Eddie Dunbar (Ineos Grenadiers) celebrates overall victory at Coppi e Bartali 2022, alongside teammate Ben Tulett in second and Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) in third

Image credit: Tommaso Pelagalli/SprintCyclingAgency

22-26 March 2022

Mathieu Van der Poel, Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Marc Hirschi (recent winner of the Per Sempre Alfredo a 1:2 Italian semi classic) are the stars of the race organised by GS Emilia. The Settimana will offer five stages resulting in sparkling and altimetrically demanding days. The route will develop in two central Italy regions, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany with two stages for climbers, two for classics hunters and maybe one for the fast wheels. Full starting list here

Stage 1 (22/03): Riccione – Riccione (164,6 km). Mauro Schmid, the king of two-man sprints

The Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali started in Riccione: the air of the “Bel Paese” is clearly good for the young Swiss rider, who beats the Irish Dunbar at the end of a long attack. Hayter beats Van der Poel in the sprint for third place.

@ Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team – Getty Sport

These five days get off to a tough start with a stage of around 2,500 metres of elevation gain spread out over the entire route. There are three categorised climbs, but there are at least 11. The route unfolds over two circuits which are linked to the stage venue, Riccione, by a short straight stretch. The start is immediately uphill, albeit slightly, towards San Clemente; then in a short time you reach, with a climb of 2.5 km at 4.8%, Santa Maria del Monte where you enter the first circuit to be repeated three times: it will be immediately a nice toboggan of climbs and descents focused especially on the roughness of Tavullia (3.2 km at 4.7%) and Mondaino (3.3 km at 7.8%), with the first GPM of the day placed at the second passage from Mondaino. Once back down from Santa Maria del Monte there will already be 100km of breathless riding and the race will begin the second large circuit (to be tackled only once) which is likely to be the real watershed. We start with the only phase of relative relaxation, namely the almost 20km of falsely flat terrain along the Conca river that leads to the start of the most demanding climbs: Grotta di Onferno (GPM, 2. 5 km at 6%, but divided into 700 metres at 11% and 500 metres at 8%), Gemmano (5.4 km at 4.1, divided into 2 km at 7.2%, max 13%, and 1 km at 8%) and above all “La Pedrosa”, towards Montefiore Conca (GPM, officially 2.4 km at 12%, but more plausibly 3 km at 9.5%). It’s a decidedly interesting sequence of climbs which, counting the long and technical descent, ends 20 km from the finish, a not excessive distance that in any case could allow a relatively small number of riders to rejoin the race. However, the possibility cannot be ruled out that a really tough climb like the Pedrosa might allow a group of strong men to break away and reach the finish line. If, on the other hand, the selection were to come from behind, everything would be postponed until the last stage, namely the 2.2 km at 4.3% to San Clemente, with the finish line 12 km from the finish, all mostly downhill. There’s no shortage of opportunities to attack, but given that this is the stage which gives the fastest men the best chance of a narrow sprint, the possibility of a real tussle is not ruled out until the following day.

Stage 2 (23/03): Riccione – Longiano (165,9 km). Hayter wins as Dunbar takes the lead

