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Nocentini hopes to hold yellow for another week

Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) collects another golden fleece

Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) collects another golden fleece (Image credit: Sirotti)

After defending his yellow jersey for a second day in the Pyrenees Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) said in Tarbes that he believes he can now keep it for another week, until Sunday’s summit finish at the Swiss ski resort of Verbier.

"It’s a dream to get to Verbier with the yellow," he said. "The next few days are good for me, and I have a great team with me to help out, so I hope to keep it as long as possible."

The 31-year old was second in the world under-23 road championship in 1998, behind Ivan Basso (and ahead of the third-placed Danilo Di Luca), but he has hardly set the cycling world on fire since then, until this Tour. Why not? "I won two stages in Malaysia [the Tour of Langkawi] in my first year as a professional," said Nocentini. "But then I had to work for others, because I was in a team of great champions [Mapei], and I lost a bit of condition."

As for whether his spell in yellow had attracted the attention of Franco Ballerini, who will select the Italian team for the world championships, Nocentini said he wasn’t sure. "I got a lot of phone calls but I didn’t recognise the numbers," he joked. "Maybe he did call, but I wouldn’t have recognised his number…"
 

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Richard Moore is a freelance journalist and author. His first book, In Search of Robert Millar (HarperSport), won Best Biography at the 2008 British Sports Book Awards. His second book, Heroes, Villains & Velodromes (HarperSport), was long-listed for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

He writes on sport, specialising in cycling, and is a regular contributor to Cyclingnews, the Guardian, skyports.com, the Scotsman and Procycling magazine.

He is also a former racing cyclist who represented Scotland at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and Great Britain at the 1998 Tour de Langkawi

His next book, Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France, will be published by Yellow Jersey in May 2011.

Another book, Sky’s the Limit: British Cycling’s Quest to Conquer the Tour de France, will also be published by HarperSport in June 2011.