Return to the past with 4 laps of the Lissolo circuit after a beautiful pilgrimage in the Brianza hills. But first, I shall summarise the changes in recent years: the race is in mid-September, just before the World Cup, to arrive at the end of Via Matteotti: colours of nature and new scenarios for an Agostoni renewal. They start as 193 from the Villa Reale Palace in Monza (such a large number of participants, to the limit allowed by the regulations, is the result of the change of date and, therefore, of the extremely proximity to the World Cup) with Vincenzo Nibali, returning after the misadventures of Vuelta, besieged by fans and media. And Nibali shall not betray the expectations of a redemption: during the fourth and final passage by Lissolo, on rain, fog and sun, he broke through his limits and reached Scarponi and Rebellin. There were still 50 km to the finish line. On the Brianza Hill, the advantage of the three was 1 minute, the reaction of the group – reduced to thirty units – careful and surgical, the racers bounced back shortly before the arrival to stage a great sprint. But Nibali has a great day (and it will be for the three days of the Triptych, which he beautifully won) and guides his two companions until the final laps around Lissone. Here, Scarponi gives in and lets his captain deal with the madman Rebellin. “Twenty metres, I only had twenty metres left” said Nibali in the end, because in front of him he had seen the “grandfather” swaggering his 44 years. The group was wrong: he came close to Nibali and Rebellin with 10 meters of delay, sprinted for third place of Bonifazio, who preceded Giacomo Nizzolo.
Gazzetta dello Sport wrote: “It was one of the most exciting editions of the classical Brianza race in recent years.”
This 68th Agostoni shall remain in our history, especially for two main reasons: the change of the traditional date from August to September (together with the other two races of the Triptych) just before the World race; and the baptism of a young man – 20 years and 10 months – destined to become a champion, Niccolò Bonifazio. The route is substantially the same as that of last year, with the four rises – Ello, Colle, Giovenzana and Lissolo – focal points of the race. Before start, nice amusement at the Cleaf facility, meeting point: a film crew from Hong Kong, directed by director Dante Lam, took shots for a movie about cycling, which will be released in Asia.
From piazza Libertà they start as 191, and immediately in the first kilometres, there is a breakaway of 9: Velasco, Leonardi, Zordan, Cecchinel, Piechele, the Eritrean Debesay, Napolitano, the Japanese Miyazawa and Pichetta. The maximum advantage will be 6′ and 40″, but after Ello’s climb, the group reaches them. The everlasting Lissolo makes another selection: Rebellin, Rosa, Tiralongo, Moscon, Bongiorno, Pichetta and the Belgian Seeldraeyers take advantage and come together to the two final town circuits. However, during the second, the group, thanks to the work of Cannondale and Lampre, reaches them. Final sprint among the 62 still in race. Bonifazio springs up in front of the Slovenian Grega Bole and Simone Ponzi (after one year, he wins the Triptych again). “My supporting rider was the world champion Rui Costa – Niccolò told us – he brought me the water bottles, I almost could not believe it. It is an honour because he is a great sportsman. I just finished the work of all.”
Big news on the route. 4 initial circuits of 29 km that include Lissone, Vedano, Monza, Villasanta, Triuggio, Albiate, and Sovico to then reach the real news in the heart of Brianza. Four asperities one after the other: Ello, Colle Brianza, Giovenzana, Lissolo and from there directly to Lissone with the finish line stretched in via Matteotti instead of the traditional (for how many years was the arrival there?) via Carducci. The day begins with a big fear: some teams (including Lampre-Merida) are blocked on the highway due to an accident. They will manage to get to the start point, but later, therefore, the start was delayed and one of the four initial circuits was cancelled. The race was shortened by 30 km, but the day is saved. From Piazza Libertà, they start as 160; the race speeds up on Giovenzana thanks to Fabio Aru. Together with him, Durasek, Zardini, Rebellin, Sinkewitz, Facchini, Rowny and Mucelli took off and all 8 together hit the front on Lissolo where Aru still puts on a show. The reaction of the group is tough especially due to the commitment of Lampre and Fantini Selle Italia, who has the merit of their reunification. The last attempt is staged by Nicola Micelli and Patrick Facchini, but they are reached at 400 meters. It was the Russian Kolobnev to kick off the sprint, but has a long start and fails. At that point, Pozzato could not make a mistake and he did not. Simone Ponzi comes second (and this place shall make him win the Diamond of the Triptych), and Marco Zamparella third.