Danilo Napolitano has now taken a hat-trick of wins at the Coppa Bernocchi by going three-from-three in the 2005-07 editions of the race, held in Legnano, Italy. The 26 year-old Italian from Lampre-Fondital took his latest victory yesterday over Paride Grillo (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Robert Hunter (Barloworld) and Luca Paolini (Liquigas) after 199.9 kilometres of racing.
He started his streak and raised awareness of his sprinting ability by winning the 2005 edition over Alessandro Petacchi, but yesterday, after a victory in 2006, he firmly put his name in the role of honours that includes the likes of Giuseppe Saronni, Francesco Moser, Felice Gimondi, Rik Van Loy and Fausto Coppi. "But the most beautiful victory remains the first, when I was in the LPR jersey and I successfully battled Petacchi," said the Siciliano to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
'Napo' reported that he did not feel well in the morning. His brother and soigneur for Lampre reassured him, and his parents, Giovanna and Francesco, encouraged him as he made his way over the race's key point, the Piccolo Stelvio.
"I ended the Tour [de France] very tired and, also, the Deutschland Tour was very stressing. In Hamburg I arrived in fourth, notwithstanding. It did not seem like a great day for me but this is a victory of important merit because the squadra had worked from the first kilometre."
Most of the Italians that are winning in the fall races have one dream in mind: to be selected by Franco Ballerini for the Squadra Azzurra in the upcoming world road championships, to be held in Stuttgart. "One percent," was how Napolitano saw his chances of travelling to Germany in October. "It is justified; I talked with [Paolo] Bettini and he told me that the course was very hard. Plus, Ballerini is thinking of [Damiano] Cunego and [Danilo] Di Luca, it is normal that I won't be there."
Even without the worlds and a freshly inked contract renewal with Lampre, Napolitano does have end-of-season objectives. "I will race Arona and Carnago, but they will not be finishes for me. Then I will go to the Tour of Poland, where the first few stages will be for sprinters; I would say there are five or six occasions for me. Then I will start to think of the Paris-Tours. In 2006, after the Vuelta, I was dead and yet I arrived with the first riders. This year I want to win it."