Rally Cycling's men's roster continues its Italian campaign with a second stage race since the season start. Named after two of the greatest riders Italy has ever produced, Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali, the race takes place over four days on and near to the glittering Adriatic Coast of historic northern Italy from September 1-5.
Coppi and Bartali were famously fierce rivals, with their vastly different personalities and politics effectively splitting Italy down the middle. You were either a Coppi person or a Bartali person, but all could agree on both of the riders' uncommon talents.
This year's parcours should provide a tough test for the team's GC riders, while also offering up some opportunities for the sprinters and breakaway artists. A worthy homage to the all-conquering campionissimos for which it is named.
Nathan Brown has been one of the team's standouts since they arrived back in Europe.
"It's nice to be back racing again after such a long break. It's taken me a few races to get my race legs back under me, but I'm feeling good and confident going into Coppi e Bartali."
Brown has raced the Coppi e Bartali before but in a much different guise.
"The race is a lot different compared to the year I did it previously. I think it's going to be a hard one. Seems to be a bit more climbing than normal and there are 11 WorldTour teams on the start list."
Despite the tough course and impressive competition, Brown is optimistic about what he and the team can achieve.
"The team is doing great. We have a good squad here and the way Gavin [Mannion] has been riding, I am confident we can walk away with something special from this race."
The race kicks off with a split day, with stage 1a comprising a flat finish after three laps of a circuit that includes the 10% gradient, one-kilometer climb of Longiano near Gatteo. The climb is not too challenging, but we can expect plenty of attacks to fly, with riders looking to use it as a mini-launchpad.
Stage 1b is a pancake flat team time trial, in which the teams will be looking to secure a solid spot on the GC early on.
Stage 2 is a bumpy ride all the way into the category 1 climb at the finish, while stage 3 heads inland from Riccione on the coast and seeks out the mammoth HC climb, Monte Carepegnam a favorite training road of Marco Pantani. The race will conclude with another hilly circuit on stage 4, completed three times, followed by a flat finish in the town of Forli.
The parcours presents a bunch of opportunities for stage wins for sprinters, rouleurs and GC riders - and should be hotly contested.
Rally Cycling's roster for the Coppi e Bartali
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