By Gregor Brown
In yesterday's Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, Danilo Di Luca showed why he is known as 'The Killer.' The 31 year-old Liquigas rider lit up the road leading to the finale in Sassuolo; defeating an in-form Riccardo Riccò on home turf.
"With 2.5 kilometres remaining I said to my teammate [Francesco] Failli that we have to turn ourselves inside-out," described Di Luca to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Francesco took off strong, with me on his wheel and another four on mine. The group paid for its moment of hesitation. But then it was forced to chase, and it rejoined with 600 metres remaining."
The rhythm had been set on the climb of Serramazoni, and the other riders got the sinking sensation that The Killer was about ready to strike. "Cédric Vasseur took off, out of the saddle. Also here, there was a moment of hesitation. Ruggero Marzoli launched his sprint from a far and I immediately took his wheel."
Di Luca glanced around to notice it was hometown rider Riccò on his wheel, the same rider who one week ago showed himself so violently in Milano-Sanremo. "I re-started at 250 metres to go, with Riccò on my wheel. We passed Vasseur with about 70 to 80 metres remaining. [...] I kept going in the last curve and Riccò was dropped."
The win marked Di Luca's second of 2007, after he struck first blood in Milano-Torino. "At Milano-Torino I was gong stronger. I rested to recover for País Vasco [April 9 - 14] and then Amstel, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. [...] And then the Giro d'Italia. I have not abandoned my idea of winning the Giro. I remember 2005 well, and how I risked myself to win. 2006 was cancelled out, which is why I refuse to chance my path [for the Giro win]."