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92nd Milano-Torino (1.1)
By Fabio
Date: 3/10/2007
92nd Milano-Torino (1.1)

Italy's Danilo Di Luca won Saturday's 92nd edition of the Milano-Torino, the oldest cycling classic of his home country, and the world's most ancient cycling competition still raced, even if with a palmares missing names like Eddy Merckx, Fausto Coppi and Giro Bartali, while the first campionissimo of Italian cycling, Costante Girardengo, holds a record number of five wins in the contest linking Italy's second and third largest cities.

The 2005 Pro Tour champion opened his 2007 account with the Liquigas outfit as he beat Colombian Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) in a two-man sprint. The two guys made the right move as they attacked on the Superga slopes about 18 km from the finish. The Luxembourgian Kim Kirchen took the remaining podium place at 09", as he won the first chase bunch sprint from Stuart O'Grady, while Milram's Mirko Celestino was stopped from making it to the Turin podium again as, besides failing in his attempt to join the front duo, he was caught at 100m from the line.

The action in the 2007 version of such event got underway at Novate Milanese (a town on the outskirts of Milan; no way race organisers would add further traffic jams to chaotic Milano by adding the start of any other single-day race than MSR) 45 minutes before noon local time. A flurry of attacks followed under the sunny skies of the flat lands of the Milan, Pavia, Alessandria, Asti, Vercelli and Turin provinces, with Tinkoff's rising star Mikhail Ignatiev as one of the protagonists; but no move could gain over a minute on the pack, and all of them were chased down by the peloton led by the Liquigas (Di Luca's thirst for redemption was made clear right from the early kilometres) and Milram powerhouses, the latter working for two-time race winner Mirco Celestino.

Things took a different turn as the pack hit the Superga climb, whose slopes once more proved to be the ideal launch pad four any wannabe fugitives. Liquigas Alessandro Spezialetti, fellow Abruzzese and very loyal domestique of the future race winner, started the fireworks there. As you might have suspected, he wasn't seeking his own glory, but just wanted to have Di Luca's opponents wasting their legs in some chasing efforts. With one of the best prospects in the Italian gruppo, Saunier's Duval's Riccardo Riccó, driving the peloton charge, Spezialetti was quickly caught in the steepest portion of the climb (at Baldissero, where the gradient was going up to 18%). As the uphill efforts continued, the bunch was significantly thinned down, minute after minute, kilometre after kilometre, such that we had just half a dozen riders remaining up front, among whom were Riccó, Di Luca and Soler, whereas Paolo Bettini was racing inside the 50-strong first chase group.

About halfway through the climb, the former Acqua & Sapone cyclist from the Duitama (the place that hosted the 1995 World Champs) area of Colombia attacked, and Danilo Di Luca realized this move could be the good one, and kept Soler's wheel. Both riders worked well with each other. But another brave athlete was coming: Acqua & Sapone's young Belarusian Aliaksandar Kunitski, a professional rider since the past summer, successfully tried to get across to the lead two. Some other guys, Spain's Bingen Fernández included, were trailing by 15" at that point, and a second chase group was a further thirty seconds back.

Tinkoff were doing much of the chase work, but the mighty Liquigas, mixing up the fresh legs of their young talent Vincenzo Nibali with the wisdom of a bunch veteran like Andrea Noé, were doing their best in order to block the chase. And not in vain: the pursuers didn't make any significant gains on the front trio. Which was down to the "opening" pair as Kunitski's misfortunes did cost him the win, or at least a podium spot: the Belarusian had a mechanical in the very last part of the Superga climb, and got dropped and caught by the bunch. He wasn't going to regain the leaders anymore.

The descent to the line saw some big guns in the spotlight: Mirko Celestino attacked there and Paolo Bettini followed. As you all know the Cricket is a sensational rider; but still he's no Savoldelli when it comes to coming down a hill. Such that, while trying hard to follow Celestino's wheel, the Quick Step leader fell and gave us the unusual view of a rainbow jersey on the tarmac. He came out such incident with some minor bruises as only consequences, and was (comparatively) soon back in the saddle, with one team-mate of his around, but had his hopes of delighting us with another legendary performance dashed.

