Italians in Brabantse Pijl

The Italians left their mark on the Brabantse Pijl . Team Liquigas showed its power by placing...

The Italians left their mark on the Brabantse Pijl. Team Liquigas showed its power by placing Italian Luca Paolini in an early move and saving team captain Enrico Gasparotto for the finale.

Young Gasparotto, 2005 Italian Champion, made the final cut and battled against Dutch squad Rabobank for victory. He parked himself on Michael Boogard's wheel in the closing kilometres before launching his sprint in the final moments. His Sprint was covered by Boogard's teammate, Milano-Sanremo winner Oscar Freire, which left him to finish fourth for the day.

"The trip to Belgian was not even in my program," Gasparotto confirmed to Cyclingnews the day before the race. "In fact, last Wednesday in Dwars [door Vlaanderen] I raced on pavé for the first time in my career."

Meanwhile, World Champion Paolo Bettini abandoned the race due to pains in his left thigh. He slipped in Saturday's E3 Prijs when his rear derailleur broke. Sunday evening he celebrated his 33rd birthday with fans in Belgium. Team Press Officer Alessandro Tegner confirmed to Cyclingnews that Bettini will return to Belgium on Friday for the Ronde van Vlaanderen two days later; going home to Italy again the following week before returning to race in Paris-Roubaix, April 15.

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