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GIRO Stg 2: Cunego Just Keeps On Winning!

He’s no longer up-and-coming … he’s here now! Saeco’s phenomenal Damiano Cunego has catapulted his name to the top of the favorites list with the tifosi by taking the Giro d’ Italia’s second stage.

Aussie hero Brad McGee did a sterling job to wrestle the Maglia Rosa back from Olaf Pollack in a significant GC day. Barely 48 hours into the race and things have already taken on a fascinating look. Thank God for the Giro … hope the Tour de France organisers take a lesson from this.

The sprinters missed out big time today as the field split heading towards the finish – there’ll be no pink jersey this year for Petacchi, Cipollini, McEwen and the rest. Petacchi was the best off from these names but still lost over 2 Ѕ minutes.

Saeco had a great day all round, and looked super-strong. They had Gorazd Stangelj away in the main early move of the day, alongside about 17 or 18 others including Rubens Bertogliati, who is helping to bring Massimo Strazzer’s Giro diary to Pez CyclingNews. They got to a little over 4 minutes up, but Phonak and Gerolsteiner started to pull things back.

Stangelj decided a show of strength was in order and motored off, chased by Laverde (Formaggi Pinzolo). Vini Caldirola then started to work, giving the Saeco boys an armchair ride up the day’s key climb (Passo del Brattello) and on to the finale after a flying descent to Pontremoli.

Once Stangelj got caught, Cunego and Simoni put the pressure on and split things up in a big way. The gaps appeared, and all of a sudden there were only about 30 – 35 guys left up front. All the ‘names’ though – Simoni, Garzelli, Rebellin, Popovych, Astarloa, Gontchar, Noe’, Figueras.

Romping to the finish, Brad McGee who’d again shown good climbing legs to hang in the front group got a lead out from Phillipe Gilbert and tried for the stage, but Cunego dived past on the line to win the day. McGee got the Maglia Rosa back, though, with a neat 12 second time bonus thrown in.

So, stage 2 finishes and the Italians are happy because Cunego has a stage and Simoni looks good. The Aussies are happy because McGee’s back in pink and flying. And McGee’s fdjeux.com bosses are ecstatic because he’s practically made their entire season, and the TdF is still almost 2 months away! All those points will come in very handy for the ProTour next year.

Rider Comments – Compiled by Michele Tomasi
Damiano Cunego (Saeco): “I still cannot believe it! Also after the finish line I was asking myself if I was really the winner! I must say thanks to each one of the members of my team. But I want to remember that I’m here for my team captain Simoni, and I will work for him. Althought I’d like to try again tomorrow…”

Gilberto Simoni (Saeco): “He’s a really great guy. Really fast. The team worked perfectly to day, but we didn’t attack at all. It wasn’t an attack. We just wanted to stay ahead to not risk anything on the downhill”.

Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola): “It’s a pity that I lost this chance. I was too far behind in the last turn. Tomorrow it will be the first real stage, although it won’t decide the Giro, but of course you will see who can really win it”.

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner): “It hasn’t been so selective a stage and we arrived with many riders at the end, as I guessed yesterday. Anyway I got good feelings and I’m hoping for a good race tomorrow, althought I don’t know how it will go. But I will try my best”.

Bradley McGee (Fdj.com): “I’m afraid because I missed the victory but glad because I got the Pink Jersey back. Tomorrow I’ve no idea if I can keep it, as I don’t know the hill. We will see”.

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo): “We just lost a few seconds on the last hill and I thought it was possible to close the gap. Unluckily it didn’t work. Anyway I’m glad because I got good feelings on the hill, and it means that the form is good”.

A little curiosity: Some jerk stole Petacchi’s training bike last night, while Petacchi’s dad brought it to the Fassa mechanic. But Pinarello already said that a new Dogma is ready for Alessandro.

Giro d’ Italia Stage 2 Results
Novi Ligure – Pontremoli

1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 4 hrs 37’ 08” (39.8 km/h)
2 Bradley McGee (Aus) fdjeux.com
3 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi
4 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Lampre
5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco
6 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) Acqua & Sapone
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola
9 Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave’
10 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago all same time

Overall Classification after Stage 2

1 Bradley McGee (Aus) fdjeux.com 8hrs 27’ 22”
2 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago + 32”
3 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) Acqua & Sapone + 36”
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco + 37”
5 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi + 39”
6 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo + 45”
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner + 47”
8 Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr) Acqua & Sapone same
9 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco same
10 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi + 48”

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