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GIRO Stg 3: Saeco Rocks, Simoni Back in Pink

Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) has made good on his promise to attack on the first mountain stage of this year’s Giro, winning the stage 16 seconds in front of his young teammate, Damiano Cunego.

The 191 km stage from Pontremoli to Corno Alle Scale was piano for much of the day as the riders anticipated the 14% sections of the final climb. It seemed as if Renzo Mazzoleni (Tenax) was the only man to throw caution to the wind as he attacked at the 38 km mark and extended a solo lead that at one point was over 16 minutes.

Over the top of the second climb of the day, the Passo di Oppio, with only 55 km remaining to the finish, Mazzoleni still held a gap of 9:20 over the peleton. Saeco was determined to not have their day spoiled though, as their sponsor’s worldwide headquarters are only 20 km from the finish of the race. Lining it up at the front, the boys in red brought a fading Maz-zoleni back at the base of the Corno Alle Scale and kept the gas on all the way up the climb.

With 5 km to go, Maglia Rosa, Brad McGee (FD Jeux), who was confi-dent in his chances of holding on to the jersey for one more day, was popped as the remaining peleton virtually exploded. As the 14% sections of the grade hit, Cunego jumped, putting pressure on Popovych (landbouwkrediet) and dropping Garzelli (Vini Caldirola). As Popovych caught the flying Cunego, Simoni glanced over his shoulder at the hurting Russian and put in an accel-eration that nobody could follow to take the stage and his first Maglia Rosa of this year’s Giro. A flying Cunego showed that yesterday’s stage win was no fluke, giving Saeco first and second on the stage and first and second over-all.

With seventeen stages left to go, it will be interesting to see how ag-gressively Saeco protects the lead from this point. Regardless, a warning shot has been fired over the bow of all those riders hoping to have a chance at final glory in Milan. Saeco and the climbing duo of Simoni and Cunego right now, look unstoppable.

Rider Comments – Compiled by Michele Tomasi
Gilberto Simoni (Saeco): “We were arriving few kms from the headquarters of our main sponsor, and so we wanted to get the victory. I wanted to make a big mark, and I did it!”

Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola): “Today the stronger man won! You journalists were saying that he wasn’t at the top condition for this Giro, but you were wrong. Anyway the Giro is still very long until Milan”.

Giuliano Figueras (Panaria): “It looked like Simoni wanted to show who’s the captain!”

Damiano Cunego (Saeco): “I’m glad for Simoni but also for our team who prepared very well for this Giro. I’m sure he will do a great 3rd week!”

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner): “Today it wasn’t easy, but I’ve been able to stay with the best. I don’t have the form of the last Classics, anyway I’m ok. I’ll try to get a victory as there are many nice stages before the end”.

Giro d’ Italia Stage 3 Results
Pontremoli – Corno Alle Scale

1 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco 5.46.09
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 0.16
3 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi
4 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres
5 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
6 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco 0.31
7 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) Acqua e Sapone
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie
9 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
10 Andrea Noe’ (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi

Overall Classification after Stage 2
1 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago

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