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98th Giro di Lombardia - CDM
Italy, October 16, 2004
Bettini takes third World Cup win
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Damiano Cunego (Saeco) confirmed his promise with a brilliant ride across the hills of Lombardy to win the 98th edition of the Giro di Lombardia. In the action all day, Cunego took his 13th victory of the 2004 season with an superb sprint ahead of Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Ivan Basso (CSC) along the lakeshore in Como on Saturday afternoon. "I was a little tired after my trip to America, but after Milano-Torino, I felt better. I'm really surprised today at my win; I really didn't expect this."
The 23 year old Doors fan made three audacious attacks today and Cunego showed the class and talent that will certainly make him a big name in cycling in the years to come. Surrounded by his Saeco teammates and staff, Cunego explained that, "I owe a lot to (team DS Giuseppe) Martinelli...he's the one who helped me become a racer, who helped me learn how to suffer."
Putting things in perspective, Cunego explained that, "It's one of the best days today of my great season; I'd put it up there with my Giro stage win in Pontremoli...today I won a big classic, a World Cup race. I didn't expect this at all."
Cunego has one more appointment this season, as the Saeco man will head east next week to race the Japan Cup next weekend.
Although he only finished 29th today, Paolo Bettini won his third World Cup, a feat never achieved by any other rider. And Bettini is certain to keep his record, as the World Cup ended today at the Giro di Lombardia. "I knew that the key moment today was on the Ghisallo," said Bettini. "If I wasn't dropped for good, I could make it. That's the way it went. I won more with my head than my legs, and when I saw that Rebellin was dropped on Civiglio, I knew I would win the World Cup."
Although he finished one place ahead of Bettini, Davide Rebellin just didn't have what it took to close the gap on Bettini. "I felt like I had some trouble breathing, but the strongest rider won today. Congratulations to Paolo," said good sport Rebellin in Como.
Finishing third in Lombardy was Ivan Basso (CSC), who rode brilliantly all day but just couldn't get away for the solo win. "I wanted to win today so I'm disappointed, but I gave it my best," said Basso.
With Basso looking at the 2005 Giro d'Italia as a key objective, certainly the duel between he and Cunego could be one of the highlights of next year's season. Cunego is anticipating a battle with Basso next season, saying, "Sure, we're looking forward to this duel. Basso is really strong and it will be harder to win the Giro next time with an adversary as strong as he is."
How it unfolded
161 riders started the Classic of the Falling Leaves on a new course from Mendrisio to Como at 10:43am. It was a cool fall Saturday morning with mixed sun and clouds that called for arm warmers at the start. After a fast beginning with plenty of attacks, five riders eventually got away after 23 km after the parcours passed from Switzerland across to Italy. Paolo Tiralongo (Panaria), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balears), Manuel Quinziato (Lampre) and Gregory Rast (Phonak) were the escapees du jour, reaching a maximum lead of 4'25 at km 57. By the first KOM atop San Fedele d'Intelvi after 45km, Quinziato (Lampre), Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) and Tiralongo (Panaria) had dropped Gutierrez and Rast, but they kept going and lasted until the climb of the Premana (133 km).
Gerolsteiner, with some help from T-Mobile, was main team riding tempo behind and Quinziato, Flecha and Tiralongo had three minute plus lead at the top of the Premana after 133km. Gerolsteiner upped the chase pace and just before the ascent of the Ghisallo (km 193), the break was caught after almost 170km of liberty.
Ivan Basso attacked immediately at foot of the third climb of the day, the historic Madonna del Ghisallo, an 8.6km ascent with a gradient of 6.2%. His forcing made the selection of a ten man group that was the basis for the winning move of the day. Along with Basso (CSC) were Caruso and Nozal (Liberty), Fertonani (Phonak), Boogerd (Rabobank), Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Evans (T-Mobile), Casagrande (Vini Caldirola), Giro d'Italia winner Cunego and teammate Mazzoleni (Saeco).
Chasing at 0'15 up the Ghisallo was a larger group, including World Cup leader Bettini (Quick.Step), Horner (Saunier Duval), Sosenka (Acqua e Sapone), Rasmussen (Rabobank), Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) and Nardello (T-Mobile). Halfway up the Ghisallo, Basso went solo again while Rebellin was riding tempo behind. At the summit of Ghisallo with 45km to go, Basso was up front, with Caruso behind, while Casagrande, Boogerd and Rebellin led the chase at 0'15 and Bettini's group was at 0'25 and closing.
Eventually, there was a junction of the two groups on the long descent south from Ghisallo. Just outside Asso, Sosenka attacked with 38km to go and was brought back, then an attack by Basso was covered by Cunego. With 35km to go more counter-attackers made a move, led by Sosenka along with Nardello, Frigo, Rasmussen, Nozal and Rodriguez (Saunier Duval).
The chasers got a case of the looky-loos behind as Rebellin, Bettini and Basso were all uncertain as to how to make the race, so the front six quickly gained ground. By Erba with 26km to go, the break had a lead of 1'15 while Cunego had attacked solo to try and bridge from the chase group. The Saeco man didn't make it across, and the chase group that swallowed Cunego up had now (briefly) swelled to 50 riders, with CSC's Jörg Jaksche pounding away on the front.
