Quaranta in good condition.
Photo by Sirotti, courtesy of Saeco.
Back in a good condition after a troubled 2002, Ivan Quaranta added another victory to his palmares as he claimed the third stage of the "Settimana Internazionale Coppi & Bartali", a 154-km. circuit around the town of Nonantola near Reggio Emilia. The Saeco rider was the fastest in a massive sprint, ahead of two of the most promising members of the young generation of sprinters, Alberto Loddo of Lampre and Argentina's Guillermo Ruben Bongiorno of Panaria-Fiordo.
The "Red Army" of Saeco has got a further reason to celebrate after today's stage, as Mirko Celestino maintained the overall leader's jersey.
But also the Navigators Cycling team has got something to cheer for: the American squad got two riders into the stage Top 6, one from Russia (Oleg Grishkine ranked 5th) another from Ireland (Ciaran Power took sixth).
“The wins I got in ths early part of the season were extremely well-needed as they came after last year’s misfortunes” said Quaranta who, besides bearing the consequences of his injuries for most of 2002, also rode with the troubled Index-Alexia team, and was not paid in the late part of the season “And now I want to do well in the Giro, where I’ll clash with Cipollini. I know that many say I’m “the next Cipo”, but he’s still alive and kicking. Sure that taking part in the next Tour de France would be source of extra motivation for me”.
Quaranta’s Achilles tendon have always been the mountains, as he’s a worse climber even than many other sprinters, Cipo included. But the man told journalists that his climbing skills are improving. We’ll have the chance to test it within a few weeks anyway.
Or maybe even in tomorrow’s demanding stage, the fifth and penultimate leg covering 172 km. between Sassuolo and Prignano, and featuring an undulated route with several pieces going up and down, that could prove particulalry selective. A test for Quaranta, but even more for his team-mate Mirko Celestino, "I fear Casagrande, that’s going very fast in this period. Tomorrow will be the day of the turth for many of us” were the words from the current overall leader’s jersey wearer.
From SAECO'S PRESS RELEASE: Quaranta wins the sprint in Nonantola.
Celestino still leader of the “Coppi & Bartali”
More good news for the Saeco team from the Settimana Internazionale Coppi & Bartali: After Mirko Celestino took the leader’s jersey yesterday, today Ivan Quaranta won the sprint which decided the third stage and so broke the spell without a win which had lasted since the Tour of Qatar in January. It was Quaranta’s second win in Saeco colours.
"The stage was extremely flat and so the Saeco and Lampre teams controlled the stage," Quaranta explained. "The team worked perfectly: In the last few kilometres we completely took over on the front. Fabio Sacchi lead me out with 350 metres to go. I came off his wheel with 250 metres to go and won quite easily."
Quaranta also spoke about his form: "I’m finally starting to improve even if I’m not a 100%. For the real Ivan Quaranta you¹ll have to wait for the Giro d’Italia" he said.
Ivan's next race sees him heading to Belgium: "I’m riding the Three Days of La Panne. It’s a special kind of race but I won a stage three years ago. I’ll be riding with riders like Pieri and Zanini who are more suited to that kind of racing but if there’s a big bunch sprint I won’t be afraid to get stuck in."
Quaranta dedicated the stage win to his Saeco team mates: "I have to dedicate it to them after how they helped me, they were perfect today. I can’t forget the work of the team staff either, they’re real professionals as well." Quaranta said.
Stage 3 (Nonantola-Nonantola, 154 km.): Top 15 Places
1. Ivan Quaranta (Ita - Saeco) - 03h14'17"
2. Alberto Loddo (Ita - Lampre) - s.t.
3. Uros Murn (Slo - Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavè-Ciarrocchi ) - s.t.
4. Guillermo Ruben Bongiorno (Arg - Panaria-Fiordo) - s.t.
5. Oleg Grishkin (Rus - Navigators Cycling Team) - s.t.
6. Claran Power (Ire - Navigators Cycling Team) - s.t.
7. Zoran Klemencic (Slo - Tenax) - s.t.
8. Mario Manzoni (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Team Scanavino) - s.t.
9. Cristian Moreni (Ita - Alessio) - s.t.
10. Ivan Fanelli (Ita - Amore&Vita Beretta) - s.t.
11. Jan Svorada (Cze - Lampre) - s.t.
12. Robert Sassone (Fra - Cofidis) - s.t.
13. Andris Naudusz (Lat - Colombia-Selle Italia) - s.t.
14. Mauro Zinetti (Ita - Tenax) - s.t.
15. Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa - Domina Vacanze-Elitron) - s.t.
GC after Stage 3: Top 15 Places
1. Mirko Celestino (Ita - Saeco) - 11h53'30"
2. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Lampre) - at 04"
3. Alexander Kolobnev (Rus - Domina Vacanze-Elitron) - at 08"
4. Yaroslav Popovich (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) - s.t.
5. Franco Pellizotti (Ita - Alessio) - at 12"
6. Angelo Lopeboselli (Ita - Cofidis) - at 14"
7. Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro - Alessio) - at 16"
8. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita - Panaria-Fiordo) - at 20"
9. Michele Scarponi (Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron) a 22"
10. Raimondas Rumsas (Lat - Lampre) - at 46"
11. Marco Pantani (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Team Scanavino) - at 54"
12. Marco Velo (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - at 55"
13. Médéric Clain (Fra - Cofidis) - at 56"
14. Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol - Cofidis) - s.t.
15. Cristian Gasperoni (Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron) - at 57"