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Tchmil Takes The Cake; Celestino Eats The Icing
By Tim Maloney, cyclingnews.com correspondent
The final leaves of the millenium fell across the mountains of Lombardy in Northern Italy in the 93rd edition of the Giro di Lombardia, often called the "race of the falling leaves". And from the start in Varese to the finish in the center of Bergamo, the leaves were flying from the attacking wheels of the riders in this hard-fought race, the final event of the 1999 World Cup.
In last Sunday's World Championships in Verona, Mirko Celestino was the last Italian dropped from the front group, but today, the 26 year-old Polti pro from Andorra Marina in Liguria hung tough, came back to the front group in the last kilometre, rode a smart sprint and won Lombardia. "It's a dream for me to win here...", said Celestino on the winner's podium. "I told Stanga ( Polti director sportif) midway through the race that I didn't feel good, but I hung tough. And when I attacked, I just started to feel better & better!"
Belgian Andre Tchmil finally clinched the World Cup title today after previously placing 3rd & 2nd. Tchmil's nearest rival Dutchman Michael Boogerd of Rabobank would have had to win in Bergamo, with Tchmil finishing 4th. The former Russian, once Moldavian and now Belgian who lives along the shores of nearby Lake Garda, survived the hilly circuit, never far from Boogerd. Although the orange & white Rabobank team tried to hammer the tough 36 year old Tchmil, his strength and experience kept him in the race for the World Cup win.
It was at 10:25am on a cool, overcast Saturday morning, that the 225 riders took off from central Varese for a hilly ride to Bergamo. The first hour was fast (over 43km / hr average) and filled with attacks, the longest coming from Pascal Richard (Mobilvetty), who attacked after 63km at the foot of the Madonna del Ghisallo climb and gained 30 seconds. He was caught after 10km of freedom by the chasing Rabobank riders and it was gruppo compatto as the peloton passed the famous cycling chapel.
Another attack on the long, fast descent of the Ghisallo saw 10 riders get free, with Fabio Sacchi (Polti) and Daniele Nardello (Mapei) leading the charge. They were caught and then another 20 riders led by Gerrit Glomser (Navigare) got a gap, but it was again gruppo compatto with 100 km to race,with cloudy and cool conditions still predominating.
Approaching the 10km Selvino climb, newly crowned World Champion Oscar Friere (Vitalicio) suprisingly joined Sergio Barbero (Mercantone Uno) in an attack and the duo rode away up the mountain, amassing a 1.45 lead at one point. Friere rode well and showed his rainbow jersey to distinction with the powerful Barbero, but after 70km in front, Barbero crashed on the slippery descent of the Forcella di Bura climb and had to retire, while Friere decided to slow for the chasers, some 30 seconds behind.
Mirko Celestino then attacked and got a good gap. With 43km to race, the compact crack-toothed Ligurian, who knew the local roads back to Bergamo from his many years living and training in the area, had the bit in his teeth. Pascal Richard attacked again on the climb to Berbenno in pursuit once Celestino had a 30 second gap and was joined by Daniele DiLuca (Cantina Tollo), local rider Eddy Mazzoleni (Saeco) and '98 World Champ and Giro del Lombardia winner Oscar Camenzind (Lampre). This quartet eventually caught Celestino and with 28km to go, the quintet had 30 seconds on a 24-strong chasing group led by the Zberg Bros of Switzerland and Rolf Sorensen of Rabobank, while World Cup leader Tchmil and his Lotto teammate Kurt Van de Wower were content to shadow Boogerd. Jan Ullrich (Telekom) and Nardello were active in the chase, but only the old fox, Russian Dimitri Konyshev could ever get across the ever fluctuating gap.
With 10km to race, a regrouped chase group of 20 was 24 seconds behind the six front runners who now included Konyshev. On the final climb up to the beautiful Citta Alta of Bergamo, before the dive to the finish line on Piazza Matteotti, Camenzind attacked at the same spot he did last year for the win, but Mazzoleni and Di Luca stuck with him. A tiring Celestino had been dropped with 500 metres on the final climb, but he and Konyshev fought their way back to the duelling front trip on the descent from Citta Alta and rejoined with only 600 metres to go.
Celestino went right to the front; he had the momentum from the chase and knew if he led into the final right-hand bend, that there was only a short downhill 200 meter sprint to the line. The Polti man led out and held off a hard charging Di Luca and Mazzoleni for the win, which delighted his Polti team boss Gianluigi Stanga, since the team is headquartered in Bergamo. Di Luca had a great race as well, and in his rookie pro year, the blond from Abruzzo showed he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. But the day belonged to Mirko Celestino; with a popular hometown win, his second World Cup win of the season that showed his "grinta" (determination) that brought the victory.