Rebellin was left without team support, while World Cup leader Bettini now had two teammates including World TT Champ Mick Rogers. The chasers were going all out to close down on the break, with Vini Caldirola's Steve Zampieri and Saeco's Sylvester Szmyd doing most of the work. With 20km left, the break had a 0'48 lead in Albavilla but just kept losing time. The front group started the penultimate climb, the never climbed before in the Giro di Lombardia Civiglio, a steep, narrow ascent of 2.8km with a narrow, twisting descent. Sosenka slipped a gear up at the base of the climb and lost contact as the chase group now had him in sight. Up front, Nozal went solo off the front after not pulling a metre in the break, as Cedric Vasseur tried to bridge from the chasers. The Cofidis rider's move drew out the main riders, as Basso and Boogerd led the way across.
At the KOM of Civiglio with 16km to go, Nozal was absorbed by the chasers, with Basso on the front, followed by Cunego, Boogerd, Rasmussen, Frigo, Nardello, Evans, Rodriguez, Sosenka and Vasseur, while the 20 riders in the Bettini/Rebellin group were 0'20 behind. World Cup leader Bettini was glued to Rebellin's wheel, while Cunego made a daring attack on the final part of the Civiglio descent and as the 10 chasers passed through Como, the young Giro d'Italia winner had a 0'10 lead. Basso tried to organise the chase but only Sosenka and Evans were participating in the pursuit.
Cunego was then caught after a tough chase through the streets of Como as Boogerd had finally joined the chase. As the final climb of San Fermo began with 9km to go, the front riders still had 0'15 on the Bettini/Rebellin group. Once again, Basso attacked right away as the 3 km climb commenced. Boogerd challenged Basso and then it was Cunego's turn, but as the narrow climb got steeper halfway up the ascent, Basso wound it again and this time only Boogerd and Evans could follow. Cunego and the others were gapped behind, as Rebellin was dropped from the chase group.
At the San Fermo GPM with 5km to go, Basso was doing all the work in the front trio as Cunego was only 0'05 back and closing on the front riders. The descent back to Como was twisty and technical and the Saeco man caught the front group with 4km to go. Next to bridge across was Nardello with 2.5km to go and the now front five began the tactical dance that would bring them to the finish.
A minute and a half behind, Bettini and Rebellin were talking and it seemed that the Gerolsteiner rider was telling the two time World Cup winner that he was conceding defeat. In the jockeying for the finish line along Lake Como, T-Mobile tried to work together but both Evans and Nardello were simply too tired. Basso made a decent attempt to sprint, but both speedy Cunego and a solid Boogerd got by him in a hard race that ended with a fast average speed of 39.050 km/h.
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Images by Christine Krueger/cyclingimages.com
Images by Roberto Bettini
Images by AFP Photo
1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 6.17.55 (39.056 km/h) 2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 4 Cadel Evans (Aus) T-Mobile Team 5 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 0.02 6 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.17 7 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco 8 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 9 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 10 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 11 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval-Prodir 12 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 13 Ondrej Sosenka (Cze) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 14 Isidro Nozal Vega (Spa) Liberty Seguros 15 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros 0.25 16 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 0.44 17 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 0.49 18 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi 19 Vladimir Goussev (Rus) Team CSC 20 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 21 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Alessio-Bianchi 22 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team 23 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 24 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre 25 Tomas Nose (Slo) Phonak 26 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 1.25 27 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 1.40 28 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 29 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 30 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Saeco 31 Igor Pugaci (Mda) De Nardi 32 Fabian Jeker (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir 1.54 33 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Team CSC 2.10 34 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick.Step-Davitamon 35 Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 2.15 36 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank 3.06 37 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 3.39 38 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 39 Massimo Codol (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4.33 40 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon 41 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Lotto-Domo 5.11 42 Roberto Sgambelluri (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 43 Unai Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 44 Marcos Antonio Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Liberty Seguros 45 Marco Fertonani (Ita) Phonak Hearing Systems 7.05 46 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 7.16 47 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 8.16 48 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Saeco 49 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems 9.21 50 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank 51 Alexandre Bazhenov (Rus) Domina Vacanze 52 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 53 Filippo Simeoni (Ita) Domina Vacanze 54 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick.Step-Davitamon 55 Juan Fuentes Angullo (Spa) Saeco 56 Bo Hamburger (Den) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 11.43 57 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 58 Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) De Nardi 59 Daniel Schnider (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 60 Frédéric Bessy (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 61 Sergey Avdyeyev (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 62 Ruslan Gryschenko (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago Starters: 161 Classified: 62
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 340 pts 2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 327 3 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 252 4 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 251 5 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 140 6 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 131 7 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 105 8 Igor Astarloa Ascasibar (Spa) Lampre 96 9 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco 72 10 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo 68 11 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 47 12 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo 40 13 Frank Hoj (Den) Team CSC 40 14 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team 40 15 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com 39 16 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 39 17 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team 37 18 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze 32 19 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 30 20 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 30 21 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team 28 22 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros 27 23 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) 25 24 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems 24 25 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) Lampre 23 26 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto-Domo 19 27 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC 18 28 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre 16 29 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo 15 30 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 14 31 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Domina Vacanze 12 32 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 12 33 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 7 34 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 6 35 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 4 36 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 3 37 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank 1