Photo Credit:  @ INEOS Grenadiers – Getty Sport

A vibrant day for the second stage of the Coppi e Bartali, which saw the best riders battle for at least a hundred km, provoked by the usual Mathieu Van der Poel. However, the Dutchman lost ground in the final and the sprint sees the Briton victorious ahead of Sobrero; Dunbar new leader. The second stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali featured a challenging 165.9km route from Riccione to Longiano, more than 100km of which took place on the selective final circuit, with the focal point being the five-fold passage over the Belvedere Wall, where attacks were not long in coming. Shortly after the start, Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma), one of the main favourites for the overall win, crashed and retired. After a few kilometres the good breakaway formed by Patrick Gamper (BORA-hansgrohe), Julius Van der Berg (EF Education – EasyPost), Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper – Androni Giocattoli) and Samuele Zambelli (Work Service) was released. However, in the group there was a reaction, especially by Mathieu Van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix who had obviously put the red circle on this stage. At 130 km from the finish the gap was almost 5′, after twenty km, entering the final circuit, it was already down to 3′, with Van der Poel and his teammate Oscar Riesebeek attacking repeatedly. On the second passage over the wall towards Longiano, another attack by the Alpecin duo and on the climb towards Roncofreddo a high quality group was formed with Diego Ulissi and Andres Camilo Ardila (UAE Team Emirates), Ben Tulett (INEOS Grenadiers), Cian Uijtdebroeks (BORA), Vincenzo Nibali (Astanza Qazaqstan Team) and Matteo Carboni (Italy) had joined the two initiators of the attack. The initial breakaway ended with around 60km to the finish line with the new leading group also catch on the subsequent climb to Monteleone with the forcing of Trek able to close on the attackers and reshuffle the cards. In the meantime, it was leader Mauro Schmid (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) who had to pay the price for these attacks and counterattacks at was reported at 5 minutes behind the head of the race. Everything was postponed until the last lap and on the climb to Monteleone the group broke into two sections, losing surprisingly Mathieu Van der Poel, reported at about 30″ late. There were 30 riders left at the head of the race, with only the final wall to go; the pace was set by INEOS, that virtually occupied the first two positions in the general classification. Jan Polanc attacked on a descent 5 km from the finish followed by Matteo Sobrero (Team BikeExchange – Jayco), while behind Van der Poel did not give up and with a crazy descent he returned on the first part of the group. As soon as the group was reunited and with only 3 km left to go, an attack be Ardila caused the group to re-spread, with Van der Poel again behind by about fifteen seconds. The Colombian was able to enter the wall with a hundred-metre advantage, which proved to be insufficient: 500 metres from the finish line he was caught by a group launched towards the sprint. The sprint was won by Ethan Hayter, ahead of Sobrero and Ben Tulett, who defended the podium after having launched the sprint to the captain. He was followed by Nicola Conci (Italy), Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper), Diego Ulissi, Marc Hirschi (UAE), Cian Uijtdebroeks, Gianluca Brambilla and Floris De Tier, all with the same time as the winner. The new general classification sees Dunbar in the lead with just 6″ over teammate Hayter, followed by Sobrero at 14″, Tulett at 16″ and Tesfatsion who heads a large group of riders at 20″. Tomorrow it’s time for the queen stage, with start and arrival in San Marino: in just 147 km there will be almost 4000 metres of elevation gain, on a route almost for climbers, which should outline a more precise classification. Full results here

The music remains the same for the second stage, the longest of the five: yet another 2000 metres of elevation gain, but this time concentrated close to the finish line, in about 115 km. In fact, apart from a couple of climbs, the first 50 km are essentially flat and serve as a mere warm-up for the circuit that will be repeated four times (almost five in fact). Without passing through the finish line, the first climb is to Roncofreddo (5.5 km at 4.2%) and to the junction for Monteleone (2.3 km at 6.6%); then we arrive at the finish line in Longiano by climbing the Belvedere Wall (800 metres at 11%) which ends 350 metres from the finish line banner. Then we enter the real circuit, going up again to Roncofreddo by a more irregular road (in total, from the foot of the wall, there are 6.3 km at 3.8%) and then to Monteleone and Longiano: in the whole circuit the only stretch that allows breath are the 3500 flat metres before the wall. In short, there’s room to see everything, with a range that goes from the long-distance race to the uphill sprint over the wall. A lot depends on how the riders decide to tackle it.

Stage 3 (24/03): San Marino – San Marino (147 km). Tulett takes first pro win

Success of the young British rider in the third stage of Settimana Coppi e Bartali, which consolidated the leadership of Dunbar, who finished second.

