The Week That Was...

News & Results

06/2/2004| 0 comments
by Ian Melvin

The Week That Was...

Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.

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With just one week remaining in this year?s Giro d?Italia, 24 year old Ukrainian, Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) led the race with Saeco riders Damiano Cunego and Gilberto Simoni just behind ready to pounce at any given opportunity.  That opportunity presented itself on stage 16 when Cunego raced away from the leading group to win what was then his third stage of the race.  Later that evening, team-mate and previous winner of the Giro, Simoni, said that there was a pact between the two riders and that ?we?ll do our own races but without racing against each other.  The important thing is that Saeco wins without wasting the great teamwork that we?ve done so far with useless attacks.  I?ve never raced against him nor he against me. ?  Simoni added that he hoped that the younger rider would see fit to honor their pact.  Breaking the pact, he said, ?would be a big mistake.  I want to win this Giro with or without Damiano.  How?  I?m not sure but I haven?t given up yet.?

Two days later after an excellent win from Pavel Tonkov, Cunego took his 4th and final stage win having caught Simoni towards the finish at Bormio 2000 as he sat on a chasing group bridging across to the Saeco leader.  Entering the final 200m of the climb, Cunego led out the sprint for Simoni only for the elder rider to lose touch and see a stage victory slip from his grasp as the 22 year old crossed the line, arms aloft in celebration.  Simoni immediately turned around to descend back to the team hotel back down the mountain.  The following morning, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that as he passed Cunego by the team bus, surrounded by journalists, Simoni lashed out, ?You?re a bastard?  You really are stupid!?   You won?t be surprised that they didn?t share dinner that night together at the team hotel.

Commenting on the day?s events, Claudio Conti, the team manager, said that ?Gilberto had his chance to attack but it didn?t work.  Now it?s time to look at the facts.  Damiano has the cards in hand to win the Giro.?   After taking second place on the penultimate stage behind another ex Giro winner, Stefano Garzelli, a more rational Simoni explained, ?that?s the way it goes and there?s no use getting upset about it.  I?ve realized I wasn?t in the same form as in the past.  The fact remains that the Giro has been a huge success for my Saeco team.?    Looking back at the previous day, Cunego said that, "Gilberto was disappointed not to win and I can understand that.  It won't change our relationship, we're still friends and I still have a lot of respect for him because he was one of the people who have helped me develop and improve as a rider in the last two years."

 

Wrapping the race up in manner to which we?ve all become accustomed, Alessandro Petacchi sped to his 9th and new post-second world war record-breaking victory at the finish in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Milan

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