replied to Tom Boonen's impressive start to the season with his own first victory in the opening race of the Italian road calendar. The "Sprinter Gentleman" stamped his authority on the 11th Gran Premio Costa degli Etruschi, held this Saturday over a comparatively easy parcours of 193 km., starting at the Tuscan city of San Vincenzo and with the finish line located at another hamlet of the same ragion, Donoratico (both places on the outskirts of Livorno). "AleJet" pipped the Lampre-Fondital duo of Daniele Bennati and gun sprinter Danilo Napolitano (a newcomer to the team) to the line to make an all-Italian race podium.
"If compared to the past winter, I have less kilometres in my legs, as I trained less this time, but I'm happy anyway. It's the first time (in months) that I cover close to 200 kilometres, but I think my legs were good during the sprint, though I have to improve my climbing form" were some of the post-race words from the winner, who was also satisfied with his leadout machine "okay, the team certainly has lot of work to do, but it's just a matter a time".
If Petacchi sounded happy, the same can't be said of young fastman Bennati, who started his 2006 campaign the same way he ended the past one: with a second place finish in a massive sprint, as he lost to Zabel at the last Paris-Tour, and to Ete's new teammate today: "I hoped I could get the win this time. I even thought I could do it. But Petacchi is strong, very strong, way too strong. Not that I was desperately in need for a victory here, but a success would have been important to me. I still have to work on improving my condition, but I'm on the right track. See Ya at San Remo!"
Results - Top 10 Places
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1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita - Milram) - 04h39'30" (41.381 kph)
2. Daniele Bennati (Ita - Lampre-Fondital)
3. Danilo Napolitano (Ita - Lampre-Fondital)
4. Andrus Aug (Est - Acqua&Sapone)
5. Krzysztof Szczawinski (Pol - Ceramica Flaminia)
6. Paolo Bossoni (Ita - Tenax-Salmilano)
7. Daniele Colli (Ita - Liquigas)
8. Gabriele Bosisio (Ita - Tenax-Salmilano)
9. Giosuè Bonomi (Ita - Barloworld)
10. Daniele Di Nucci (Ita - Universal Caffé)
GP Costa Etruschi - Winners
1996 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita - Scrigno)
1997 Biagio Conte (Ita - Scrigno)
1998 Mario Cipollini (Ita - Saeco)
1999 Endrio Leoni (Ita - Liquigas)
2000 Mario Cipollini (Ita - Saeco)
2001 Fabio Sacchi (Ita - Saeco)
2002 Jury Mitlushenko (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago)
2003 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est - AG2R Prevoyance)
2004 Jury Mitlushenko (Ukr - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago)
2005 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita - Fassa Bortolo)
2006 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita - Milram)
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Photos Courtesy Fotoreporter Sirotti.
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