And so now live to the Race of the Falling Leaves - the final edition of this year's world cup competition. We join the race in progress.
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It is also the last major race that the Mapei team will compete in - how poignant it would be if Bettini were to win the world cup on this sad day for cycling.
The main protagonist in the first part of the ride was Sicilian rider Paolo Tiralongo (Fassa-Bortolo), who went clear earlier and stayed clear for some 180 kms., first along with 6 break mates, later on a solo breakaway.
30 km to go - riders are on the Berbenno climb. A break attempt started by Alexia's Alessandro Guerra after Tiralongo was caught has just ended.
Two more riders in the spotlight today: a particularly active Gilberto Simoni, who also crashed on an ascent but regained the group and is now at the front of the bunch.
And Paolo Bettini, who had been dropped in the last
minutes. It happened the same in a previous ascent, then Bettini regained the peloton with the help from his teammates.
Saeco's Astarloa is the only rider able to steal the
title to Paolo Bettini. In case the Basque wins and the Italian doesn't get into the Top 25, Astarloa takes the title.
1606: Ivan Basso tries to get clear in a false-flat piece.
1607: Counter-attack by Dario Frigo.
1608: Frigo is chased by Simoni and an Euskaltel rider,
with the rest of the leading bunch coming behind.
1610: The leading bunch, made up of about 20 riders, is
on the Berbenno descent now.
1611: Paolo Bettini is trying to regain the leading
bunch, but he's about 15" down to Astarloa now.
If Bettini were to win the World Cup today it would be the Mapei's fourth success - they won in 1994 with Bortolami and Museeuw won the event for them in 1995 and 1996.
... and the LAST SUCCESS for them too, as Mapei is to leave cycling at the end of the season.
1613: Less than 25 km. to go, Paolo Bettini regains
Astarloa's leading bunch.
A sad day for cycling from a great team - who also won the rainbow jersey three times - Museeuw in Lugano, Camenzind in Valkenburg and Freire in Lisbon.
1615: Lampre's Masimo Codol attacks in the descent into
16:16: Codol still in a solo lead.
The Mapei team will be forever linked to that other great
classic race, the Paris Roubaix - with three great triple victories - 1996 - Museeuw, Bortalami,
Tafi - 1998 - Ballerini, Tafi, Peeters, and 1999 Tafi, Peeters, Steels.
1618: Also Boogerd, Nardello and Sacchi regained the
bunch. Sacchi could be helpful to today's leader Astarloa, while Nardello should work for Bettini.
Yet strangely enough when Giorgio Squinzi looks back on the teams 661 victories there will be just two gaps on the mantel shelf - the Milan San Remo and the
Tour de France...
1619: Codol has opened a 15" gap on the 35-strong chasing
1620: Now it's Cofidis' Cedric Vasseur in a solo chase,
his teammate David Millar got dropped some minutes ago.
1621: Vasseur just caught Codol: it's an Italo-French duo
in the lead now.
1623: Codol and Vasseur seemingly working well together,
but their lead has now reduced to 8" only.
1624: The peloton caught the two (former) leaders. The
first rider to join them was Telekom's Matthias Kessler, runner-up on Thursday's Giro del Piemonte.
1625: New counter-attack by another Telekom rider, namely
1626: Astarloa has 3 team-mates in the bunch (Sacchi,
Simoni, Di Luca), the same for Bettini who has got Nardello, Freire and Sinkewitz to help him.
1627: Saeco's Fabio Sacchi attacks.
So the expected battle royale between the blood red men of Saeco and the Mapei boys...
1628: Sacchi is trying to bridge the gap to the 3 current
leaders: Vinokourov, Codol and Vasseur.
1629: 9 km. to go - Sacchi reeled in. The trio still in
the lead has a 50-meter advantage on the chasing bunch.
1630. Vino attacks and goes on a solo break.
1631: Vinokourov rejoined by Vasseur. Codol unable to
stay on their wheels.
1632: Both Codol and the (former) leading duo brought back by the Fassa-led peloton. Huge work done by Matteo Tosatto in particular.
Vinokourov - winner of this year's Paris Nice and the third stage of the Tour de Suisse into Samnaun will be hoping to end the Telekom season on a high note after its troubled last few weeks.
1633: 6 to go - Many Fassa white jerseys at the front
now. Expect Bartoli's attack in the coming ascent into Bergamo.
1634: Fassas still riding tempo.
Bartoli, whose best ever position in this race was third,
is determined for a good result today.
1635: The last ascent of the day is about to start, first
attack coming from Banesto's Pablo Lastras, double stage winner at the recent Vuelta.
