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94th Giro di Lombardia - CDM
Italy, October 21, 2000
Rumsas takes finale; Zabel clinches cup
By Tim Maloney, cyclingnews.com correspondent
In a surprise win in this year's Giro Di Lombardia, the final World Cup Classic, Lithuanian Raimondas Rumsas (Fassa Bortolo) sprinted in ahead of Francesco Casagrande (Vini Caldirola) and a very unlucky Niklass Axelsson (Panaria) for his biggest career win ever.
It was a beautiful fall day across Northern Italy for the "corsa degli foglia morte" after a week of intense storms that caused race organizers to cancel the two run-up races, Milano-Torino and Giro del Piemonte earlier in the week due to deadly flooding and landslides.
At 10:10am, the peloton departed from the start in Varese under grey skies of a cool morning, heading east to Bergamo. After a flat at 20 km, World Cup points leader Zabel retired. The Telekom man was still feeling the effects of a long season and a recent bout with the flu and decided to call it a day, his World Cup title safe from rival (and non-climber) Tchmil on the tough course.
The pace on the first hour across Brianza and towards the first climb of Madonna del Ghisallo was very fast, 45 km/hr. Up along the Lecco arm of Lake Como, the tempo never relented as the strung-out peloton made the sharp left hander to the 8.6 km climb up the Ghisallo. Setting the pace up the zig-zag climb was last year's Lombardia winner Celestino (Polti), with Zberg (Rabobank), Camenzind and Simoni (Lampre). The main group was stretched, but on the long, open descent to Asso, everyone came back together again.
The hot pace continued as a limpid sun began to illuminate the fall foliage and bright colors of the peloton as they headed down towards Canzo, with second hour ridden at 42/ km average. Wauters (Rabobank) made a solo move after 98 km, just after the feed zone in Cesana Brianza, but Mapei pulled him back on the 4.2 km Colle Brianza climb after almost 20 km of freedom.
Hour three was raced at 41.5 km/h and with the tough pace, eventually a group would get away on the rolling terrain after Bergamo. Peron (Fassa Bortolo) attacked after 145 km and was joined by Paris-Tours winner Tafi (Mapei), Rastelli (Liquigas), Camenzind and freshly minted World Champion Roman Vainsteins (Caldirola). But after only a few klicks, Vainsteins and Rastelli thought he wiser and sat up, while the others continued on.
Tafi and Peron's hard pulls eked out a 40" lead after 20 km of liberty with the group chasing behind. After the second feed zone in Casazza at the base of the 7.6 km Colle del Gallo, Beat Zberg (Rabobank) took off and bridged up the front trio, along with Celestino, Belli (Fassa Bortolo), Lunghi (Colpack), Serpellini and Codol (Lampre), Bertolini (Alessio) and Faresin (Mapei).
The 8 riders began to close down on Tafi & co. and with 75 km to race, at the base of the toughest climb of the day, the Selvino, the trio had a half-minute lead. But the eight chasers pulled them back and with 10 km to go on the Selvino, it all came together with 60 riders "gruppo compatto." But Camenzind, Codol, Belli, Zberg kept going; then Camenzind was dropped and there were again three up front.
On the descent of the Selvino, Bartoli, Casagrande (Caldirola), Rebellin (Liquigas), Rumsas (Fassa Bortolo) and Axelsson (Panaria) came up to the front group. The finish in Bergamo was getting ever closer, with the final climbs of Berbenno and Boccolo to go. Halfway up the Berbenno, Axelsson attacked hard and surprised the other break riders. The tall, skinny Swede was feeling good; he got a gap and by the time Belli and Casagrande reacted, Axelsson was almost out of sight. Meanwhile, Bartoli, who had just bridged up, was in trouble on the 5 km climb and came off the back, only to get back on on the descent.
With 20 km to go, the lanky Swede was holding his chasers at 40". Fassa Bortolo was chasing hardest, as Belli is from Bergamo and the final are his training roads. The main group with Tchmil had already conceded over 3', so the result of the 2000 World Cup was clear. Despite his retirement, Zabel would keep his 71 point lead as Tchmil was clearly out of the running for the win.
Across the turbulent waters of the Brembo River and up through Felice Gimondi's hometown on Villa d'Alme, just before the final climb of Boccola, Axelsson held his 40" lead with only 7 km to race. The lanky Swede certainly looked like he was on his way to winning the Giro di Lombardia.
