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99th Giro di Lombardia - ProT

Italy, October 15, 2005

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Bettini finishes with a bang

By Jeff Jones

Paolo Bettini (Quickstep)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Although it wasn't quite the same dominating ride that saw Paolo Bettini win the Championship of Zurich two weeks ago, the Olympic Champion still had it all over his rivals in today's 99th Giro di Lombardia. After forcing the decisive break on the Madonna del Ghisallo climb with less than 50 km to go, Bettini finished off the task by beating Gilberto Simoni (Lampre), Fränk Schleck (CSC) and Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros) in a four man sprint in Como. As he put it afterwards, there was no way he could lose.

Surprisingly, it was the first time that Bettini had finished on the podium in Lombardy. "It was a race that had eluded me a little, and this makes it even more enjoyable," said an excited Bettini after the finish. "I beat a great Simoni. To put a climber like him in difficulty on the Ghisallo makes me happy. Besides, I'm called Bettini: when I'm happy I make a racket. You'll excuse me today if I exaggerated.

"I couldn't lose. Since 2000, there hasn't been one year that I haven't one at least one or two big races. This year I counted 62 days of antibiotics up until July: my health was my biggest opponent...I have made up for everything in the last months, except for the World's. In 2006, who knows? I could aim at the Giro, but I would not say that now."

The podium (L to R):
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Bettini now counts eight classic wins in his palmares, which means that he's getting closer to Johan Museeuw's impressive tally of 11. "My friend Johan Museeuw, who won all the biggest classics, told me that one day I would beat him," said Bettini. I just need three more to equal him. To have a perfect career, I still should win Flanders, a World Championship, and besides those, the monumental Paris-Roubaix, even if it would take a miracle for the latter to happen."

Gilberto Simoni had a fine ride for second place, and he was always able to challenge Bettini, although he couldn't drop Il Grillo on the climbs. " "Today Paolo Bettini did a great race: he was almost unbeatable," said Simoni. "For a moment I thought I could beat him in the sprint but he was too strong. I tried to attack several times but without success. It was difficult to make the difference on the San Fermo climb, which is like the climbs of Milano Sanremo. It's too bad; I would have liked to win this race and finish a season which was not as I expected."

Gilberto Simoni (Lampre Cafitta)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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The third podium spot went to Fränk Schleck (CSC), who also finished off a very consistent period of racing, His second place in Zurich and third today being the highlights. "I really had to dig deep to reach the two up front again on the two last climbs," said the Luxembourg champion. "It was an extremely tough finish, but it was a fantastic feeling to be up there at the end of Giro di Lombardia. The team gave me the perfect support today and I'm happy to have secured a spot on the podium. I'm also proud of the way I've managed to finish this season, and it definitely has an effect on my expectations and ambitions for next year

How it unfolded

Just another day
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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The 99th Giro di Lombardia got under way at 10:42am from the Swiss border town of Mendrisio, near Lake Lugano. Bart Dockx (Davitamon-Lotto) was the only non-starter of the 193-strong field. It didn't take long for the attacks to start, and Francesco Bellotti (Credit Agricole), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) and Juan Mercado (Quick.Step) went clear inside the first 20 km. Di Luca's presence doomed the break, although he did try to get away again in the company of Eric Leblacher (Credit Agricole), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears) and Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros) after 29 km.

That break also didn't stick and lasted until km 38, but after 41 km, a dozen riders escaped and quickly built a three minute lead after 66 km: Giovanni Visconti (Domina Vacanze), Marcus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), Carlos Barredo and Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros), Devis Miorin (Liquigas-Bianchi), Valerio Agnoli (Naturino), Davide Bramati (Quick.Step), Bram De Groot (Rabobank), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), Ivan De Gasperi (LPR) and Sascha Urweider (Phonak). Christiano Frattini (Tenax) tried to get across, but was reabsorbed by the peloton at km 73.

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas Bianchi)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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With such a big group, the peloton didn't let the break get too far away, and pegged the gap to 5'15 after 104 km. CSC led the pursuit as the race left the shores of Lake Como for a while and hit the climbs of Taceno (km 145) and the Colle di Balisio (km 162). At the top of the Taceno climb, the gap had fallen to 2'00 as Urweider was dropped from the break.

CSC continued to lead the chase with the aim of recapturing the break before the crucial Madonna del Ghisallo climb which started at km 192. But before this, Danilo Di Luca attacked solo at km 152, catching Urweider and distancing the peloton by 20 seconds. The pair lasted until km 164, then Di Luca called it a day at the feed zone in Onno (km 184). He had already shown that he wasn't going to be completely anonymous today, although his actions indicated that he had little intention of being in the finale.

Paolo Bettini (Quickstep)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

The peloton was within striking distance of the break as the climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo shrine started. The patron saint of cyclists was looking out for Paolo Bettini today, and the Olympic Champion ramped up the pace on the lower slopes of the climb to mop up the leaders, with Allan Davis the last man standing. Bettini set a fierce tempo, and only four other riders managed to stay with him: Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Caffita), Fränk Schleck and Carlos Sastre (CSC) and Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty). Chasing them were Emanuele Sella and Luca Mazzanti (Panaria), Leonardo Bertagnolli (Cofidis), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita) and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balears).

Over the top of the climb with 44 km to go, the Bettini-driven group had nearly half a minute on the nearest chasers. They were able to capitalise on that on the descent and pushed it out to the magic minute through Albavilla with 23 km to go. The chase group was reabsorbed by the peloton, which was falling further behind the leading quintet as Bettini kept the pressure on.

Gilberto Simoni (Lampre Cafitta)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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On the penultimate climb through the narrow streets of Civiglio, Bettini and Simoni turned the screws and first Sastre, then Caruso and Schleck were dropped. But the Luxembourg champ hung tough and quickly chased back on the descent, while Caruso had to do a bit more work to regain the breakaways before the final climb of San Fermo di Battaglia with 10 km to go. The Bettini/Simoni battle resumed on this short but steep (10 percent) ascent, with Bettini getting a gap with 700m to the summit. It looked good for a short time, until Simoni and Schleck closed it at the top.

On the descent into Como, Schleck was taking a back seat role, as he knew the other two were stronger. Caruso had more work to do, again having to chase alone on the descent. But he had enough left to catch the leading three with 1 km to go. He tried to attack immediately, but Bettini was right on his wheel. Instead, the Liberty man chose to lead out the sprint. Bettini, Simoni and Schleck were glued to each other's wheels, but when Bettini hit out with 300 metres to go, there was nothing the other two could do, and they crossed in exactly the same order.

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas Bianchi)
Photo ©: Davide Tricarico
Click for larger image

In the peloton sprint, Fabian Wegmann provided an excellent leadout for his Gerolsteiner teammate Davide Rebellin, who finished fifth and gained enough points to move him up into third in the ProTour standings behind Danilo Di Luca and Tom Boonen.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Davide Tricarico/www.laborraccia.it