1636: Peloton on cobbled ascent now, Lastras has got a
20-meter lead, with fellow Spaniard Astarloa struggling behind.
1637: On the toughest part of the ascent now (10% the
max. gradient). Lastras adventure is over, but he was replaced by team-mate Francisco Mancebo.
1638: New attack: Casagrande and Vinokourov!!
Bettini and Astarloa are struggling neck and neck
behind in the peloton.
1639: 2 to go - The climb is over and didn't make a
serious selection. A small bunch sprint finish is more than likely.
1640: 1.5 to go- Basso and Bartoli leading the bunch.
1641: Bettini struggling in a big way but still on Astarloa's wheel. The WC belongs to him...
1642: Time for the small bunch sprint now. The winner is
... MICHELE BARTOLI!!!
BARTOLI SPRINTS TO VICTORY AHEAD OF REBELLIN AND
BARTOLI took his second WC of the year after Amstel Gold
Race, while Paolo Bettini won his first World cup title.
Bartoli third in 1995, fourth in 1997 and in 1998, and
fifth in 2000 and 2001 finally wins the classic that has eluded him.
Interviewed by Italian TV, Michele Bartoli praises his
team's work, "a victory of the whole team. They did something extraordinary. Wonderful.. "
While Bettini, winner of Liege Bastogne Liege this year
as well as 8 other races and the mastermind behind Cipollini's victory in Zolder, will be overjoyed with his world cup jersey - and it is a fitting epithaph for the Mapei team.
So the Final TOP 10 of the 2002 Giro di Lombardia is:
1. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo)
2. Davide Rebellin (Ita - Gerolsteiner) - s.t.
3. Oskar Camenzind (Swi - Phonak Hearing Systems)
4. Marco Serpellini (Ita - Lampre-Daikin)
5. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Fassa Bortolo)
6. Michael Boogerd (Hol - Rabobank)
7. Dario Frigo (Ita - Tacconi Sport-Tonello)
8. Vladimir Duma (Ukr - Panaria-Fiordo)
9. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz - Team Telekom)
10. Manuel Beltrán (Spa - Team Coast)
23. ... Igor Astarloa (Spa - Saeco-Longoni Sport)
30. Paolo Bettini (Ita - Mapei-Quick Step)
World Cup - Final Top Three:
1. Paolo Bettini (Ita - Mapei-Quick Step)
2. Johan Museeuw (Domo-Farm Frites)
3. Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo)
World Cup - Team Ranking
1. Mapei-Quick Step (Final Overall Winner)
Bartoli enjoyed great leadout work by Francesco
Casagrande in the final part of the sprint and easily edged out Davide Rebellin, who just added another second placing to his collection...
A few words from Michele Bartoli after his victory: ------ GIRO DI LOMBARDIA - WINNERS LIST ------
"I haven't raced a lot this year, as the crash at Giro
d'Italia kept me out of the saddle for a few months, but when I raced, I think I did well. I won two prestigious
contests such as Amstel Gold Race and Giro di Lombardia after all. I hope I may continue this way in the next seasons too."
1. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo)
2. Davide Rebellin (Ita - Gerolsteiner)
3. Oskar Camenzind (Swi - Phonak Hearing Systems)
1. Danilo Di Luca (Ita - Cantina Tollo-Acqua e Sapone)
2. Giuliano Figueras (Ita - Ceramiche Panaria)
3. Michael Boogerd (Hol - Rabobank)
1. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit - Fassa Bortolo)
2. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Vini Caldirola-Sidermec)
3. Niklas Axelsson (Swe - Ceramica Panaria-Gaerne)
* 1999: Mirko Celestino (Ita)
* 1998: Oscar Camenzind (Swi)
* 1997: Laurent Jalabert (Fra)
* 1996: Andrea Tafi (Ita)
* 1995: Gianni Faresin (Ita)
* 1994: Vladislav Bobrik (Rus)
* 1993: Pascal Richard (Swi)
* 1992: Tony Rominger (Swi)
* 1991: Sean Kelly (Ire)
* 1990: Gilles Delion (Fra)
