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Ulissi's first win on MERIDA's Reacto EVO


Ulissi's first win on MERIDA's Reacto EVO

TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA continues on its strong start into the season: In what was only the fourth race of the season, Diego Ulissi scored the first victory at the Tour Down Under. On an ascending finishing straight Ulissi won the sprint of a group of strong riders.

At the end of the Tour Down Under's first stage TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA had shown a strong performance already, placing two riders within the top10 with Diego Ulissi and Rafael Valls. The second stage led over 150 kilometres from Prospect to Stirling, ending with two short climbs and an ascending finishing straight. This finale that has become a tradition at the Tour Down Under in recent years is generally considered as too demanding for pure sprinters. Most experts were expecting with the previous day's winner Simon Gerrans and his young compatriot Caleb Ewan.

But TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA's Diego Ulissi knows how to keep up in sprints as well if the road is ascending, as the 24-year-old Tuscan has proven throughout the last season repeatedly. That's why his team mates kept him out of the wind for most of the stage and piloted him into the positions close to the front for the finale. On the last couple of kilometres, the pace was kept blisteringly high by the Garmin-Sharp and the Tinkoff-Saxo team respectively in order to prevent any attacks.

So it all came down to a sprint of those riders who managed to keep up with that pace. When the previous day's winner Simon Gerrans moved up on the rear wheel of one of his team mates, Diego Ulissi opted for the other side of the street. He launched a fierce acceleration jumping from Cadel Evans slipstream and crossed the finish line with arms wide open and an impressive advantage of multiple bike lengths on Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans. For Diego Ulissi, this was not only the first win of the season but also his first win aboard MERIDA's Reacto EVO.

"Of couse I'm very happy to win here. I would like to dedicate this win to my team, the sponsors and to Rafa Valls in particular, who unfortunately crashed in the finale", Ulissi commented. "The team and Luca Wackermann in particular did an outstanding job in sending me into the finale in the best position possible. Once the finish line got in sight, I opted to surprise the others with an early acceleration, and these tactics were a full success."

Unfortunately Rafael Valls had a crash in the frantic finale, touching wheels with another rider after a roundabout. The Spaniard was forced to abandon the Tour Down Under with a humerus fracture and is set to undergo surgery in Adelaide according to TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA's doctor Michele de Grandi.


Tour Down Under, stage 2: Prospect - Sterling (150km)
1. Diego Ulissi, ITA/TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA, in 3:52.14 hours
2. Simon Gerrans, AUS, st
3. Cadel Evans, AUS, st
4. Francesco Gavazzi, ITA, st
5. Robert Gesink, NED, st

See the finale of the Tour Down Under's 2nd stage: http://youtu.be/CJ5hsJKhZ54