Yusuke Hatanaka may have lost the overall leadership in the race today, but Japan keeps making the headlines in the Brescia/Garda Lake area of Italy, this time courtesy of the Nippo-Endeka team, whose veteran (aged 33) racer Eddy Ratti triumphed in Thursday's "traditional" stage from Buffalora to Toscolano Maderno, on the western short of Lago di Garda, over 157 kilometres.
Italy's Ratti, winner of GP Larciano in the past month of May, made it into the seven-strong winning breakaway group that formed late in the stage, about 15k from the finish (previous attempts from Danilo Napolitano, surprisingly turning into a breakawayman today, and Daniele Contrini, both able to make the gap after three kilometres and buildg up a maximum advantage of 08'10" by km 82, got chased down on the San Bartolomeo climb with 19k left), and contained five more Italians (Davide Rebellin, no stranger to success on today's parcours, Massimo Giunti, Santo Anzą, Francesco Masciarelli and tiny climber Domenico Pozzovivo) plus Austria's National RR championship winner Christian Pfannberger of Barloworld.
Ratti, aware of his few chances in a small bunch sprint as much as of his own downhill skills, tried to power away from the others on the final descent to the line, taking several risks, and succeeded after a few failed attempts. He opened up a small advantage of about ten seconds and was good enough at keeping it all the way to the finish, while Rebellin won the battle for second place over Giunti. Not much of a solace for a guy hoping to continue his winning streak at Toscolano.
Another member of the front group, Sicily's Santo Anzą (Diquigiovanni-Androni), is the brand new GC leader, albeit the main suspects to clinch the overall title remains young and talented Frenchman Clement Lhotellerie (Skil Shimano).
After-race comments from stage winner Eddy Ratti: "I could have finished with the others in a small bunch sprint, but I know that Rebellin and Giunti are faster than me, so I went for victory and gave it a go on the descent, where I'm good enough, and managed to make it to the lake with a small lead of a few seconds, that I could hold on to anyways. Well, things had gone fine for Rebellin for a couple years, but they went fine for me today ..."
Davide Rebellin: "Kudos to Ratti; he was really fast today, not just on the descent, but also in the flat final portion, where we couldn't make any time gains on him. My pick for the overall victory is Lhotellerie, there are two hilly stages that look tailor made for him".
Massimo Giunti: "I tried again today too, but I just couldn't; even in the sprint for second place I found someone, Rebellin, quicker than me. But I think victory will come, sooner or later ..."
Stage 2 (Buffalora to Toscolano Maderno, 157 km): Top 10 Places
1. RATTI, Eddy (Ita - NIPPO-ENDEKA) - 03h37'16"
2. REBELLIN, Davide (Ita - GEROSLTEINER) - at 06"
3. GIUNTI, Massimo (Ita - MICHE-SILVER CROSS) - at 06"
4. MASCIARELLI, Francesco (Ita - ACQUA SAPONE-MOKAMBO) - at 06"
5. ANZA', Santo (Ita - DIQUIGIOVANNI-ANDRONI) - at 06"
6. POZZOVIVO, Domenico (Ita - CSF GROUP-NAVIGARE) - at 06"
7. PFANNBERGER, Christian (Aut - BARLOWORLD) - at 06"
8. VISCONTI, Giovanni (Ita - QUICK STEP) - at 38"
9. EFIMKIN, Alexander (Rus - QUICK STEP) - at 38"
10. TIZZA, Francesco (Ita - NGC MEDICAL-OTC) - at 38"
8th Brixia Tour: GC after Stage 2 - Top 10 Places
1. ANZA', Santo (Ita - DIQUIGIOVANNI-ANDRONI) - 07h28'04"
2. MASCIARELLI, Francesco (Ita - ACQUA SAPONE-MOKAMBO) - s.t.
3. PFANNBERGER, Christian (Aut - BARLOWORLD) - at 02"
4. LHOTELLERIE, Clément (Fra - SKIL-SHIMANO) - at 05"
5. REBELLIN, Davide (Ita - GEROLSTEINER) - at 07"
6. POZZOVIVO, Domenico (Ita - CSF GROUP-NAVIGARE) - at 09"
7. RATTI, Eddy (Ita - NIPPO-ENDEKA) - at 12"
8. GIUNTI, Massimo (Ita - MICHE-SILVER CROSS) - at 19"
9. TIZZA, Francesco (Ita - NGC MEDICAL-OTC) - at 19"
10. CATTANEO, Marco (Ita - NGC MEDICAL-OTC) - at 19"
* Full Standings after Stage 2 here (pdf file)
* 8th Brixia Tour - Stage 1a & 1b