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83rd Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 13 - June 4, 2000

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Stage 12 - May 26: Bibione to Feltre, 184 km

Cassani takes his first win

By Gabriella Ekström, correspondent

Enrico Cassani
Photo: © AFP
Twenty-four riders from sixteen different teams made it into a break after 50 kilometers of today's 191. As the riders approach the summit of Valico le Laste, only ten remain. The riders forming the group are Mariano Piccoli and Sergio Barbero from Lampre, Eddy Mazzoleni and Enrico Cassani from Polti, Dmitri Konyshev from Fassa Bortolo, riding in the 'maglia ciclamina', Filippo Casagrande from Vini Caldirola, a rider who has been most active during the last stages, Oscar Sevilla from Kelme, young Addy Engels from Rabobank, Ruben Marin from Aguardiente-Selle Italia and as a joker, Elio Aggiano, the constantly smiling rider from Vitalicio Seguros.

Sevilla is beeing very active at the front, you can see no signs of the crash he had a few days ago. Sergio Barbero is taking on a lot of responsibility, since there are two riders from Lampre, and he is constantly attacking. Eddy Mazzoleni is the rider who is closing the gaps to Barbero all the time, so it is easy to see that Lampre is hoping for Piccoli at the end of the day, just as Polti is hoping for Cassani. This is provided the peloton doesn't catch them, however it's not likely since they are less than twenty kilometers from the finish and the group with the leader is five minutes down the mountain. Sevilla tries a new attack, and this time it is Dmitri Konyshev who chases him back. No wonder, Konyshev would really benefit from a small bunch sprint at the end of the day.

Valico le Laste is truly a beautiful mountain with a magnificent view, and the spectators waiting for the riders up here, have had time to study the cloudy valleys and the blue mountain peaks for a while now. Dont worry, the riders will also notice it, but maybe in not so much detail. Addy Engels raises the speed. Again it is Konyshev who follows, but he takes it a lot easier now than when he was chasing Sevilla. He is not afraid of Engels. It becomes clear that he was right when they catch Engels, who has ruined all his chances of staying with this group over the top.

Mazzoleni moves to the front. Just like Filippo Casagrande, he is one of the riders that has really grown during this race. After a race like this, the new stars will not be named Pantani or Gotti. It is riders like Gutierrez, Di Luca, Filippo Casagrande, David McKenzie and Eddy Mazzoleni who have grown. Pantani or Gotti are just trying to do what they already know they can do.

The group loses some riders as it approaches the summit. Dmitri Konyshev, together with a handful of other riders, had to let go of Sevilla, Mazzoleni and Barbero. Between them and the peloton rides several other riders who rode with the group earlier today, among them Orlando Rodrigues from Banesto, who is now closing in again. Oscar Sevilla reaches the mountain prize first, but there's no race to the line to take the points and they just pass over it.

Gruppo Konyshev is 1.10 behind them according to the clock, but in reality I think they are closer. This little group is likely to rejoin the front riders on the descent as Dmitri Konyshev is known as a very good descender and neither Sevilla, Barbero or Mazzoleni can be compared to any of the great descenders. Sevilla is often misjudging the turns, but hasn't been a danger to anyone than himself at least. But even so, he is a gutsy rider who will certainly make a race fun to watch. Barbero isn't too happy about Mazzoleni and gives him a gentle push. That is something Mazzoleni doesn't appreciate while riding huddled up at 90 kph. We have an Italian fight. Lingual!

Konyshev looks confident, and also he descends huddled up with his hands close together. Ain't nobody pushing Dimitri Konyshev though. No, Cassani, Marin and Piccoli are happy they are back at the front when the sign says there's five kilometers to the finish. Orlando Rodriguez has fought himself back to the group he left earlier. With the Spaniard they are nine in the group. A little dog is watching them pass by. Mariano Piccoli decides not to wait for the sprint, and attacks, and of course it is Konyshev who wants to wait for the sprint who brings him back. Konyshev could be facing a hard run to the finish with two Polti riders and two Lampre riders constantly attacking. Strangely enough, it isn't Konyshev but the Lampre riders who seem nervous, and it is also the pink and purple riders who are closing the gaps to all attacking riders. The pressure of losing despite being two is too great. Sevilla tries to sneak away, but Barbero is helping Konyshev to chase. It isn't strange, but it ain't cool either.

Suddenly, Enrico Cassani goes after the little Spaniard. Mazzoleni has been doing most of the work today, and must therefore have been very pleased when Cassani rejoined on the descent. Cassani's attack is just according to the plans, and he has a good pace. The chasing group grows bigger as Mirko Gualdi from Mobilvetta, Filippo Casagrande from Vini Caldirola and Davide Bramati from Mapei rejoin. Cassani's break is a break that would normally be caught, and it would had been if he attacked three or four kilometres from the line, but this attack came with less than two k's to go and even though the riders behind him are really chasing, they are also really tired. Some from chasing down the mountains, some from constantly attacking and one from bringing back all the attacks. Cassani is the freshest rider left, and add to that a portion of luck, and we have a new stage winner in the Giro.

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