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Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 3 UPDATED
By Fabio
Date: 10/2/2003
Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 3 UPDATED

Capannori (Lucca, Italy): After Oscar Freire's 1-2 in the first half of the race, the time finally came for an Italian to steal the show at Giro della Provincia di Lucca.

Alessio's Pietro Caucchioli, the man who fought with Tyler Hamilton over second place at the 2002 Giro d'Italia, got the sixth success so far in his pro career as he edged out by four seconds the bunch led home by Austrian Gerrit Glomser and Italy's Michele Bartoli (who repeated yesterday's result) at the end of the third and penultimate stage of the Tuscan race.

Freire was not the only "recidive" guy in the peloton, as also Caucchioli got back to victory in the same race that saw him clinch his first success as a professional rider in the year 1999.

As for the Rabobank Spaniard, he kept the overall leader's Blue Jersey firmly on his shoulders, after countering an attack from Francesco Casagrande on the last ascent of the Valgiano climb. And we might see the same Freire v. Casagrande duel also on the other side of the pond, in a little more than a week.

The man in red and blue colors was the first across the finishing line, at the end of a hectic stage. A ride another member of the Italian contingent for Hamilton didn’t take part in though: after Sergio Barbero on Wednesday, this time it was Vini Caldirola’s Paolo Bossoni that didn’t take the startline.

15 km. into the stage, the first attack came, courtesy of Wesoli, and Poland’s Tomasz Brozyna of CCC-Polsat. The peloton let them go first, such that the duo managed to put up to 08’35” into the field. Later Brozyna dropped his breakaway mate and went on a solo break. But his adventure didn’t last long.

The Valgiano climb (a 3.5-km ascent, with a gradient of 6%), to be tackled four times, proved to be selective as soon the peloton hit the ascent. And a new breakaway group of 10, Caucchioli included, formed. Not surprisingly Freire’s Rabobank teammates took over the chase. And their efforts were fruitful, as in the last ascent of the Valgiano, the peloton regrouped again.

And that’s when Casagrande’s attack took place. The Florentine, who is showing an excellent state of form in this period, said goodbye to the rest of the bunch and broke away. But on the following descent he was caught by 11 chasers, most of which were "usual suspects" already in the top places in previous days: Italians Michele Bartoli, Andrea Noè, future winner Caucchioli, Massimo Giunti, 1999 World U23 Road Champion Leonardo Giordani and Panaria’s Paolo Lanfranchi, as well as Iván Gutierrez, Yaroslav Popovych, Luxembourgian Schleck, Austria’s Glomser and Ukrainian veteran Gonchar (or should we say Honchar ?) bridged the gap to the Lampre rider.

Stage victory became a matter of a dozen riders, although Popovych wanted a different version of the story, a version ending with his solo win. That’s why, with 5 km. to the line, the 2003 Giro podium finisher launched one of his frequent reckless attacks. But this time was not the good one for him, as the brave Ukrainian was soon reeled in.

The successive move, coming from Pietro Caucchioli with just 2 km. left, had a totally different outcome. The 28-year-old succeeded, and could raise his arms in triumph. Other riders smiling after crossing the line were Freire, just one day away from getting an important overall win, and Casagrande, that’s having very good signs about his condition.

Born in Bovolone (Verona province of Northern Italy) on August 28, 1975, Pietro Caucchioli turned a professional rider in 1999 with Amica Chips-Tacconi Sport. The same year he won (by a 3-second margin over Kasputis and Diego Ferrari) the final stage of this same race, Giro della Provincia di Lucca, a 165-km. ride from Serravezza into Lucca.

He moved to Alessio in 2001, when the man suddenly burst into spotlight claiming not one, but two Giro d’Italia stages: the “traditional” ride over the Tusco-Emilian Appennines, at the time finishing into Reggio Emilia, and the Sanremo stage (unfortunately this success was one of he least talked-about, as a few hours later the famous Carabinieri raids in the Sanremo hotels stole him the show).

Three was Caucchioli’s magic number in 2002, when the man soloed to victory in Stage 3 of the Vuelta a Aragón (Alcorisa - Estación de Valdelinares, 174 km) in late April, and finished third overall in the Giro about a month later. And sixteen months after that, sixteen months full of problems like an hernia operation, and a pneumonia that forced him out of the 2003 Tour de France, the man in red and blue was finally back onto a race podium, and even as number one, thanks to his successful move in the last 2 km. of today’s Giro della Provincia di Lucca stage.

A pity that this victory came a bit too late for Caucchioli to become a possible member of Italy’s National Team for the Worlds. But as the same Alessio rider admittd in post-race interviews, he wasn’t going fast when he had to in order to show coach Ballerini he deserved a place in the squad, and even now, in spite of today’s win, he’s not sure his condition is good enough to live up to the task being part of the Squadra Azzurra would imply.

So Caucchioli’s next challenges will be Paris-Tours (“I’m not going there to do well, but not to win” the man said), and Italy’s traditional season-ending races such as Giro del Piemonte, Milano-Torino and Giro di Lombardia.

Giro Ciclistico della Provincia di Lucca
Stage 3 (Pescia-Capannori, km. 208) - Top Places

1. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita - Alessio) - 04h59'43" (40.030 km/h)
2. Gerrit Glomser (Aut - Saeco) - at 04"
3. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - s.t.
4. Ivan Gutiérrez (Spa - - s.t.
5. Sergei Gonchar (Ukr - De Nardi-Colpack) - s.t.
6. Massimo Giunti (Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron)- s.t.
7. Frank Schleck (Lus - Team CSC) - s.t.
9. Oscar Freire (Spa - Rabobank) - s.t.
10. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Lampre) - s.t.
11. Leonardo Giordani (Ita - De Nardi-Colpack) - s.t.
12. Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita - Panaria-Fiordo) - s.t.
13. Andrea Noè (Ita - Alessio) - s.t.

Giro Provincia Lucca - GC after Stage 3 - Top 10

1. Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank)
2. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita - Alessio) - at 08"
3. Josè Ivan Gutiérrez (Spa - - at 14"
4. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - s.t.
5. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) - at 22"
6. Frank Schleck (Lux - Team CSC) - s.t.
7. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Lampre) - s.t.
8. Sergei Gonchar (Ukr - De Nardi-Colpack) - s.t.
9. Andrea Noè (Ita - Alessio) - at 22"
10. Massimo Giunti (Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron) - at 26"

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.)
* Winner - Pietro Caucchioli (Ita - Alessio)
* GC Leader - Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank)

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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