Varese - Bergamo, 262 kms:
1. Mirko Celestino (Ita) Polti 6.21.50 (AVS 41.17 kmh) 2. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Cantina Tollo 3. Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco 4. Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre 0.02 5. Dimitri Konyshev (Rus) Mercantone Uno 6. Markus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 0.11 7. Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre 8. Marco Velo (Ita) Mercantone Uno 9. Paolo Bettini (Ita) 10. Christophe Moreau (Fra) 11. Pascal Richard (Swi) 12. Rolf Sorensen (Dan) 13. Chann McRae (USA) 14. Andrei Tchmil (Bel) 15. Michael Boogerd (Ned) 16. Andrei Zintchenko (Rus) 17. Daniele Nardello (Ita) 18. Mauro Gianetti (Swi) 19. Pavel Tonkov (Rus) 20. Santiago Blanco (Spa) 21. Marcello Siboni (Ita) 0.26 22. Andrea Noč (Ita) 23. Felix Garcia Casas (Spa) 24. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) 0.50 25. Beat Zberg (Swi) 27. Jan Ullrich (Ger) 30. Andrea Tafi (Ita) Final Points for World Cup 1999 1. Andrei Tchmil (Bel) 299 points 2. Michael Boogerd (Ned) 238 3. Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) 214 4. Peter Van Petegem (Bel) 153 5. Markus Zberg (Swi) 145 6. Johan Museeuw (Bel) 138 7. Paolo Bettini (Ita) 137 8. Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) 131 9. Leon van Bon (Ned) 123 10. Marc Wauters (Bel) 107 11. George Hincapie (USA) 101 12. Andrea Tafi (Ita) 100 13. Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) 98 14. Erik Dekker (Ned) 94 15. Wilfried Peeters (Bel) 89 16. Sergio Barbero (Ita) 79 17. Oscar Camenzind (Svi) 74 18. Jo Planckaert (Bel) 69 19. Romans Vainsteins (Lit) 61 20. Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) 60
PreviewThe 93rd edition of the Tour of Lombardy, the autumn classic that marks the finish of the World Cup will be held on Saturday, October 16 1999. The race, organised by La Gazzetto dello Sport, was first held in 1905 when it was won by Giovanni Gerbi. The race runs from Varese and finishes in the northern town of Bergamo, and runs for 262 kms this year.
The race begins at 10.10 am in front of the Town Hall in Varese and is neutral for the first 3 kms as they cross the city. Then it follow an undulating route through the various provinces of Como, Lecco and Bergamo, containing several challenging climbs to soften up the peloton. The highest of these is at Selvino inizio discesa (962 m), some 90 kilometers before the end, but there are several more later in the race that will determine the final selection. The final rise - the Colle Aperto - is in the city of Bergamo itself with the summit just 4.2 km from the end. Although it is not that steep (103 m in 2.2 km), it will most likely decide the outcome at after the riders have over 250 kms in their legs.
The finish in Bergamo is via Ruggieri da Stabello, via Marione DA Ponti, porta Garibaldi, porta San Lorenzo-inizio via della Boccola, porta Pantano, largo Colle Aperto, via delle Mura, porta Sant'Agostino, largo viale Vittorio Emanuele II, largo Bellotti, to the piazza Matteotti. The 262 km race is expected to finish between 16.15 and 16.53 depending on the conditions.
The traditional lead up races to this are the Milan - Turin, Giro del Piemonte and of course the World Championships. They generally give a good indication of who has the best form for the Lombardy race, as opposed to those that want to put their legs up for the year. Last year it was Oscar Camenzind who won, a week after winning the World title in Valkenberg, and he will be trying for a good result in this race.
Although World Champion, Oscar Freire Gomez will not be riding the Lombardy classic, and top contenders Davide Rebellin and Frank Vandenbroucke are both out to injury, the race should still provide some fireworks. Dutchman, Michael Boogerd who just missed the final selection in the World's road race would love to score enough points to knock off Andrei Tchmil from his position at the top of the World Cup table. He needs to beat Tchmil by more than 60 points in this race, which will require a win or a second place, with Andrei not scoring many. It is possible, as this race should suit Boogerd rather than Tchmil, but Boogerd will have to make do without top supporters, Maarten den Bakker (injured in the Giro del Piemonte) and Erik Dekker, who is now part of the over 50 percent club.
Another rider who would dearly love to win is this year's Italian Paris-Roubaix winner, Andrea Tafi. He too, has good form coming into the event, riding a very strong World Championships and winning the Giro del Piemonte. Although he has only won two races this year, he will certainly be aiming to take this one out.
Third placed rider in the Milan - Turin and World TT champion, Jan Ullrich is another top contender for this race, though he'll have to try and escape on his own rather than rely on his sprinting prowess to win. Swiss Marcus Zberg should still have good legs from his win on Wednesday as well.
