85th Volta a Catalunya - PT
Spain, May 16-22, 2005
Neo pro Gasparotto posts the win of his short career
The Tour of Catalunya threw up a surprise on Tuesday, with Italian rider Enrico Gasparotto taking the stage 2 win ahead of many more experienced campaigners such as Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd and Davitamon-Lotto's Freddy Rodriguez.
The Liquigas neo-pro was triumphant in a 170-rider bunch sprint following 186.8km around the coastal resort of Cambrils. Italian rider Claudio Corioni took second, with the big Norwegian, Hushovd, third. Spanish rider Miguel A.M. Perdiguero (Phonak) retains the overall lead after finishing 15th on today's stage. Post-stage, the young Italian was singing the praises of his team; "My team-mate Magnus Backstedt was instrumental in my victory today; he guided me towards the front in the final kilometre and accelerated really hard at the same time. It was like following a really fast race-horse."
Gasparotto has already finished third overall at the Uniqa Classic in Austria this season, and team manager Roberto Damiani said of the young Italian's win in Spain: "Once again today's success proves that the Liquigas-Bianchi team races in perfect harmony. Miorin, Ljungqvist, and Backstedt supported Gasparotto in the final bunch sprint. It was our strong team spirit that triumphed today."
The Tour of Catalunya, with it's ProTour status and high quality field, is a massive stage for this neo-pro to make a mark early in his career, and he knows it; "This is a real step in the right direction" he said following his stage win. Spanish rider Jose Antonio Lopez attacked in the second kilometre of the day, staying out front for the next 184km until he was swamped by the fast-finishing pack. He had Xavier Florencio (Relax-Fuenlabrada) and Benoit Poilvet (Credit Agricole) for company, spurring him on in his solo effort even after they fell away around the outskirts of Cambril.
CSC's team director Scott Sunderland said of the stage; "With the stage finish perfect for a mass sprint, it was a quiet day for us. During tomorrow's stage, between Salou and La Granada we might get some more action." CSC don't have any sprinters on board for this race, so it's the mountains or nothing for the squad in Catalunya.
T-Mobile leader Jan Ullrich had a quiet day, content to finish well back in the pack even after his teammates did the lion's share of the chasing to catch Lopez. He said of their efforts post stage: "We can be very pleased, because all eight of our riders were on the front on the final climb before the sprint finish. Our main aim wasn't to bring back the break, more to stay out of trouble on the dangerous roads at the top of the climb.
"But in any case, that kind of display of strength was the ideal way to start a stage race." It's a good sign of support for Ullrich's chances of overall victory as the tour heads into its third stage, a 157.8km run starting in Salou and finishing in La Granada.