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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for May 11, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cunego's rise continues

Damiano Cunego (Saeco)
Photo ©: Olympia

Saeco's 22 year old star Damiano Cunego gave yet another demonstration of his talent today by winning the second stage of the Giro d'Italia. Cunego, who has already won six races in the last three weeks, showed that he is coming of age following his win in the 1999 Junior World Championship race in his home town of Verona. As well as taking the stage win, Cunego also took over the purple jersey of the points competition, and is now within 37 seconds of the lead - something he has in mind for tomorrow's Stage 3 uphill finish.

"I'm riding well and I'll try and win again at Corno alle Scale," he said. However this doesn't change anything in the Saeco team. We're all here to help Gilberto Simoni win the Giro. I'm still trying to understand how I won the stage. I've got time on my side and will have the chance to ride the Giro d'Italia at least another ten times. I can't be compared to Simoni because I'm not used to handling all the responsibility, I haven't got his experience. For now I'm happy to ride with him and learn as much as I can. He's the Team Saeco captain and I'm not saying that to have an easy time, I'm saying it because it's true."

Saeco showed itself to be the dominant team today, with Gorazd Stangelj surviving the longest out of the early breakaways, and then Cunego, Simoni and Mazzoleni breaking the peloton at the top of the Passo del Brattello. But Simoni warned, "Whoever says we made a mistake by attacking today is wrong. We were just trying to control things to avoid any risks and then in the finale we realised we could win the stage and stop Garzelli getting the time bonus. The team was great and so was Cunego by winning so well. I'm not surprised by how he rode, I know how talented he is."

Directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli downplayed any suggestion of any internal team conflict. "We know how good our team is and how special our leaders are. Whoever tries to create rivalry within the team and make us nervous is wasting their time, you'll see."

One climb too many for Petacchi

Stage 1 winner Alessandro Petacchi almost made it over the Passo del Brattello today, but found the rhythm on the climb too hard with 2 km to go to the summit and dropped off the leading peloton. Petacchi finished 52nd at 2'39 down, and will have to bide his time for a couple of days before he gets another chance at a stage win. "I knew the parcours was not suited to my characteristics," said Petacchi. "But there was a period where I felt good and my feelings were also good on the climb. Therefore, I tried to stay in front for as long as possible. Unfortunately in front they went very hard and in the final kilometres of the ascent I let go. We passed the GPM not that far behind, and seeing that all my teammates were with him, we wanted to try and come back. Unfortunately we didn't have enough kilometres to the finish and we did not succeed in our intentions."

Petacchi did offer praise for stage winner Damiano Cunego. "I know Cunego, he's a guy who is very promising and is also only 22 years old. I think that, although he has come to do the Giro to support Simoni, at the end he will do an attractive race."

The final climb wasn't the only one of Petacchi's problems today. Yesterday evening at the hotel, less than two hours after his stage victory, one of his Pinarello bicycles was stolen. It was one of Petacchi's often used training bikes and was fitted with special training equipment, and the Fassa Bortolo sprinter will certainly miss it.

Popovych loses a teammate

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago's Yaroslav Popovych had no trouble staying with the leading group today, however his team suffered an early blow when Cristian Gasperoni had to abandon mid-stage with stomach problems. Gasperoni was to be a key helper for Popovych in the mountains, playing the same role as he did for the late Marco Pantani last year. But he became sick on Sunday night, along with Volodimir Duma, who managed to complete the stage 2'39 down on the winner.

Cyclingnews Giro d'Italia coverage

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Le Boulanger confirmed out for the season

The RAGT Semences - MG Rover team hasn't had a great deal to celebrate in recent times, especially Yoann Le Boulanger's crash in the Tro Bro Léon. The team has confirmed that Le Boulanger will be out until the end of the season in order to recover from his fractured knee joint.

The team is now aiming for the Tour de Languedoc-Roussillon and the Tour de France, and team manager Jean-Luc Jonrond is taking an optimistic viewpoint. "There's something good about every event and we will win through in the end and get the better of our series of unfortunate happenings," he said.

Dean out for at least a month

New Zealand sprinter Julian Dean, who fractured his forearm in two places after crashing in Stage 2 of the Four Days of Dunkirk, will be out of action for between four and six weeks, according to his Credit Agricole team.

