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Saeco Say Go! Stage 2 Giro d'Italia
By Podofdonny
Date: 5/10/2004
Saeco Say Go! Stage 2 Giro d'Italia

Gerolsteiner woke this morning with an embarrassment of riches. Olaf Pollack in Pink and only the fourth ever German to do so, the others being Heppner, Braun in 1981 and then Buse way back in 1932. Fabian Wegmann in the mountains jersey and Rebellin still on target for the overall.

The team management must have mused over a glass of sparkling water or two trying to decide the best course of action. To back Rebellin or try to hang on for pink and reap the subsequent publicity. The decision was not that straightforward. The Peace Race is also live on German TV; a race that arch rivals T-Mobile are racing. In some ways the two races are a direct publicity battle between the two German Giants to see who can get most headline space. Advantage Gerolsteiner so far.

Inevitably they made the only sensible decision, to try and back all three men for as long as possible.

So when the major break of the day of 23 riders got away it was a very sensible Gerolsteiner who got men in the break. Sadly for them, so did Saeco, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Vini Caldirola-Nobili and just about every one else.

With the final climb of the Passo del Brattello looming and Phonak leading the peloton, Saeco made the first of two great tactical moves. As the leading group of 23 riders started to disintegrate, Gorazd Stangelj (Saeco) made a searing attack on the remaining escapees.

Simoni, surrounded by his red army, waited for someone to respond. Garzelli and his Vini Caldirola rose to the challenge and set off in pursuit. Mario Cipollini had long been left behind following a puncture; now Petacchi slipped off the back surrounded by his Fassa troops. Pollack's day in Pink ended too, as Caldirola hunted down Stangelj.

Stangelj finally hit the wall with 2 kilometres to go. Any joy the Caldirola team felt was short lived. A mass attack by the Saeco saw only the strong hold on and the race split for good. Damiano Cunego, Eddy Mazzoleni, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Sylvester Szmyd and Andrea Tonti were all magnificent for their captain as they led the charge to the top of the mountain and down the 20 kilometre descent to the finish.

Riders of the quality of Astarloa had to fight on the descent to rejoin the leading group as it swooped down into Pontremoli.

If Simoni and his Red Army had proved a point, then so too had Brad McGee. Not only had he kept up with the Saeco pace where many established mountain men had not, with team mate Philippe Gilbert keeping him company, he now found himself not only in a position to take the stage but also reclaim the pink. For the second time in two days we saw an Australian make the first move on the finishing straight. McGee went early, but Saeco were not to be denied their crowning moment.

Damiano Cunego put the icing on the cake for the Saeco team with a perfectly time late sprint.

Mc Gee reclaimed Pink, and it will be very interesting to see how the FdJeux team respond to the challenge tomorrow.

Alessandro Petacchi surrounded by his team mates came in 2.39 down, although David Cioni remains well placed on the overall.

Yaroslav Popovych moves to second overall, but lost team member Cristian Gasperoni; bad luck, this looks like a race where the will of the team may decide who finishes in Pink.

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