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31st Giro del Trentino - Stage Two Updated - Photo
By Fabio
Date: 4/25/2007
31st Giro del Trentino - Stage Two Updated - Photo

It took quite a long time for him to taste back victory champagne, but once he did, he seemed to like it. Such that, twenty-four hours after opening his 2007 account in the Tour of Trentino opener, Damiano Cunego scored again, capturing also the second and "queen" stage of the Italian race, from Santa Massenza to Predaia over only 144 km but featuring a mountain top finish. The Lampreman from Verona beat Michele Scarponi (Acqua & Sapone-Mokambo) to the line and strengthened his grip on the overall leader's jersey.

The stage got underway without Dainius Kairelis. The Lithuanian winner of the recent Giro d'Oro (see link at the bottom of the page) fell yesterday, resulting in nine stitches (and bruises and abrasions), and his conditions weren't good enough for him to take the start line today.

Seven riders made the gap while taking on the first ascent - San Lorenzo in Banale - about 10 km into the stage: Enrico Gasparotto (Ita - Liquigas), Aketza Pena (Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi), Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita - Acqua e Sapone-Mokambo), Maurizio Varini (Ita - Ceramica Flaminia), and Eddy Ratti (Ita - Aurum Hotels) launched the first serious attack (many pointless ones had gone earlier) and were quickly joined by Denis Shkarpeta (Uzb - Team Miche) and Robert Kiserlovsky (Cro - Adria Mobil). Such guys could never achieve a three minute lead though; even if the hard course kept splintering the chasing peloton, and even if a member of the well-known - especially when it comes to raiding the hotel rooms of some bike race competitors - Carabinieri misled half of the peloton into taking the wrong direction (but the race was neutralised for a while and everything got back on the right track), sooner or later all escapees but Pena were reeled in.

The Basque was still ahead as the race hit the eleven kilometres of the climb to the finish line (average gradient: 6.5%), but with Lampre's Paolo Tiralongo and Marco Marzano riding so hard in order to bring him back, it was clear that his attempt was doomed too, and in fact his hopes got dashed halfway through the ascent. Straight behind the Lampre trio - Tiralongo, Marzano and Cunego - that was driving the 40-strong (more or less) group in the ascent were a few A&S guys, one of whom going under the name of Michele Scarponi. And when Pena was swallowed up, and a brief counter-attack from Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio was covered by the same Marzano, but at the same time Tiralongo couldn't stay with the best ones any longer so that Damiano was left with just one domestique around, Scarponi realized it was time for him to make a move.

He did for sure, and broke away solo. But Cunego himself looked after countering such attack; the red jersey holder, with Panaria's Luca Mazzanti in his wheels, first kept Scarponi within striking distance for some time, and as the finishing line was just a couple km. away he dropped Mazzanti by his wheels (the Bolonian was also going to be caught by the Austrian wünderpair of Thomas Rohregger and Giro d'Oro podium finisher Christian Pfannberger) and continued his own "individual pursuit" challenge.

That was when we could enjoy some great moments of uphill riding, with both guys struggling on the tough slopes that led up to finish, and Damiano making slow but steady time gains on the frontrunner. Until Cunego cranked the pace up and put in a small sprint to close down on Scarponi once and for all and the two guys were together with 800m to go. The hard efforts sustained by the Lampreman during the whole chase thing kept him from having a go at riding away from Scarponi, but still Damiano's legs were good enough for the boy to start his sprint first about 180m from the finish and held on to a slender margin over the Acqua & Sapone team leader. On-form Pfannberger took third in the stage, a dozen seconds behind the winner, who at his turn brought his overall lead on Scarponi up to a good 14".

A margin Cunego is more than likely to keep (or even take to higher heights) in Thursday's third and penultimate stage, going from Cavareno to the Brescia area town of Toscolano Maderno in Lombardy over 176 kilometres. The first category Passo di Capovalle (7.5 km; average gradient 8%) coming with 35 km to go could well serve as an ideal launch pad for a winning move.

Damiano does it again. And the crowd go wild!

Stage 2 (Santa Massenza to Predaia, 143.8 km): Top 10 Places
1. Damiano Cunego (Ita - Lampre-Fondital) - 04h05'56" (35.082 km/h)
2. Michele Scarponi (Ita - Acqua & Sapone-Mokambo) - s.t.
3. Christian Pfannberger (Aut - Elk Haus-Simplon) - at 12"
4. Luca Mazzanti (Ita - Panaria-Navigare) - at 16"
5. Thomas Rohregger (Aut - Elk Haus-Simplon) - at 18"
6. Franco Pellizotti (Ita - Liquigas) - at 21"
7. Fortunato Baliani (Ita - Panaria-Navigare) - at 30"
8. Yauhen Sobal (Blr - Team Cinelli-Endeka) - at 48"
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita - Liquigas) - s.t.
10. Andrea Noé (Ita - Liquigas) - s.t.

Complete Stage Results HERE (pdf file).

31st Giro del Trentino - GC after Stage 2: Top 10 Places
1. Damiano Cunego (Ita - Lampre Fondital)
2. Michele Scarponi (Ita - Acqua & Sapone-Mokambo) - at 14"
3. Luca Mazzanti (Ita - Panaria-Navigare) - at 36"
4. Thomas Rohregger (Aut - Elk Haus-Simplon) - at 38"
5. Franco Pellizotti (Ita - Liquigas) - at 41"
6. Fortunato Baliani (Ita - Panaria-Navigare) - at 50"
7. Andrea Noè (Ita - Liquigas) - at 01’08"
8. Yauhen Sobal (Blr - Team Cinelli-Endeka) - s.t.
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita - Liquigas) - s.t.
10. Massimo Giunti (Ita - Miche) - at 01’24"

Full GC after Stage Two HERE (pdf file).

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