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By Fabio
Date: 5/24/2002

In this absolutely gloomy day (in every sense), with the grey skies perfectly representing the current situation and general mood in the Tour of Italy, it might be a kind of relief even discovering that there's still a young rider able to get (at the end of a "legendary" solo break) the greatest victory of his career (so far) and almost break into tears while interviewed afterwards.

That's what actually happened to Denis Lunghi, the Colpack-Astro member from the Friuli region of Italy, who made two dreams come true in less than a month: first he was allowed to take part in his country's most important race, as Colpack-Astro got an invitation only after ONCE decided not to get to Italy, and later clinched a sensational stage victory.

True that it's not the first satisfaction of Lunghi's pro career, as last year he won the Giro del Friuli, got excellent results in other one-day races and even earned a spot in Italy's National Team for the Lisbon Worlds, (although only as a reserve, so that he turned into a "privileged spectator").

But today's prestigious success was source of a such a big emotion to him that all he could say when in front of the Italian Tv cameras was : "This is the most beautiful victory in my career, for sure. A victory at the Tour of Italy, a race I didn't even think I could take part in, as we were told there was a place for us just ten days before the start. To win here is a dream. (Colpack's Sporting Director) Stanga repeatedly told me I was the strongest, and urged me to attack, and ... he was right". But then he had to stop as, believe it or not, the emotion made him break into tears, and Lunghi's voice simply couldn't continue.

Alessio's Franco Pellizotti was serene after the stage. After yesterday's third place, fans expect another excellent showdown from him in tomorrow's mountain top finish.

But in the meantime the young climber prefers to say something on today's descent and the "truce" signed inside the peloton, a "pact" which must have been particularly appreciated by Tyler Hamilton, but also all other main contenders, as nobody was feeling like running the risk to crash on slippery rodas and lose all of his chances."The first time we tackled the descent we realized how dangerous it weas; the asphalt was slippery and more than one rider mistook a few turns, so we chose to take it easy and get to the finishing line without taking further risks, also as bringing the breakaway riders back had become impossible". The peloton's attitude was criticized by some commentators, who said the best downhillers, and Paolo Savoldelli in particular, lost a chance to attack the main contenders. Others agreed with the rider's choice instead.

Race boss Carmine Castellano praised Mercatone Uno and Saeco-Longoni Sport Team directors who bravely decided to withdraw their riders "under suspicion" from the race, thus "accepting" the organizers "requests". Gilberto Simoni's Directeur Sportif, Claudio Corti, said he thinks he did the right thing by taking that decision.

One more guy interviewed on Italian TV after Stage 12 was Australia's Cadel Evans. The Mapei's former MTB ace is getting a more and more consistent rider and, after showing off his skills in shorter stage-races, is finally testing them in a Grand Tour. Just like Tyler Hamilton, he proved he can climb well (perhaps even better than the American, judiging from his performance in yesterday's stage) and if you add his TT skills, you'll understand why many see him as a likely TOP 10 getter in the final Overall Ranking.

One extremely important test for his overall chances will certainly be next Sunday's ITT in Numana "I'm feeling well this year, and I see my Time-Trialling is getting better and better. I'm waiting for these Time-Trials and interested to see how I go" the man from OZ said in a funny mix of Italian and English.

But there's something else many fans are interested to know: after Mapei's appointed leader Garzelli was ejected from the Giro, who's going to take over his role ? Evans is an excellent rider, steadily improving, but Italy's Andrea No is an accomplished cyclist currently in good shape (as he proved in Thursday's hilly leg) and used to have good performances in the Giro, such that he came close to hit the final podium more than once.

The Aussie answered that "Now we are going to see over to the next two days who is going better of the two of us; at the moment I'm ninth in classification, so obviously I'm in the better position but we'll see how we go. No has the experience, and maybe I have the legs, we have to wait and see". Of course, Cadel is the first to admit he can't win the Giro this year, but nonetheless taking part in the race is very helpful to him, as he's gaining more and more experience.

When the discussion topic moved from his own performances to Stefano Garzelli, Evans told journalists that "Garzelli was riding very very very well, and I was more than happy to be working for him when his was riding so well, and just to see him winning in Liege/Ans and Limone Piemonte ... for me it was fantastic".

Unfortunately the Australian has a weak point: the descent. He's definitely not a skilled Savoldelli-like downhiller, and he knows it: "That's because there is a huge difference between road racing and the MTB in this sense. Descents are truly different indeed". Evans acknowledged he has not yet learned well how to stay in the peloton during dangerous descents when the pace of the course is exteremely fast, but maybe experience will help him to correct this shortcoming.

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