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2 Giorni Marchigiana / GP Fred Mengoni 1.3
Castelfidardo, Italy, August 10, 2004
Saeco Red vs. Italy Blue - Score: Saeco 1, Italy 0
Kid Cunego comes back to win Trofeo Fred Mengoni
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Showing the form that won him the Giro d'Italia two months ago, young phenom Damiano Cunego just gets better and better. Today, the young Saeco star made it look easy by sprinting away from the decimated front group with 500 metres to go to win the 4th edition of Trofeo Fred Mengoni Immobiliare Italia in Castelfidardo, Italy.
The race is sponsored by the Italian-American real estate investor and cycling lover Fred Mengoni, and thousands of delighted fans got a real treat today in the quaint hilltop town in the heart of Italy's Marche region. Cunego got his 12th win of season and showed that he probably could have made an impact in Athens next Saturday, but after the Giro, the young man from Cerro Veronese decided he wanted to focus on the World Championships, coming up this October where Cunego will be a hometown favourite to win on the Torricelle circuit.
Cunego told Cyclingnews post-race that "I'm looking forward to the World's in October and so I'll certainly have some peaks and valleys in my condition. I'm probably ahead of my preparation now so I'll have see what I'm going to do... I wasn't really looking for the win today, but I'm happy to take it."
After a few more races in Italy, Cunego will start the Vuelta a España and allegedly do only two weeks as preparation for the World Championships, but if his Vuelta goes the same way as his Giro, Cunego could also earn more laurels in Spain next month.
Italian champion Moreni made a move in the finale, but Saeco and Panaria were just too strong for it to stick. Nonetheless, Moreni was "happy at the way things went today. I had good legs and was able to attack. That's a good sign for Athens."
Moreni's Azzuri team leader Paolo Bettini was positive about his day, saying post-race that "I'm really happy with the way things went today... but Cunego isn't a a surprise anymore. He was really strong last week in Camaiore. Anyway, since I wasn't in the front group, I didn't go all-out so I could save my legs for Saturday."
National team director Franco Ballerini was quietly confident about his team post-race, saying that "we did the race we needed to do to get ready for Athens. Bettini got some good kilometres in his legs and Moreni and Nardello were good. We're ready for Athens."
Tomorrow morning, Ballerini and his Azzuri boys will fly from Ancona airport to Athens, ready for the big show Sunday: the 222.7km Olympic Road Race.
How it unfolded
On a humid, overcast Marche mid-morning, the 137 strong peloton headed out of Castelfidardo, a quaint hill town that is still home to famed accordion maker Paolo Soprani. It was a historic occasion for Italian cycling and a fitting homage to race patron Fred Mengoni when for the first time ever, "gli azzurri" of the Italian national team would race together as a team in a preparation race before an Olympics or World Champion. Last year, Mengoni had invited CT Franco Ballerini to have the Italian national team participate in his race and after checking the Olympic program and seeing that the Trofeo Fred Mengoni was perfectly placed just three days before the Olympic road race in Athens, the Italian Cycling Federation decided that it was a perfect opportunity for the five azzuri to ride together as a team on the tough, hilly circuit.
The first part of the race was a 31km loop that descended from Castelfidardo to the Adriatic coast with a sprint in Porto Recanati after 20km, then a long, gradual uphill back to Castelfidardo. After the antipasto starter, there were 8 laps of 16.7km, including the 3.6km ascent from Acquaviva up to the finish line in Castelfidardo's Piazza Don Minzoni. Once the main laps concluded, with there were two 17km final circuits with a 6.3 climb up the steep Sella climb, then back through Castelfidardo for the finish.
On the first lap, Colnago-Landbouwkrediet's Yuri Metluschenko took the sprint in Porto Recanati after 20km, and three klicks later, ol'reliable attacker Aggiano (L.P.R.) and Gualandi (Flanders) got away. Soon the duo had 3'05 on the chasing peloton with the average speed pegged at 36.5km in the first hour. As the temperature and humidity climbed, the peloton seemed to lose interest in the two fugitives and their lead grew to 5 minutes after 74km. But the local lads of the Formaggio Pinzolo Fiave' team hit the front and with six laps to race, the lead fell to 2'45".