Celestino the Milraman has got better downhill skills, and could continue his run to the line; he even got close to joining Di Luca and Soler. Close, but he didn't succeed, and to add insult to injury he was even denied a top three spot as the cruel bunch brought him back in the last hundred metres. Soler couldn't keep Di Luca from dominating the two-man sprint and get back to the top of the podium for the first time after a difficult 2006 season though. A huge - and timely - moral booster for the Italian, before his next challenges on Northern Classics roads.

"On the Superga climb I found out that my legs were better than I expected, so I could make the gap along with Soler. And we hold onto a good margin until the line. I realized that I still have to work on my downhill skills, but I'm definitely satisfied with today's result" were some of Di Luca's after-race comments, while Bettini admitted his mistake "I was giving it everything on the descent, then I mistook a turn, and slipped all by myself. But such things are just part of cycling, you know".

92nd Milan-Turin: Top 10 Places
1. Danilo Di Luca (Ita - Liquigas-Bianchi) - 04h32'40"
2. Mauricio Soler (Col - Barloworld) - s.t.
3. Kim Kirchen (Lux - T-Mobile) - at 09"
4. Stuart O'Grady (Aus - Team CSC) - s.t.
5. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr - Ceramiche Flaminia) - s.t.
6. Cristian Moreni (Ita - Cofidis) - s.t.
7. Daniele Pietropolli (Ita - Tenax) - s.t.
8. Gabriele Bosisio (Ita - Tenax) - s.t.
9. Linus Gerdemann (Ger - T-Mobile) - s.t.
10. Luca Solari (Ita - Team LPR) - s.t.