* 1989: Tony Rominger (Swi)
* 1988: Charly Mottet (Fra)
* 1987: Moreno Argentin (Ita)
* 1986: G.B: Baronchelli (Ita)
* 1985: Sean Kelly (Ire)
* 1984: Bernard Hinault (Fra)
* 1983: Sean Kelly (Ire)
* 1982: Giuseppe Saronni (Ita)
* 1981: Hennie Kuiper (Hol)
* 1980: Alfons de Wolf (Bel)
* 1979: Bernard Hinault (Fra)
* 1978: Francesco Moser (Ita)
* 1977: Giovan Battista Baronchelli (Ita)
* 1976: Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
* 1975: Francesco Moser (Ita)
* 1974: Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
* 1973: Felice Gimondi (Ita)
* 1972: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
* 1971: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
* 1970: Franco Bitossi (Ita)
* 1969: Jean-Pierre Monseré (Bel)
* 1968: Herman Van Springel (Bel)
* 1967: Franco Bitossi (Ita)
* 1966: Felice Gimondi (Ita)
* 1965: Tom Simpson (GB)
* 1964: Gianni Motta (Ita)
* 1963: Jo De Roo (Hol)
* 1962: Jo De Roo (Hol)
* 1961: Vito Taccone (Ita)
* 1960: Emile Daems (Bel)
* 1959: Rik Van Looy (Bel)
* 1958: Nino Defilippis (Ita)
* 1957: Diego Ronchini (Ita)
* 1956: André Darrigade (Fra)
* 1955: Cleto Maule (Ita)
* 1954: Fausto Coppi (Ita)
* 1953: Bruno Landi (Ita)
* 1952: Giuseppe Minardi (Ita)
* 1951: Louison Bobet (Fra)
* 1950: Renzo Soldani (Ita)
* 1949: Fausto Coppi (Ita)
* 1948: Fausto Coppi (Ita)
* 1947: Fausto Coppi (Ita)
* 1946: Fausto Coppi (Ita)
* 1945: Mario Ricci (Ita)
* 1942: Aldo Bini (Ita)
* 1941: Mario Ricci (Ita)
* 1940: Gino Bartali (Ita)
* 1939: Gino Bartali (Ita)
* 1938: Cino Cinelli (Ita)
* 1937: Aldo Bini (Ita)
* 1936: Gino Bartali (Ita)
* 1935: Enrico Mollo (Ita)
* 1934: Learco Guerra (Ita)
* 1933: Domenico Piemontesi (Ita)
* 1932: Antonio Negrini (Ita)
* 1931: Alfredo Binda (Ita)
* 1930: Michele Mara (Ita)
* 1929: Piero Fossati (Ita)
* 1928: Gaetano Belloni (Ita)
* 1927: Alfredo Binda (Ita)
* 1926: Alfredo Binda (Ita)
* 1925: Alfredo Binda (Ita)
* 1924: Giovanni Brunero (Ita)
* 1923: Giovanni Brunero (Ita)
* 1922: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
* 1921: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
* 1920: Henri Pelissier (Fra)
* 1919: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
* 1918: Gaetano Belloni (Ita)
* 1917: Philippe Thijs (Bel)
* 1916: Leopodo Torricelli (Ita)
* 1915: Gaetano Belloni (Ita)
* 1914: Lauro Bordin (Ita)
* 1913: Henri Pelissier (Fra)
* 1912: Carlo Oriani (Ita)
* 1911: Henri Pelissier (Fra)
* 1910: Giovanni Micheletto (Ita)
* 1909: Giovanni Cuniolo (Ita)
* 1908: Francois Faber (Lux)
* 1907: Gustave Garrigou (Fra)
* 1906: Giuseppe Brambilla (Ita)
* 1905: Giovanni Gerbi (Ita)
------ WORLD CUP - WINNERS LIST ------
* 2002: Paolo Bettini (Ita)
* 2001: Erik Dekker (Hol)
* 2000: Erik Zabel (Ger)
* 1999: Andrej Tchmil (Bel)
* 1998: Michele Bartoli (Ita)
* 1997: Michele Bartoli (Ita)
* 1996: Johan Museeuw (Bel)
* 1995: Johan Museeuw (Bel)
* 1994: Gianluca Bortolami (Ita)
* 1993: Maurizio Fondriest (Ita)
* 1992: Olaf Ludwig (Ger)
* 1991: Maurizio Fondriest (Ita)
* 1990: Gianni Bugno (Ita)
* 1989: Sean Kelly (Ire)
And so the last leaves have fallen on the main European
cycling season. A sad day for European fans as the Mapei men get off their bikes for the last ever time and a great chapter in cycling history is closed. It is just reward that the Mapei finish, almost as they started in 1993, on a victorious note - but while Bettini and today's race winner Bartoli will be looking forward to rejoining the peloton next season, there will be a mighty vaccuum left by the Mapei team. They will sadly missed, but never forgotten.
Thank you for joining us, and stay tuned for World Cup wrap up later today.