1905 Giovanni Gerbi (Ita) 1906 Giuseppe Brambilla (Ita) 1907 Gustave Garrigou (Fra) 1908 Francois Faber (Lux) 1909 Giovanni Cuniolo (Ita) 1910 Giovanni Micheletto (Ita) 1911 Henri Pelissier (Fra) 1912 Carlo Oriani (Ita) 1913 Henri Pelissier (Fra) 1914 Lauro Bordin (Ita) 1915 Gaetano Belloni (Ita) 1916 Leopodo Torricelli (Ita) 1917 Philippe Thijs (Bel) 1918 Gaetano Belloni (Ita) 1919 Costante Girardengo (Ita) 1920 Henri Pelissier (Fra) 1921 Costante Girardengo (Ita) 1922 Costante Girardengo (Ita) 1923 Giovanni Brunero (Ita) 1924 Giovanni Brunero (Ita) 1925 Alfredo Binda (Ita) 1926 Alfredo Binda (Ita) 1927 Alfredo Binda (Ita) 1928 Gaetano Belloni (Ita) 1929 Piero Fossati (Ita) 1930 Michele Mara (Ita) 1931 Alfredo Binda (Ita) 1932 Antonio Negrini (Ita) 1933 Domenico Piemontesi (Ita) 1934 Learco Guerra (Ita) 1935 Enrico Mollo (Ita) 1936 Gino Bartali (Ita) 1937 Aldo Bini (Ita) 1938 Cino Cinelli (Ita) 1939 Gino Bartali (Ita) 1940 Gino Bartali (Ita) 1941 Mario Ricci (Ita) 1942 Aldo Bini (Ita) 1945 Mario Ricci (Ita) 1946 Fausto Coppi (Ita) 1947 Fausto Coppi (Ita) 1948 Fausto Coppi (Ita) 1949 Fausto Coppi (Ita) 1950 Renzo Soldani (Ita) 1951 Louison Bobet (Fra) 1952 Giuseppe Minardi (Ita) 1953 Bruno Landi (Ita) 1954 Fausto Coppi (Ita) 1955 Cleto Maule (Ita) 1956 André Darrigade (Fra) 1957 Diego Ronchini (Ita) 1958 Nino Defilippis (Ita) 1959 Rik Van Looy (Bel) 1960 Emile Daems (Bel) 1961 Vito Taccone (Ita) 1962 Jo De Roo (Ned) 1963 Jo De Roo (Ned) 1964 Gianni Motta (Ita) 1965 Tom Simpson (GB) 1966 Felice Gimondi (Ita) 1967 Franco Bitossi (Ita) 1968 Herman Van Springel (Bel) 1969 Jean-Pierre Monseré (Bel) 1970 Franco Bitossi (Ita) 1971 Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1972 Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1973 Felice Gimondi (Ita) 1974 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1975 Francesco Moser (Ita) 1976 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1977 G.B. Baronchelli (Ita) 1978 Francesco Moser (Ita) 1979 Bernard Hinault (Fra) 1980 1. Alfons de Wolf (Bel) 255 kms at 35.747 2. Alfredo Chinetti (Ita) 3. Ludo Peeters (Bel) 1981 1. Hennie Kuiper (Ned) 259 kms at 39.642 2. Moreno Argentin (Ita) 3. Alfredo Chinetti (Ita) 1982 1. Giuseppe Saronni (Ita) 248 kms at 40.754 2. Pascal Jules (Fra) 3. Francesco Moser (Ita) 1983 1. Sean Kelly (Ire) 253 kms at 39.164 2. Greg Lemond (USA) 3. Adri Van Der Poel (Ned) 1984 1. Bernard Hinault (Fra) 251 kms at 40.831 2. Ludo Peeters (Bel) 3. Tuen Van Vliet (Ned) 1985 1. Sean Kelly (Ire) 255 kms at 41.208 2. Adri Van Der Poel (Ned) 3. Charly Mottet (Fra) 1986 1. G.B. Baronchelli (Ita) 262 kms at 37.329 2. Sean Kelly (Ire) 3. Phil Anderson (Aus) 1987 1. Moreno Argentin (Ita) 265 kms at 38.576 2. Eric Van Lancker (Bel) 3. Marc Madiot (Fra) 1988 1. Charly Mottet (Fra) 260 kms at 38.134 2. Gianni Bugno (Ita) 3. Marino Lejaretta (Spa) 1989 1. Tony Rominger (Swi) 260 kms at 38.368 2. Gilles Delion (Fra) 3. Luc Roosen (Bel) 1990 1. Gilles Delion (Fra) 246 kms at 39.704 2. Pascal Richard (Swi) 3. Charly Mottet (Fra) 1991 1. Sean Kelly (Ire) 242 kms at 39.176 2. Martial Gayant (Fra) 3. Franco Ballerini (Ita) 1992 1. Tony Rominger (Swi) 241 kms at 39.311 2. Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) 3. David Cassani (Ita) 1993 1. Pascal Richard (Swi) 242 kms at 39.821 2. Giorgio Furlan (Ita) 3. Max Sciandri (Ita) 1994 1. Vladislav Bobrik (Rus) 244 kms at 34.378 2. Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) 3. Pascal Richard (Swi) 1995 1. Gianni Faresin (Ita) 252 kms at 42.116 2. Daniele Nardello (Ita) 3. Michele Bartoli (Ita) 1996 1. Andrea Tafi (Ita) 250 kms at 42.642 2. Fabian Jeker (Swi) 3. Axel Merckx (Bel) 1997 1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) 250 kms at 43.013 2. Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) 3. Francesco Casagrande (Ita) 1998 1. Oscar Camenzind (Swi) 253 kms at 42.282 2. Michael Boogerd (Ned) 3. Felice Puttini (Swi)