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Quick-thinking Hondo saves stage win for Lampre

Lampre-Farnese Vini rider Danilo Hondo says he is grateful to have claimed his first race win of the year, even if it was more accidental than planned. Hondo managed to avoid an incident that brought down teammate Alessandro Petacchi at the end of fourth stage of the Giro di Sardegna before sprinting through for victory.

At the fourth stage on Friday, things were being set up for another mass sprint finish, with Petacchi looking to take his second straight stage win. However, a fan leaned too far over the barriers in the finish straight and changed everything.

“We had prepared the sprint well,” Hondo told Cyclingnews Friday night. “I led from 450 metres to go. Alessandro sprinted by me with 150 metres to go, when a fan stuck his arm out to take a photo, and knocked Alessandro right off his bike.”

“Since everyone behind him was at full pace in their sprint, they couldn't react any more. Of course I was surprised, too,” the German continued. “Somehow I had the presence of mind to fully accelerate again and was able to still bring in a victory for our team.”

Petacchi was taken to hospital for examinations, but came away with only bruises. He has already said he will be at the start again on Saturday.

No matter how it came about, Hondo is happy to have the win. “A victory always gives you self-confidence. However, our hierarchy is very clear – everything for Petacchi in the sprint.”

Not always, though. “Of course, there will also be races where I will have my chances, but everything comes at its own time.”

This year marks Hondo's return to the ProTour level for the first time since riding for Gerolsteiner in 2005. Since then, he has been through a doping suspension and confusing court battles. 2010 is his third full season back, his second with an Italian team and his first with Lampre, where his main duty is to act as Petacchi's final lead-out man.

“I feel really quite well with the team,” he said. “We have a great spirit, and this gives us also a really powerful motivation. Its good for our solidarity and competition in the races.”

At 36, is Hondo starting to look at the end of his career? “Right now I am not thinking of stopping, since things have just taken off again. There is always something to accomplish and something to improve on yourself. It would be great, to work with Lampre for a few more years.”

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