'Tutti pazzi per Pirazzi' read the banners in Fiuggi. All crazy for Pirazzi. And on home roads on Thursday, Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF) was determined not to disappoint the partisan local crowd as he launched a speculative effort in the finale of stage six of the Giro d'Italia.
With the three-man break of Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack), Kristof Vandewalle (Quick Step) and Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM) still dangling out in front and the peloton strung out behind, Pirazzi's move 20km from home may have made little tactical sense in the grand scheme of things, but the Giro is full of such side stories.
Pirazzi's move fizzled out less than 10km later as he was swallowed up by the speeding peloton, and after a brief second attack, he crossed the line in 80th place behind stage winner Francisco Ventoso (Movistar). But while Pirazzi fell short of any tangible reward for his efforts, he was greeted like a conquering hero by the crowds on Fiuggi's Via 4 Giugno.
"The important thing was to try," he told reporters afterwards, with his fan club gathered raucously behind him. "Today I gave everything and it wasn't easy because the sprinters' teams wanted to bring it all back together and that's what happened."
Colnago-CSF has been aggressive thus far in this Giro, with Manuel Belletti's third place on stage two and Gianluca Brambilla's spell in the green jersey the highlights to date. While Pirazzi may have ridden more with his heart than his head on Thursday, his move was indicative of his squad's ambition to make an impact on all terrains.
Indeed, he was one of three riders from the squad on the offensive on Thursday, as Sacha Modolo was part of the five-man break that animated the stage ahead of the finale, while Brambilla attempted to jump clear with David Millar in the finale.
"The main thing was to go on the attack and really have a go, as well as to share in the emotions of the people of my town," Pirazzi said, before explaining that his attacking will not be limited to hometown heroics.
"There are still two weeks to go in this Giro and I'll be looking to get into breaks again later on down the road. But, definitely he least I could do today was to try and repay all the affection that has been shown to me."
On the road to Montevergine on Friday, Pirazzi will return to the anonymity of the peloton, but for ten brief kilometres on the run-in to Fiuggi, he was centre stage.
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