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Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 4 Updated
By Fabio
Date: 3/24/2006
Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 4 Updated

Stage Four of the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi & Bartali, covering 184.4 km. from Carpi to Finale Emilia on a pancake flat parcours running entirely inside the Modena province territory, got underway, with Damiano Cunego in the race leadership and Vincenzo Nibali two seconds back on GC, as a field of 171 riders (among whom unfortunately wasn't Glen Chadwick of the Navigators Insurance Cycling Team) rolled out of the start town around 11:15 AM CET.

The first significant move of the day came after 20 km. from Cunego's Slovenian domestique Goradz Stangelj - once more showing evidence that, similarly to his capitano, he has got great legs at this stage of the season -, as well as Italians Alessandro Vanotti (Team Milram), Leonardo Giordani (Naturino-Sapore di Mare), Ivan De Nobile (Team Universal Caffè) and Alessio Signego (OTC Doors-Lauretana), Danish veteran Bo Hamburger (now racing with the Miche team outfit), Switzerland's Philippe Schnyder (Selle Italia), and Polish athlete Kristof Szczawinski (Ceramica Flaminia). The group was back together soon anyway, but unfortunately without Gabriele Bosisio (Tenax), who had to pull out of the contest due to the injuries he suffered as he hit the tarmac in this early part of the stage. The Davitamon-Lotto duo of Bart Dockx and Australia's Nick Gates was going to join him in the DNFs list a couple hours later.

The "breakaway of the day" came in the second hour of racing, as Irishman David O'Loughlin (Navigators Insurance Cycling Team) and his Belgian colleague Oliver Kaisen (Davitamon-Lotto) went away after 44 km. The gap opened fast: the pair was leading the bunch by over a minute after 8 kilometres, by 02'25" at the km. 72 check, by four and a half minutes at km. 88, and 05'18" with about 80k to go. But the group, led by Cunego's Lampre-Fondital teammates (also Milram, Naturino and Quick Step were seen up front setting the pace) finally kept doing some chasing efforts, and O'Loughlin and Kaisen's advantage dropped to 02'54" as the Irish-Belgian front duo hit the line at Finale Emilia for the first time.

The gap remained basically unchanged thru the first of eight laps of the finishing circuit around Finale town, which they covered in a time of 10'01" (average speed: 41.506 kph) , with Quick Step, Lampre-Fondital and their Selle Italia helpers doing most of the chasing work back in the bunch. Kaisen and O'Loughlin lost twenty seconds in the following lap though, and loops number three and four saw the gap coming further down to 01'38" and a minute respectively, also because of the help the T-Mobile rouleurs gave to the chasing group, but notably as the legs of the two frontrunners were anything but fresh after so many kilometres away. The breakaway was doomed, and the Brave Irishman and his Belgian mate were hauled back by the field early into lap six, about seventeen kilometres from the line, after they managed to stay clear for over 120 kms. Hats off to the two guys!

The Team Miche, working for their appointed sprinter Yuri Metlushenko, took over the task of keeping the pace high and driving the gruppo compatto into the penultimate lap, which saw the bunch all together again, going fast and covering the route in a record time of 08'43" (significantly averaging a speed of 48.871 km/h). Then came Lampre, who kept the situation under control over the last kilometres, despite late attempts by Raivis Belohvosciks, and not just in order to keep Damiano Cunego out of danger. But also as the team was fielding a certain Danilo Napolitano, one of the best young fastmen around, who showed his talent three days ago, as he sprinted to victory in the opening half-stage at Riccione. And recidivous Danilo stroke again: once more the Sicilian proved the fastest, this time in front of the Aussie Brett Lancaster (Panaria) and the Brazilian Murilo Fischer (Naturino), thus taking his second win in this race (the third one on the road so far this year, as second places could be added) and giving the Italian team - that can celebrate also Cunego's stay atop the overall standings - their third success in the space of just four days.

