Cunego Wins Stage 2 of Giro; McGee Grabs Maglia Rosa
Saeco's wunderkind Damiano Cunego has won Stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia. Cunego pipped Brad McGee (La Francaise des Jeux.com) and Cristian Moreni (Alessio) to take the hilly, 184-km ride from Novi Ligure to Pontremoli in 4:37:08. McGee has reclaimed the maglia rosa.
At 36 km, the break of the day took place. Twenty-three riders sallied off of the front. Within 20 km, seven of the escapees tossed in the towel, and disorganization in the break kept it from being dangerous. The fugitives never got more than 4:05 on the field.
With 32 km left, the bunch led the break by 1:15. When the escapees reached the Passo del Bratello, Luis Laverde (Formaggio Pinzolo) attacked his companions. Gorazd Stangelj (Saeco) countered and took the lead.
Panaria and Vini Caldirola led the chase, which caught Stangelj two km from the summit. Saeco took over the pacemaking, with Cunego pacing defending champion Gilberto Simoni. Saeco's driving reduced the lead group, which contained all of the GC contenders, to 30 riders.
Saeco continued pounding on the descent and during the run to the finish. With 250 m remaining, McGee took the lead, but Cunego came around him in the closing meters. McGee contented himself with the maglia rosa.
In the overall, McGee leads Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet) by 0:32 and Gerhard Trampusch (Acqua e Sapone) by 0:36. Stage 3 will probably change the standings. The 191-km ride from Pontremoli to Corno alle Scale will end with the 2004 Giro's first mountaintop finish. Will Saeco make another show of force to put Simoni or Cunego into the maglia rosa? Will the Italian squad back off, letting another another team take responsibility for race leadership with two and a half weeks to race? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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