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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for May 30, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan

Stage 20 wrap-up: Salvation for Savoldelli

Petacchi brings home the bacon in Milano

Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

As the maglia rosa of Paolo Savoldelli crossed the finish line on the Corso Venezia for the twelfth and final time, the simultaneous relief and delight was obvious. 'Il Falco' wasn't equipped with the strongest team coming into the Giro, but he certainly had one of the strongest heads, great physical condition, and made friends when he needed to. Bottom line: Vittoria Savoldelli.

The group embrace from his team-mates, Discovery Channel staff and close friends was truly uplifting, and Alessandro Petacchi's fourth stage win, an impressive though textbook victory from Fassa Bortolo, was almost lost in the emotion.

Even before the stage begun, team manager Johan Bruyneel said Savoldelli's biggest victory has already been achieved - "and that's back to being a super bike rider after two years of a lot of problems. Being on this level again is his biggest victory and everything else is a bonus".

The 32 year-old may not be as exciting to watch as Simoni, Cunego or Rujano, but as he admitted after yesterday's stage: "I'm more of a regular rider, and I have to calculate a lot, because I know what my limits are." Well, Sav and his team got the numbers just right, and at the end the day, the Giro is theirs, and salvation is his.

However, this isn't to take anything away from second-placed Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Cafitta), who basically spent three weeks chasing the maglia rosa, never gave up, and almost got there. The 33 year-old from Trentino gave it everything on the Colle delle Finestre yesterday, where those fortunate enough to watch bore witness to one of the finest climbing assaults of all time, but the effort took its toll on Gibo, as one of the easiest climbs of the race proved his undoing.

Little needs to be said about that little Venezuelan with a mighty motor, Josč Rujano (Selle Italia-Colombia), other than that the 23 year-old has a big, big future. Direttore sportivo Gianni Savio will have his hands full keeping him on his team for next year; the lure of a place on a ProTour team and significant financial incentives will be hard to resist.

But this outfit - just one of two Pro Continental Teams invited to the Giro - can go home with their heads held high. They have shown teamwork, ability and race smarts equivalent to that of any ProTour outfit, and have deservedly come away with a place on the podium, three fantastic stage wins, and the mountains classification.

The points classification was taken out by Olympic champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), who also enjoyed an excellent Giro with a stage win to boot. But it's still hard to forget that brutto (ugly) day in Frosinone two weeks ago, where he refused to admit guilt after guiding Baden Cooke into the barriers, at a time when the Australian was in dire need of a stage win.

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Bruyneel: "France is another thing"

With the Giro over for another year, and another one in the bag for Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel says Savoldelli won't be following the same approach as he prepares his shortlisted team for the Tour de France.

"France is another thing," Bruyneel said in a team statement.

"It definitely won't be the same approach for him as it was preparing for the Giro. First, I need him to recover and set his mind. I'll leave him alone for a week and let him really taste this victory. Then, we'll set his mind on July.

"I don't want him to be obsessive about it. If he's in good shape, he will do his job. He can ride without stress and if he doesn't let his fitness come down too much, by the time the race reaches the mountains, he will be able to do what we need him to do."

Speaking about the previous day's stage that saw the race blow apart on the Colle delle Finestre, Bruyneel admitted: "It was a very, very stressful day."

"Of course we knew Simoni would attack and that probably Paolo wouldn't be able to follow. I think he rode very smart when he didn't react first to Rujano and then to Simoni. He had seen the [Finestre] climb in training and did it on his own pace.

"When you aren't a climbing specialist, it's always best to go at your own pace. Unfortunately, it was very steep and he had lost his lead to Simoni at the top. On the other hand, when you are off the front, you eventually pay for the effort you've done."

"Also we knew after the downhill Paolo would pick up some guys who were dropped so he wouldn't be alone and fortunately, he received some help from the other guys as they were also fighting for their overall positions."

Bruyneel also maintained Discovery Channel's objective with Savoldelli was always a podium finish, but also bearing in mind a win was possible.

"We brought on Paolo for that purpose," Bruyneel said. "He won the race three years ago and followed it with two years of bad luck. We always thought it was possible to win. I've always maintained a podium finish was the goal, but if it goes well for you, there can be a chance to win."

An up and down Giro for CSC; time to rebuild

Coming into the race with Ivan Basso as the outright favourite, looking on track to live up to the tag - only to have it all fall apart on the second day in the mountains - then staging two great back-to-back victories, it's been a yo-yo of a Giro for Team CSC.

"This Giro has certainly had it's ups and downs, but considering the circumstances, I'm quite pleased with our performance," said team manager Bjarne Riis on team-csc.com.

