closer and after racing in Belgium, this race gives us an opportunity for more results. We are all very motivated and enjoying racing together,” he concluded.
According to Team Director, Hendrik Redant, Jones suffered some burns on his right knee and hip, but was able to continue and finish the race.
Redant added, “This was a good start for the team today in this very hard race in Italy. We are pleased with getting Baz (Bazzana) on the podium as well as getting Kiel in the top 10. The boys rode hard and most importantly, they continued to ride together as a team. We are happy to see their efforts pay off in Stage 1a.”
Team UnitedHealthcare’s Ben Day provided additional insight into the first day of racing, remarking, “With two stages in the first day of Coppi e Bartali, it makes for a very long day to start off a hard week. It’s a four-day tour so although it’s not the longest tour, racing two stages in one day is always a little bit tricky as we’re up at 6am and racing again at 4pm.”
“This morning was good. There were two solid climbs in the middle of the stage (1a) and at the bottom of the descent of those climbs, two teams went to the front and went full stick to try and to keep the bunch separated with the front guys. I think we had five guys in that front group. Baz and some of the other sprinters were a little bit behind, but he (Baz) managed to get back on which was great. He then got straight back near the front and stayed out of trouble coming into the finish. I think we did a decent job keeping him protected and Kiel took him from the last 500m toward the line. Baz was able to get 3rd place, which is a great result for us. It’s also special because we’re in Italy and this is his home country.”
A short time after the completion of Stage 1a, the field regrouped for the start of Stage 1b, the 11.2km Team Time Trial (TTT). However, this year’s TTT would prove to be a bit different for all teams, as each squad would be split into two teams of four. The new format left both riders as well as fans across the social media landscape a bit puzzled by the interesting twist to the standard TTT format, but the riders from Team UnitedHealthcare took it all in stride.
Day talked about the TTT, saying, “We had to do the TTT in two teams of four, which is a very new concept many of us hadn’t heard of before. I believe this race is trying it out as a test to see if it will be an exciting thing for the spectators in the future. The early team for us went off in the afternoon and did a decent time. Then, our team with more time trial and GC oriented guys went off at 4:30pm (local time in Italy) under a steady drizzle. The rain always leaves everybody pretty nervous, but we kept it together and I think we rode pretty well. We tried to go full gas the first six or seven kilometers, but the last three kilometers it was a lot of negotiating left-right, right-left, left-right turns in foggy, wet and slippery conditions.”
Marc de Maar and the guys took the change in TTT in stride, taking to social media as a means of sharing their reactions to the unique format. De Maar tweeted, “The TTT itself was a little sketchy in the wet with 22 corners the last 3km. Survived though.” The good-natured Curacao national champion also tweeted, “Fun experience, but a bit weird to race against your own teammates, off-course we smoked team B!” To which teammate Chris Jones tweeted back all in good fun, “Word on the street is that you paid the course marshal to misdirect us through that roundabout. #cheekymove.”
Summarizing the team’s overall state after Stages 1a and 1b, Day said, “I think the team is in good shape and it looks like everyone has good legs. We’re in a good position for the rest of the week. It’s going to get even tougher from this point, especially with 200 eager and enthusiastic riders racing here on Italian roads. You’re going to have to be aggressive but you also have to race smart. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
TEAM UNITEDHEALTHCARE ROSTER FOR 2013 SETTIMANA COPPI E BARTALI (MARCH 20-24)