FIUGGI, Italy (VN) – Fran Ventoso had marked the Fiuggi stage on the road book because he knew it was tailormade for his characteristics. The long drag up to the hilltop town was just want he needed to win.
The Spanish sprinter out-kicked Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) to claim the most important victory of his career.
“I had this stage marked with an ‘X’ because I knew the uphill would favor me, but I thought Petacchi was going to get it,” the 29-year-old told reporters. “I followed his wheel up the climb. He cracked with 20 meters to go and I was able to win. Thanks to Danilo Hondo (of Lampre) for doing an incredible job of keeping the opposition under control and then Di Luca lined the bunch out. Then I knew I was in with a chance.”
Movistar was more than content with the victory. The win also marked the first grand tour for the team’s new sponsor as a first for the new Campy electric group.
“We are very content. Fran is not a sprinter who can win very often when it’s a big train lead out with Lampre pulling at the front. It’s better for him when it’s like today, with a climb or a complicated finish,” Movistar sport director José Luis Jaimerena told VeloNews. “We came to this Giro to win a stage and try to put (Davide) Arroyo into the top 10. Now this takes a little pressure off us, but of course, we’ll try to win another stage.”
Montevergine to provide first glimpse at form
Friday’s short but explosive 110km stage to the Montevergine summit will provide the first glimpse at who’s on form to win the Giro d’Italia. Or, perhaps more accurately, who’s not.
The climb is rated second category, with average grades of six percent up about 800 vertical meters over 21km, hardly difficult compared to what lies in store in northern Italy.
“Tomorrow could be interesting, because we will see who is in good shape. We don’t expect a big selection because the climb isn’t that hard,” said Garmin sport director Lionel Marie. “There could be a small group arriving at the top. So anyone who has legs for a sprint in those conditions has a chance to win.”
The pace will be high and perhaps a favorite or two will be shed. Most riders expect a reduced group of GC favorites and stage hunters to make it to the top.
Danilo Di Luca (Katusha), the disgraced former doper who’s back in the Giro following his ban, has won twice at the summit. Others well-suited to the finale include Fabio Duarte (Geox-TMC) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre).
Race leader Pieter Weening (Rabobank) said he’ll be riding to defend the jersey, but expects a hard battle. HTC-Highroad has two riders within two seconds and Christope Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo) is lurking at five seconds back.
“I know I cannot win the overall, but I will fight as long as I can. We’re already getting tired because the stages have been hard. I will defend the jersey day to day,” he said. “I made it through today OK. Tomorrow I will do my best. If there’s a group of 15 or 20 guys, I will try to be there. There are a few who can take it with time bonuses, so I have to be alert.”
• Pink jersey: Pieter Weening (Rabobank) defended his maglia rosa, with HTC-Highroad’s Konstantin Sitvsov moving into second place, tied with Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) at two second back.
• Red jersey: Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) defended his lead for the point classification, with 48 points to Christophe Le-Mével’s (Garmin-Cervélo) 35.
• Green jersey: Martin Kohler (BMC) defended the climber’s jersey after riding in a solo breakaway and leads Gianluca Brambilla of Colnago-CSF Inox with 10 points to 8 points.
• White jersey: Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) defended the young rider’s jersey and leads Fabio Duarte (Geox-TMC) by 15 seconds.
• 140km: Danilo Napolitano (Lampre) suffered cuts to his left arm and shoulder.
• Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) was fined 50 Swiss francs and sport director Sean Yates fined 200 Swiss francs for illegal feed.
Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) celebrates his 28th birthday during Friday’s stage … officials also announced that four “hot sprints” without time bonuses or points have been added to Friday’s stage.