SASSUOLO: On Saturday afternoon Italian rider Luca Mazzanti of the Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo team got a win in Stage 4 of the "Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi e Bartali", from Sassuolo to Prignano over 172 km.
Mazzanti took first by 2" ahead of Switzerland's Steve Zampieri (Sidermec) and Italian Denis Lunghi (Aleesio). Marco Pantani came in at 22". Saeco's Mirko Celestino retains the overall leader's jersey with just one stage to go.
Earlier in the race, Zimbabwe’s Timothy Jones (Amore & Vita-Beretta) had broken away along with Alessio’s new signing Denis Lunghi, his Moldovan team-mate Ruslan Ivanov, Colombian Mesa Mesa, and good ol’ Fabiano Fontanell.
But the outcome of the race was dacided behind in the chasing peloton, where the most significant skirmishes took place in the Prignano climb Quite surprisingly, among the guys who started the fireworks halfway through the final ascent was Marco Pantani, back to a decent form, but later Mazzanti broke away from the rest of chasing field, along with Switzerland’s Steve Zampieri and another veteran currently in a good condition, Russian Pavel Tonkov, now wearing the jersey of the CCC-Polsat squad.
The trio caught the five leaders, and in the very final part of the stage Mazzanti attacked and put some seconds into all of his break companions.
The difficulty of Saturday’s stage was pointed out by both the overall leader and the current runner-up: in post-race interviews Celestino said that “I’m very tired now, after all the efforts I made to counter all the attacks that came in the last kilometres. It looked like everyone was going to attack. I made a sprint until 250 m. to the finishing line in order to catch Scarponi and Pellizotti, but then lost a few meters in the very end, as I paid a little for the huge effort”.
Is the one-second lead he kept enough to make him feel like a winner ?: “Not yet” Celestino replied “tomorrow’s stage is demanding and the race still wide open. Casagrande remains a fearful rival, I’d better watch out for him”.
And at his turn the Lampre rider, who failed to take the lead today, but has the chance to do it tomorrow, in the ultimate leg featuring two more difficult ascents, said that “The stage was very demanding, but this actually was no surprise at all”.
Luca Mazzanti, the stage winner from Bolonia, who spent the last seasons in the shadow of Pantani, whom he was a domestique of, moved to Panaria-Fiordo with the hope to find more room for him. As the man said at the team’s presentation a few weeks ago “Last year I was not used to get good results as I had to stay besides my team leader. But I hope that this season I may succeed in showing my skills. In Reverberi’s team I’ll find the space I need” And it seems he has done it.
STAGE 4 RESULTS – TOP PLACES
1. Luca Mazzanti (Ita - Panaria Fiordo) - 04h32'15" (38.435 km/h)
2. Steve Zampieri (Swi - Sidermec) - at 04"
3. Denis Lunghi (Ita - Alessio)- at 05"
4. Hecotr Mesa Mesa (Col - Colombia-Selle Italia) - s.t.
5. Pavel Tonkov (Rus - CCC-Polsat) - at 09"
6. Franco Pellizotti (Ita - Alessio) - at 10"
7. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Lampre) - s.t.
8. Ruslan Ivanov (Mol - Alessio) - s.t.
9. Michele Scarponi (Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron) - s.t.
10. Mirko Celestino (Ita - Saeco) - at 13"
11. Marco Velo (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - at 17"
12. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus - Domina Vacanze-Elitron) - at 19"
13. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) - at 20"
14. Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro - Alessio) - at 22"
15. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita - Panaria-Fiordo) - s.t.
17. Marco Pantani (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) - s.t.
22. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit - Lampre) - s.t.
33. Ivan Basso (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - at 29"
41. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita - Alessio) - at 01'18"
GC AFTER STAGE 4 – TOP PLACES
1. Mirko Celestino (Ita – Saeco) - 16h52'58”
2. Francesco Casagrande (Ita – Lampare) - at 01"
3. Franco Pellizotti (Ita - Alessio) - at 09"
4. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus - Domina Vacanze-Elitron) - at 14"
5. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) - at 15"
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron)a 19"
7. Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro - Alessio) - at 25"
8. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita - Panaria-Fiordo) - at 29"
9. Angelo Lopeboselli (Ita - Cofidis) - at 43"
10. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit - Lampre) - at 55
12. Marco Pantani (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) - at 01'03"
21. Pavel Tonkov (Rus - CCC-Polsat) - at 01'41"
31. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita - Alessio) - at 02'36"
38. Ivan Basso (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - at 10'54"