Over the last week the Tirreno-Adriatico has show-cased some bright and emerging talents in cycling. Monday Matteo Bono, 23 years-old won the moutain stage to San Giacomo, finishing in front of Enrico Gasparotto (24, Liquigas), Giovanni Visconti (24, Quickstep-Innergetic).
Gasparotto has already made his mark in cycling when he surprisingly won the Italian Road Championships in 2005 but this year he is proving his form to be all better, and possibly a real threat for Milano-Sanremo on Saturday. "I think people had their doubts in me, above all the media," said Gasparotto to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "They talked very little of me last year, here in Tirreno and also in America. In the Tour of California time trial I had a normal bike but went really strong [34th in the prologue - ed.]. If I had a time trial bike I would have been in the top ten, for sure."
Visconti, from Palermo, is learning all he can this year from World Champion Paolo Bettini. "It was my best day as a professional," the second-year pro quipped after the stage. "After the first stage I felt bad, I wanted to abandon. But Bettini showed incredible bravery. He is an example; without him I would not be here but at home to see the race on TV."
This new generation of Italians, also 22 year-old Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), are even younger than riders Filippo Pozzato and Damiano Cunego, 25 years-old, who like Tom Boonen and Alejandro Valverde represent the class of 1980/1981. The young-guns are riding in competition against or with an even 'older' generation that includes Bettini, 32, Alessandro Petacchi, 33, and Ivan Basso, 29.
Other youngsters in Tirreno who are impressing included Janez Brajkovic (23, Discovery Channel), teammate of Basso and currently fifth overall, and last year's winner Thomas Dekker (23, Rabobank).