Alessandro Petacchi v. Mario Cipollini - Part One. Months after their latest clash, the (former) Lion King of the Sprints, who recently showed he can still roar anyway, and the man who stole him the status of best sprinters around, are up against each other in pure Super Mario's territory: the Lucca Province of Tuscany, which is not far from Petacchi's hometown La Spezia either. But also in race already boasting Petacchi as winner: the Y2K Tour of Lucca was the only other stage contest, before the recent Vuelta a Valencia, whose overall AleJet won.
Once known as one of the nation's few short stages, the Giro della Provincia di Lucca, now in its 7th edition, was another victim of the strange changes taking places in the Italian calendar, especially when it comes to events organized by the RCS-Gazzetta dello Sport society. The 2005 race was originally scheduled as a four-stage race to be held in late February, but was later postponed by a dozen days and turned into a one-day contest, which takes place Monday over a 177-km.(originally 173, but the parcours was subsequently altered) course starting in the seaside city of Viareggio and finishing at Altopascio.
Seventeen teams from 8 different nations will be at the startline, with possible protagonists such as the top two sprinters we mentioned befere also Ivan Basso, who showed good legs at his season debut (at the Milano-Torino classic) two days ago, 2004 winner Alessandro Bertolini, the Panaria duo Paolo Tiralongo, Emanuele Sella and Liquigas' Danilo Di Luca (all of whom coming from a top five result at Milan-Turin) as well as Russians Pavel Tonkov and Dimitri Konyshev (possibly aiming to continue the winning string of their LPR team, after yesterday's Giro del Lago Maggiore showdown) or Ukrainian Serhiy Honchar. And watch out for Vincenzo "Shark of the Strait" Nibali too: the young sicilian from Messina had a great performance in last Saturday's race, and might well be hungry to show off his talent again, so that he may find a place in Fassa Bortolo's Milan-Sanremo line-up.
Courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport. Click for larger image
Teams and Main Riders
ACQUA&SAPONE-ADRIA MOBIL (Ita) - (Balducci, L. Moser)
AMORE&VITA-BERETTA (Pol) - (C. Bartoli, Mroz)
ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI-3C (Ita) - (Ferrara, Bailetti)
BARLOWORLD-VALSIR (GBR) - (Degano, Serri)
CERAMICA FLAMINIA (Ita) - (Cipolletta, Boggia)
CERAMICHE PANARIA-NAVIGARE (Ita) - (Sella, Tiralongo)
COLOMBIA SELLE ITALIA (Col) - (Rujano, Illiano)
DOMINA VACANZE (Ita) - (Bertolini, Honchar)
FASSA BORTOLO (Ita) - (Petacchi, Nibali)
LAMPRE-CAFFITA (Ita) - (Bortolami, Bennati)
LIQUIGAS-BIANCHI (Ita) - (Cipollini, Di Luca)
TEAM L.P.R. (Swi) - (Tonkov, Konyshev)
MICHE (Bul) - (Niemec, Borghesi)
NATURINO-SAPORE DI MARE (Swi) - (Simeoni, Agnoli)
PHONAK HEARING SYSTEM (Swi) - (Guidi, Aebersold)
TEAM CSC (Den) - (Basso, Lombardi)
TENAX-NOBILI RUBINETTERIE (Ire) - (Klemencic, Rogina)
Race Palmares (It was a stage race until the 2004 edition included)
1. Paolo Bettini (Ita)
2. Davide Rebellin (Ita) - at 03"
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit) - at 05"
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)
2. Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) - at 10"
3. Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) - at 11"
1. Mario Aerts (Bel)
2. Piotr Wadecki (Pol) - at 06'16"
3. Ludovic Turpin (Fra) - at 06'’18"
1. Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita)
2. Marcus Zberg (Swi) - at 04"
3. Richard Virenque (Fra) - at 07"
1. Oscar Freire Gómez (Spa)
2. Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) - at 08"
3. José Iván Gutiérrez (Spa) - at 14"
1. Alessandro Bertolini (Ita)
2. Thomas Ziegler (Ger) - at 01'51"
3. Matteo Tosatto (Ita) - at 02'50"