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41st Trofeo Laigueglia - 1.2
Italy, February 17, 2004
Mr. Bis: Pozzato powers to second consutive win at Laigueglia
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
With Milano-San Remo 32 days away, emerging superstar Filppo Pozatto (Fassa Bortolo) showed his early season fitness and finishing speed to sprint to victory in the 41st edition of the Trofeo Laigueglia. Thirty years ago, Eddy Merckx had back to back wins here and just as last year, Pozatto's Fassa Bortolo squad dominated in Laigueglia.
"Of course, I'm really happy to win here, but my team was spectacular today," explained the poised Pozatto in his post-race press conference. "Although I thought I wasn't in as good form as last year, my team believed in me today and that inspired me."
Pozatto led out the sprint into a headwind and won by a wheel over Lorenzo Bernucci (Colnago-Landbouwkredeit) and Romans Vainsteins (Lampre). Bernucci's teammate Yaroslav Popovych provided some bright moments in the final with a powerful attack with Davide Rebellin with 3km to go, but the duo was brought back by the super Silver Team train of Fassa Bortolo.
"I had to give it a try," explained Popo. "If you don't go for it, you'll never know."
Popovych was pleased for his own race and that of his teammate Bernucci. "I went better than I thought today and tried to help Bernucci in the final, but he didn't need me. I could see he was on Pozatto's wheel and ready for the sprint."
Tuesday was a sunny, almost spring-like day on Liguria's Riviera Ponente for Trofeo Laigueglia, the official opener for the Italian racing season. Three tough climbs were on the program with two ascents of the 677m Passo del Ginestro in the first 80km, and a final ascent of the difficult 690m Passo Balestro with 30km to race. Prior to start, there was a moment of silence for Marco Pantani, then the gun sounded and the 193 starters hit the road.
The first hour was a slow roll at 31.9km/h until the first ascent of Ginestro, where the ever agressive Elio Aggiano (LPR) grabbed the first KOM points after 39km. On the long, twisting descent through the Ligurian costal hinterlands to the second ascent of the Ginestro, Fassa Bortolo's Frank Vandenbroucke went on the attack, followed by Gerolsteiner rider Marco Serpellini. All the action split the group in three main sections, with 50 riders up front. Rabobank man Rasmussen was also agressive as multiple attacks went on the narrow, twisting lanes but nothing stuck this early in the race.
Finally a group of four riders grabbed a 20" advantage after 66km in Garlenda: climber David Moncoutie' (Cofidis), recent Tour of Langkawi stage winner Sean Sullivan (Barloworld), Benny De Schrooder (Vlaanderen-T Interim) and Pospyeyev (Domina Vacanze). The speed had increased in the second hour, which was run at an average of 35.2km/h. As the 10.6km Ginestro climb began, a slew of riders had bridged across to the lead quartet, including Vandenbroucke's teammate Juan Antonio Flecha, Luca Paolini (Quick.Step-Davitamon), both of whom were looking to cover the moves of their respective leaders, last year's Laigueglia winners Pozzato and Italian champion Paolo Bettini.
On the day's second KOM on Passo del Ginestro, a hard attack by Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) opened the hostilities and Jörg Jaksche (CSC), recent winner of last week's Tour Mediterraneen exploded to take the points ahead of young British pro Tom Southam (Amore & Vita) and Domina Vacanze's Pospyeyev. By the final summit of Ginestro, thirteen riders had established a break with 1'15 lead on the chasing peloton. Giro d'Italia champ Simoni and Italian champion Paolo Bettini were riding together at the rear of the group, not too concerned with the action up front.
Down to sea level from Ginestro is a 20km descent and with only a 1' gap on the peloton, 12 riders managed to bridge across and swell the break to 25 riders. Bartoli and Schleck (CSC), Nocentini (Acqua&Sapone), Fofonov (Cofidis), Cunego (Saeco), Tankink (Q.Step), Adveyeev (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet), Fanelli & Southham (Amore & Vita), Simone Masciarelli (Vini Caldirola), Ianetti & Giunti (Domina Vacanze), Wegmann & Beat Zberg (Gerolsteiner), Rasmussen (Rabobank), Sella & Figueras (Panaria), three from Fassa Bortolo (Kirchen, Flecha & Petito) and three from Alessio-Bianchi (Noé, Bertolini, Caucchioli) made up the large escape. The pace had increased with the third hour raced at an average of 37.3km/h as the break was 1'40 up on the Lampre-led peloton with 55km left to race. Simoni and Bettini had both decided to retire as the group streamed through the finish line with 70km to go.
