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Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 5 & Photos
By Fabio
Date: 3/28/2009
Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 5 & Photos

Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 5 & Photos
It's Cadel at last! Evans outsprints Cunego and a few more to get that coveted stage victory. But overall honors go the undisputed Italian king of this race. Many English-speakers showed off today. Updated with rider comments and photos..

Stage 5 (Scandiano to Sassuolo 178.5 km
Cadel Evans and Damiano Cunego shared the glory in the fifth and final day of this five-stage race named after Italy's two greatest ever bike racers, Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali (sorry Girardengo, sorry Binda, sorry Pantani). The Australian crossed the line in first place at the end of the 178.5-kilometer undulating leg from Scandiano to Sassuolo, near Modena; the Italian barely lost in the tight small bunch sprint today's journey came down to, but firmly held on to the race leadership to win the GC for the second time - the first one was three years ago. Cadel Evans and Massimo Giunti stood alongside him on the eventual podium. Another Australian, Team Columbia's Adam Hansen, burst into spotlight in a much more unpleasant way as he fell and unfortunately got a suspected broken clavicle.

The peloton on the start of climb of Monte Gibbio. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Sprinters Danilo Napolitano (Ita - Team Katusha), and Greg Henderson (NZl - Silence Lotto) maybe didn't see the point of wasting energy in a stage they had zero chances to win, and resolved not to take the start line; neither did Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita - Barloworld), Alessandro Proni (Ita - ISD), Steffen Radochla (Ger - Elk Haus) and Alessio Signego (Ita - Adria Mobil).

Smyd and Froome lead the break. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Three other English-speakers and five more fellow racers took part in today's leg for a reason instead: Craig Lewis (USA - Team Columbia Highroad), Michael Rogers (Aus - Team Columbia Highroad), Christopher Froome (GBR - Barloworld), Johan Van Summeren (Bel - Silence-Lotto), Fortunato Baliani (Ita - CSF Group-Navigare), Sylvester Szmyd (Pol - Liquigas), Edwin Carvajal Jarami (Col - Miche-Silver Cross-Selle Italia) and Pasquale Muto (Ita - Miche-Silver Cross-Selle Italia) set up a multinational breakaway group after 37 kilometers. Their maximum advantage was two minutes and twenty seconds, they reached it about 65 km. into the stage. But just Szmyd and Froome remained up front as the Monte Gibbio climb split the front group: Van Summeren, Lewis, Michael Rogers and Carvajal were captured first, Baliani and Muto fell next. The Kenyan-British escapee and his Polish colleague were still ahead by some 40 secs at their second passage of the line instead, but had to give up at km. 139, with 39k to go.

Savini and McCartney on the attack.   Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

As soon as they were brought back a new pairing went on the move: America's Jason McCartney (Team Saxo Bank) and Italy's Filippo Savini (CSF Group-Navigare) rapidly built a 30-second advantage. McCartney's climbing legs were not good enough anyway, and the boy was hauled back by the gruppo as the race hit Monte Gibbio again; Enrico Rossi (Ita - Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce) replaced him on the front at the start of the final circuit's third and last lap, but neither such duo was given green light, no matter how cooperative toward each other they were.

(Most of) the bunch, driven mainly by Team Columbia- High Road, was together again with 10 kilometers yet to be covered, when the Monte Gibbio "wall" and its gradients going up to 16-18 percent showed up for the third time, and Damiano Cunego showed off: the Lampre-NGC rider put in a strong attack after Austria's star rider Christian Pfannberger (Team Katusha) had forced the pace during much of the climb.

Cunego Attacks! Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Despite his two previous stage victories, the Italian looked like he was still eager to put a victory in the bag, but so was Cadel Evans, vying for his "first time" in this year's race, and so was José Serpa Pérez. Both the man from OZ and the Colombian managed to get across to the Italian at the top the ascent - where Serpa secured the KOM title by snatching third place there - and Giovanni Visconti made to most out of his descending skills to join the leaders later.

The newly formed group turned into a ten-man entity as aforementioned Christian Pfannberger plus Morris Possoni (Ita - Team Columbia-High Road), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita - CSF Group-Navigare), best young rider Robert Kiserlovski (Cro - Amica Chips-Knauf), Giampaolo Caruso (Ita - Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce) and Massimo Giunti (Ita - Miche-Silver Cross-Selle Italia) cut the gap down in the last few miles. But no "newcomer" could eventually keep Evans and Cunego from starring in a new one- a clash for line honors. And this time, finally, the Aussie was successful. Visconti launched the sprint first, but a bit too early, and both Cadel and Damiano passed him.

