Procycling - - Debrief -

What will be the fate of Sonny Col­brelli in 2017? Af­ter ive years earn­ing a crust with Bar­diani-CSF, a lurry of solid re­sults last year in the run-up to the Qatar Worlds (he was the only ProCon­ti­nen­tal rider in the Az­zuri) at­tracted ir­re­sistible over­tures from Bahrain-Merida. He got o f to a con­sis­tent but not bril­liant start: three top 10s by mid Fe­bru­ary.

The punchy sprinter has been in a big team’s sights be­fore. Sky thought se­ri­ously about pick­ing him up at the end of 2014 when he had an­other strong end to his year. It’s a cu­ri­ous trait of the 26-year-old’s ca­reer so far that he’s been good in the early sea­son, and great at the end. Pro­fes­sional wins be­tween Jan­uary and April so far: one. Wins be­tween Au­gust and Oc­to­ber: nine. It could be down to a convergence of form and mo­ti­va­tion, but more likely it’s down to sim­ple op­por­tu­nity. Ital­ian one-day races – which ac­count for nine of his 15 pro­fes­sional wins – are thin on the ground be­fore the Giro, but they pro­lif­er­ate in Au­gust and Septem­ber.

His­tor­i­cally, Col­brelli’s made lit­tle im­pact in Tir­reno and the Giro, the two WorldTour stage races that

It’s a cu­ri­ous trait of the 26-year- old’s ca­reer so far that he’s been good in the early sea­son, and great at the end

stud his early sea­son. His best stage re­sults in ei­ther were a ifth and third in the Giro last year – iso­lated high­lights be­tween bunch sprints and moun­tains. That de iciency won’t mat­ter in his new team as Vi­cenzo Nibali will have full sup­port at the Ital­ian Grand Tour. But what is most im­pres­sive is his sea­son-long con­sis­tency: he bangs out top 10s all year round. He’s been top 10 in Mi­lan-San Remo (’14 and ’16) and he hit a new high last year when he came third in the Am­s­tel Gold Race – his irst podium in a ma­jor Clas­sic. No won­der Bahrain were in­ter­ested: While Nibali and Jon Iza­girre lead in stage races, Col­brelli’s free to carry on do­ing what he does best: hoover­ing up places – and points – in other theatres.

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