Italy's Fabrizio Guidi gave Team Coast a season end win in the 17th edition of Firenze-Pistoia, (actually Prato-Pistoia), the oldest race in Italy (whose first edition was held in 1870, and won by .. an American !!), a 33-km. long Individual Time Trial, since last year renamed "Memorial Adriano De Zan", as a tribute to the famous former Italian TV commentator.
The 30-year-old from the town of Pontedera (near Pisa), edged out fellow Tuscan Francesco Casagrande, two-time winner of the race in past years, by 17 seconds, and one of the main favorites, young Russian Evgeni Petrov, by 23". Australian Nathan O'Neill (Panaria-Fiordo), winner of the 2001 edition, took fourth.
Mainly known as an excellent sprinter, and winner of several Grand Tour stages, Guidi built his victory in the second part of the contest, after he was only fifth at the halfway point time check, 13" down on provisional leader O'Neill.
The race marking the end of the 2002 season had a particular meaning for Paolo Bettini: it was his first competition with the World Cup winner jersey on, but also the last one as a Mapei rider. After the Italian sponsor decided to pull out of cycling, next year "the Cricket" will be riding for Belgium's newly formed Quickstep-Davitamon team.
Saturday was the last time with Mapei also for other riders such as the above mentioned Petrov (going to iBanesto.com), Pozzato and Cancellara (both to Fassa Bortolo) and veteran Luca Scinto, who after playing a fundamental part in Cipollini's World Championship win, is likely going to retire from cycling.
Results - Top 5 Places:
1. Fabrizio Guidi (Ita - Team Coast) - 33 kms. in 43'23"
2. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - at 17"
3. Eugenij Petrov (Rus - Mapei-Quick Step) - at 23"
4. Nathan O'Neill (Aus - Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo) - at 29"
5. Raivis Delohvosciks (Lat - Lampre Daikin) - at 30"
RECENT (AND NOT SO RECENT) WINNERS :
1870. RYNNER Van Heste (USA),
1985. Rolf Golz (Ger),
1986. Lech Piasecki (Pol),
1987. Helmut Wechselberger (Swi),
1988. Tony Rominger (Swi),
1989. Tony Rominger (Swi),
1990. Lech Piasecki (Pol),
1991. Tony Rominger (Swi),
1992. Tony Rominger (Swi),
1993. Maurizio Fondriest (Ita),
1994. Francesco Casagrande (Ita),
1995. Francesco Casagrande (Ita),
1996. Marco Fincato (Ita),
1997. Not held,
1998. Marco Velo (Ita),
1999. Marco Velo (Ita),
2000. Not held,
2001. Nathan O'Neill (Aus)