Davide Frattini (UnitedHealthcare) spent stage 3 of the Dubai Tour in the jersey of leader of the sprint classification, and was fourth overall but his time with a view to the race's final podium faded on the steep climb to Hatta Dam on Friday. The Italian, knowing his duties were those of a domestique, could be consoled that he passed that jersey along to teammate Alessandro Bazzana, who made the day's breakaway, picked up the intermediate sprint points and moved into fifth overall.
“It's pretty cool to get this jersey, it was very similar to the Italian flag too,” Frattini told Cyclingnews after standing on the podium on stage 2.
“This is my first race after spending the winter in the freezing Canadian wonderland,” he said, of the ice and snow of his home in Ontario. “It's a shock to the system and to the body because it's cold up there and hot here in Dubai. But I did some good winter training, mixing things up with swimming and cross-country skiing. It's an alternative way of doing things but it works well.”
Frattini was only 11 seconds behind race leader Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) and had a five-second advantage on the rest of the peloton, giving him a shot at overall victory, but the race exploded on the steep climb to the finish line at Hatta Dam on stage 3. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) took over the race lead from Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quickstep), and although Frattini slipped out of contention, finishing in the gruppetto at 8:38 on the day, his work helped to set up Bazzana and fellow Italian teammate Marco Canola to move up into the top 10 overall.
“My domestique role means that I have to be pretty solid throughout the season," Frattini said. "It's good for my morale to start like this. We'll race aggressively every race that we do."
"It was my job, along with Baz and Federico Zurlo to be in the breakaways at this race," he added after stage 3. "When I got the sprint jersey, it was our job to defend it and keep it within our team. It's been nice to share the workload of covering moves with three teammates during the first three stages. Baz is faster than me, so in the end, it works out very well for us that he has the sprint jersey now."
Unfortunately for the UnitedHealthcare team, the 2014 season will not include riding the Giro d'Italia. The US team has hired several other Italian riders but Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport opted to give the international wildcard to the Polish CCC Sprandi, citing commercial and territorial reasons.
Frattini won the amateur version of the Giro d'Italia back in 2001. He is now 36 but still hopes the team can one day secure a golden ticket to the Corsa Rosa. This year he is looking forward to ending his season on home roads in Italy.
“The team is growing slowly and in the right direction. If it's not this year, then maybe it will be next year,” he said of the Giro d'Italia. “We got in Il Lombardia and we're here, so we'll take that for now.”
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