Eighth in sprint for Di Luca's debut

Danilo Di Luca started his 2008 season with an eighth place thanks to a sprint in the final metres...

Danilo Di Luca started his 2008 season with an eighth place thanks to a sprint in the final metres of the 58th Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria. The 32 year-old Italian of LPR Brakes tried his luck in the finale of the 183-kilometre stage arriving in Gioia Tauro; however, he did not have the legs to battle the likes of eventual stage winner, Gabriele Balducci.

"We took back the three men in the escape; I tried in the sprint. I am not a sprinter and I did not have the desire to risk it," explained the 2007 Giro d'Italia winner, who opened his season in Italy's south, in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. "When you see the banner indicating the last kilometre it always rouses you a little bit."

It was a great debut for the rider in his new Team LPR colours – he signed with the Professional Continental team over the winter after three years racing with Roberto Amadio's Team Liquigas. After a winter of training and problems with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), fans greeted him with a hero's welcome.

"At the end of October you can't go on," he continued. "My head and my legs were tired. However, two weeks were enough, and the desire returned, like an itch, like a quake, like a necessity. And after two months of training, I only had the desire to breath the air of the start villages, the smell of the oil against the cold air, to see the start flags, to live the race as it unfolds."

Di Luca and his team-mates are enjoying their first outing of the season, while getting to know one another. "Raffaele Ferrara's alarm went off, and he starts chatting; he is one that chats from the morning until the night.

"We had breakfast on the fifth floor balcony of the Grand Hotel Excelsior, overlooking the beach front of Reggio Calabria, where the 2005 Giro started."

The three-day stage race continues today with a 190-kilometre run from Piana to Chiaravalle.

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