Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) likes the tough finish to Chieti. He won in the little hilltop town at last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico and won again this year with a powerful attack that left riders of the calibre of Cadel Evans (BMC), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), Danilo Di Luca (Katusha) and new teammate Damiano Cunego struggling behind him.
Scarponi won the stage ahead of Cunego to give Lampre-ISD a one-two on the stage. More importantly, he also pulled back 12 seconds on Robert Gesink (Rabobank), meaning he still has a shot at overall victory. Lampre-ISD had a disappointing opening team time trial in Marina di Carrara on Wednesday, losing 37 seconds to the flying Dutchmen. However now Scarponi is just 15 seconds back from Gesink, with Evans and Basso at just five and three seconds, with two more difficult stages before Tuesday’s final 9.3km time trial.
“I wished every race finished here,” Scarponi joked during a video interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.
“There were a lot of big names up there today but I got first and Damiano got second, so it’s a great result for us. We’re not first overall but we’ll try and win it.”
“We didn’t have a clear plan in the finale. Damiano was feeling good too and so we shared the work. We understand each other in a split second. He perhaps knew I was going to attack and I was hoping he’d control the others. That’s what happened.”
Sunday’s second 240km stage heads north from Chieti to Castelraimondo and will be another hard day in the Apennines. Monday’s sixth stage is from Ussita to Macerata and passes through Scarponi’s home town. He knows the roads well and will try to topple Gesink, Basso and Evans,
The Giro d’Italia is my big goal of the year but that’s in May and we’ve got two days left here and I’d like to win in or win again,” he said
“Last year I lost in a bad way (on stage placings after finishing in the same time as Stefano Garzelli). I’d like to win it, and in Macerata, near my home town of Cantalupo. But there’s a long way to go. We'll see, we'll try.”