Cunego, Evans and Visconti approach the finish line. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Cadel enjoys his first winners podium of 2009. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Comments from both of today's "main characters", to start with top player Cadel Evans of course: "This is my own first victory of the season, and my team's too. It's a pity that we had to wait until late March, but when you keep working, work pays off sooner or later. Cunego's early season form has never looked as good to me as it has now. He came back from the Spanish altitude training in great shape, looks well-trained and goes fast in the sprint, on the climbs, everywhere. Lampre had poor lck with the weather in the Team TT, but he has been on the front almost all the time in this race, I think he's one the world's best riders now. I finished very close to him in the mountain stage the other day, maybe my legs weren't good enough, perhaps I made some tactical mistakes too. I come here every season in order to prepare for the April challenges, and I'm always pleased when I get some good results here. Every year, my first goal is the Tour de France, but just like Damiano I enjoy giving it a shot at the Ardennes Classics. The Worlds? Well, the route is just five kilometers far from my "home" in Europe; and it is challenging, with some climbing inside, so what can I say ... I'll be there!"

On with the race winner. Damiano Cunego said that: "To be honest I didn't even aim at contesting the sprint, but happened to be in front with a few others, so I did. What really mattered to me was to make it to the finish and maintain the race leadership. The sprint even turned out to be dangerous because I saw all the photographers in front of me and realized that I could end up against them, it would have taken just a second, so I had to pull the brake. The most important thing is that I didn't fall".

And again "I came to this race with the intention to see how good I am at this point, the first two days were very useful to me, also because the stages suited my skills, so I managed to do fine. Success came a bit unexpected, but this bolsters my morale a lot for the next races. We've done a good job thus far, but it's not over, we have to continue like that and build something important for the future instead of dwelling on the victories I got. The Giro? Everyone keeps asking me about it, but I'm mainly focused on the Classics, those are my main objectives, the Giro will come later, and with other riders as big favorites, not me".

Stage 5 Podium: Damiano Cunego, Cadel Evans and Giovanni Visconti
Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Stage 5 (Scandiano to Sassuolo, 178.5 km): Top 10 Places
1. Cadel Evans (Aus - Silence-Lotto) - 04h19'41" (10")
2. Damiano Cunego (Ita - Lampre-NGC) - s.t. (06")
3. Giovanni Visconti (Ita - ISD) - s.t. (04")
4. Christian Pfannberger (Aut - Team Katusha) - s.t.
5. Massimo Giunti (Ita - Miche-Silver Cross-Selle Italia) - s.t.
6. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro - Amica Chips-Knauf) - s.t.
7. José Serpa Pérez (Col - Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) - at 04"
8. Morris Possoni (Ita - Team Columbia-High Road) - at 09"
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita - CSF Group-Navigare) - at 09"
10. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita - Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce) - at 09"
* Complete stage results HERE (pdf file).

Columbia's Adam Hansen receiving help after his crash. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Coppi & Bartali Week - Final GC: Top 10 Places
1. Damiano Cunego (Ita - Lampre-NGC) - 18h48'10"
2. Cadel Evans (Aus - Silence-Lotto) - at 24"
3. Massimo Giunti (Ita - Miche-Silver Cross) - at 38"
4. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro - Amica Chips-Knauf) - at 40"
5. Giovanni Visconti (Ita - ISD) - at 01'01""
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita - CSF Group-Navigare) - at 01'17"
7. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol - Miche-Silver Cross) - at 01'29"
7. Morris Possoni (Ita - Team Columbia-High Road) - at 01'20"
9. Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez (Col - Barloworld) - at 01'41"
10. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita - Flaminia-Bossini Docce) - at 01'43"
* Full final standings HERE (pdf file).

Settimana Internazionale di Coppi & Bartali - Winners
1999 - Romans Vainsteins (Lat)
2000 - Paolo Bettini (Ita)
2001 - Ruslan Ivanov (Mol)
2002 - Francesco Casagrande (Ita)
2003 - Mirko Celestino (Ita)
2004 - Giuliano Figueras (Ita)
2005 - Franco Pellizotti (Ita)
2006 - Damiano Cunego (Ita)
2007 - Michele Scarponi (Ita)
2008 - Cadel Evans (Aus)
2009 - Damiano Cunego (Ita)

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