While Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) took the final overall in Vuelta a Murcia, Italian Danilo Napolitano marked his first 2007 win, 15th career victory, by over-powering Baden Cooke (Unibet.com). The win gave Director Sportif Giuseppe Martinelli a gift and showed that, alongside Daniele Bennati, the Lampre-Fondital team has another strong sprinter.
"Today I turned 52 years-old. But he has still not paid for the drinks," joked Martinelli after the stage win by 26 year-old Napolitano. The DS will also have further reason to celebrate when tomorrow his daughter, Francesca, receives her university diploma. After a short party he will head to Tirreno-Adriatico with Napo, where they will face Alessandro Petacchi (Milram).
"This year we have still not encountered each other," said the rider who lives in Lago d'Iseo to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The two will go head-to-head in the Italian race that starts this Wednesday and runs through, Tuesday, March 20. "Certainly when he is in the sprints it is easier because his team takes control of the group, and to find your position is easier and less dangerous."
While Napo is racing in Italy, his teammate, Bennati, is in France, where he started yesterday in Paris-Nice. The duo is taking separate paths to the Milano-Sanremo, March 24, where Napo finished fifth while his Tuscan mate was out with sicknesses. He does not foresee any problems racing La Classicissima with his teammate.
"Whoever is going well will do the sprint," he continued. "If we are both going well then... we will see. I think that it is justified that whoever has demonstrated themselves to be better up until now should be in charge, in other words Daniele. If he asked me to pull for him in the sprint then I will do so without any problems."
Napo, originally from Sicily, indicated that the relationship between him and his teammate is perfect, and that they have different sprinting styles that suit one another. "We are not two friends, but we are colleagues that have respect for each other and work well together. He goes well on a slow, steady sprint lead-up while I am more explosive. We have different programmed races; if we are racing together maybe we can be even more successful at achieving results. But it is good how it is."
After Tirreno, Napolitano will make a switch over to the boards for the Track World Championships, March 30, where his goal will be to win the rainbow jersey in the Scratch. He will have ten days of recovery and training before the start of the Tour de Romandie, followed by the Giro d'Italia, where he will work for Damiano Cunego.
He indicated that the will be no problems in helping Cunego win the Giro. "I raced with a team of climbers in the Ruta del Sol and here in Murcia, where my heaviest teammate, other than the sprinters, was 60 kilograms. ... I can take the team leader up to the front in the dangerous finishes, in the last three kilometres, not leaving him to fight over wheels."