83rd Tre Valli Varesine (UCI 1.1)
Campione D'Italia-Varese, Italy, 194.7 kms
Saeco chase Tadej Valjavec (Photo Sirotti)
The "high ranking but relatively unknown Italian pro race", Tre Valli Varesine (Three Varesine Valleys) is the first of three consecutive races which take place every year (for more than half a century) during three days in a row, in the Northwestern part of the Lombardia region, and go under the name of "Trittico Lombardo" ("Lombard Trilogy"). The second race (to be held tomorrow) is the "Coppa Agostoni" in Lissone, and the final one (on Thursday) is the "Coppa Bernocchi" in Legnano.
The "Tre Valli Varesine", organized by the "Societa' Ciclistica Alfredo Binda" (a cycling team dedicated to the great Italian Champion of of the late 20s and early 30s, so strong that in 1929 he won 8 Giro stages out of 14, and the following year he was paid FOR NOT TAKING PART in the race. But surprisingly he didn't ever win this race, which was won by his brother Albino in 1930), starts in Campione D'Italia (an Italian enclave in Swiss territory, whose mayor seems to be interested in hosting a Giro's Stage in the coming years) and finishes, after almost 195 km., in the city of Varese, main centre of an area which gave birth to many prominent (and promising) Italian riders.
Today's stage was as full of passion and excitement as you would expect from this hot bed of cycling, particularly since the competition for places in the Italian squad for Hamilton become uppermost on Italian minds.
Tadej Valjavec, Slovenian champion and winner of the Baby Giro in 1999 set off on a solo adventure after 35 kilometres which gave him a maximum lead of 12’ 26’’ after 86 kilometres. Hardly surprising that the Saeco team then took matters into hand and began to chase down in earnest.
With less than 30 kilometres of racing left the “Red Trains” work bore fruit and the Slovenian was captured, and Di Luca made an instant counter attack. However, with riders of the quality of Dufaux, Bertolini, Lanfranchi, Gobbi and Ivan Basso all putting in attacks it was no surprise that these early moves did not succeed in breaking the pack.
On the final circuit Britain's Charles Wegelius, Simeoni, Moreni, Scarselli, Popovych and Dufaux again tried to break clear. But on the final climb of the Ronchi, (2.5km with a maximum of 10%) grade Di Luca tried his hand again.
Once again he did not succeed in forcing a selection, but the “Killer” was in no mood to take prisoners - rather than wait for the pure fast men he jumped with 300 metres to go - and gained a memorable victory in front of the Italian coach Ballerini.
The Killer strikes! (Photo Sirotti)
Saeco Team Report
The "killer" Danilo Di Luca is back
Saeco rider wins Tre Valli Varesine
He waited for this victory since five months. Since last March 18th, when he won a stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico, Danilo Di Luca seemed to have lost his strength. But the "killer" came back himself and won today, by dominating the Tre Valli Varesine; forgetting in a hurry the disappointment for last Sunday’s Zurich World Cup race, the Saeco rider put all his energy on the border roads among Lombardy and Switzerland, building step by step his great revenge.
Supported from his team (especially from Alessio Galletti and Fabio Sacchi), Di Luca has waited the climb of Ronchi to attack for the first time. As his first attempt had no success, he tried again, on the same climb along the last lap: he skimmed the bunch but he made no selection. Therefore it was a final sprint, and Danilo rushed ahead with 300 metres to go. A very long sprint, but neither Ferrigato, nor Zberg could resist him.
"I knew it was hard to sprint like that, but I also thought that I could not lose this race after all that my team mates have done to support me – Di Luca Said – This was not such a good season for me, but better times are coming. After all, there are worse things in life: I dedicate this victory to Angelo, a 14 years old fan of mine, who recently died.”
Today’s victory was the 24th for Danilo as a professional rider (4th of the year), while the golden month of August seems to be never ending for Team Saeco: Claudio Corti’s team has in fact won seven races with five different athletes since the beginning of this month.
Ballerini meets the Killer (Photo Sirotti)
1. Danilo DI LUCA (Ita, Saeco) km 193 in 4.54'27", media 39,368
2. Andrea Ferrigato (Ita, Alessio) s.t.
3. Markus Zberg (Svi, Gerolsteiner) s.t.
4. Oscar Camenzind (Svi, Phonak) s.t.
5. Luca Mazzanti (Ita, Panaria Fiordo) s.t.
6. Vladimir Douma (Ucr, Landbouwkrediet) s.t.
7. Ruggero Marzoli (Ita, Alessio) s.t.
8. Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita, Panaria Fiordo) s.t.
9. Massimo Giunti (Ita, Domina Vacanze-Elitron) s.t.
10. Paolo Valoti (Ita, Domina Vacanze-Elitron) s.t.
11. Stefano Garzelli (Ita, Vini Caldirola-So.Di.) s.t.