The race resumes tomorrow with the fifth and final stage, going from Castellarano to Sassuolo over 163.6 km., with an undulating parcours, and room for both Cunego to attack and increase his lead and his main challengers to have a shot at toppling him.

Stage 4 (Carpi to Finale Emilia, 184.4 km.): Top 10 Places
1. Danilo Napolitano (Ita - Lampre-Fondital) - 04h30'42" (40.896 kph)
2. Brett Lancaster (Aus - Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare)
3. Murilo Fischer (Bra - Naturino-Sapore di Mare)
4. Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita - Team Milram)
5. Heinrich Haussler (Ger - Gerolsteiner)
6. Olaf Pollack (Ger - T-Mobile Team)
7. Elia Rigotto (Ita - Team Milram)
8. Blazej Janiaczyk (Pol - Team Androni Giocattoli-3C Casalinghi)
9. Marco Marcato (Ita - Team Androni Giocattoli-3C Casalinghi)
10. Francesco Chicchi (Ita - Quick Step-Innergetic)

All with the same time.

Settimana Int. Coppi Bartali - Gc after Stage 4: Top 8 Places
1. Damiano Cunego (Ita - Lampre-Fondital)
2. Vicenzo Nibali (Ita - Liquigas) - at 02"
3. Mario Aerts (Bel - Davitamon-Lotto) - at 11"
4. Sergio Ghisalberti (Ita - Team Milram) - at 14"
5. Luca Mazzanti (Ita - Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) - at 17"
6. Andrea Tonti (Ita - Acqua & Sapone) - at 33"
7. Cristian Gasperoni (Ita - Naturino-Sapore di Mare) - at 36"
8. Michael Rogers (Aus T-Mobile Team) - at 40"

After Race Cooments: Lampre 1 - Damiano Cunego Speaking of today's leg: "Stages like this may look easy and quiet, but they're not. Especially for those with a jersey to hold on to; they have to stay in the front places, and away from danger as much as possible. And this is not easy when the pace is so high". Speaking of tomorrow's stage : "I don't know which tactics we'll use, we'll see later; maybe we'll start with a defensive attitude and, if the day looks good to us as lomg as the stage goes on, we might have a got at attacking, but I don't want to waste too much too early. My main objective is the Giro, you know, and it's still quite away. All I can say for sure is that, as we saw these days, I've got a great team, and I can count on them. ":

After Race Comments: Lampre 2 - Danilo Napolitano Speaking of his stage victory and the Lampre teamwork "We got off to a great start to the season. The team have worked hard from the start today, both for me and Damiano and his jersey. We did a good job, and it was thoroughly rewarded. My legs were okay, and things went fine". Speaking of being regarded as one of the top sprinters on the pro cycling scene" Well, I hope I can be. But it's not up to me to tell, it's up to the others, and to the results. Of course, the more (good results) I get, the better. But I wouldn't say I'm flying in this period. One can say he's flying when he beats the likes of Petacchi and Boonen. At the moment, I'm just as good as the other good sprinters".

After Race Comments: Lampre 3 - Team Manager Giuseppe Martinelli "The whole team raced the best way: we controlled the race and in the final part we found support from other teams. In the final sprint Napolitano confirmed that he's the fastest guy".

Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 4 Photos

Napolitano made it ten (wins as a professional rider) .
Photo Courtesy Fotoreporter Sirotti. All Rights Reserved.

Cunego: one stage to go, one step closer to the win.
Photo Courtesy Fotoreporter Sirotti. All Rights Reserved.

Today's Top Three. L to R: Murilo Fisher, Danilo Napolitano
and Brett "Don't Call Me Burt" Lancaster.
Photo Courtesy Fotoreporter Sirotti. All Rights Reserved.

The respective leaders of each classification.
L to R: Cunego, Nibali, Kuchynski and Napolitano.
Photo Courtesy Fotoreporter Sirotti. All Rights Reserved.

Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 1A
Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 1B
Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 2
Settimana Coppi & Bartali - Stage 3

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