UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi finished just shy of his third podium place at GP Lugano in Switzerland on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Italian, who finished third and second in the 2014 and 2016 editions of the race, could only settle for fourth following a 185.6km ride around the south Switzerland town.
Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida) barrelled over the finish in triumph ahead of Kristian Sbaragli (Italy) and Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida).
Ulissi arrived to the line 1 min 40 seconds behind the winner.
He said: “I did everything possible to take on the numerical advantage of Team Bahrain-Merida. Pernsteiner made a good move and proved to have strong legs to win the race. He looked unstoppable out there.
“I felt brilliant around the course, and that’s over a course that had 4000 metres of climbing. I’m happy with this result, although a place on the podium would have been favourable.”
Best for UAE Team Emirates were Filippo Ganna (28th), while Simone Consonni, Anass Ait El Abdia, Aleksandr Riabushenko, Jan Polanc and Ben Swift failed to set a time.
The 2018 Tour de France will feature nine “beyond category” climbs over its 3351km route, organisers of the July 7-29 event revealed on Sunday.
Even when it climbs familiar mountains, the Tour can take different routes, so each year the organisers classify all the climbs in the race. They can be 4, 3, 2, 1 or beyond category, depending on length, steepness, and elevation.
For 2018, nine climbs have been classified as beyond category and 10 are category 1, giving a total of 19 challenging ascents, compared to 23 in 2017 and 28 in 2016.
The first riders over each summit gain points, weighted according to the category of the climb, and the points leader gets to pull on the Tour’s polka-dot, or “king of the mountains,” jersey.
The Plateau des Glieres, the Montee de Bisanne, the Cols du Pre, de la Madeleine and de la Croix-de-Fer, the Alpe d’Huez and the Cols du Portet, Tourmalet and Aubisque are, in order, the beyond category climbs steeped in Tour legend awaiting this year’s roster.
Tour organisers gave out the information to the various teams involved at the eight-day Criterium du Dauphine race that started with a time-trial around Valence on Sunday.
It was also revealed that there will be a “points bonus” of one, two and three seconds to the first three finishers on the eight flat stages.
UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi will embark on his first ride since the Giro d’Italia as the Italian tackles the GP Lugano on Sunday.
The 28-year-old, who finished second in the 2016 edition of the race, will be supported by an experienced team in southern Switzerland including compatriots Filippo Ganna and Simone Consonni.
Joining them will be the promising quartet of Anass Ait El Abdia, Aleksandr Riabushenko, Jan Polanc and Ben Swift.
Commenting ahead of the race, Ulissi said: “I’ve lived in Lugano for years now, so this race has practically become a home event for me.
“In 2014 and 2016, my last two appearances in the GP Lugano, I came close to success, achieving third and second place respectively in the final sprint.
“Usually the race comes down to a limited group of riders vying for victory, so it is important to make it into the lead positions in the conclusive laps.”
A one-day UCI European Tour race, the GP Lugano will see the peloton take on a 186km route through southern Switzerland with two notable climbs – from Lugano to Agra and Muzzano to Gentilino.
The climbs are sure to test the legs, but UAE will be hoping that their combination of riders will be able to mount a serious challenge and take home the title.
Elsewhere, Dan Martin will continue his preparations for the Tour de France when he leads a strong UAE outfit at the Criterium du Dauphine, which gets underway in Valence today.
The 31-year-old Irishman, who finished third in the 2016 and 2016 editions of the race, will have one eye on the Tour de France when he tackles the seven-stage race in France.
He said: “The Criterium du Dauphine is always a good test before the Tour de France, but given that this year there’s an extra week between the end and the start of the Tour de France, I expect that my form will be slightly behind with respect to previous years.
“The Dauphine is important also because it’s a mini-Tour de France, with an individual time trial, a team time trial – things that are hard to mimic in training – and because we race on some of the same roads that we are going to face in the 11th stage of the Tour.”