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Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 2 UPDATED
By Fabio
Date: 10/1/2003
Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 2 UPDATED

Altopascio (Lucca, Italy): Recidive Oscar Freire of Spain won also the second leg of the 4-day "Giro della Provincia di Lucca" stage race, covering 180 kms. and both starting and finishing in the town of Altopascio.

Rabobank's fastest man, who obviously strengthened his grip on the Overall Leader's Blue Jersey, this time edged out Italians Stefano Zanini (Team Saeco) and Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo) in a massive sprint.

Fellow Spaniard Iván Gutiérrez Palacios, wiiner of last Saturday's Giro dell'Emilia and runner-up in yesterday's opening stAge of this race, snatched fifth and kept second plòace overall. Giuliano Figueras kept his position too, while Wednesady's result lifted Michele Bartoli up to third.

123 riders (but not Barbero, victim of a crash on a descent during yesterday's opening stage) took the start of Wednesday's second leg, which consisted of seven different laps, four over a 29-km. circuit, and three on smaller (21 km.) one. But all laps had one thing in common: the 2.5 km. long Montecarlo ascent, thus to be tackled seven times.

After it was "Gruppo Compatto" for the first three laps, with the average speed hovering around 32 km/h, things changed during the fourth one as, while the peloton was heading for the town of Capannori, Italians Oscar Pozzi and Rinaldo Nocentini started the fireworks, and quickly opened a gap that went up to a maximum of 02'45" at the end of the same lap, the last one over the "big circuit".

But as the three ultimate, and shorter, laps began, the Fassas kept pulling hard to bring them back, and eventually succeeded as, while the average speed was dramatically increasing, the break was nullified right before the peloton could hit the Montecarlo climb for the last time.

Then another young rider had a try: Landbouwkrediet-Colnago's Ukrainian Ruslan Gryschenko attacked, but also his attempt was nullified by the bunch, and the East-European (Bronze Medallist at the U23 Worlds in 2001 behind Popovych and Caruso) caught and dropped in the steepest part of the climb.

With only 4 km. left, it was the turn of iBanesto's Pole Dariusz Baranowski, but all he could do before being swallowed by the peloton was gaining 9 seconds. He wouldn't make history for that.

When the Polish rider was caught, with some 1000m to the line, the peloton regrouped was getting ready for the bunch sprint. And the bunch sprint came, with Zanini probably starting a bit too soon, and Freire eventually coming around him on the right.

It was the sixth victory so far this year for the Spaniard, back to the late season form he showed in 1999 and 2001, when the man also captured the World Title in both occasions. Watch out, Paolo Bettini!

And be happy, Pablo Antequera! The Spanish National Team Coach recently sounded a bit worried about Freire's latest perfomances, but also added that "I know that when at the Worlds Championships, he usually turns into a different kind of rider. Oscar is a classy athlete, but his class must be supported by a good state of form". And now, after Freire's straight victories, the doubts of "worried" Antequera might be finally cleared.

Giro Ciclistico della Provincia di Lucca
Stage 2 (Altopascio-Altopascio, km. 180) - Top 10 Places

1. Oscar Freire (Ita - Rabobank) - 04h43'43" (38.060 km/h)
2. Stefano Zanini (Ita - Team Saeco) - s.t.
3. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - s.t.
4. Cristian Fanelli (Ita - Amore & Vita) - s.t.
5. Iván Gutiérrez Palacios (Spa - - s.t.
6. Massimiliano Mori (Ita - Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavè-C.I.) - s.t.
7. Crescenzo D'Amore (Ita - Tenax) - s.t.
8. Davide Casarotto (Ita - Alessio) - s.t.
9. Graziano Gasparre (Ita - De Nardi-Colpack) - s.t.
10. Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita - Team Saeco) - s.t.

Giro Provincia Lucca - GC after Stage 2: Top 10

1. Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank) - 08h59'08" (37.703 km/h)
2. Iván Gutiérrez Palacios (Spa - - at 14"
3. Giuliano Figueras (Ita - Panaria-Fiordo) - at 18"
4. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - s.t.
5. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Lampre) - at 22"
6. Ivan Fanelli (Ita - Amore & Vita Beretta) - s.t.
7. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) - s.t.
8. Andrea Moletta (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) - s.t.
9. Denis Menchov (Rus - - s.t.
10. Ruggero Borghi (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) - 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.)
* Winner - Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank)
* GC Leader - Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank)

Stage 2 (Oct. 01, Wednesday): Altopascio–Altopascio (180 km.)
* Winner - Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank)
* GC Leader - Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank)

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 - Participating 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)
Amore e Vita-Beretta (Pol)
CCC Polsat (Pol)
Team CSC (Den) (Spa)
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Bel)
Rabobank (Hol)
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