AIR 2022: the verdicts of Monte Grappa

Stage victory for the Eritrean Tesfatsion, new leader Zana from Vicenza, but nothing has been decided yet and tomorrow new stage departure is from Brisighella

The first stage dedicated to climbers of the 2022 edition of the Adriatica Ionica Race has inflamed the two-wheel audience and revolutionised the general classification. Monte Grappa has issued the first verdicts which, although not definitive, already allow us to identify the riders who will be able to fight until the end for the success in the final classification. At 1708 meters above sea level of Cima Grappa, Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper) prevailed, preceding Filippo Zana (Bardiani) and Vadim Pronskiy (Astana) in a three-man sprint.

THE RACE REPORT – 114 starters from Castelfranco Veneto (Tv), after 20 km the escape takes shape, animated by Matteo Zurlo (Zalf Euromobil Désirée Fior) – awarded, as occurred in the first stage, as the most combative rider of the day with the orange jersey – the Spaniards Eugenio Sanchez (Kern Pharma) and David Lozano (Novo Nordisk), the Colombian Santiago Umba (Drone Hopper-Androni Toys). Bardiani CSF works as a group, joined by Astana: the reconnection takes place at the foot of the Cima Grappa climb. Bardiani CSF is a strong rival: 16 are in the leading group, including the leader of the general classification Christian Scaroni (Italian national team). The small group – always under the pressure of the Green Team with Samuele Zoccarato and Luca Covili – is gradually thinning out: Scaroni and Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), winner of the AIR 2021, pay the price. In the last 2 kilometres 5 riders are fighting for the victory: the Italian Covili and Zana, the Kazakh Vadim Pronskiy (Astana), the Eritrean Natnael Tesfatsion and the Ecuadorian teammate Jefferson Cepeda, among the most active on the final climb. The quickest is the Eritrean, while Zana finishes second and he becomes the new leader of the general classification: tomorrow he will wear the Geo & Tex 2000 blue jersey.

THE STATEMENTS – Big smile on Tesfatsion’s lips after the finish: “I really wanted to win today. The team did a great job, first with Umba on the breakaway and then thanks to Cepeda who always kept the pace high in the final stages. I decided to wait before starting with the sprint and it was the right choice because I managed to catch Zana in the last meters. I want to dedicate this success to the team that has always given me confidence and supported me in everything”.

Still on the hunt for his first success among the professionals, Filippo Zana consoles himself with the general classification leader’s jersey: “This is an important and significant record. Yesterday and today, I came very close to win the stage, it didn’t arrive, but the placings still allowed me to get the first place in the general classification. I have about twenty seconds ahead, it will not be easy to defend them in the next three stages, but I have a very strong team by my side and we will do everything to bring home the final success”.

Blue jersey Geo & Tex 2000 (general classification):  Filippo Zana (Bardiani)
Green jersey Enit (KOM classification): Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper)
Red jersey Suzuki (sprinter classification):  Filippo Zana (Bardiani)
White jersey (youth classification): Filipo Zana (Bardiani CSF)
Orange jersey FSA (the most combative): Matteo Zurlo (Zalf)

THE WINNER – First European victory in the second stage of AIR 2022 for Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli). For the 23-year-old Eritrean this is the fifth success as a professional, after the victory of the general classification at the Tour of Rwanda 2020 – in which he also won the fourth stage – and 2022 and the second stage of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo (Gabon) 2020. In 2022 Tesfatsion finished second in the Giro dell’Appenino, fourth in the GP Industria and, in his career, he achieved three top ten in the Giro d’Italia (2021 and 2022).

1° Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper) 4h12’15”
2° Filippo Zana (Bardiani CSF Faizané)
3° Vadim Pronskiy (Astana)
4° Luca Covili (Bardiani CSF Faizané) a 8″
5° Jefferson Cepeda (Drone Hopper) a 12″
6° Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel Euskadi) a 19″
7° Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo Kometa) a 42″
8° Christian Scaroni (Naz. Italia) a 1’04”
9° Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani CSF Faizané)
10° Riccardo Lucca (Work Service Vitalcare Videa)

1° Filippo Zana (Bardiani)
2° Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper) a 21″
3° Vadim Pronskiy (Astana) a 27″
4° Luca Covili (Bardiani CSF Faizané) a 39″
5° Jefferson Cepeda (Drone Hopper) a 43″
6° Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel Euskadi) a 50″
7° Christian Scaroni (Naz. Italia) a 1’06”
8° Riccardo Lucca (Work Service Vitalcare Videa) a 2’22”
9° Edoardo Sandri (Cycling Team Friuli) a 3’46”
10° Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo Kometa) a 4’03”

CURIOSITY: THE DISH OF THE DAY – Today on the summit of Monte Grappa the chefs Mirko and Alex De Luca, in collaboration with the students at the Maffioli Institute of Castelfranco Veneto proposed the Risotto (Carnaroli, La Fagiana) at the Piave Stravecchio Lattebusche cheese. The students at the Maffioli Institute, Francesco Menegazzo and Alberto Visintin, accompanied by prof. Francesco Anania and the Headmaster Nicola Zavattiero have introduced the dish of the day.
A dish with the flavours of the mountain, included in the AIR 2022 Food Project, enriched thanks to the creaminess of Piave Stravecchio cheese and accompanied by salami from the Becher salami factory.

TOMORROW’S STAGE – Leading protagonists of the third stage of AIR 2022 will be once again the climbers. We will start at noon from Ferrara to reach the finish line in Brisighella after 137.2 km. The first part of 70 kilometers will be completely flat up to Imola, then a long rises and falls along the roads of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines could reserve several surprises also in terms of general classification.

The last kilometers
The caravan will cross the finish line in Brisighella twice before reaching the finish line. To make the final stage challenging there will be the climbs of Modigliana, Via Valletta and Via Calbane, the latter located less than 8 kilometers from the finish.