By Jean-François Quénet in Lido di Camaiore
After successfully out-manoeuvring Alessandro Petacchi and the Milram train to take victory on Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia, Lampre sprinter Danilo Napolitano told the reporters that he wouldn't mind a train of his own. "Of course I'd like to have a train at my disposal for sprinting, everybody would," he said. "Even McEwen, who sometimes pretends the opposite. But in reality, Petacchi is the only one who can sprint comfortably. At Lampre-Fondital, it's normal that the whole team is built around Damiano Cunego for the overall win."
The Sicilian sprinter was almost left out of Lampre's Giro line-up following a dismal performance at the Tour de Romandie. "At the Tour de Romandie I was going really bad," he admitted. "I wasn't in a great shape for the Giro. But the Galbusera family [owners of Lampre] and Fondital supported me. Also the DS [Giuseppe] Martinelli told me: 'Napo, if you tell me that you'll improve during the Giro, I have no problem taking you anyway.' Here we are now."
Napolitano was then asked if winning without a train deserves twice the credit. "At the home of Petacchi, give me triple!" answered the 1.76m tall muscular sprinter who sometimes struggles to keep his weight where it should be. "78..." he said, when asked to put a number on it. "No guys, put 80... But I'm not the only muscular sprinter. I think Thor Hushovd is just as muscular as I am. He's just taller than me."
The Italian has sometimes been compared to Djamolidin Abdujaparov but insisted that, "I want to be myself. I was fortunate to be helped by my older brother Massimiliano who has been a pro for two years at the time of Marco Pantani winning the Giro and Tour. Now he is a masseur with Lampre-Fondital. He's the one to tell me when I do something wrong."
This stage win at the Giro is Napolitano's first at the ProTour level and his second this year after the last stage of the Tour of Murcia. "This was only the seventh sprint I took part in this year," he explained "I've done mostly hard races.