Liquigas-Bianchi rider Danilo Di Luca has shown he is on the comeback trail by winning yesterday's first stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Propelled by a lead-out from team-mate Franco Pellizotti, Di Luca beat Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) and Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne) in the sprint finale.
After a couple of less-than-stellar seasons, Di Luca has promised this will be "the year of the revenge". "I promised I would be in top form for the Vuelta al Paìs Vasco: at the moment I've kept my word," he said.
Blowing a kiss to the sky as he crossed the line, Di Luca dedicated his win to his grand-mother, who died two months ago. "But a kindly thought goes also to my manager, Johnny Carera, who was been taken ill yesterday," he said.
Now Di Luca has to defend the jersey and there will be plenty of attempts to take it off him, especially from highly-motivated Basque riders keen to win their national tour. "I will try to keep it as much as possible without worrying," said Di Luca. "The final time trial treats me unfairly: I will look for a gap in the other two climb stages, starting from tomorrow's one (Zarautz - La Lejana), then I will try to defend it in the time trial."