Photo Credit:  @ INEOS Grenadiers – Getty Sport

The third stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali was run today with start and finish in San Marino and 147.1 km long. There was very little flat ground and, as expected, the difficult stage and the final climb outlined the general classification. From the outset, attacks took place among the many it is worth mentioning the one carried out by Rémi Cavagna (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team), Frederik Wandahl (BORA-hansgrohe), but especially Antonio Tiberi (Trek – Segafredo; 16th in the standings at 30″ from the leader) and Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix); as it was easily predictable the group did not leave space and after a few kilometres the group was rejoined. After the climb of Serra San Marco and at the end of the descent we finally had the composition of a clear breakaway, that soon gained an advantage of about 4’30” on the group: Mattia Cattaneo (Quick-Step), Mason Hollyman (Israel – Premier Tech), Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix), Andrea Garosio (Biesse – Carrera), Alessandro Monaco (Giotti Victoria – Savini Due), Antonio Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan Team), Edgar Andres Pinzon Villalba (Colombia Tierra de Atletas – GW Bicicletas – Shimano), Tony Gallopin (Trek), James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper – Androni Giocattoli) and Luca Covili (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè). Since the first ascent to San Marino the group, piloted by INEOS Grenadiers of the leader Edward Dunbar, began to slowly rethink the gap and on the second pass from the finish line, Cattaneo was alone, chased at 29″ by Garosio and at 1’10” by Hollyman, Riesebeek, A.Nibali, Gallopin and Shaw. The acceleration of Cattaneo was such that the delay of the group quickly grew up again from 3 min to over 5min. On the third ascent of San Marino Gallopin and Shaw were able to get back on Garosio, just as Cattaneo seemed to change his mind and slow down; Garosio however immediately stretched to bring back his compatriot leaving the other two at around ten seconds. The peloton was 3’12” behind on the new passage, with Cattaneo now the virtual leader of the GC. Heading into the penultimate climb, the peloton was able to reel in all the late escapees, and found themselves in pursuit of the four attackers, who had now regrouped, but saw their advantage dwindle to around 2′. At this point the cards began to be revealed: UAE Team Emirates took the lead while Van der Poel lost contact. At the front of the race, the situation was reversed, with Gallopin and Shaw attacking followed by Garosio and with Cattaneo loosing ground. Once on the last lap, the three fugitives had just 20 seconds of advantage, so they were destined to be caught in a few kilometres by a group now composed by about thirty units. With 10km to go it was Guy Niv (Israel) who did the first unsuccessful attempt and at the start of the final climb the peloton was led by the UAE who were supporting Marc Hirschi ready to attack with 5km to go and the race exploded behind him, with a handful of riders immediately picking out the Swiss rider. Shortly after, Simon Carr (EF) and leader Edward Dunbar (INEOS) attacked and quickly caught up with Hirschi himself; Ben Tulett (INEOS) also came back soon after, while behind (just over 10″) a quartet formed with Cian Uijtdebroeks (BORA), Antonio Tiberi and Gianluca Brambilla (Trek), and Diego Ulissi (UAE). The decisive spurt came just before the last km by Tulett, who quickly took the edge on the other three, tactically blocked by the presence of Dunbar, who could easily control the situation: in fact the Irishman was able to take the second position (at 3″) ahead of Hirschi (A 5″); followed by Carr (at 7″) and an excellent Tiberi (at 12″); then, Ulissi (at 25″), Uijtdebroeks (at 25″), Brambilla (at 38″), Nicola Conci (Italy; at 51″) and Jefferson Alexander Cepeda (Drone Hopper, at 51″) to close out the top 10. The new general classification sees Dunbar still in the lead, followed by Tulett at 9″, Hirschi at 24″, Carr at 30″, Tiberi at 45″, Ulissi and Uijtdebroeks at 48″, Brambilla at 1’01”, Conci at 1’14” and Hayter at 1’18”. A little more behind Nibali (12th at 1’35”). Full results here

Tomorrow it will be the turn of the first of the two Tuscan stages, 158.7 km with start and arrival in Montecatini Terme, repeating 8 times the climb of Vico, plus the Goraiolo in the middle of the race. A narrow sprint is expected ahead of Saturday’s tough stage.

It’s time for what will probably be the queen stage, for conformation and type of climb. It’s almost a mountain stage, almost for climbers, with almost 4000 metres of elevation gain in just 147 km: almost a big stage, especially for a race like Coppi e Bartali. The start is immediately uphill towards the Serra San Marco, after more than 20 km uphill: the actual climb is about 12 km at 4.3%. This is followed by a long descent and an undulating stretch (noteworthy the 2 km at 7% towards Verucchio) that brings us back to the foot of San Marino. The first ascent towards the finish line is the long northern slope of 10 km at 5.7%, an excellent appetizer to the very dense final circuit to be repeated 4 times: after a first part of descent, it climbs to Chiesanuova with 2.8 km at 5.1%; it comes back to a violent descent to take the final climb of 5.7 km at 7.6%, of which the first 1500 metres are in double figures. This is a climb with attributes that in four passages can really create large gaps and give space as never before to even the purest climbers. And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it on each of the four passes, given that there’s not a single sign of flat terrain in the final 80 km.

Stage 4 (25/03): Montecatini – Montecatini (158,7 km)

Stage 4 (25/03): Montecatini – Montecatini (158,7 km). Van der Poel has fun and then wins

Mathieu could not fail to stamp his mark on this Coppi e Bartali and so it was in the fourth stage which took place today. First he attacked as he likes, was caught but won in a sprint. Hayter and Mertz were beaten.

