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40th Trofeo Laigueglia - 1.2

Italy, February 18, 2003

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Pozzato proves it: Pippo victorious in 40th edition of Trofeo Laigueglia

By Tim Maloney, European editor

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Pippo Pozzato
Photo: © Sirotti

Ten years ago, a 21 year old American rookie pro named Lance Armstrong took a solid and surprising win at the Italian pro road season opener, Trofeo Laigueglia. The winds of change were blowing again today along the Italian Rivera, as the gusty spring weather buffeted the 198 rider peloton that started the 183km race in this charming Ligurian seaside town.

After almost 5 hours of racing on the bright, blustery late winter day, rising star Filippo "Pippo" Pozzato (Fassa Bortolo) sprinted to victory from a strong 27 man group along the via Aurelia. 21 year old Pozzato bested his elders in the final gallop, beating a pair of Fabios; 28 year old Sacchi (Saeco) and his 34 year old Vicenza neighbour, Etoile de Bessèges winner Fabio Baldato (Alessio). Finishing just behind the podium trio in 4th was Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Davitamon), fresh from his win Sunday at the Tour of the Med, with evergreen Viatcheslav Ekimov, recently turned 37 in 6th place.

"Finally I've won a race that matters; now no one can say I've only won the little races," Pozzato proudly exclaimed after his thrilling sprint win in the 40th edition of Trofeo Laigueglia.

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Happy winner
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Last season, Pozzato won 14 races with Mapei's TT3 team, but his win today in the prestigious 1.2 race is his biggest win ever. Last week, Pozzato had a valuable learning experience in Stage 2 of the Tour of the Med, where he started his sprint too early and was passed 30 m. from the line by experienced French sprinter Manu Magnien. Today, fast learner Pozzato listened to valuable advice from his Fassa Bortolo teammate Roberto Petito.

"Yesterday (Monday), we went to look at the (new) finish in Laigueglia and Petito said 'if you lead out the sprint with this tailwind, they'll never catch you...he was absolutely right!", explained Pippo.

Overall, Fassa Bortolo dominated today; riding hard tempo over the ascents of the Passo del Ginestro and Passo del Balestrino, the main group was blown to bits and only 27 riders were still in the front group as they entered the via Aurelia coast road, 10km from Laigueglia. Pozzato couldn't help but to thank his team: "Kirchen, Frigo and Petito brought me to the front and Dario gave me an excellent leadout."

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Danilo Di Luca
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Pozzato's win in front of Saeco's Sacchi brought an end to three Laigueglia wins in the last four years for the Macchine de Caffe boys. Last year's winner Danilo Di Luca rode well, but his heavy training schedule saw him come off on the final Balestrino climb to finish 30th at the front of the chase group.

Up and coming Italian team Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé placed two in the top 10, classy Massimiliano Mori and Slovenian speedster Uros Murn. Quick Step-Davitamon's 22 year old talent Nick Nuyens was active all day, finishing 15th, while Giuliano Figueras (Ceramiche Panaria - Fiordo), riding his first race since last May, was a respectable 36th. Navigators only finished one rider in today's Trofeo Laigueglia: American Jeff Louder was in the main group almost 7'00 behind Pozzato.

Although he may be dreaming of making the Fassa Bortolo team in Milano-San Remo in 5 weeks time, young Pozzato will next focus on Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in Belgium, then return to Italy for three races in Sicily before the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in mid-March. By then, who knows which way the spring winds will be blowing for the talented Pozzato?


Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Results - 183 km

1 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                 4.53.13 (37.44 km/h)
2 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Saeco
3 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio
4 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep-Davitamon
5 Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave'-Ciarrocchi Immobiliare
6 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
7 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco
8 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre
9 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
10 Uros Murn (Slo) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave'-Ciarrocchi Immobiliare
11 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
12 Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
13 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
14 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Alessio
15 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quickstep-Davitamon
16 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
17 Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
18 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
19 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
20 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre
21 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
22 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
23 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
24 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                       0.10
25 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quickstep-Davitamon                              0.13
26 Kim Kirchen  (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                                      0.18
27 Christophe Mengin (Fra)
28 Benoît Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor       2.09
29 Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
30 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco                                       2.24
31 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner
32 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) Gerolsteiner                                  2.28
33 Romans Vainsteins LET Sidermec
34 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Sidermec
35 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
36 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
37 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
38 Graziano Gasparre (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
39 Alexandr Shefer (Kaz) Team Saeco
40 David De La Fuente (Spa) Sidermec                                     2.48
41 Werner Riebenbauer (Aut) Team fakta
42 Antonio Rizzi (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave'-Ciarrocchi Immobiliare
43 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre
44 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
45 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Lotto-Domo
46 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
47 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
48 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Team Telekom
49 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave'-Ciarrocchi Immobiliare
50 Hernan Dario Munoz (Col) Colombia-Selle Italia
51 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                 5.48
52 Leonardo Zanotti (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
53 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo
54 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
55 Jamie Burrow (GBr) Amore & Vita-Beretta
56 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Team Saeco
57 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone                    7.47
58 Oscar Pozzi (Ita) Tenax
59 Elio Aggiano (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave'-Ciarrocchi Immobiliare
60 Torsten Hiekmann (Ger) Team Telekom
61 Christian Werner (Ger) Team Telekom
62 FRANCESCO Secchiari (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron                      8.17
63 Przemyslaw Niemec (Pol) Amore & Vita-Beretta
64 Domenico Passuello (Ita) Quickstep-Davitamon
65 Daniel Atienza Urendez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
66 Mteusz Mroz (Pol) Amore & Vita-Beretta
67 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
68 Marcel Strauss (Swi) Gerolsteiner
69 Jeff Louder (USA) Navigators Cycling Team
70 René Joergensen (Den) Team fakta
71 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
72 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Team Scanavino
73 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Lotto-Domo
74 Martin Derganc (Slo) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
75 Sergiy Adyeyev (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
76 Steffen Kjaergaard (Nor) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
77 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
78 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre
79 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Team Scanavino
80 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
81 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Quickstep-Davitamon
82 Ellis Rastelli (Ita) Gerolsteiner
83 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre
84 Davide Bramati (Ita) Quickstep-Davitamon
85 Davide Frattini (Ita) Alessio
86 Giampaolo Cheula (Ita) Sidermec
87 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Lampre
88 Geoffrey Demeyere (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
89 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Fassa Bortolo