Finally after 120km., with two large laps and two small laps left to race, the break was pulled back after 97km of liberty under the impulsion of the Formaggio's and Saeco's tempo. The afternoon temps had risen into the low thirties and the bumpy roads and hard course were taking their toll. Ten kilometres later, the selection of the day happened when a ten man break got away including Bettini and Italian champion Moreni of Gli Azzuri, joined by another 10 riders.
Eventually a 27 man front group blew the race apart, including Moreni & Nardello (Italian National), Cunego, Spezialetti and Bertagnolli (Saeco), Figueras, Mazzanti, Balliani and Sella (Panaria), Marzoli (Acqua e Sapone), Giunti & Scarponi (Domina Vacanze) and young climber Andrea Masciarelli (Vini Caldirola), among others.
With such a major split up front, the rest of the gruppo sat up and let the break ride away. Starting the two last laps with 38km to go, Bertagnolli powered through for the KOM at the head of the lead group, with the remains of the peloton pedaling through halfheartedly 8' behind. Bettini, Paolini and Pozzato had already abandoned, leaving the heroics to their teammates to battle against the read train of Saeco and the orange crush of Panaria.
The status quo reigned with 20 riders still up front and Panaria trying to keep a lid on things and managed to do so until 12km to go until Pozzi (Tenax) attacked. He was chased down, but then Italian champ Moreni made a strong move that was again covered by Panaria and Saeco. On the final ascent up to Cima Sella with 4km to go, Panaria's forcing had made another selection and the front group broke in two.
Moreni and Nardello were there, as well as Cunego and Bertagnolli, Giunti, Gobbi (De Nardi), Masciarelli & Cavallari (Caldirola), Mazzanti and Colombian climber Marlon Perez (Colombia-Selle Italia). On the final steep section past the Soprani accordion factory, Mazzanti attacked with 1km to go with Cunego just behind. The rest closed up with 800m to go and then Nardello attacked and got a 40 metre gap. Behind, Cunego went again, and with 200m to go, passed Nardello. The 22 year old Giro d'Italia winner was just too fast and too strong for the rest and blasted home for the win ahead of Nardello, Moreni and Gobbi for the victory.
Images by Roberto Bettini
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 5.25.30 2 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Team Italia 0.02 3 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Team Italia 0.06 4 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi 5 Massimo Giunti (Ita) Domina Vacanze 6 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria -Margres 7 Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola Nobili Rubinetterie 0.15 8 Marco Cavallari (Ita) Vini Caldirola Nobili Rubinetterie 9 Marlon Alirio Perez Arango (Col) Colombia - Selle Italia 0.25 10 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Saeco 0.48 11 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo 1.01 12 Oscar Pozzi (Ita) Tenax 13 Ruggero Borghi (Ita) De Nardi 14 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria -Margres 1.05 15 Balazs Rohtmer (Hun) Miche 1.17 16 Kristjan Fajt (Slo) Tenax 2.30 17 Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) Landbouwkrewdiet - Colnago 4.07 18 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Team Barloworld - Androni Giocattoli 19 Scott Davis (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria -Margres 20 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria -Margres 21 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze 22 Maurizio Carta (Ita) Miche 6.02 23 Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo 24 Cristiano Frattini (Ita) Tenax 25 Andrea Rossi (Ita) De Nardi 26 Alexandr Arekeev (Rus) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo 27 Alessandro Brendolin (Ita) Perutnina Ptuj 14.00 28 Yasuhiro Yamamoto (Jpn) Team Nippo 29 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre 30 Przemyslaw Niemec (Pol) Miche 31 Mitja Mahoric (Slo) Perutnina Ptuj 32 Giancarlo Ginestri (Ita) Tenax 33 Daniele Balestri (Ita) Team Icet 34 Raimondas Rumsas (Lit) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo 35 Dmitri Gaynitdinov (Rus) Team Icet 36 Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) Team L.P.R. - Piacenza Management Srl 37 Timothy Jones (Zim) Domina Vacanze 38 Massimo Amichetti (Ita) Flanders - Afincom 39 Sébastien Mattozza (Bel) Flanders - Afincom 40 Domenico Passuello (Ita) Amore & Vita Beretta 14.30 41 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo Classification after race 1 1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 5 pts 2 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Team Italia 3 3 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Team Italia 2 4 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi 1
2003 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack 2002 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport