Trofeo Laigueglia, Italy, Cat 1.4

Italy, February 18, 1997

1996 Results and Reports


The 34th edition of the Trofeo Laigueglia will be raced today, the classical opening of the Italain calendar. The departure meeting will be at Laigueglia, at the parking area of San Sebastiano, from 9.30 to 10.30 AM. The start of the race will be at 11. The race will cover 169.5 kilometers, with the finish at Laigueglia, through via Aurelia and anticipated to be between 2:00 PM and 2:30 PM.

Previous winners:

1990 Sorensen (Den)
1991 Richard (Swi)
1992 Moreels (Bel)
1993 Armstrong (USA)
1994 Sorensen (Den)
1995 Museeuw (Bel)
1996 Vandenbroucke (Bel)

Main Riders

Twenty one teams raced here are the most distinguished riders: 1 Richard (Swi), 2 Massi, 17. B. Zberg (Svi), 21 Ugrumov (Rus), 22 Fincato, 31 Guidi, 32 Conte, 41 Baldato, 42 Bartoli, 45 Coppolillo, 54 Halgand (Fra), 58 Virenque (Fra), 91 Berzin (Rus), 95 G. Colombo, 100 Frattini, 101 Baronti, 107 Colonna, 108 Zaina, 111 Andriotto, 118 Magnusson (Sve), 122 Belli, 127 Piccoli, 135 Leoni, 141 Aggiano, 142 Bettin, 144 Lietti, 151 F. Casagrande, 152 Gotti, 162 Celestino, 166 Leblanc (Fra), 172 Biasci, 183 Gentili, 191 Tonkov (Rus), 192 Ballerini, 195 Nardello, 199 Di Grande, 200 Spruch (Pol), 201 Bobrik (Rus).

Pre-race press reports - Bartoli favorite for Laigueglia

The Tuscan arrives from the Tour of the Mediterranean. "I'm on the rise, but keep an eye on Baldato" Winning at Mont Faron, Bartoli took take advantage of his good condition: "I am amazed at how I am pedaling" "Baldato is also going strong: In case of a sprint finish, I favor him"

Ligure Riviera, where Coppi went away to start his training after the off season. Ligure Riviera, where today the Laigueglia Trofeo will be raced, the competition that for decades has inaugurated the Italian calendar on the way to Milano- San Remo. Although the Gran Premio of di Etruschi has been raced already and won by Biagio Conte, the Laigueglia maintains a particular charm. It is for the riders, the first appointment that counts indeed, a classical of the Italian calendar. For sprinters like Nicola Minali and Endrio Leoni, hunters of the World Cup like Michele Bartoli and Gabriele Colombo and experts of the stage races like Pavel Tonkov, Eugene Berzin and Ivan Gotti who have spent four months without a number on their back.

The north star of the Laigueglia will be Michele Bartoli. The Tuscan of the MG-Technogym comes from the Giro of the Mediterraneo, where he has won the big stage of Mont Faron and he has grazed the second at Marsiglia. "I'm still angry about Sunday -says Bartoli- On the arrival of Marsiglia I have gambled away my stage win, to attempt to take the general classification. I felt good, but I have attacked too soon, also I stayed a little bit too close to the French Magnien and in the end the one that took advantage was Gontchenkov. It burns me, because in cycling, you need to know how to take advantage of every good opportunity. A little more pedaling and I would have found myself with a loot of three victories"..

Bartoli has however already shown to be on the ball. "I'm amazed with myself. I have done nothing to hasten my training, if I compare with last year, I have fewer kilometers of training - says the Tuscan. However I have pedaled all winter without particular obstacles. I think that the two weeks at the Canaries with Fabio Baldato has done me well. There I have laid the foundations. The success at Mont Faron has made me feel that I have matured, because of the feelings that I have felt along the climb".

Whoever goes strongly at the Mediterraneo and at the first competitions of the Italian calendar succeeds to be a protagonist also at Milano-San Remo. "That will be the my first big objective. From the Sanremo to Liege-Bastogne-Liege, I will gamble away an important part of my season. I don't want a single specific objective. For now, I am content with how I am pedaling", the last winner of the Tour of Flanders explains. At the Tour of the Mediterraneo, Bartoli has studied the adversaries. "I have seen the riders of Festina and the Russian Gontchenkov who took a fine shot on the climbs and he has passed me on the last meters at Marsiglia. Among the Italian, Francesco Frattini has caused a big impression, he seems to have returned to his form of two years ago".

Bartoli feels strongly and looks with interest at the Laigueglia Trofeo. "I like the route, I will try to take the race on the climbs, if instead the race ends in a sprint I will try to favor Baldato. Fabio hasn't won yet, but he's going very strong".

To speak in February about the Giro d'Italy could seem strange, but it is not. Today at the Trofeo Laigueglia many of the major contenders for this year's Giro will debut in one shot, the Russians Eugenio Berzin and Pavel Tonkov, Italaians, Ivan Gotti, Wladimir Belli and Enrico Zaina. Five characters which for the whole winter have been thinking about the maglia rosa and accordingly will try to arrive with good legs to the Giro.

Marco Pantani should have been here, but he had to forfeit. He wasn't able to sleep yesterday night and he was found to have plaques in the throat. He's re- entering into competition will be postponed to Trofeo Luis Puig on Sunday. "It is time for Pantani to come back -says Berzin- so that he can measure himself against the rest. On my part, I feel much better than this time last year, I only need to polish my form for April to be in the best of condition. For all the first part of the season my sight will be set on the Giro", closes Berzin.

Ivan Gotti says, who today debuts with the new maglia of the Saeco. "I have pedaled a lot but without strain. These first competitions will be only to taste racing and look at my adversaries stay". Pavel Tonkov, the Russian of the Mapei-GB has removed the cast from his left hand and will ride with an elastic bandaging. The leader of the Asics will be Enrico Zaina, since Chiappucci is sick and has not come to Laigueglia. Wladimir Belli will try the new role of captain of the Brescialat.

Results - 169.5 kms:

  1. Michele Bartoli (Ita) MG-Technogym 169,5 km in 4.14.47 (39,800 km/h)
  2. Francesco Frattini (Ita) Batik
  3. Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Saeco
  4. Beat Zberg (Sch) Mercatone Uno
  5. Stefano Della Santa (Ita) Mercatone Uno
  6. Rodolfo Massi (Ita) Casino                    all s.t.
  7. Mirko Celestino (Ita) Polti                     + 0.06
  8. Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Scrigno                    + 2.49
  9. Biagio Conte (Ita) Scrigno
 10. Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Saeco
 11. Alessio Bongioni (Ita) Asics
 12. Martin  Hvastija (Slo) Cantina Tollo
 13. Giuseppe Tartaggia (Ita) Batik
 14. Mario Aerts (Bel) Vlaanderen
 15. Torsten Schmidt (Ger) Roslotto                all s.t.
45. Gotti (Ita)
47. Zaina (Ita)
80. Berzin (Rus)
136. Tonkov (Rus)

Race Report

Michele Bartoli has won with authoritativeness. Yesterday he dominated the race with tactical cleverness. The Laigueglia Trofeo was started slow until the first half. There was a fall in the center of the group, without consequences, which was the wake up call. The first to increase the tempo were Francesco Frattini, Gualdi, Rich and Cembali. And it was at the climb that the race was ignited. Della Santa, Francesco Casagrande and Bartoli forced the tempo breaking the peloton in a thousand pieces.

The group grew to ten riders: Della Santa, Bartoli, Casagrande, Zberg, Massi, Borgheresi, Noh, Frattini, Coppolillo and the young Celestino. The group, pulled away from the peloton which was lead by riders of Scrigno-Gaerne and of Brescialat and made it to the top with more than a one minute advantage. Della Santa, Borgheresi and Zberg, the three riders from Marco Pantani's Mercatone Uno took over the responsibility of the break. Also decisive was Coppolillo's collaboration, who sacrificed himself for Bartoli. By the steep Crocetta di Moglio, the grupetto had been reduced. Coppolillo, Noh and Borgheresi had been dropped after strong pulls by Massi and Della Santa, to which Bartoli answered with no problem. In the final ups and downs there was another attempt by Casagrande, Massi and Celestino (but were caught with 300 meters to go), but Bartoli closed the door in their face and launched unmolested his sprint at 200 meters. The only fight came from Frattini, but he arrived to Bartoli's back wheel when Bartoli's was already punching the sky with his right fist.

"I want to dedicate this win to Diago Pellegrini and Fabio Casartelli, two friends that died for the passion of the bicycle -said Michele-. I would also like to thank my team: particularly Coppollillo". An Italian hasn't won at Laigueglia in eight years (Gavazzi in 89). It would not nice to remind Bartoli, of the negative tradition that ties the winner of the Laigueglia to Milano-Sanremo. In 1970 another Michele, Dancelli, won the classical of opening of the Italian cycling and then he triumphed at Milano-Sanremo. "I'm happy with to have won the Laigueglia. Now I take ten days of recovery. Then I will do Etna, Pantalica and Tirreno-Adriatico before Milano-San Remo, my first big objective. And I this time I won't wait for the Poggio".