Photo Credit: @ G.S. Emilia

Today’s stage of the Settimana Coppie e Bartali was expected to be the most linear and relatively simple and therefore destined for a narrow sprint. The 158.7 kilometres of racing, starting and finishing near the Terme di Montecatini spa resort, did not include any particularly tough climbs, with the long Goraiolo at the halfway point and the rest of the route centred on the Vico climb. The first serious breakaway happened going up to Vico for the first time with Luc Wirtgen (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Samuele Rivi (EOLO-Kometa), Andrea Piras (Beltrami TSA – Tre Colli), Andrea Garosio (Biesse – Carrera), Emil Dima (Giotti Victoria – Savini Due) and Paul Wright (Mg. K Vis-Color for Peace-VPM). These 6 fugitives immediately took a margin on the group, piloted by Alpecin-Fenix that let the gap stabilize between 2’30” and 3′. The change of scenery came on the climb towards Goraiolo, with Van der Poel’s men slightly accelerating, bringing the gap under 2′ and on the descent Van der Poel took off, quickly closing in on the breakaway. At the top of the fifth passage from Vico, the escapees had only 18″ on Van der Poel and 2’20” on the group that was starting to organize the chase. The high pace meant that on the next passage only four remained in the lead: Garosio (who strengthened his leadership in the climbers’ classification), Rivi, Wirtgen and, of course, Van der Poel. With two laps to go, the group accelerated, starting the climb with a delay of over 2′ and arriving at the passage under the finish line banner with only 35″ to recover. Van der Poel tried to relaunch on the last uphill passage, remaining alone in the attack, but he was caught just after the climb. From this point, several attempt to counter-attack took place: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan Team), Antonio Tiberi (Trek – Segafredo) and finally Nicola Conci (Italy) and Mauro Schmid (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team), who held a long lead of about 10″, reset by the group only 700 meters from the finish line, just before the sprint. At this point Van der Poel had obviously already had time to recover and managed to put himself behind the large group that had come to play the final sprint. Behind him were the other fast men in the race, Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers) and Remy Mertz (Bingoal). The top 10 is completed by Dion Smith (Team BikeExchange – Jayco), the Jumbo-Visma couple formed by the young Mick Van Djike and Koen Bouwman, Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), Omer Goldstein (Israel – Premier Tech), Erik Fetter (EOLO) and Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper – Androni Giocattoli). The stage full results here

The general classification remains substantially unchanged with Edward Dunbar (INEOS) 9″ ahead of his teammate Ben Tulett, 24″ ahead of Marc Hirschi (UAE), 30″ ahead of Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost) and 45″ ahead of Antonio Tiberi. Tomorrow will be the turn of the last stage, very challenging, which will be run on a course of 160.2 km around the towns of Casalguidi and Cantagrillo. All eyes are on the three decisive passages of the climb the Mungherino, which could offer the opportunity to overturn the general classification.

A sparkling stage that takes place all around Montecatini along some of the most classic roads of Tuscan cycling: it doesn’t even need an introduction to the traditional circuit with the climb of Vico (2.8 km at 5.6%), already covered by the Giro d’Italia, which will be faced 8 times; between the first 4 laps and the last 4 there is a wider circuit, turning left at the top of Vico to face the climb of Marliana and Goraiolo (15.5 km at 4.7%). This adds up to a total of 2200 metres of elevation gain, but without ever tackling any particularly prohibitive gradients. A more controlled race could also allow a relatively compact group to compete for the sprint; on the other hand, the 11 km between Vico and the finish line discourage finisseur actions and unless the race is hard on Goraiolo there is no opportunity to put the sprinters in trouble, always bearing in mind that there will be no pure sprinters.

Stage 5 (26/03): Casalguidi – Cantagrillo (160 km) – The Wolfpack also likes parades

In the last stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali the fugitives Josef Cerny and Rémi Cavagna in pair ahead of Omer Goldstein. The Israeli tried to change the final race result but in the end the general classification went to Eddie Dunbar.

