Gasparotto takes UCI Europe Tour lead

Italy's Enrico Gasparotto (Team Barloworld) has retaken the lead in the UCI Europe Tour from Italian rival Stefano Garzelli as the season-long competition heads into the final weeks of racing.

Gasparotto leads the UCI Europe Tour with a total of 602 points thanks to a hugely successful month of racing in September. He won the Giro di Romagna one-day race on September 7 in Italy, the day after finishing second in the Coppa Placci. More recently, he finished fourth in two stages of the Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne, in France.

Garzelli was leading the UCI Europe Tour standings at the end of August and wore the white leader's jersey in September. He scored 90 points thanks to a win in the GP Wallonie race in Belgium on September 17 and now has a total of 544.2 points, but it was not enough to stop Gasparotto taking the overall lead.

The two Italians will now fight for the final overall title as best rider in the UCI Europe Tour in the final three weeks of the 2008 season. They are likely to go head to head in the series of one-day races in Italy that traditionally mark the end of the season, starting with the Memorial Cimurri race on Saturday October 4 and then the Giro del Lazio, near Rome on Sunday October 5.

Races such as the Coppa Sabatini in Tuscany on Thursday October 9, the Giro dell' Emilia on October 11 and the GP Beghelli on October 12 all offer precious points. The final race on the 2008 UCI Europe Tour calendar is the Giro del Piemonte in Italy on October 16.

The UCI Europe Tour now looks like a two-way race because third placed Dutchman Stefan Van Dijk of the Mitsubishi team is more than a hundred points behind Garzelli with a total of 437. Spain's Hector Garcia Guerra is fourth with 421 points and Italian neo-pro Francesco Ginanni is fifth with 407.4 points after a successful run of results in September.

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