Fassa Bortolo was pounding away in the break and at the base of the final ascent of the day, Kim Kirchen made his move, followed by Bertolini and Masciarelli. Only Masciarelli got across to the Fassa man, but Kirchen powered away again and crested the final climb of Passo Balestro alone with 30km to go. He had 10" on Masciarelli, with Giunti at the head of the chase group of 20 riders, 45" behind. The peloton was 1'05" behind and closing down on the leaders under the impulsion of CSC and Rabobank.
Along the capi of the SS1 Aurelia road, the break raced towards Laigueglia, with Kirchen and Masciarelli 45" ahead of the chase group and 55" ahead of the remainder of the peloton. The scenario was perfect for Fassa Bortolo; with a man up the road and the race favorite, they could just sit back and let CSC, Gerolsteiner and Rabobank do the heavy lifting for them.
With 15km to go in Ceriale, the gap had dropped to 30" and the agressive Masciarelli began to realize it was now or never to make his bid for victory. The Vini Caldirola man went solo with 7km to go, but the Fassa Bortolo train had already started to roll behind. Through the narrow, crowd filled streets of Albenga and Alassio, the silver & blue jerseys of Fassa just took control of Trofeo Laigueglia. Popovych and Rebellin had a short lived 2km of liberty and then it was all Fassa, all the time, all the way to the line where Pozatto sprinted home for the win. Next stop San Remo?
1 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4.35.28 (39.925 km/h) 2 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 3 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre 4 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi 5 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 6 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 7 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Tenax 8 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre 9 Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Domina Vacanze 10 Massimo Giunti (Ita) Domina Vacanze 11 Michael Skelde (Den) Alessio-Bianchi 12 Antonio Bucciero (Ita) Saeco 13 Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) De Nardi 14 Mauro Zinetti (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 15 Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 16 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 17 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Team Barloworld-Androni Giocattoli 18 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 19 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Team LPR 20 Benny De Schrooder (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 21 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 22 Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 23 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 24 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 25 Pieter Mertens (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 26 Ivan Fanelli (Ita) Amore e Vita 27 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco 28 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 29 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 30 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC 31 Sergey Avdyeyev (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 32 Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) Team LPR 33 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Lotto-Domo 34 Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo-Fiave 35 Radoslav Rogina (Cro) Tenax 36 Ronald Mutsaars (Ned) Rabobank 37 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank 38 Matej Jurco (Svk) De Nardi 39 Pasquale Muto (Ita) Miche 40 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 41 Thorwald Veneberg (Ned) Rabobank 42 Tomas Gronqvist (Swe) Amore e Vita 43 Aitor Hernandez (Spa) Team LPR 44 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 45 Antonio Salomone (Ita) Team Barloworld-Androni Giocattoli 46 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 47 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick.Step-Davitamon 48 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 49 Balazs Rohtmer (Hun) Miche 50 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon 51 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 52 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Alessio-Bianchi 53 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Fassa Bortolo 54 Ruggero Borghi (Ita) De Nardi 55 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 56 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 57 Jamie Burrow (GBr) Amore e Vita 58 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Rabobank 59 Médéric Clain (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 60 Nicolas Portal (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 61 Mark Walters (Can) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 62 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 63 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco 64 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 65 Ellis Rastelli (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 66 Jure Golcer (Slo) Formaggi Pinzolo-Fiave 67 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 68 Giuseppe Muraglia (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo-Fiave 69 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 70 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre 71 Christophe Edaleine (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 72 Massimo Iannetti (Ita) Domina Vacanze 73 Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 74 Daniel Atienza Urendez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 75 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 76 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 77 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC 78 Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 79 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre 80 Giampaolo Cheula (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 81 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 82 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 83 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo 84 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 85 Luca Solari (Ita) Team Barloworld-Androni Giocattoli 86 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 87 Frédéric Bessy (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 88 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Saeco 89 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Gerolsteiner 90 Oscar Pozzi (Ita) Tenax 91 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Team CSC 92 Beat Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 93 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 94 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 95 Simone Masciarelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 96 Andrea Noé (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi
2003 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 2002 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) 2001 Mirko Celestino (Ita) 2000 Daniele Nardello (Ita) 1999 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) 1998 Pascal Chanteur (Fra) 1997 Michele Bartoli (Ita) 1996 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) 1995 Johan Museeuw (Bel) 1994 Rolf Soerensen (Den) 1993 Lance Armstrong (USA) 1992 Sammy Moreels (Bel) 1991 Pascal Richard (Swi)