"It was on the cards, that we could take the overall victory with Ivan [Basso]. Due to very bad luck, we didn't succeed, but we still managed to rise above it and win two stages on top of the one Zabriskie had already won in Firenze.

"Most importantly", added Riis, "we showed that we would not bow down in defeat and both the team and Ivan have made an impressive effort this last week. We are well organised and everyone has worked hard to achieve these results.

"Now Ivan has a rebuilding period ahead of him, and from what he's shown here, we should allow ourselves to be optimistic regarding the Tour de France."

Saiz satisfied - everything now for Le Tour

According to team manager Manolo Saiz, the 2005 Giro has been a good one for Liberty Seguros-Würth, outlining several positive outcomes.

"The most important thing is that Giro starts having a greater value from that of the last five years, and it has made us think that the 2006 team must come with more force," Saiz began. "Despite the fact that Spain and other European countries have not seen the race on television, [the Giro] has increased in quality, and that motivates us for the future."

Continued Saiz: "The Giro has improved its level very much - it has been very competitive with a very demanding and complete parcours. From a general point of view, this Giro has been good for cycling and for us; we have won a prestigious stage and have had a daily presence in the race."

However, the wizened director conceded that they were a little too ambitious in its aims with a young rider like Michele Scarponi, which made them fall into the trap of placing too much pressure on the 25 year-old Italian. But regardless, Saiz says it's not a bad result overall, because their primary objectives are yet to come, in reference to the Tour of France and Vuelta a Espańa.

As for Savoldelli's victory and the struggle for the maglia rosa, Saiz praised the competitiveness among all the leaders. "Savoldelli and Simoni have had very brilliant moments, though the most prominent thing for me has been Di Luca's exceptional performance. I don't know if he can win a Giro, because for that he has to ride at 110 per cent - but after what we have seen from him, why not?" Saiz asks.

On riders Basso and Rujano, Saiz was equally forthcoming in his response: "Ivan rode with inconsistency, but he also has demonstrated a great level; as for the Venezuelan [Rujano], it has been impressive for a rider who has been in form since January. He has demonstrated very good abilities for the mountains."

Finally, Saiz returned his thoughts to his team, and what lies ahead. "From this moment on, there is only one objective: the Tour de France. Everything that we are going to do from now is in preparation for the Tour."

Klöden back in Bavaria

After creating the decisive break then soloing home to claim the fifth and final stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt, Andreas Klöden's victory bore particular significance, in that it was the T-Mobile rider's first win for 2005.

"I wanted to try something on one of the stages and I am delighted that I could pull it off," said Klöden on t-mobile-team.com, who only returned to racing just this week. "Now I feel that I am back on the right track and my form will be right for the Tour [de France]."

Added team-mate Bernhard Kohl: "It went brilliantly for us out there. Klödi was in such good form today that he was able to win this one all on his own."

Alexandre Vinokourov was also very active throughout the stage, but could not unseat race leader Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner), who ultimately claimed overall race honours. "On the last climb, we attacked three times for Vino, but Gerolsteiner were always there in numbers," said Kohl.

Vinokourov finished the race second on general classification, 20 seconds behind Rich.

Two thirds for CSC in Germany

Not a little more than half, but two third places was the end result for Team CSC after yesterday's final stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt.

The stage from Kulmbach to Neumarkt was an exciting one, which saw Norweigan Kurt-Asle Arvesen make the decisive break of three, but only to finish third. Explained directeur sportif Kim Andersen on team-csc.com: "The riders had to climb a fairly tough hill three times, and on the last climb, [Andreas] Klöden escaped. Kurt lost the sprint for the second place to Nicolas Portal (Ag2r), while [Jakob] Piil was caught by the peloton a mere 50 metres before the finish."

However, young gun Linus Gerdemann showed plenty of guts to finish in the next group behind, and retain his third place overall. "Vinokourov tried several times to drop Michael Rich on the climb but didn't succeed. Linus was fantastic again, and at one point it was only Rich, Linus and one other rider who could keep up with Vinokourov," said Andersen.

Additional to third place overall behind Rich and Vinokourov, Gerdemann also won the best young rider's competition. In addition, CSC added the overall teams classification to their credit, along with Jens Voigt's victory in Saturday's time trial.

Said Andersen: "Even though Jens didn't manage to win the race again this year, I definitely think we have every reason to be satisfied. Especially looking towards the immediate future.

"The improvement Kurt and Jakob have shown down here is extremely promising as far as Tour de France goes. Kurt is definitely better now, than he was this time last year. And of course there is also Linus, whom I cannot praise enough for his performance for the team so far. We're really talking major talent here," he said.

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