Casagrande Leads Armstrong’s Rivals
– Reported by Gazzetta dello Sport –
MILANO, 9 August 2002 – The Classica di San Sebastian, seventh race in the World Cup Series, will be disputed tommorow, Saturday. The Italians who are searching for victory are the same who were to be found fighting for the HEW Cyclassics one week ago before being silenced by the “Lion of Gistel”, Johann Museeuw. Halfway through the week they stretched their legs in the GP di Camaiore and now are ready for this upcoming challenge, with the objective of returning home to Italy victorious. Four names are at the head of the list: Rebellin, Casagrande, Bettini, and Di Luca. Also there are Basso, Belli, and Frigo. Then there are two that we do not know what to expect: Bartoli and Simoni.
The Spanish race, 227 km with the climb of the Jaizkibel at less than 30km from the finish, is made for those with the legs to escape on the climbs. The 8km of climbing with an average of 5.74% and parts as steep as 8 or 9% are not the favoured terrain of the current leader in the World Cup standings, Johann Museeuw. The Belgian will need to race defensively, so the downfall of the Italians could again be Laurent Jalabert, who last year defeated Casagrande and Rebellin on the run in to San Sebastian. There will also be the American Lance Armstrong in his first important appointment since his success at this summers Tour de France. The dangerous Spaniards will be represented by Mancebo, Unai Osa, Davide Etxebarria, Beloki, Feire, and above all Astarloa, second at Hamburg. Among the others look for Boogerd, Virenque and Rik Verbrugghe.
“A victory would certainly be great, becuase the team has not won much lately and also to revenge myself for last year. I’ll test myself tommorow – said Casagrande – but I am saving my best condition for the Vuelta in September, where I dream of a stage win and a good position on the GC”.