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Zabel Grabs Victory!

Tirreno-Adriatico: Stage 1

Many big names gathered for the start of the 37th edition of Tirreno-Adriatico, the important early season race across the south of sun-drenched Italy. This year’s favorites include Rebellin, winner of Tirreno 2001, Freire, Cipollini, Zabel, Dekker, and many others.
The first stage of 124 kms, includes 3 climbs of Pico San Angelo.
With 23 kms to go, on the last climb of Pico San Angelo, Saeco forces the pace for Di Luca. But the group is broken by an acceleration from Casagrande (Fassa Bartolo),

At the start of dowhill, the lead group is about 15 riders, with Casagrande, Di Luca, Bettini, Garzelli, Boogerd, Figueras and Rebellin. They work together to arrive at the finish, and at 15 kms from the end, they have 18 seconds lead on the bunch.

In the head of the chase group there is Telekom for Zabel, and Fassa Bortolo for Baldato, who is in a great condition, with 3 victories at his last 3 races in Sicily. On the downhill Bettini fell, while Casagrande punctured and Ivanov give him his wheel. At 6 kms from the finish, the Lion King, Cipollini, crashed with Fagnini, resultingin a broken collarbone for the Telekom rider.
The chase group caught the escapers at last kilometre, to set up for a fast sprint finish. Within seconds there is a nasty high-speed crash for Wadecki (Domo-Farm Frites) and Salomone (Index-Alexia).
Meanwhile, at the front, Bettini (Mapei) works for Freire (Mapei), but the spanish rider is in the wind too soon.
Zabel takes an easy win, in front of Lombardi (Acqua e Sapone), and Svorada (Lampre).
A 500 metres from the finish, a dog walks onto the course, and a group of riders led by Casagrande, also crash.

Results: In the general ranking, 1st position for Zabel, with 2″ on Lombardi and 4″ on Svorada.

Tomorrow another day for sprinters, from Sorrento to Frosinone, 213 kms, the longest stage of that Tirreno 2002.

Interviews

Casagrande: “at 5 kms from the finish, I punctured. Nocentini tried to give me his wheel to stay with the first of the group, but I didn’t have the condition.
After, at 500 metres from the finish, I found a dog, and….you can see”.

Zabel: “I like very much racing in Italy, and in Spain I wasn’t happy with my results, so, this victory makes me happy.
I like Milano-Sanremo, and I hope to do it well, but for now, I wanna do well at Tirreno”.

Michele Tomasi is Founder of Club Tuttociclismo – The Italian Cyclists Club of Pro Races

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