It's not about Le Tour only. When it comes to the Italian young gun scene, the first weekend of
July is mainly the right time of the year for many a good Elite-2 and Under 23 riders use to challenge each other - as well as the hills of Oltrepó Pavese, the southernmost area of Lombardy - over the "Freccia dei Vini/Memorial Luigi Raffele", one of most demanding events of the nation's dilettanti
calendar. And the 2006 edition of the race, organized as usual by the A.S.D. Orga Sport (and the Viris Vigevano cycling team), was no exception to the rule.
Living up to tradition, over one hundred athletes from Italy and several other countries (mostly Switzerland
and the East-European ones, but the event featured contenders also from as far as Namibia, Venezuela, Colombia, Australia and Morocco) lined up for the start at Vigevano's magnificent Piazza Ducale (Ducal Square) and
embarked on a journey taking them - better, just a few selected ones amongst them - all the way to a town in the
Oltrepó Pavese after plenty of uphill (and downhill) riding. This time the place chosen to host the Freccia's finishing line was going under the name of Casteggio, that what was left of the starting field reached at the end of a journey of 170 km. with six categorised climbs, the "queen" of them all being the awful Muro di Donelasco, a "Belgian-style" wall covering about one thousand metres only, but whose gradient goes up to a maximum of about 20% (and such a torrid climate as today's made things even more difficult there). Also living up to tradition, the Freccia participants didn't disappoint their tifosi, and gifted them with just another sensational, hard-fought race, with skirmishes and attacks going basically from beginning to end.
Riders lining up for the start
in the Piazza Ducale picturesque scenery.
Click for bigger
The fireworks came since the flag was dropped at Piazza Ducale about half an hour past midday; the first
battlefield were the streets of Vigevano, playing host to a urban circuit consisting of three laps, with the Trofeo Pina & Mario Bazzigaluppi cup at stake. Best point-getter, and overall winner of the Trophy, was Luca Damiani of the
Switzerland-based Team FIDIBC.com, who clinched victory from fellow Italian Giovanni Carini of S.C. Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel. The two fastmen may have been rivals inside Vigevano, but their squad joined efforts when it was about trying to chase down a three-man breakaway group that formed about 30 km. into the race, as the peloton hit the hamlet of Borgo San Siro, and Umberto Chiaradonna put "home team" Viris Vigevano-Isauto-Cosma into spotlight by making the first move of the day along with the Team Schivardi-Colombina pair of Cristian Mondinelli and Federico Redaelli. Racing on the flatlands of Lomellina, the trio opened up a maximum advantage of 01'05" as the race made it to Pavia, but by the time they rolled out of the ancient capital of the Longobard Kingdom the chasing pack had cut the gap down to 44 seconds. And even if the leaders could enjoy some help from Ukraine's Andriy Pryschepa (racing for in a team based in the tiny Republic of San Marino) for a few minutes, the peloton got back as one shortly after they crossed Italy's #1 river - the Po - and made it to the Oltrepó Pavese area. Kudos to the brave trio, capable of staying away for close to 30 km., anyway.
The bunch stayed together as they winded through the streets of Stradella, but as it's often the case in this
contest, 'twas just the quiet before the storm. And the storm came as they hit the first difficulty of the day, leading up to the Montú Beccaria KOM prime, and the going got hilly, and the bikefights got back. The first fighter into action was Edoardo Pozzi of FIDIBIC, but his move was followed by Podenzano's Stefano Colangelo. Soon later
Yahuen Sobal of AC Sammarinese Gruppo Lupi put in his own show and kicked the two Italians out of the limelight. The Belarusian rolled out of the field, picked up Pozzi and Colangelo and dropped them, just to take the spoils at the top of the Montú ascent, with the former frontrunners trailing by a dozen seconds and the peloton further back. But Sobal wasn't allowed to continue his show all by himself; once Pozzi and Colangelo were reeled in, another
Podenzano athlete counter-attacked: Pielurigi Senor made a move that saw Gabriele Orizzonte (Pagnoncelli), Nazareno Rossi (of the Swiss VC Mendrisio) and Progetto Ciclismo's Federico Pintor as co-protagonists. They closed down the gap to the 1981-born escapee, and the five-strong breakaway group arrived at the foot of the cruel Donelasco.
Struggling on the Donelasco wall.
Click for bigger image.
The awful kilometre caused damage to the front group, but even to a bigger extent to the main bunch. Senor
was first over the top, while breakaway mate Pinton was having a hard time there. But we had more and more
guys struggling big style in the gruppo (Switzerland's Saul Bergomi of VC Mendrisio was quite impressive in this sense, but we can tell you the boy wasn't the lone ranger at all ...), because of both the parcours and the darn heat.
