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Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 4 UPDATED
By Fabio
Date: 10/3/2003
Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 4 UPDATED

Lido di Camaiore (Lucca, Italy): The 2003 edition of this Tuscan stage-race will likely be remembered as the one of former World Champions getting in shape right in time for having another go at the World Title.

Indeed, while Spain's Oscar Freire, Rainbow Jersey winner in 1999 and 2001, took the two first stages, and even the overall win, on Friday it was the Y2K World Champion, Latvia's Romans Vainsteins, that raised his arms in triumph at the end of the last leg of Giro della Provincia di Lucca.

The Vini Caldirola-SO.DI. rider got his first triumph of the season, the 24th so far in his career as professional cyclist, as he edged out young Italian Ivan Fanelli and Luxembourgian Franck Schleck.

As previously mentioned, GC winner of the competition was Spain's Oscar Freire Gómez (Rabobank). Yesterday's stage winner Pietro Caucchioli and in-form José Iván Gutiérrez completed a podium with a strong Spanish taste, while in spite of all of his efforts Michele Bartoli couldn't either climb the podium or snatch any stage victory. It was also nice to see Yaroslav Popovych back to a Top 10 result.

Today, at around 11h30AM in the morning local time, Ninety-sixth riders (but neither Evgeni Petrov not stagiairie Tom Southam, the latest addition to the British contingent at Amore & Vita-Beretta) took the startline in the town of Massarosa, heading for the seaside resort of Lido di Camaiore. Not an easy ride though, with the route encompassing the Gombitelli ascent at the km. 60 mark, and two more climbs (Monte Pitoro and Colle di Montemagno) to be tackled three times.

The stage was off to a fast (the average speed after the first hour of racing was of 44.5 km/h) and hectic start, with more and more skirmishes coming, but nobody really able to make the gap. Until, to the joy of British fans, Max Sciandri showed he still has good legs as by the km. 40 mark he broke away, along with Fassa’s Marco Velo, and Brazil’s (only) man for the Worlds, Luciano Pagliarini Mendonca, with 2001 Baby Giro winner Raffaele Ferrara vainly chasing solo.

But on the Monte Pitoro the South-American was dropped, and soon swallowed by the bunch, Velo and Sciandri were the first across the top of the ascent, with a lead of 01’20” over Ferrara, and the peloton coming in 02’12” behind. In the following ascent a new leading trio formed, as Velo and Sciandri were joined not by Ferrara, but by Michele Bartoli, whose combativity may have been a way to reply to Franco Ballerini’s decision of not picking him for the World Championships.

After a failed attempt to bridge the gap by Saeco’s Alessio Galletti, Time-Trial specialist Marco Velo was the next one to be reeled in, during the second lap of the final circuit. But even if, with about two-thirds of the stage gone, Sciandri and Bartoli were leading by more than two minutes, with Saeco’s “Red Army” and the Rabo-boys leading the chase the two guys in the break couldn’t go far.

With some 35k to go, the chasers had shrinked the gap to 01’25”. And the peloton, with Freire and Popovych now pulling hard at the front, took more time out of the duo in the next kms. Such that, with 20 km. left, Sciandri and Bartoli were finally caught, first by Andrea Peron, and soon later by the peloton.

Recidive Marco Velo made a further attempt with 10 kilometres before the finish line, but he didn’t succeed this time either, and it all came down to a bunch sprint, with the Latvian taking the win he narrowly missed at Le Tour (when he lost to Petacchi in Stage 3, but pipped the same Freire for second place), and becoming another threat to the (presumed) Italian domination of the Worlds.

With such a strong Freire, and an in-form Vainsteins, and other rivals like van Petegem, Zabel, Camenzind, and more possible surprises Hamilton may have in store, people already seeing Paolo Bettini dressed in Rainbow colors shouldn’t be that sure. But cycling fans should rejoice: it the race lives up to what we have seen these days, we’re gonna have a helluva battle on the roads of Canada.

Giro Ciclistico della Provincia di Lucca
Stage 4 (Massarosa–Lido di Camaiore, km. 151) - Top 10 Places

1. Romans Vainsteins (Lat - Vini Caldirola-SO.DI.) - 03h33'19" (42.470 km/h)
2. Ivan Fanelli (Ita - Amore & Vita Beretta)
3. Frank Schleck (Lux - Team CSC)
4. Stefano Zanini (Ita - Team Saeco)
5. Luis Valverde (Spa - Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé-C.I.)
6. José Ivan Gutiérrez Palacios (Spa -
7. Massimo Giunti (Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron)
8. Giuliano Figueras (Ita - Panaria-Fiordo)
9. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago)
10. Daniele Pietropolli (Ita - Tenax)

All with the same time

5th Giro Provincia Lucca - Final GC - Top 10 Places

1. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa - Rabobank) - 17h32'13"
2. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita - Alessio) - at 08"
3. José Iván Gutiérrez Palacios (Spa - - at 14"
4. Michele Bartoli (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) - at 14"
5. Frank Schleck (Lux - Team CSC) - at 18"
6. Francesco Casagrande (Ita - Lampre) - at 22"
7. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) - at 22"
8. Serhiy Honchar (Ukr - De Nardi-Colpack) - at 22"
9. Andrea Noč (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.)
* Winner - Romans Vainsteins (Lat - Vini Caldirola-SO.DI.)
* GC Leader - Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa - Rabobank)

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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Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 1 UPDATED
Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 2 UPDATED
Giro della Provincia di Lucca - Stage 3 UPDATED

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