The Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team earned its second win of the 2022 season at Strade Bianche di Romagna when Darren Rafferty bested his rivals over the 155 km course in the Marche region of central Italy.
“It was a super hard race from start to finish, spending the first 30 minutes getting in breaks and then missing the key break of 10 or 11 riders,” said Darren. “Then, myself and 4 others bridged across at the halfway point with 80 km to go and from that point trying to cover attacks from the break.”
When the break of 15 riders was whittled down to 7 on the last gravel section, the 18-year-old held strong and with 2 km to the finish, got away with one other rider.
“Then I attacked solo with 750 m to go and just about held on to it on the line,” he said. “ I’m really pleased with the unexpected win.”
The young Irishman’s first season with Axeon has been one of promise from the outset. He was instrumental in teammate Mathew Riccitello’s win at Istrian Spring Trophy back in March and began to really find his form at Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux in early April.
“Darren had a really aggressive ride today,” said sport director Koos Moerenhout. “He was very attentive and took his chance in the final. It was a hard race from the start and with the way he rode, he deserved the win.”
The Hagens Berman squad will have a quick turnaround, remaining in Italy and racing Coppa Della Pace on May 29th.