The "Muro", a steady presence of this contest in recent years, was located a bit too far from the finish line this
time, and with four more ascents to come, it was also far from being as decisive as it often proved in the past. So
that the battle continued in the following, tricky descent - where unfortunately someone mistook some turn and ended up hitting the tarmac, consequently being forced out of the race - as well as the next climb Castana. The
mighty team Pagnoncelli and their orange-clad warriors started their show, by getting some of their best guys
(Francesco Tizza, Bruno Rizzi and Matteo Scaroni) in a six-strong first chase group also encompassing Matteo
Gregianin (Podenzano, but formerly Viris Vigevano), Piergiorgio Camussa (Alplast-Progetto Ciclismo) and Roeder's Marco Marenco. Senor, Sobal and Rossi managed to secure the point-awarding top three spots at the summit of the Castana ascent too, but the chase proved fruitful in the next descent into Stradella and we got ten men in the lead. With about 50 km remaining the situation got even more fluid, as the front group went up to a dozen guys first, to seventeen later, and to nineteen escapees later again. And to the surprise of many, we had a gruppo
compatto of some 30 riders at Mornico Losana (km. 128/40k to go).
But the Pagnoncellis were once more on the move, and this time looked like it was the good one: their top riders Tizza and Rizzi attacked again as the road got back tilting upwards, on the way to the Oliva Gessi mountain prime. They may have met some resistance initially, but resistance proved futile: the two guys made the gap for real! Another "orange warrior", now wearing the white-red-and-green jersey of Italy's U23 National RR Champion,
Marco Cattaneo, also was in the top spots of the chase group, arguably ready to burst into spotlight in case his two team-mates on the front were chased down. But he never had to: the only serious chasing attempt, put in by Gigi
Senor (showing some great legs today, though not great enough), who attacked the field and began his own chase
of the leading pair, didn't prosper. The Podenzano athlete was trailing the two leaders by half a minute as the race
made it to Casteggio for the first time, with 30k to go, and the gap did just get bigger in the three laps of the final circuit(s). Tizza's and Rizzi's excellent legs, combined with the misfortunes of some of their pursuers (on-form Gregianin punctured, and others apparently took the wrong direction such that they lost all of their slender hopes to bring back the fugitives) resulted in victory becoming a two-man affair, and an "all-orange" thing.
Tizza (L) and Rizzi (R) cross the line
in a triumphal way. Click for bigger
Many expected a "clash of Pagnoncellis" to determine the outcome of the race, but in the end we didn't have
any hotly-contested sprint. In a move a few tifosi at the line seemed not to appreciate, both Bruno Rizzi and
Francesco Tizza raised their arms in triumph as they were getting to the finish. Both guys celebrated it as a team
victory, though in the end it was Rizzi who crossed the line first and wrote his name beside that of Freccia 2005
winner Maurizio Bellin. Some regarded it as a kind of gift from better-known Tizza and the Pagnoncelli managers
to a rider that had never won anything earlier in the season, but others considered it a proper reward for the many, many times Rizzi had gone on the attack in 2006, without getting that coveted big prize.
As if the 1-2 punch they gave opposition wasn't enough, the Pagnoncelli winning machine made their triumphal journey complete by capturing even the only other podium spot left, courtesy of Gabriele Orizzonte's quickest legs in the small bunch sprint for third place, and by Marco Cattaneo and Matteo Scaroni taking 5th and 6th respectively, with Matteo Gregianin (very disappointed, and consoled by Tizza at the end of the race) as the only non-orange competitor having a top five result. The Lombard team scored their fourth victory in this race (after their 1998, 2002 and 2004 winning campaigns, see full palmares at the bottom of the page) and their umpteenth success in a race organized by their Viris Vigevano rivals. At their turn, the home team got a good top ten result courtesy of Alberto Di Lorenzo. A top ten finisher twelve months ago, Dan Craven of Namibia was again the only English-speaker capable of crossing the line, and had a solid 13th place finish this time.
The podium was an "orange warrior" affair,
with Tizza (L), Rizzi (C) & Orizzonte (R),
and team boss Paolo Pagnoncelli to the far left.
Click for bigger image.
"See you next year" was what the race speaker told the fans at the end of the award ceremony. But "see ya very
soon" is what we tell you, as besides the pictures you can see down in this page, we're going to post more images of
the event over the next days. Don't miss our upcoming Freccia dei Vini 2006 Photo Gallery!