While the Fassa Bortolo riders Belli and Rumsas began multiple attacks on the chase group, the Swede simply pounded harder on his pedals up the pavé climb into the picturesque Citta Alta of Bergamo. But behind, Casagrande had finally made a successful move from the chasers with 4 km to go and only Rumsas could follow. Belli wouldn't chase, Bartoli couldn't and Zberg was dropped, so this duo began to close down on the flying Swede from Team Panaria. There was to be no cakewalk for Axelsson.
On the fast descent into Bergamo, Axelsson began to lose time and at the 1 km kite, Casagrande, with Rumsas glued on his wheel had Axelsson in their sights. As the three riders made the final right hand turn into Piazza Matteotti with 300m to race, Axelsson dropped back and Casagrande led out the sprint. But Rumsas, seeking not only his first win of the 2000 season and his biggest win ever, blasted by the Caldirola man with 75m to race for the win.
Behind, Axelsson slammed his bars in frustration as he came third with a rear flat. Who knows; without the puncture that happened on the pavé section in the Citta Alta with 4 km to go, the tall Swede who will ride for Mercury in 2001, may have taken Lombardia. However, it was the moment of Rumsas, who won the '99 Settimana Lombarda here in Bergamo. Once again, Giancarlo Ferretti and his up and coming Fassa Bortolo team won the day, while Casagrande, who will move to Fassa Bortolo in '01 moved up to 3rd in the World Cup standings and further solidified his position as World #1 rider.
Despite his abandon, Erik Zabel easily kept his lead in the World Cup standings over Andrei Tchmil, with next year's first World Cup race set for Milano-San Remo on Saturday, March 24, 2001. 30 year old Zabel had his best season ever; 2 classic wins, another TDF points jersey win and the World Cup overall. Now the only race the World's top riders are thinking about is the race to hang up their bike and get to the nearest airport for a long vacation before training for the 2001 season begins again in December.
1 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Fassa Bortolo 6.18.36 (40.892 km/h) 2 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 3 Niklas Axelsson (Swe) Ceramica Panaria-Gaerne 0.04 4 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 0.07 5 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Liquigas-Pata 7 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.22 8 Massimo Codol (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 2.11 9 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Liquigas-Pata 2.57 10 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 3.35 11 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Alessio 12 Luca Scinto (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 13 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 14 Stéphane Heulot (Fra) La Française des Jeux 15 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre-Daikin 16 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 17 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 18 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 19 Richard Virenque (Fra) Polti 20 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis 21 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 22 Mauro Gianetti (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 23 Felice Puttini (Swi) Alessio 24 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 25 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 4.02 26 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 27 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank 28 José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 29 Sandro Giacomelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 30 Sergei Lelekin (Rus) Mobilvetta Design-Rossin 31 Filippo Simeoni (Ita) Amica Chips-Tacconi Sport 32 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Polti 33 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 4.09 34 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 4.35 35 Massimo Cigana (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Albacom 4.47 36 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 5.00 37 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Ag2r Prévoyance-Décathlon 5.35 38 Gianluca Valoti (Ita) Colpack 6.45 39 Roberto Sgambelluri (Ita) Cantina Tollo-Regain 12.09 40 Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Cantina Tollo-Regain 41 Igor Pugaci (Mda) Saeco-Valli & Valli 12.13 42 Denis Zanette (Ita) Liquigas-Pata 14.08 43 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Saeco-Valli & Valli 44 Leonardo Giordani (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 45 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 46 Kurt Van De Wouwer (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 47 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank 48 Franco Ballerini (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 49 Pietro Zucconi (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 50 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD 51 Michele Coppolillo (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Albacom 52 Steven Kleynen (Bel) Farm Frites 53 Tom Leaper (Aus) Ceramica Panaria-Gaerne 14.38 Starters: 166 Finishers: 54
1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 347 pts 2 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto Adecco 285 3 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 230 4 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 217 5 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 204 6 Oscar Freire (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 164 6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Liquigas Pata 164 8 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 145 9 Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) Lampre-Daikin 144 10 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Farm Frites 135 11 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 120 12 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 112 13 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step 111 14 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 93 15 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 89 16 Oskar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre-Daikin 81 17 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Memorycard-Jack&Jones 77 18 Rolf Sorensen (Den) Rabobank 67 19 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 51 20 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rabobank 50 Teams: 1 Mapei-Quick Step 96 pts 2 Rabobank 71 3 Fassa Bortolo 60 4 Lampre-Daikin 58 5 Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 44 6 Team Deutsche Telekom 36 7 Lotto-Adecco 33 8 Farm Frites 22 9 Liquigas-Pata 19 10 La Francaise Des Jeux 18