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Italian Championships - CN

Abruzzo, Italy, June 21-26, 2005

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Day 6 - June 26: Elite Men's Road Race, 259.4 km

Last gasp sprint works for Gasparotto

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas-Bianchi)
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On a torrid Sunday afternoon along the Adriatic coast, 23 year old neo-pro Enrico Gasparotto rode a perfectly timed sprint to take a surprise victory for his second pro win and first Italian pro title. Gasparotto, who rides for ProTour leader Danilo DiLuca's Liquigas-Bianchi squad added the Maglia Tricolore to his team's prestigious first-year accomplishments. A stunned Gasparotto told RAI-TV's Alessandra DiStefano after the race that "It seems impossible (that I won) but I already won a race at Catalunya this year and had some good placings at the Dauphine' so inside me, I knew I could do it."

Gasparotto, a blond, blue eyed Friulano rider, who won 7 races in 2004, lives in Sacile, the hometown of the late Denis Zanette and shares his birthday of March 22nd with his former teammate, super-sprinter Mario Cipollini. He explained, "I didn't realize I had won until the last was a hard race today, but I hung tough on the last climb and managed to get back to the front group. I wanted to get (Filippo) Pozzato's wheel because I knew he was in great shape."

With 200m. to go, Gasparotto went left, while Pozzato went right. The Liquigas-Bianchi rider, who is more of a pure sprinter than Pozzato took the win by a wheel ahead of the Quick.Step rider. "Tomorrow I go on vacation so I can really savor this championship," explained Gasparotto as he donned the coveted Maglia Tricolore.

The top three:
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Winner of his second silver medal in three years at the Italian title race, a disappointed Pozzato lamented post-stage, "I'm sorry I didn't win today because the team worked so hard for me; I guess I just have to have to be philosophical because I'm in great shape right now, but just can't find a way to win."

Gasparotto's Liquigas-Bianchi team director was delighted with today's result, saying post-race, "So far, our (Liquigas-Bianchi) team has had a good season; DiLuca is leading the ProTour and our team was the best in the Giro d'Italia. But we also work with the young riders, so Gasparotto's win is very satisfying for us."

How it unfolded

Outgoing champ
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After a moment of silence at the start of the Italian championships for the late Alessio Galletti, who died in a Spanish race two weeks before, the race was rather uneventful. An early break of two riders was away on the four large laps of 33.9km, which were followed by 8 laps of 15.5km. On the sixth of the final laps, a strong attack on the climb to Montesilvano Colle by last year's Italian championship runner-up Marinangeli (Naturino) was joined by Marini (Ceramiche Flaminia), which provoked a lot of action behind the move.

With two laps to go, Marinangeli and Marini had 0'30 lead on the chasers and once the penultimate assault on the climb began, the forcing by two-time Italian champ Toto Commesso (Lampre-Cafitta) brought the duo back and extracted a 15 man group at the summit of the tree-lined climb, including Mori (Saunier Duval), Pozzato (Quick.Step), Bossoni & Nibali (Fassa Bortolo), Mazzoleni (Lampre-Cafitta) and Celestino (Domina Vacanze). But once the front runners hit the long descent back to Montesilvano, a general regroupment occurred and as the bell rang, a group of 40 riders began the final 15.5km lap in the front group. Local rider Spezialetti (Lampre-Cafitta) made a strong solo move that drew out other riders, including 2004 Italian champ Cristian Moreni (Quick.Step), who made a textbook counter move at the foot of the final 2.5km ascent to Montesilvano Colle.

Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas-Bianchi)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Moreni's move drew out Mori, who couldn't quite bridge, but the Quick.Step man looked like he might have made a good move. Suddenly, Mazzoleni came across to Moreni with Mori, Giunti (Fassa Bortolo), Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi) and neo-pro Bailetti (Androni Giocattoli), with Commesso, Italian TT champ Pinotti (Saunier Duval) and Baliani (Ceramiche Panaria) chasing 0'10 behind at the summit of the climb. This group came together halfway down the descent, but the big chase group behind sucked them up once down the hill into Montesilvano and with 3km to go, there were 40 riders together to contest the sprint. With 200m to go, Gasparotto made a superb jump along the left barriers and maintained his lead all the way to the finish line.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti


1 Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas)                           6.31.59 (38.879 km/h)
2 Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step - Innergetic)
3 Massimo Giunti (Fassa Bortolo)
4 Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval - Prodir)
5 Mirko Celestino (Domina Vacanze)
6 Sergio Marinangeli (Naturino - Sapore Di Mare)
7 Raffaele Ferrara (Androni - 3C)
8 Francesco Bellotti (Credit Agricole)
9 Paolo Bailetti (Androni - 3C)
10 Gianpaolo Cheula (Barloworld - Valsir)
11 Christian Murro (Tenax - Nobili Rubinetterie)
12 Marzio Bruseghin (Fassa Bortolo)
13 Luca Solari (Domina Vacanze)
14 Daniele De Paoli (Team Lpr)
15 Paolo Bossoni (Fassa Bortolo)
16 Santo Anza' (Acqua & Sapone - Adria Mobil)
17 Fortunato Balliani (Ceramica Panaria - Navigare)
18 Andrea Masciarelli (Acqua & Sapone - Adria Mobil)
19 Salvatore Commesso (Lampre - Caffita)
20 Maurizio Varini (Ceramica Flaminia)
21 Luca Celli (Barloworld - Valsir)
22 Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo)
23 Cristian Moreni (Quick Step - Innergetic)
24 Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas - Bianchi)
25 Eddy Mazzoleni (Lampre - Caffita)
26 Alessandro Bertolini (Domina Vacanze)
27 Giuseppe Di Grande (Universal Cafe)
28 Gabriele Bosisio (Tenax - Nobili Rubinetterie)
29 Eddy Ratti (Team Nippo)
30 Gian Luca Tonetti (Tenax - Nobili Rubinetterie)