35th Freccia dei Vini/Memorial Luigi Raffele
(Vigevano to Casteggio, 170 km)
1. Bruno Rizzi (Ita - SC Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel) - 04h24'25" (38.575 kph)
2. Francesco Tizza (Ita - SC Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel) - s.t.
3. Gabriele Orizzonte (Ita - SC Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel) - at 04'35"
4. Matteo Gregianin (Ita - GS Podenzano-Tecninox) - s.t.
5. Marco Cattaneo (Ita - SC Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel) - s.t.
6. Matteo Scaroni (Ita - SC Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel) - s.t.
7. Matteo Montanari (Ita - Team FIDIBC.com) - s.t.
8. Cristiano Monguzzi (Ita - Aurora Named-Tad Pharma) - s.t.
9. Pierluigi Senor (Ita - GS Podenzano-Tecninox) - s.t.
10. Alberto Di Lorenzo (Ita - Viris Vigevano-Isauto Cosma) - at 05'25"
11. Rafael Infantino Abreu (Col - GC Garlaschese)
12. Vincenzo Nunziata (Ita - GS.BCS.Frangi)
13. Dan Craven (Nam - Team FIDIBC.com)
14. Gianluca Massano (Ita - Team TATA)
15. Piergiorgio Camussa (Ita - Progetto Ciclismo-Alplast)
16. Marco Marenco (Ita - Roeder 1956)
17. Paolo Montanari (Ita - Viris Vigevano-Isauto Cosma)
18. Stefano Somaschini (Ita - GS.BCS.Frangi)
19. Marco Giani (Ita - Velo Club Mendrisio-PL Valli)
20. Igor Cerutti (Ita - Roeder 1956)
21. Marco Carletti (Ita - GS Futura-Team Matricardi)
Starters: 111. Finishers: 21
Freccia dei Vini - Palmares 1972 Giovanni Battaglin (Ita - Jolly Ceramica)
1973 Gianfranco Pala (Ita - Baggio Gaverina)
1974 Giuseppe Martinelli (Ita - Europack)
1975 Gabriele Landoni (Ita - Itla)
1976 Vittorio Algeri (Ita - Itla)
1977 Dino Porrini (Ita - Lema Mobili)
1978 Luigi Gritti (Ita - System Holz)
1979 Emanuele Bombini (Ita - System Holz)
1980 Juan Arroyo (Ven - Venezuela)
1981 Fabrizio Verza (Ita - Ital-Tessari)
1982 Tullio Cortinovis (Ita - Novartiplast)
1983 Tullio Cortinovis (Ita - Novartiplast)
1984 Stefano Bizzoni (Ita - Novartiplast)
1985 Giuseppe Calcaterra (Ita - Legnanese)
1986 Johnny Carera (Ita - Gloria)
1987 Valerio Tebaldi (Ita - Remac)
1988 Sergio Carcano (Ita - Gloria)
1989 Stefano Cortinovis (Ita - Remac)
1990 Mauro Consonni (Ita - Diana)
1991 Massimo Maestri (Ita - Domus)
1992 Massimo Donati (Ita - Cuoril)
1993 Rosario Fina (Ita - Cosmos)
1994 Marco Bellini (Ita - Brunero)
1995 Walter Pedroni (Ita - Addax)
1996 Simone Mori (Ita - MBM Rosa)
1997 Ellis Rastelli (Ita - Sintofarm)
1998 Alessandro Volpe (Ita - Pagnoncelli)
1999 Eddy Ratti (Ita - Podenzano)
2000 Andrei Moukhine (Rus - Viris Vigevano)
2001 Damiano Giannini (Ita - Pagnoncelli)
2002 Santo Anzá (Ita - Zoccorinese-Vellutex)
2003 Dimitri Dementiev (Rus - Italfine-Podenzano)
2004 Antonio Quadranti (Ita - Pagnoncelli-FMB Perrel)
2005 Maurizio Bellin (Ita - GS Podenzano-Italfine-Brunero)
2006 Bruno Rizzi (Ita - SC Pagnoncelli-NGC Perrel)
Trofeo Pina & Mario Bazzigaluppi - Palmares (*) 1983 Giuseppe Pagnoncelli (Ita)
1984 Moreno Chiaravalli (Ita)
1985 Gabriele Rampollo (Ita)
1986 Mosé Comparini (Ita)
1987 Giampaolo Cremonesi (Ita)
1988 Riccardo Veglia (Ita)
1989 Massimo Esposito (Ita)
1990 Laurent Ottoz (Ita)
1991 Sergio Giannosso (Ita)
1992 Luca Passoni (Ita)
1993 Valerio Suigo (Ita)
1994 Massimo Maestri (Ita)
1995 Alessandro Pozzi (Ita)
1996 Oscar Pozzi (Ita)
1997 Marco Cannone (Ita)
1998 Alessio Girelli (Ita)
1999 Marco Zanotti (Ita)
2000 Simone Cadamuro (Ita)
2001 Claudio Pizzoferrato (Ita)
2002 Peter Klasa (Cze)
2003 Paride Grillo (Ita)
2004 Maurizio Biondo (Ita)
2005 Alex Broggi (Ita)
2006 Luca Damiani (Ita)
(*)= The event was a one-day race until the year 2004 included.
34th Freccia dei Vini (July 2005) - Race Report
34th Freccia dei Vini (July 2005) - Photo Gallery
Young Gun News Roundup - Saturday, June 03rd 2006
Young Gun News Roundup - Monday, June 05th, 2006
Young Gun News Roundup - Wednesday, June 07th, 2006
Young Gun News Roundup - Saturday, June 10th 2006