Tuesday. A day for Time Trials. Not just in Switzerland, but also in Italy. Indeed, while Vino, Ullrich, Casagrande and many others were tackling the last ITT at Tour de Suisse, the long week of the National Championships in Europe - and Canada - got underway this afternoon in Fano, in the Marche region of Central Italy (the area Mr. Fred Mengoni, New York resident and co-founder and president of US Pro Cycling-the first governing body of ProCycling in the United States, came from), with three “races of the truth” reserved to gentlemen (ladies will be challenging the clock on Friday) only. The “Open”, Junior and Under 23 Time Trials took place in a very hot climate, with temperatures going up to more than 35°C. Below are resuits and reports from all three races of the “Settimana Tricolore” opening day.
MEN’S OPEN RACE – MONDINI IS BACK !!: Less then 20 months ago he was in one of the worst moments of his career. This afternoon he was on the top of the podium, with the Italian National Champion Jersey on his shoulders and two podium girls around giving him a well-deserved kiss. This is “the fall and rise of Gianpaolo Mondini”: from being fired by USPS to winning the National Title in the “race of truth” on a sunny summer afternoon.
Well, if you had a look at the field, you might think Tuesday’s “open” race (with both professional and Elite-2 riders) didn’t tell the whole truth about who the best Italian riders against the clock are. Indeed Italy’s former Champion Marco Velo wasn’t there, a young talent like Filippo “Pippo” Pozzato wasn’t in Fano either, and other absentees worthy of mention were Marzio Bruseghin (second to Honchar in the Giro’s final ITT) and Armstrong’s former teammate (now Hamilton’s teammate at CSC) Andrea Peron.
But absentees are always wrong and Mondini, back in the saddle since February with the Domina Vacanze-Elitron team coached by Vincenzo Santoni (his DS also when he got the most prestigious win in his career, in the Futuroscope stage of the 1999 TdF) will have all the right to proudly show his white-red-green jersey for whole year in all ITTs he’ll be taking part in, after the man from Faenza dominated a field of … seven participants. Seven men only, including three Elite-2 contenders (Eddy Trianini Giulianian of SC Calzaturieri Montegranaro, Alessio Fassetta of Sunday Cross Team and Stefano Boggia of Vezza Brunero Boeris) and two pros unkown to many cycling fans (Francesco Cipolletta of the Japan-based Nippon-Hodo team, coached by two-time Italian Road Champion Massimo Podenzana, and Andrea Rossi of De Nardi-Colpack).
To the shame of Italian cycling, the only “big names” at the startline were Mondini and Lampre’s Manuel Quinziato. The young student-rider from Bolzano was the red hot favourite to take the title, but his performance was disappointing, as after an excellent start (he quickly took 30” out of Mondini) he ran out of steam and kept losing time after time to his main rival. At the third time check, Quinziato was leading Mondini by 07” only, and in the next one it was Mondini ahead by 17” (with Rossi in third place at 01’26”, followed by Boggia at 02’01” at Cipolletta at 02’02”. The two others abandoned) .
Just like four years ago at Le Tour, Mondini showed how much of an excellent “rouleur” he is, and the gap increased to 45” by the fourth time check. With just 1k to go, it was more than a minute. Too much for Quinziato to try and bridge it. The man in Zebrato stripes finished the race in a winning time of 55’27” amnd got the 11th victory so far in his 8-year career.
Disappointing and disappointed Quinziato took second at 01’11”, while 24-year-old neopro Andrea Rossi from nearby Senigallia snatched the remaining podium place. The De Nardi-Colpack rider couldn’t follow in the footsteps of his recently successful teammates Honchar (winner of the last Giro stage in Milan), Matteo Carrara (stage winner in Austria) and Michele Gobbi (who got his second victory of the season this past Saturday at GP Industria Artigianato Carnaghese), but nevertheless had a good performance, also taking into consideration the fact that the route was technical and difficult, and expressed all of his satisfaction in post-race interviews (so did De Nardi’s manager Oscar Pelliccioli).
ITALIAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: ITT/OPEN RACE -Top 5 Places
1. Gianpaolo Mondini (Domina Vacanze-Elitron) - 55’27” (44.364 km/h)
2. Manuel Quinziato (Lampre) – at 01’11”
3. Andrea Rossi (De Nardi-Colpack) – at 01’58”
4. Stefano Boggia (Vezza Brunero Boeris) – at 02’49”
5. Francesco Cipolletta (Nippon-Hondo) – at 02’57”
DNF. Eddy Trianini Giulianin (SC Calzature Montegranaro)
DNF. Alessio Fassetta (Sunday Cross Team)
Mondini was all smiles when talking to RAI-TV journalist Alessandro Fabbretti after the award ceremony “It’s not just my first victory after last year’s affair, but also the first time I manage to finish a race, as in the Giro I was part of the bunch of 35 that finished outside the time limit in a mountain stage, and was consequently excluded. So, a bit as I was looking for redemption, a bit as I wanted to test my condition, I told my team managers that I wished to take part in this race. They were surprised, but agreed. I never thought I could grab a national title, but I did, an I’m very happy now. My only regret is that because of the poor attendance, one might say “ok, you won, but nobody was there”. But, well, this is an good sign for my comeback anyway”.
As for his past problems and current situation, Mondini added that “I think troubles and bad experiences may help one to grow. I would have my truth to tell, but I prefer not. Now I can say I am a serene person anyway, a man that really loves this sport. And tries to make the most of any chance to show up he’s given”.
In a further chat with “Gazzetta dello Sport”, Mondini added that “this win is important to me at professional level, because it helps me to know more about my skills”. As for Cipollini (accirding to rumors Mondini’s relations with the Lion King are not the best possible ones) “Mondo” said that “I think highly of him, but do not know Mario well. It’s not easy for me to be a friend of his. We are different kinds of people, but this is not a problem to me”.
GIAMPAOLO MONDINI: Bio-Palmares: Born in Faenza (Ravenna, Italy) on July 15, 1972. A professional rider since 1996.
2003: DOMINA VACANZE-ELITRON
2002: US POSTAL SERVICE
2001: MERCATONE UNO-ALBACOM
2000: CANTINA TOLLO
1999: CANTINA TOLLO-ALEXIA
1998: KROSS-SELLE ITALIA
1997: AMORE & VITA
1996: AMORE & VITA
2003: 1 win
* Italian National ITT Championships
2002: No wins
2001: No wins
2000: 1 win
1999: 3 wins
* 1 stage Tour de Pologne (Elblag)
* 1 stage Tour de France (Futuroscope)
* 1 stage Tour of Japan (Utsunomia)
1998: 2 wins
* G.P. Carnago
* 1 stage Norte de Santander
1997: 3 wins
* 1 stage Tour of Sweden
* Overall Tour of Sweden
* 1 stage Circuit des Mines (Schengen)
1996: 1 win
* 1 stage Tour de Pologne (Czestochowa)
MEN’S UNDER 23 RACE – THREE MUSKETEERS. ALL FOR .. OLIVANO!!: The Under 23 ITT, raced over 4 laps of a difficult, 8.2-km. circuit featuring broad streets, several turns and a 1-km. cobbled section, was marked by two factors: a broader attendance than on the “Open” race, and the domination of the Zoccorinese-Vellutex-Caneva-Palazzago guys, that took all podium places.
Winner of the competition and Italy’s brand new champion in this category was 21-year-old Sardinian (but headquartered at Carugate, in the outskirts of Milan) Gianluca Moi. Not new to prestigious victories (he claimed the Young Gun version of Chrono des Herbiers in France in the past month of October), Moi clicked a winning time of 45’01”, and edged out team-mates Gianluca Biondo (by 32”) and Giario Emeti (by 34”).