Milan-Turin: all Podium Finishers

1. Paolo Magretti (Ita)
2. Carlo Ricci (Ita)
3. B Balbiani (Ita)
1. Luigi Airaldi (Ita)
2. Piero Masetti (Ita)
3. Alberto Pizzagalli (Ita)
1896 (*) (**)
1. Giovanni Moro (Ita)
2. Federico Goll (Ita)
3. Franco Gilardini (Ita)
1. Giovanni Gerbi (Ita)
2. Giovanni Rossignoli (Ita)
3. Ferdinao Coppa (Ita)
1. Giovanni Rossignoli (Ita)
2. Giovanni Cuniolo (Ita)
3. Giuliano Tagliavini(Ita)
1. Henri Pelissier (Fra)
2. Carlo Durao (Ita)
3. Domenico Allasia (Ita)
1913 (***)
1. Giuseppe Azzini (Ita)
2. Carlo Durao (Ita)
3. Ezio Cortaita (Ita)
1. Costante Girardengo (Ita)
2. Giuseppe Azzini (Ita)
3. Carlo Durao (Ita)
1. Costante Girardengo (Ita)
2. Giovanni Roncon (Ita)
3. Lauro Bordin (Ita)
1. Oscar Egg (Swi)
2. Leopoldo Torricelli (Ita)
3. Luigi Lucotti (Ita)
1. Gaetano Belloni (Ita)
2. Alfredo Sivocci (Ita)
3. Angelo Vay (Ita)
1. Costante Girardengo (Ita)
2. Giuseppe Olivieri (Ita)
3. Giuseppe Azzini (Ita)
1. Costante Girardengo (Ita)
2. Gaetano Belloni (Ita)
3. Leopoldo Torricelli (Ita)
1. Federico Gay (Ita)
2. Giovanni Brunero (Ita)
3. Bartolomeo Aymo (Ita)
1. Adriano Zanaga (Ita)
2. Emilio Petiva (Ita)
3. Federico Gay (Ita)
1. Costante Girardengo (Ita)
2. Gaetano Belloni (Ita)
3. Giovanni Brunero (Ita)
1. Federico Gay (Ita)
2. Michele Gordini (Ita)
3. Angelo Gremo (Ita)
1. Adriano Zanaga (Ita)
2. Domenico Piemontesi (Ita)
3. Giuseppe Pancera (Ita)
1. Giuseppe Graglia (Ita)
2. Giuseppe Olmo (Ita)
3. Antonio Folco (Ita)
1. Giuseppe Olmo (Ita)
2. Giuseppe Martano (Ita)
3. Giuseppe Graglia (Ita)
1. Giuseppe Graglia (Ita)
2. Attilio Masarati (Ita)
3. Antonio Folco (Ita)
1. Mario Cipriani (Ita)
2. Orlao Teani (Ita)
3. Giuseppe Graglia (Ita)
1. Giovanni Gotti (Ita)
2. Adalino Mealli (Ita)
3. Aldo Bini (Ita)
1. Cesare Del Cancia (Ita)
2. Olimpio Bizzi (Ita)
3. Mario Cipriani (Ita)
1. Giuseppe Martano (Ita)
2. Cesare Del Cancia (Ita)
3. Augusto Introzzi (Ita)
1. Pierino Favalli (Ita)
2. Giuseppe Olmo (Ita)
3. Fausto Montesi (Ita)
1. Pierino Favalli (Ita)
2. Michele Benente (Ita)
3. Giovanni Gatti (Ita)
1. Pierino Favalli (Ita)
2. Piero Chiappini (Ita)
3. Francesco Albani (Ita)
1. Piero Chiappini (Ita)
2. Ruggero Moro (Ita)
3. Pietro Rimoldi (Ita)
1. Piero Chiappini (Ita)
2. Osvaldo Bailo (Ita)
3. Salvatore Crippa (Ita)
1. Vito Ortelli (Ita)
2. Enzo Coppini (Ita)
3. Guerrino Tomasoni (Ita)
1. Vito Ortelli (Ita)
2. Oreste Conte (Ita)
3. Guido Lelli (Ita)
1. Italo De Zan (Ita)
2. Giovanni Pinarello (Ita)
3. Egidio Feruglio (Ita)
1. Sergio Maggini (Ita)
2. Italo De Zan (Ita)
3. Luciano Pezzi (Ita)
1. Luigi Casola (Ita)
2. Aldo Bini (Ita)
3. Italo De Zan (Ita)
1. Adolfo Grosso (Ita)
2. Fausto Marini (Ita)
3. Livio Isotti (Ita)
1. Fiorenzo Magni (Ita)
2. Giorgio Albani (Ita)
3. Alfredo Martini (Ita)
1. Aldo Bini (Ita)
2. Oreste Conte (Ita)
3. Alfio Ferrari (Ita)
1. Luciano Maggini (Ita)
2. Loretto Petrucci (Ita)
3. Don Zampini (Ita)
1. Agostino Coletto (Ita)
2. Fiorenzo Magni (Ita)
3. Luc Maggini (Ita)
1. Cleto Maule (Ita)
2. Aldo Moser (Ita)
3. Giorg Albani (Ita)
1. Ferdi Kubler (Swi)
2. Germ Derijcke (Bel)
3. Rob Falaschi (Ita)
1. Miguel Poblet (Spa)
2. Fred De Bruyne (Bel)
3. Guido Messina (Ita)
1. Agostino Coletto (Ita)
2. Miguel Poblet (Spa)
3. Ami Pellegrini (Ita)
1. Nello Fabbri (Ita)
2. Guido Carlesi (Ita)
3. Agost Coletto (Ita)
1. Arnaldo Pambianco (Ita)
2. Guido Carlesi (Ita)
3. Gastone Nencini (Ita)
1. Walter Martin (Ita)
2. Angelo Conterno (Ita)
3. Aless Fantini (Ita)
1. Franco Balmamion (Ita)
2. Vittorio Adomi (Ita)
3. Dino Bruni (Ita)
1. Franco Cribiori (Ita)
2. Carlo Chiappano (Ita)
3. Giovanni Bettinelli (Ita)
1. Valentin Uriona (Spa)
2. Italo Zilioli (Ita)
3. Franco Cribiori (Ita)
1. Vito Taccone (Ita)
