All photos ©Bettiniphoto
Fabio Felline, racing with the Italian National team, soloed to the win in the 54th edition of Trofeo Laigueglia, Sunday. Felline launched the winning attack on the final climb and held off the chase for the last 10 kilometers to take the win in his first race of the season.
"I am very happy," Felline said. "This is an area where I trained a lot when I was young, and my parents and fan club were at the finish. It is never easy to win a professional race and to win here, in front of them, is very special."
The 192.5-kilometer race ended with three local laps that included a steep two-kilometer climb (10% average gradient) creating a natural selection and whittling the peloton to a select group by the last lap. On the third and final ascent with 11 kilometers remaining, Felline accelerated and immediately opened a gap. By the top of the two-kilometer climb he had 14 seconds, and in the run-in to the line he stretched it to 30 seconds; enough time to savor the victory in his first race start of 2017.
"On the final climb I was waiting for someone to attack, but no one did so I decided to go," explained Felline. "When I looked behind me, no one was on my wheel, and so I went à bloc.
"I knew that if I was à bloc then they would also be à bloc behind me. I was told I had 20 seconds when I arrived to the final flat kilometers. I think it was 30 seconds, or 25 at the finish, but it doesn't matter; what matters is to get the win."
"It has been more than a year since I have won a race, and for me my goal for 2017 was to win again. To do it in my very first race gives me a lot of moral for the rest of the season."
A small group arrived to contest the minor places 25 seconds later. Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Mauro Finetto (Delko Marseille Provence KTM) rounded out the podium in second and third places respectively.
Trek-Segafredo director Adriano Baffi attended the race to offer support to Felline from the sidelines, and had this to say about the race:
"It was good to see Fabio control the race, and control his attack at the end. He deserved this victory. He showed good numbers in training, but we didn't know what he would do out on the road in a race. But he confirmed that he is where he wants to be and all his hard work has paid off."
"I want to say a special thanks to Adriano," added Felline. "He was on the climb handing me bottles and telling me I looked good. To hear that, in the race, from someone who knows me very well really gave me motivation."