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40th Trofeo Laigueglia - 1.2
Italy, February 18, 2003
Pozzato proves it: Pippo victorious in 40th edition of Trofeo Laigueglia
By Tim Maloney, European editor
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.
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."
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
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) FDJeux.com 28 Benoît Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 2.09 29 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com 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