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Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 1 UPDATED
 
By Fabio
Date: 9/30/2003
Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 1 UPDATED
 

Castelvecchio Pascoli (Lucca, Italy): After all the (legitimate) hype on Paolo Bettini being the red hot favourite to take the World Title in Hamilton in October, Spain's Oscar Freire chose the best way to remind everyone that he still is a top-class rider we should take into account when talking of the next World Championships: he let his legs do the talking, and got an important stage victory.

The Rabobank rider, a former team-mate of Bettini at Mapei (but also the man who stole him the Rainbow Jersey in 2001) has won on Tuesday the opening leg of Giro della Provincia di Lucca, one of the few stage races held on Italian soil, now in its fifth edition.

The "Tour of the Lucca Province" opener, covering 162 km. between Lucca and Castelvecchio Pascoli, ended up with the man from Torrelávega outsprinting fellow Spaniard Iván Gutiérrez, and Panaria's Neapolitan Giuliano Figueras snatching third. Other big names such as Casagrande, Popovych and Bartoli figured in the stage Top 10 places.

Freire's intentions were clear since early in the stage, as Rabobank immediately took over the chase when, with still 100k to the line, and after a slow start (the peloton covered a little more than 32 kms. in the first hour) Spain's Sanchez and Italy's Crescenzo D'Amore (Tenax) launched the first attack, but were soon reeled in. And two hours into the stage, the average speed hadn't improved much.

Not much later the Perpoli ascent made a first, decisive selection, splitting the field as, after attacks from Casagrande and Noé, brought back in the following descent, a leading bunch of some 50 riders quickly took a minute out of the rest of the bunch. And besides them were other big names of the pelotn, both Italians (Michele Bartoli, a Mirko Celestino still disppointed at not being included in Ballerini's list for Hamilton, the above quoted Figueras) and foreigners (like Iván Gutiérrez, Yaroslav Popovych and Latvia's Romans Vainsteins, World Road Champion in the year 2000).

As the race hit the last of four laps of the final circuit into Castelvecchio, the leading bunch was 07'35" ahead of the rest of the pack, with Rabobank and Fassa chasing down all breakaway attempts, including those of Hvastija, Casagrande and the same Barbero. And Petito, who made his move with only 2k to the line, but also his attempt was quickly nullified, and with 800m left it was "Gruppo Compatto" again.

Such that it all came down to a bunch sprint. Just what Freire wanted. And with the Spaniard taking his fifth success so far this season, after two rearly season triumphs at Vuelta a Andalucia, another stage victory at Tirreno-Adriatico and his latest win during the Volta a Catalunya.

The Cantabrian also got his second success in this race, after he took a stage of the Y2K edition, and is the first wearer of the Overall Leader's blue Jersey. But we all know that his real target has got much more colors: the colors of the Rainbow.

Early in the morning, 54 riders belonging to seven different teams (Amore & Vita–Beretta, CCC-Polsat, De Nardi–Colpack, Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavè–Ciarrocchi Immobiliare, Landbouwkrediet–Colnago, Mercatone Uno-Scanavino and Tenax) underwent blood tests carried out by the U.C.I. All of them gave negative and were allowed to take the start.

Giro Ciclistico della Provincia di Lucca
Stage 1 (Lucca-Castelvecchio Pascoli, km. 159) - Top 10 Places

1. Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank) - 04h15'44" (37.304 km/h)
2. Iván Gutiérrez (Spa - iBanesto.com) - s.t.
3. Giuliano Figueras (Ita - Panaria-Fiordo) - at 01"
4. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Lampre) - s.t.
5. Ivan Fanelli (Ita - Amore & Vita-Beretta) - s.t.
6. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet) - s.t.
7. Andrea Moletta (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) - s.t.
8. Denis Menchov (Rus - iBanesto.com) - s.t.
9. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - s.t.
10. Ruben Plaza (Spa - iBanesto.com) - s.t.

Giro Provincia Lucca - GC after Stage 1: Top 5

1. Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank)
2. Iván Gutiérrez (Spa - iBanesto.com) - at 04"
3. Giuliano Figueras (Ita - Panaria-Fiordo) - at 08"
4. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Lampre) - at 12"
5. Ivan Fanelli (Ita - Amore & Vita-Beretta) - s.t.
6. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet) - s.t.
7. Andrea Moletta (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) - s.t.
8. Denis Menchov (Rus - iBanesto.com) - s.t.
9. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - s.t.
10. Ruben Plaza (Spa - iBanesto.com) - s.t.

Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Palmares

1999: Paolo Bettini (Ita)
2000: Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)
2001: Mario Aerts (Bel)
2002: Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita)

5th Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stages

Stage 1 (Sept. 30, Tuesday): Lucca–Castelvecchio Pascoli (159 km.)
Stage 2 (Oct. 01, Wednesday): Altopascio–Altopascio (180 km.)
Stage 3 (Oct. 02, Thursday): Pescia–capannori (208 km.)
Stage 4 (Oct. 03, Friday): Massarosa–Lido di Camaiore (156 km.)

5th Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Partcipating Teams

Alessio (Ita)
Domina Vacanze-Elitron (Ita)
Fassa Bortolo (Ita)
Lampre (Ita)
Team Saeco (Ita)
Vini Caldirola-SO.DI. (Ita)
De Nardi-Colpack (Ita)
Panaria-Fiordo (Ita)
Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé-Ciarrocchi Immobiliare (Ita)
Mercatone Uno-Scanavino (Ita)
Tenax
Amore e Vita-Beretta (Pol)
CCC Polsat (Pol)
Team CSC (Den)
iBanesto.com (Spa)
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Bel)
Rabobank (Hol)

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