Results - 246 km

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step                                 5.56.22 (41.42 km/h)
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                                  
3 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                          
4 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                 0.04
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                0.54
6 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                     
7 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Lampre-Caffita                                  
8 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                           
9 Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Naturino-Sapore di Mare                    
10 Santo Anza (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil                          
11 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil                     
12 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne     
13 Luca Solari (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                     
14 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                        
15 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne    
16 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC                                        
17 Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone     
18 Miguel A. Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems             
19 Mario Aerts (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                    
20 Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                                   
21 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team     
22 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil                   
23 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                 
24 Gianluca Tonetti (Ita) Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie                     
25 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Fassa Bortolo                              
26 Juan Miguel Mercado Martin (Spa) Quick Step                          
27 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC                                  
28 Marcos A. Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team         
29 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                                  
30 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne            
31 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          
32 Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne         
33 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone      0.58
34 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                         
35 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                               1.43
36 Marco Fertonani (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                 
37 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank                                        
38 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                 
39 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                      2.01
40 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Liquigas-Bianchi                           
41 Theo Eltink (Ned) Rabobank                                       3.22
42 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          4.29
43 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Française Des Jeux                         4.57
44 Alexandr Arekeev (Rus) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil                5.18
45 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step                                    6.35
46 Massimo Codol (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                    
47 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Domina Vacanze                            
48 Antonio Quadranti (Ita) Naturino-Sapore di Mare                      
49 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                                   
50 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                   
51 Mauro Gerosa (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                              7.29
52 Saul Raisin (USA) Credit Agricole                                8.00
53 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Davitamon-Lotto                                
54 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                     8.53
55 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Credit Agricole                                
56 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone             
57 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC                                        
58 Benoit Poilvet (Fra) Credit Agricole                                 
59 Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC                                      
60 Christopher Horner (USA) Saunier Duval-Prodir                        
61 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                             
62 Constantin Zaballa Gutierrez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir              
63 Oscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa) T-Mobile Team                             
64 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                          
65 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank                                      
66 Matthias Russ (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                     
67 Giancarlo Ginestri (Ita) Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie                   
68 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                       
69 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) T-Mobile Team                                    
70 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                      
71 Nicolas Fritsch (Fra) Saunier Duval-Prodir                           
72 Andrea Tonti (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                                    
73 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team           
74 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française Des Jeux                            
75 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank                                         
76 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Credit Agricole                            
77 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                
78 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                    
79 Grégory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                            
80 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                  
81 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir                        
82 Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil                  
83 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC                                          
84 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                       
85 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone              
86 Paolo Valoti (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                    
87 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto                   
88 Roberto Laiseka Jaio (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                         
89 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Quick Step                                 9.03
90 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team                                 
91 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Naturino-Sapore di Mare                     9.04
DNF Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre-Caffita                                
DNF Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                             
DNF Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                              
DNF Bo Hamburger (Den) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil                       
DNF Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil                   
DNF Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil                   
DNF Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                          
DNF Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                             
DNF Mathieu Claude (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                               
DNF Yohann Gene (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                  
DNF Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                               
DNF Franck Renier (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                
DNF Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                              
DNF Mirko Allegrini (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                     
DNF Paride Grillo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                       
DNF Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Col) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare         
DNF Sergiy Matveyev (Ukr) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                     
DNF Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare           
DNF Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone               
DNF Amael Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                
DNF Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Credit Agricole                            
DNF Eric Leblacher (Fra) Credit Agricole                                
DNF Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Credit Agricole                            
DNF Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                   
DNF Bjoern Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                              
DNF Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                            
DNF Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                               
DNF Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team           
DNF Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            
DNF Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team         
DNF Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team      
DNF Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                
DNF Matej Jurco (Svk) Domina Vacanze                                    
DNF Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Domina Vacanze                              
DNF Gorka Gonzalez Larranaga (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                    
DNF David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          
DNF Anton Luengo Celaya (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                         
DNF Aketza Pena Iza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                             
DNF Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                    
DNF Joseba Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      
DNF Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                
DNF Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Fassa Bortolo                    
DNF Massimo Giunti (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                  
DNF Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                                     
DNF Mickael Delage (Fra) Française Des Jeux                             
DNF Christophe Detilloux (Bel) Française Des Jeux                       
DNF Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux                              
DNF Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux                           
DNF Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                
DNF Marco Serpellini (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                 
DNF Beat Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                       
DNF Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne            
DNF José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne     
DNF Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne           
DNF Mikel Pradera Rodriguez (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne        
DNF David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team           
DNF Isidro Nozal Vega (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                  
DNF Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                   
DNF Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                
DNF Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Liquigas-Bianchi                             
DNF Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                               
DNF Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                            
DNF Nicola Loda (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                                  
DNF Devis Miorin (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                                 
DNF Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) Naturino-Sapore di Mare                    
DNF Murilo Fischer (Bra) Naturino-Sapore di Mare                        
DNF Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Naturino-Sapore di Mare                     
DNF Filippo Simeoni (Ita) Naturino-Sapore di Mare                       
DNF Ignacio Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems             
DNF Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems              
DNF Sascha Urweider (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                        
DNF Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                         
DNF Davide Bramati (Ita) Quick Step                                     
DNF Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step                                    
DNF Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick Step                                   
DNF Guido Trenti (USA) Quick Step                                       
DNF Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                       
DNF Thorwald Veneberg (Ned) Rabobank                                    
DNF Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank                                   
DNF Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                    
DNF Ruben Lobato Elvira (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                      
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                             
DNF Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC                                 
DNF Luca Nardello (Ita) Team L.P.R.                                     
DNF Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Team L.P.R.                                      
DNF Daniele Masolino (Ita) Team L.P.R.                                  
DNF Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Team L.P.R.                                
DNF Ivan Degasperi (Ita) Team L.P.R.                                    
DNF Giuseppe Muraglia (Ita) Team L.P.R.                                 
DNF Aitor Hernandez Gutierrez (Spa) Team L.P.R.                         
DNF Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr) Team L.P.R.                                 
DNF Gabriele Bosisio (Ita) Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie                    
DNF Cristiano Frattini (Ita) Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie                  
DNF David John Betts (Aus) Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie                    
DNF Kristjan Fajt (Slo) Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie                       
DNF David Mcpartland (Aus) Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie                    
DNF Ruslan Pidgornyy (Ukr) Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie                    
DNF Eric Baumann (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                    
DNF Bastiaan Giling (Ned) T-Mobile Team                                 
DNF Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) T-Mobile Team                                
DNF Tomas Konecny (Cze) T-Mobile Team                                   
DNS Bart Dockx (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                    

Starters: 192
Classified: 91

ProTour standings

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                                229 pts
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                          171
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                   151
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                      140
5 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             139
6 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                             136
7 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                                   131
8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep                                        130
9 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                          130
10 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            129