@ G.S. Emilia

The race was run today in memory of Franco Ballerini in a stage between the adjacent towns of Casalguidi and Cantagrillo of 160.2 km, which included the San Baronto da Vinci and the triple ascent to Mungherino, through the so-called climb “del Baco”, characterized by multiple sections in double digit figures that could change the general classification. The race had a fairly linear trend, structured on the chase of the group against the breakaway, ending up not causing any particular consequences on the final result. The first to animate the race at the start was Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper – Androni Giocattoli), but he wasn’t able to take away the breakaway; a moment after being reabsorbed, a group of 10 athletes broke away, to which the group left room: Frederik Wandahl (BORA – hansgrohe), Julius Van der Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), Omer Goldstein (Israel – Premier Tech), Josef Cerny and Rémi Cavagna (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team), Fabio Van den Bossche (Alpecin-Fenix), Tom Paquot and Johan Meens ( Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), David Martin Romero (EOLO-Kometa), Giovanni Carboni (Italy) and Jacopo Cortese (Mg. K Vis-Color for Peace-VPM). Despite a less than idyllic arrangement, they managed to build up an early one-minute lead, which saw a bit of a tug-of-war with Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, who remained outside the breakaway. As soon as the Italian team let go, the breakaway took off, thanks in part to the approval of INEOS Grenadiers leader Edward Dunbar. What is certain is that an interesting situation was created, especially for Goldstein who was at the start in 26th position in the standings, with a 6’58” lead: in fact INEOS let go so much to bring the margin of the fugitives to almost 9′, when the climb of San Baronto was beginning and with it the last intense 80 km. Goldstein smelled a chance to make a splash and was the first to animate the race from the first passage up the final climb, which the peloton started with a 7′ delay. Goldstein and Quick-Step duo Cerny and Cavagna were the only three riders left alone in sight of the GPM, and they were the ones who captured the attention in the final, while INEOS didn’t seem to have much energy to chase. In fact, by the time they reached the summit, the gap to the peloton had again increased to 8’15”, and then to 8’55” with two laps to go, leaving at least some doubt as to what the final result would be. Shortly before the bell, Josef Cerny attacked alone, trying to make the most of Quick-Step’s numerical superiority in the front group. We can say that this was the moment that collapsed Goldstein’s chances also for the classification, since while INEOS was again managing to eat up part of the margin (7’35” at the finish line), in front the agreement was broken and the Israeli no longer had the collaboration of the two “wolves”. To report that, unfortunately, in the group fell Cian Uijtdebroeks (BORA), the young Belgian prospect, who started from Casalguidi in 7th place in the standings: forced to change bike, he took some risk too much, ended up on the ground and retired. He shouldn’t have suffered any serious consequences other than a few stitches. On the final uphill passage Goldstein tried his best to catch up with Cerny but failed to do so, while behind him an attack by Dunbar – which created a selection in the peloton but which quickly regrouped – finally brought the gap down. The coup de grace came when Cavagna attacked in the final kilometres, with the French national champion closing in on Cerny just in time to stage a parade finish. Only third Goldstein, in his small way the hero of the day, at only 14″. He was followed by a brilliant Van der Berg at 46″, who made the three final laps almost always chasing alone the first three and who was very close to the success. Then Wandahl overcame Van den Bossche and Paquot at 3’03″, followed by Carboni at 3’05″. At this point the group arrived, relatively compact, at 4’23” led by Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper) – who appeared very brilliant also on the climb – and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), respectively 9th and 10th. The general classification remained almost identical, with Dunbar winning his first race as a professional ahead of teammate Ben Tulett at 9″. Followed by: Marc Hirschi (UAE) at 24″, Simon Carr (EF) at 30″, Antonio Tiberi (Trek – Segafredo) at 45″, Diego Ulissi (UAE) at 48″, Jan Polanc (UAE) at 1’23”, Gianluca Brambilla (UAE) at 1’25”, Tesfatsion at 1’38”, Nicola Conci (Italy) at 1’38”. Full result here

Worthy of closing these five days in memory of Franco Ballerini, in which there will be plenty of room to dig out gaps and overturn the classification. After the first 80 kilometres, which are fairly straightforward (except for the GPM of Serravalle Pistoiese and the undulations between Lamporecchio and Vinci), the first climb is to San Baronto from its easiest side, as well as one of the most classic (about 11 km at 3%); right at the top we enter the final circuit, facing the technical descent to Casalguidi and passing the finish line. From here there are 3 complete laps focused on the climb “del Baco” that leads to the GPM of Mungherino placed after about 6 km of ascent: in truth the climb is very uneven and has the first 3 km very hard up to Casa al Vento (average 8.3%, max 15%), followed by another tear of a km abundant, also with peaks in double digits. In short, taking into account the technical descent and a final flat stretch of just 4 km, there is plenty of ground to move around on.

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