On the other hand, Damien Nazon is making good progress after injuring his ankle in a crash in the Doha International Grand Prix in Qatar early this season, and will come back to the fray in the Tour de Picardie in mid-May, followed by the Bayern Rundfahrt and the Tour du Luxembourg.

Austrian qualifying race for 24hr Solo World's

The adidas Bike 'n Soul 24 hours of Saalbach Hinterglemm will be held on May 30 in Austria, and will serve as a qualifying race for the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin(tm) Championships in Whistler, Canada on September 4-5. The Saalbach Hinterglemm race will also open the new European 24 hour race series.

Participants in Saalbach Hinterglemm can start as single competitor or in teams made up of two, four or eight riders. 24 hour World Champion Mario Amann from Austria and Germany's top rider in 24 hour racing, Franz Kohlsdorfer, have already registered. Start places are limited to 150 teams in total.

The top ten men and top three women to place at the adidas Bike 'n Soul 24hr race will receive official qualifying spots for the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championships. Qualifying spots will also be awarded to the top male and female in each 5 year age group category and single speed.

The course is an extended World Games Cross Country course, a 3.9 km lap with approximately 200 metres of elevation gain (and loss!) per lap. The start time is at 11:00 on Sunday, May 30.

More information: or

More pointers for Fantasy Giro team selection

There are still four more stages to go before registration closes at the end of Stage 6 in the Cyclingnews Fantasy Giro d'Italia game. That's plenty of time to fine tune your team and select the 15 riders who you think have the best chance of netting you the most points, and therefore the excellent prizes on offer. Apart from a Domina Vacanze team replica Specialized 04 S-Works E5 Road Frameset, there's also a Graber Power tap, Rudy Project sunglasses and helmets, Pearl Izumi road shoes and a Mavic Wintech computer up for grabs, among other prizes.

So how do you go about selecting the perfect team? One of last year's winners, Michael Tierney, has generously provided an insight into this mystifying task, which for some is akin to soothsaying. Michael writes:

"One of the most important and basic decisions that need to be made in selecting your team is the ratio of General Classification riders to Sprinters to Climbers. It usually boils down to a choice between GC and Sprinters at a ratio of 10 to 5, 9 to 6, or 8 to 7. I have found the best ratio in the past to be 9 to 6 (GC/S). Because GC riders are usually also climbers, to pick a pure climber usually is not efficient.

Based on this ratio, your 9 GC selections become "automatic"; and 6 of the nine "points" riders are also apparent. So the challenge is to pick the 3 GC riders who will also finish well in the sprint stages (for the points). Generally, the 9 GC riders also become your mountain team, but exceptions are when one (or more) of your GC riders is more of a time trialist than a climber (leave him off), and when one or more of your "Sprinters" is also good on the easier climbs (as in "rolling" stages).

If the 8 to 7 ratio is used, more sprint points can generally be had, but then you have one GC position that is filled by a sprinter and rates to score only 15 GC points (for finishing). So this trade off must be positive to make the 8/7 ratio work.

If the 10 to 5 ratio is used, you now can have some flexibility in the 10th rider, who is usually either more of a climber or a time trialist. However, you sacrifice some more predictable sprinter points for some less predictable transition stage or time trial points. Because you must select your 9 GC riders before stage 6, the 10/5 ratio really is more of a 9/5/wild card choice. The point of the wild card is to garner points in either the time trial stages or the "transition" or rolling stages, and is often a "breakaway" rider.

Sometimes riders who are not otherwise good climbers will get in a breakaway and score mountain points. The Secret is to look for riders who can do "double duty" on more than one of the classifications. A good example last year of a climber who scored well on points is Eddy Mazzoleni; an example last year of a time trialist who scored well on mountain points is Bruseghin. Of course, the trick is to do all this and keep under a budget of 9000 points for your team."

Click here to sign up and pick your team. You can try out as many teams as you like for stages 1-5. You only need to pay for the teams you want to enter in the competition by the beginning of stage 6 (May 14). Thus, there is no disadvantage to entering a team once the Tour is under way.

For more information on joining, see the rules section.

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