Tirreno-Adriatico: Cipollini Roars
Mario Cipollini has proven that he’s not a world champion that intends to rest on his laurels. The Lion King has won the first stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico in a bunch gallop, his first victory in the rainbow jersey. Cipo never faltered along the course that took the riders to the seaside town of Sabaudia, after a flat 178km, and began this season in much the same way as last season; by winning. The finish line at San Remo, nine days away, is what Mario has his sights set on.
“This victory is a confirmation. I’ve had the right mind, I know that I’ve worked hard and I’ve shown that I have the right form. Now you don’t have to wait to see the first photos of the first victory of the rainbow jersey” recounts the Tuscan champion who beat Pieri, the emerging Paolini, and the old-hand Svorada, after taking the wheel of ex-world champion Romans Vainstains. “At the last turn Lombardi was a little bit frightened and had to work his way up through the field, while I was already behind Bennati at 800 meters – continues the leader of the Domina Vacanza-Elitron team – when Giovanni lead out the sprint he had spent a lot of energy, so I had to make a long sprint by myself. The team had already controlled the race from the last kilometer and our new acquisition Ongarato made all the difference up to the 500 meter mark”.
The Lion King also spoke out about Pantani and the loss of Andrei Kivilev, who died after a crash on the third stage of Paris-Nice. “The public wants to see Pantani in the group again and he’s regaining the serenity needed to train properly. Maybe for me, I’ll be able to fight him for San Remo. The loss of Kivilev leaves us a huge emptiness. I hope that now helmets will become obligatory.”