Season opener or not, things always stay the same. The 2010 version of Gran
Premio Costa degli Etruschi / Trofeo TMC Transformers, held in the south of
Tuscany today, finished just like the last five editions did: with a Royal
battle of fastmen on the finishing stretch at Donoratico, and with one
undisputed winner. And who else could it be but a certain Alessandro
? AleJet stamped his authority on what used to be the Italian road
season opener for the SIXTH time in row (albeit two years ago he was later
stripped of his victory due to doping-related reasons ...).
A close sprint... Petacchi throws his bike over the line to win over Androni
Diquigiovanni's Alberto Loddo and Liquigas' Fabio Sabatini. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter
The Lampre newcomer took his season's tally up to three triumphs already -
quite an impressive score in early February, isn't it? This time his "main
victims" went under the names of Sardinian sprinter Alberto Loddo and
Tuscany's own Fabio Sabatini, while Mattia Gavazzi had to be content with spot
number four only.
The other "star of the race movie" was a much lessser-known Swissman, Mr. Reto Hollenstein, a reckless adventurer that stayed all alone on the front for some 150 kilometres. The Vorarlberg-Corratec rider built up a maximum lead of around six minutes, but with basically all of the sprinter's teams helping the chase (when the chase got going), his attempt was doomed to failure. And it failed indeed, as the bunch got back as one with two and half laps of the finishing circuit around Donoratico (or just call it ... 25 kilometres, if you like) to go.
Alessandro Vanotti and Enrico Rossi lead the peloton through the famous pine
lined at Bolgheri. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter
AleJet and his Lampremen enjoyed the help of the other sprinter's teams also later, as the likes of Colnago, working for their appointed fastman Gavazzi, and Team ISD, with Oscar Gatto keeping some hopes of glory, played their part in keeping the race together. Such that nothing really worth a mention occurred until the last km, when Petacchi's loyal (but needing some more leadout practise) Lorenzo Bernucci unwillingly "made the news": the Lampre domestique was pulling so hard to keep the pace high that he opened up a gap of about 30 metres on the whole field - his "capitano" included.
Ale Jet Celebrates! (Left to right) Claudio Cucinotta (De Rosa), Oscar Gatto
(ISD), Petacchi (Lampre) and Alberto Loddo . Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter
His "breakaway" came to an end as he soon as the guy turned back and realized that Petacchi wasn't glued to his wheel, but what's done can't be undone, you know, so Lampres leadout efforts basically got messed up, and "the Sprinter Gentleman" had to contest the sprint banking just on his own legs. Which are still good enough anyway: the final battle to the line was a close one, but despite starting the sprint too early, AleJet kept his rivals at bay and stayed in front until he could raise his arms in triumph at the Donoratico line for the sixth time.
Photographer, Stefano Sirotti catches a panorama of the peloton led by Lampre
riding through the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter
AleJet's after race interviews began with an Italian TV journalist joking about Petacchi's chance to become an honorary citizen of Donoratico after his string of victories there, and continued with the six-time winner stating that "I think it's a tought task for a rider to win a race like this for six years running. Sure I always try to start the season with the best condition, as many early season races suit my skills. And my good form perhaps helped me win also this year, in the most difficult sprint I've ever had here; due to some misunderstandings, the peloton slowed the pace about 500 metres from the finish, and I don't like that to happen; so I began the sprint early. The line was so distant I didn't think I could make it; instead I did, thanks to my current condition".
A very happy Alessandro arrives on the podium. Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter
Regardless of the "Lorenzo Bernucci accident", Petacchi had nothing but praises and good words for the whole Lampre crew: "my teammates knew that most of the burden was on our shoulders today, and they delivered. They did a great job, and those in charge in the last piece of the race did the best job they could" and again "My morale is sky high. I'm proud that I'm back to a top quality team, and happy to find great comrades at Lampre; the group is okay, the staff is great, and so are the team managers. I've known them for a long time, and it was a pleasure for me to find them in my team after so many years as a pro rider, and with my career end getting nearer. It provides my further motivation, and I needed that".
2010 Etruschi Podium: Alberto Loddo, Alessandro Petacchi and Fabio Sabatini
Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter
Profile 15th Gran Premio Costa degli Etruschi: 1km to 93.6 km
Top - Profile Circuit 2 - 24.3 km - 48.6 km
Bottom - 5 circuits of 10.1 km - 50.5 km. 193 Total Km
15th GP Costa Etruschi (San Vincenzo to Donoratico, 193 km)
Top 10 Places
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita - Lampre-Farnese) - 04h48'32" (43.208 kph)
2. Alberto Loddo (Ita - Androni-Diquigiovanni) - s.t.
3. Fabio Sabatini (Ita - Liquigas-Doimo) - s.t.
4. Mattia Gavazzi (Ita - Colnago-CSF) - s.t.
5. Oscar Gatto (Ita - ISD-Neri) - s.t.
6. Enrico Rossi (Ita - Ceramica Flaminia) - s.t.
7. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita - Colnago-CSF) - s.t.
8. Claudio Cucinotta (Ita - De Rosa-Stac Plastic)
9. Andrea Piechele (Ita - Carmiooro-NGC)
10. Alessandro Maserati (Ita - Ceramica Flaminia) - s.t.