This weekend we only had to do a 650km drive in order to get to San Martino al Cimino, just north of Rome, for the relatively short 136km Trofeo Morucci. Last years race was a fun affair where I ended up being dropped on the steep inclines heading towards the line, finishing sixth in my last road race of my Euro season. With better form and more motivation this time round I was keen on making amends.
Hanging around the start area it became obvious that the turnout was rather disapointing and that there were only four teams that were seemed really threatening. With just about the whole Russian National team, Aran/Cantina-Tollo's Fabio Taborre and Anton Sintsov of Calzaturieri Montegranaro having recently won big races it would never be a walk in the park, even if there were just 90 starters. Aussie, Pat Shaw also pitched up for the fun so at least I got a few words of English in for a change!
Like last year a break got away pretty quickly and I found myself up front with Konrad and 15 others, all working together harmoniously (amazing). Half way into the race we hit the first of three climbs, this one also going past the finish line and up some pretty nasty bits with cobbles and several walls. Our group started splintering slowly but surely and by the time we got to the top I found myself in front in a group of four. From there on it was pretty straight forward. Ride hard, force the pace on the second long climb, outfox Taborre to win the KOM and get to the base of the final 3km climb.
Long before we reached the final climb it became obvious that the fourth rider was just hanging on for dear life. Taborre seemed fresh as a daisy and I could not tell how the Russian, Kochetkov, was feeling (how unusual). As we hit the climb Kochetkov went and I was on his wheel. Taborre jumped next and I was there again pretty quickly. Almost immediately he went again and this time Kochetkov was dislodged (the other guy was long gone by then). I pushed the pace to distance the Russian but worked a bit to hard as we were on a wall and as I told Taborre to go through he jumped and immediately got a gap.
Try as I might there was no closing that gap, so all I could do was go as hard as possible for the last kilometer and sprint up the brutally steep finish to grab a very nice second place.
This gives me my sixth result in the top five out of my last ten races. Not too shabby me thinks.
Next up... Worlds TT... And now I have to make sure that I don't make a fool of myself like I did last year...