2. Marino Vigna (Ita)
3. Romeo Venturelli (Ita)
1. Marino Vigna (Ita)
2. Michele Dancelli (Ita)
3. Dino Zaegu (Ita)
1. Gianni Motta (Ita)
2. Franco Bitossi (Ita)
3. Vittorio Adorni (Ita)
1. Franco Bitossi (Ita)
2. Italo Zilioli (Ita)
3. Michele Dancelli (Ita)
1. Claudio Michelotto (Ita)
2. Martin Van Den Bossche (Bel)
3. Franco Bitossi (Ita)
1. Luciano Armani (Ita)
2. Guido Reybrouck (Bel)
3. Davide Boifava (Ita)
1. Georges Pintens (Bel)
2. Enrico Paolini (Ita)
3. Marinus Wagtmans (Hol)
1. Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
2. Franco Bitossi (Ita)
3. Gianni Motta (Ita)
1. Marcello Bergamo (Ita)
2. Franco Bitossi (Ita)
3. Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1. Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
2. Marcello Bergamo (Ita)
3. Italo Zilioli (Ita)
1. Wladimiro Panizza (Ita)
2. Enrico Paolini (Ita)
3. Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1. Enrico Paolini (Ita)
2. Franco Bitossi (Ita)
3. Eddy Verstraeten (Bel)
1. Rik Van Lien (Bel)
2. Walter Godefroot (Bel)
3. Alfons De Bal (Bel)
1. Piero Gavazzi (Ita)
2. Vittorio Algeri (Ita)
3. Franco Bitossi (Ita)
1. Alfio Vai (Ita)
2. Claude Criquielion (Bel)
3. Wladimiro Panizza (Ita)
1. Giovanni Battaglin (Ita)
2. Francesco Moser (Ita)
3. Roberto Ceruti (Ita)
1. Giuseppe Martinelli (Ita)
2. Giovanni Renosto (Ita)
3. Nazzareno Berto (Ita)
1. Giuseppe Saronni (Ita)
2. Noel De Jonckheere (Bel)
3. Rik Van Lien (Bel)
1. Francesco Moser (Ita)
2. Silvestro Milani (Ita)
3. Peter Kehl (Ger)
1. Paolo Rosola (Ita)
2. Guido Bontempi (Ita)
3. Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1. Daniele Caroli (Ita)
2. Stefan Mutter (Swi)
3. Dante Morai (Ita)
Race not held
1. Phil Aerson (Aus)
2. Filippo Giupponi (Ita)
3. Tony Rominger (Swi)
1. Rolf Golz (Ger)
2. Phil Aerson (Aus)
3. Luc Roosen (Bel)
1. Rolf Golz (Ger)
2. Dag Erik Pedersen (Den)
3. Tony Rominger (Swi)
1. Mauro Gianetti (Swi)
2. Jean Claude Leclercq (Fra)
3. Gilles Delion (Fra)
1. Davide Cassani (Ita)
2. Tony Rominger (Swi)
3. Sammie Moreels (Bel)
1. Gianni Bugno (Ita)
2. Rolf Aldag (Ger)
3. Tony Rominger (Swi)
1. Rolf Sorensen (Den)
2. Paolo Fornaciari (Ita)
3. Francesco Frattini (Ita)
1. Francesco Casagrae (Ita)
2. Mauro Gianetti (Swi)
3. Zenon Jaskula (Pol)
1. Stetano Zanini (Ita)
2. Rolf Sorensen (Den)
3. Francesco Casagrae (Ita)
1. Daniele Nardello (Ita)
2. Stefano Zanini (Ita)
3. Laurent Jalabert (Fra)
1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra)
2. Alex Zulle (Swi)
3. Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita)
1. Niki Aebersold (Swi)
2. Oscar Camenzi (Swi)
3. Marco Serpellini (Ita)
1. Markus Zberg (Swi)
2. Paolo Bettini (Ita)
3. Jan Ullrich (Ger)
Race cancelled due to adverse weather
1. Mirko Celestino (Ita)
2. Niki Aebersold (Swi)
3. Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita)
1. Michele Bartoli (Ita)
2. Oscar Camenzi (Swi)
3. Gabriele Missaglia (Ita)
1. Mirko Celestino (Ita)
2. Davide Rebellin (Ita)
3. Miguel Angel Martín Perdiguero (Spa)
1. Marcos A. Serrano Rodriguez (Spa)
2. Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita)
3. Francesco Casagrande (Ita)
1. Fabio Sacchi (Ita)
2. Mirko Celestino (Ita)
3. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) 1
1. Igor Astarloa (Spa)
2. Franco Pellizotti (Ita)
3. Mirko Celestino (Ita)
1. Igor Astarloa (Spa)
2. Franco Pellizotti (Ita)
3. MIrko Celestino (Ita)
1. Danilo Di Luca (Ita)
2. Mauricio Soler (Col)
3. Kim Kirchen (Lux)

(*): Federico Goll relegated to second place.
(**): Franco Gilardini relegated to third place.
(***): Lauro Bordin (first across the line) disqualified.
(****): Italo Zilioli (first across the line) disqualified.

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