Giro della Provincia di Lucca
The sixth Giro della Provincia di Lucca has a new date and a new look. The previous 5 editions have been held in the Autumn, just before the World Championships and the race was originally intended to be a replacement for the now defunct Tour des Pouilles. The race has now been moved to its new February spot and its parcous toughened.
The course for 2004 could be divided into two. The first two stages (in spite of the climb of Pitoro 225m, which should not bother the fast man) should be for the Sprinters. Indeed the Petacchi-Cipollini duel should start tomorrow. The “lion King” and his chief rival have not met since the 2003 Giro and both men will be keen to get the psychological advantage of a battle that looks like being one of the highlights of this years Giro. Petacchi actually won the overall of the race in 2000, but there are many others who will be keen to thwart Italy’s two big sprinting Aces.
Oscar Freire (In great form and last years winner), Brown, Svorada, Mitlushenko, Hondo, Guidi and others will all be keen to make an impression.
The second two stages are for more complete riders. On Thursday the riders will make 4 climbs of the Salita di Perpoli (570m), a climb of nearly 4 kilometres with an average gradient of 8%. The riders will also face the colle di Berga (3 times), before finishing on a slight climb into Castelvecchio Pascoli.
The final day will see the riders make six circuits via the Strappo di MonteCarlo, with a grand stand finish in Altopascio. Riders like Stefano Garzelli, Yaroslav Popovych, Pietro Caucchioli, Dario Frigo or Danilo Di Luca could well be favourites for this stage. However the overall could well be disputed by the “puncheurs” of the peloton: Michele Bartoli, Andrea Ferrigato, Giuliano Figueras, or Davide Rebellin.
Even if this race is mostly a tune-up for his upcoming spring challenges, the Gerolsteiner team leader promised that will be at the startline with the intention to do well, knowing that a good result here would be a huge moral boost for the rest of his spring campaign, whose first post-Lucca race will be GP Chiasso, a one-day contest he won in the year 2001.
Filippo Pozzato recent winner of the Trofeo Laigueglia will be an interesting rider to watch particularly since he is riding for a Fassa team that includes both Frigo and Petacchi. FDJeux.com, with in form, Sandy Casar, and Brad Mc Gee; a pair always liable to cause an upset some where along the way.
UK fans will be watching former US Postal cyclist, Jamie Burrow. The talented climber could well make his long overdue breakthrough in this race.
Daily Peloton man to watch
Michele Bartoli was laid low in the Tour Méditerranéen due to toothache and yet the team still gained overall victory. Such is the strength of the CSC team. A very competent squad follow the warrior into action. The team will have a point to prove after they have not been invited to participate in the traditional stage race Tirreno - Adriatico, taking place at the beginning of March.
A team with a point to prove and the Warrior showing signs of form Lucca might be Lucky for CSC
Stage 1 – 24/02/2004: Viareggio - Capannori, 174 km
Stage 2 – 25/02/2004: Massarosa - Lido di Camaiore, 173 km
Stage 3 - 26/02/2004; Lucca - Castelvecchio Pascoli, 176 km
Stage 4 – 27/02/2004; Castelnuovo Garfagnana - Altopascio, 188 km
Teams and Main Riders:
ACQUA e SAPONE (Ferrigato, Marzoli)
ALESSIO – BIANCHI (Tafi, Caucchioli, Pellizotti)
AMORE e VITA (Burrow)
CERAMICHE PANARIA – MARGRES (Figueras, Brown)
CHOCOLADE JACQUES WINCOR – NIXDORF (Bruylandts, Belohvosciks)
COLOMBIA – SELLE ITALIA (F. Gonzalez, Marin)
DE NARDI - PIEMME (Honchar, Gobbi)
DOMINA VACANZE - ELITRON (Cipollini, Colombo)
FASSA BORTOLO (Petacchi, Pozzato, Frigo)
FDJEUX.COM (Mc Gee, Casar)
FORMAGGI PINZOLO FIAVE' (Di Grande)
GEROLSTEINER (Rebellin, Hondo)
LAMPRE (Belli, Svorada)
LANDBOUWKREDIET – COLNAGO (Popovych, Mitlushenko)
LOTTO – DOMO (R. Verbrugghe, Merckx)
SAECO (Di Luca, Cunego)
Team CSC (Bartoli, Guidi)
Team LPR – PIACENZA (Konyshev, Aggiano)
TENAX (Pozzi, Mc Partland)
VINI CALDIROLA – NOBILI (Garzelli, Tonkov)
2003 : Oscar Freire (ESP)
2002 : Fabiano Fontanelli (ITA)
2001 : Mario Aerts (BEL)
2000 : Alessandro Petacchi (ITA)
1999 : Paolo Bettini (ITA)