By Gregor Brown
Italian Enrico Gasparotto is successfully building towards a second Italian Championships win thanks to his winning performance on the heels of the Giro d'Italia. The 26 year-old Barloworld rider proved that a three-week race did his legs well by taking the third stage of the Ster Elektrotoer and moving into the overall lead, ten days before the Italian championships in Bergamo. He leads the five-day race with 17 seconds over Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems).
Going into the Giro d'Italia at the beginning of May, Gasparotto had stated his goals were to perform well in the first week, but that did not happen and, adding to the team’s bad luck, his morale took a slight dip. However, the fifth-year professional pushed forward to finish the race on June 1 with an eye on the Italian Championships, June 29. In fact, after taking a week off his bike, he was simply going to race Ster Elektrotoer as a preparation race.
"I hope that I will be good in the end, better than April [in the Driedaagse De Panne] because I lost the jersey," 'Gaspa' expressed to Cyclingnews on the morning of stage four, recalling how he lost the De Panne leadership in the closing time trial stage. "I have a good team; my team-mates are really going strong because most of them are building for the Tour [de France]. I am really calm about today, I know they will work hard and I will be able to defend my seconds." (For more read Another jersey for a focused 'Gaspa'.)
Gasparotto revealed how the Giro d'Italia left him drained, but that the win in Belgium gave him a boost heading towards the 2008 Italian Championships, three years after he surprisingly took the Italian tricolore top.
"I took a week without touching my bike," he continued of his post-Giro d'Italia activities. "At the end, I was finished, not only my body but my mind. I wanted to do well in the first 10 days, but I did nothing good in the end. I was suffering and bored riding, so it was really good to do a week without the bike. Last week, I started to train again and after three days I started to feel good again.
"I came to the Ster Elektrotoer to have good training for the Italian Championships and I did not think to go so well, considering the week off the bike. However, now I can dream again of my national jersey."
The blonde, who recently re-located to Carnago (Varese), will rest on Sunday and "then two or three good training days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then rest, looking ahead to Sunday." His training partners include ex-team-mates Stefano Garzelli and Luca Paolini.