Behind the Zoccorinese trio, that celebrated the team’s 40th anniversary in style, came two riders of Zalf-Desireč Fior, a glorious, Veneto-based squad that can boast past members such as Maurizio Fondriest, Giuliano Figueras and Ivan Basso (all of them World Champions). Their team leaders in times like these go under the name of Daniele Colli (that had an excellent Baby Giro too and, when a Junior, was Italy’s National Champion in both Road Race and ITT) who finished fourth, and Tiziano Dell’Antonia, that took fifth in Fano. U23 Cyclocross World Champion Enrico Franzoi (Unione Ciclisti Trevigiani) couldn’t place higher than 12th instead.
The Zoccorineses, who benefitted from a better condition as their team did not take part in the Giro d’Italia Under 26 (a race whose efforts took their toll on other riders, such that Sicilian Dario Benenati, prologue winner at the Giro, who was out of contention after afew kms. today) are coached by Ezio Piccoli, an accomplished DS that can boast eight World Titles in different competitions as well as three Giros (with Piepoli, Di Luca and Valjavec), after Olivano Locatelli was involved in the “Operazione Bike” related investigations. But his riders heve not forgotten him, and all of them dedicated the success to their (former) manager.
An emotional Moi in particular said “This victory is for you, Olivano. I owe a lot to him, it was him who told me to try and race Time-Trials. And also for my parents and girlfriend who stood beside me in these times”, adding that “I’m truly happy now. As I crossed the line I thought “I did it at last”, as I realized the victory I had been looking for a long time had finally come. Even this past Sunday I was riding well, but our team is having some troubles in the peloton in this period, it’s all of them against us. Today we have taken all Top 3 places and proved that we are a very strong team anyway. We were there, and will be in the future too”.
ITALIAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: ITT/U23 (km. 38.2) -Top 5 Places
1. Gianluca Moi (Palazzago-Caneva-Vellutex-Zoccorinese) - 45’01” (43.717 km/h)
2. Maurizio Biondo (Palazzago-Caneva-Vellutex-Zoccorinese) – at 32”
3. Giario Ermeti (Palazzago-Caneva-Vellutex-Zoccorinese) – at 34”
4. Daniele Colli (Zalf-Desireč Fior) – at 59”
5. Tiziano Dell’Antonia (Zalf-Desireč Fior) – at 01’03”
MEN’S JUNIOR RACE – FABIO RULES!!: No, it’s not Yours Truly. The “Fabio” I’m talking of is Fabio Sabatini, a very young gun from Pescia, Tuscany, who won the National Title against the clock in the Junior Category. Mr. Sabatini (18), wearing the GS Embassy Cargo Pool Pisa team jersey, dominated a field of 17 and 18-year-old teenies, all of them riding with the 52x14 on their bikes.
Sabatini, one of today’s main favourites, lived up to expectations and clicked a winning time of 34’20”, taking the race by a wide margin (21”) over Mauro Finetto of SC Verdellese Dielle Telmec, a rider that took the silver medal on Tuesday after clinching the Regional title in Veneto about two weeks ago. Finetto edged out another Venetian, Luca D’Osvaldi of the Ima Brugnotto team, by two seconds only. The Bergamo-based Verdellese Dielle Telmec team got two riders in the top 4 places. More detailed results below.
ITALIAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: ITT/ JUNIOR (km. 24.6) - Top 10 Places
1. Fabio Sabatini (GS Embassy) - 34’20” (42.990 km/h)
2. Mauro Finetto (SC Verdellese Dielle Telmec) – at 21”
3. Luca D’Osvaldi (Ima -Moro-Brugnotto) – at 23”
4. Enrico Peruffo (SC Verdellese Dielle Telmec) – at 28”
5. Alessandro Carretti (Cycling Team Nial Nizzol) – at 28”
6. Francesco Tomei (U. Signori) - at 29"
7. Stefano Basso (Ima –Moro-Brugnotto) - at 39"
8. Damiano Margutti (Rinascita Ravenna) - at 01'09"
9. Nicola Franceschi (Sacilese Punto) - at 01'14"
10. Francesco Alamia (Berti Mobili) - at 01'25"
The “Settimana Tricolore” contiues on Wednesday with two Women’s Road Races (Elites and Juniors). And so does the Daily Peloton’s coverage of this week’s National Championships. Stay tuned !!