After the disappointment of losing "his own" prologue by one second only, Belgium's Rik Verbrugghe took revenge in a very outstanding way, by powering to victory in Stage 7 of Giro d'Italia. The Lotto riders (once more) proved he's not a good Time-triallist only. Just like in last year's Fleche Wallonne (where he said goodbye to all of his breakaway mates in the gruelling "Mur de Huy" final ascent) he showed he can win on different courses. And now he eyes a new target: a TOP 10 spot in Milan. Or at least that's what he confessed in a post-win interview given to "Gazzetta dello Sport".
"I think this was a good reply to the Groningen's TT results, a demonstration that I can win on almost every kind of terrain. Sure my first objective was taking the Pink Jersey in the prologue, but now I think I could win one more stage and go for a good overall placing in Milan. As for today's stage. the last 10 km. were very difficult due to annoying headwind".
Another man in the thick of things, but for completely different reasons, was Stefano Garzelli of course: the Mapei-Quick Step rider talked to RAI TV journalists after the end of yesterday's stage."Today I just kept inside the peloton, trying to think to something else". Asked why he's still racing, whereas other riders went home after failing blood tests, the man replied that "I have the chance to stay here until Tuesday, as every rider can keep in the race until the counter-analysis results confirm his positivity; if my hematocrit was more than 50%, I'd pull out of competition, but that would be a truly different thing. Neither I nor my team are currently breaking any rules". But unfortunately his future in both the Giro and the rest of his career don't seem to be so unpredictable.
Gilberto Simoni, as outspoken as usual, sounded like thinking the "doping-affair" could make this sport cleaner and better after all, "Cycling is currently invoved in a fight against doping. And if any scandal comes, well, I think that's a good thing".
As for Francesco Casagrande and Gianni Faresin, both of them focused on Sunday's stage during their post-race interviews. "Things went quite well the Fassa-Bortolo Tuscan told the press "The stage was relatively quiet, the descent was a bit dangerous, but luckily it didn't start raining. As for the ascent, I already knew it and was perfectly aware of its difficulties. But it was too far from the the finish line to make a true selection. Verbrugghe won, that's ok, but I don't think he's a GC threat. As for me, I had good sensations during the stage anyway"
Gerolsteiner's Faresin didn't sound that satisfied with the stage outcome. The veteran rider from Veneto was part of the decisive break, but couldn't stay on Verbrugghe's win when the Belgian made his winning move, and regretted it after the stage end "A spectacular stage came out. Unfortunately I worked too much on the flat part, then climbed at a regular pace, as I'm not that good at attacking on ascents. Besides that, I wasn't in a very good condition. We tried to chase Verbrugghe down, but he was going too fast for us" .
Alessio's Cristian Moreni, the last man to give up to Verbrugghe on the last ascent, rendered homage homage to the stage winner's class and experience "I tried to get clear in the steepest part of the ascent, as I had no chances in an eventual final sprint, but wasn't in great form. Verbrugghe had something more than us, anyway".
Italo-British (born in Reading, UK) Dario David Cioni, another protagonist of the day's breakaway, sounded quite satisfied with his performance "Today's stage was useful for me to gain further experience, and showed I can have my say in the peloton the Mapei-Quick Step former MTB ace said.