Riccardo Riccò missed out on the win in Tirreno-Adriatico's stage two but that did not stop him from relaunching in the metres following the finishing line and creating a show of his own. 'The Cobra' from Formigine (Modena) tossed his bike in the air after walking the final portion of the 203-kilometre stage that ended in the Umbrian city of Gubbio.
The 24 year-old of Saunier Duval, winner of the 2007 Giro d'Italia's stage to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, was part of the six-man winning move with team-mate Eros Capecchi, Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld), Raffaele Illiano and Niklas Axelsson (both of Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) and Linus Gerdemann (High Road), which had worked its way clear on the day's final climb of Belvedere. Illiano fired away for the eventual win at 200 metres to go with Gasparotto, while Riccò hesitated, re-accelerated and then bumped into German Gerdemann.
The altercation – the left side of Riccò's rear touched with Gerdemann's front wheel – caused a few broken spokes and forced 'The Cobra' to walk across the line (fifth) while Capecchi was right behind (sixth), trying to comfort his captain. Riccò immediately tossed his Scott bike in the air and let it crash down while pointing ahead to Gerdemann.
"I was raising the speed and taking off for the sprint when Gerdemann touched me from behind. He did not do it on purpose, because he was tired and could no longer see. But I would have won on my legs alone. The thing that bothers me the most is throwing away a guaranteed win," he recalled to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The Riccò near-miss and subsequent show – good or bad – drew more attention than Illiano's win. It came from the same rider who after winning two stages in last year's race (three and four), said "There are some riders who say things to journalists and then they hide out in the group. We call them 'vegetables.' Luckily there are also those who do what they say." (Read Riccardo Riccò gains exposure.) It is this the kind of spark and panache that excites the fans and will surely see them tuning into today's stage to see what 'The Cobra' will do.
Today, the riders face a wall at the end of today's 195-kilometre run into Le Marche: The Montelupone, 1.78 kilometres long, 216 metres of climbing and a maximum gradient of 20 percent (12% average). "I am upset, so I will give it all," said Riccò of the third stage. "If I have the same legs, I will try to arrive solo. At least this way there will not be any problems during the sprint."
Riccò, who last year held the overall leader's jersey and won the points classification, currently holds the maglia bianca for best young rider.
Following Tirreno, 'The Cobra' will strike again in the Milano-Sanremo. Last year, he forced a move on the race's final climb, the Poggio, with Phil Gilbert. "This year I hope that on the Poggio we are in [a group] of five," he noted, while referring to Danilo Di Luca, who's form looks on target.