Italy's Gabriele Balducci (Acqua&Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) opened his own (and his team's) 2006 account in Thursday's stage 2 of the Lombard Week (Brusaporto-Brusaporto, 161 km). The Tuscan fastman, back to the top of the podium 38 months after his win at the final stage of the 2003 Tour of Liguria, made the most out of the easy parcours that suited his talent and of his good sprinting legs to clinch victory from Slovenia's Zoran Klemencic (Krka), while the Russian Eugeni Popov made a new addition to the string of solid results recently scored by the Rabobank Continental Team. Which happens to be the squad of Dutch youngster Tom Stamsnijder, winner of yesterday's race opener and still atop the overall standings.
"I was aware of my good condition, I knew my legs were okay. I took second in France this past Saturday, and couldn't believe I wasted such a big chance yesterday as we couldn't chase down the breakaway. But everyone did a fantastic job today. (Ruggero) Palumbo and Simone Masciarelli perfectly set me up for the win, and the win finally came" were Balducci's after-victory words.
But today's success, coming at the end of a streak of races that saw the guys in red colors often in the thick of things, but never at the top of the podium so far this season, was also a special and certainly welcomed gift for the "Water and Soap" team boss Palmiro Masciarelli, back into the team car after a long time: "I'm extremely glad with the result. It's a nice win, and a well-needed one for our boys, it will also greatly boast their morale" the man said in after race interviews.
Stage 2 (Brusaporto-Brusaporto, 161 km) - Top 5 Places:
1. Gabriele Balducci (Ita - Acqua & Sapone Caffè Mokambo) - 03h46'35"
2. Zoran Klemencic (Slo - KK Adria Mobil) - s.t.
3. Eugeny Popov (Rus - Rabobank Continental Team) - s.t.
4. Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita - Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) - s.t.
5. Ivan Fanelli (Ita - Amore & Vita-McDonald’s) - s.t.
GC after Stage 2 :
1. Tom Stamsnijder (Hol - Rabobank Continental Team)
Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda Stage 1