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The real King of the Mountains

Another win for Sella

Another win for Sella (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Sella takes third stage of Giro

By Gregor Brown in Tirano

Coming into this Giro d'Italia few mentioned Sella as a possible stage winner. The man from Vicenza had taken the spotlight during his first professional year in the 2004 Tour of Italy, where he staged with a gutsy solo escape in the stage to Cesena, but in the following three years looked off-target with small attacks that amounted to nothing at the day's end. But Sella put the so-so years behind him in this Giro d'Italia, and made a huge transformation into the real King of the Mountains.

Emanuele Sella lit the Giro d'Italia's mountains on fire this year with flashy solo moves. The 27 year-old Italian of Team CSF Group Navigare scored wins on two stages in the Dolomites, and capped off a impressive race with a solo victory on Saturday in Tirano. Had he not suffered an untimely flat tire on stage seven, he may have gone home with four stages to add to his mountains classification win.

Just as he did in 2004, when the pundits and still mourning tifosi whispered the name Pantani when describing Sella's emotional stage victory, the diminutive climber punched out his hat-trick with lengthy solo moves: 1) An attack from 50 kilometres out to win Alpe di Pampeago, 2) The very next day, he repeated with a 14-kilometre romp the top of Passo Fedaia, and 3) A demonstration that his legs work just as well in the Alps as they do in the Dolomites with a third solo bid to win in Tirano. And let's not forget the near win in the mountain time trial of Plan de Corones and the display on the Monte Pora.

His Alpine win was once again a showing of a little team that can. The Italian Professional Continental team placed Fortunato Baliani and Julio Pérez up the road, allowing Sella options when he went on the attack before Aprica. "I tried my attacks on the Mortirolo, I waited for Baliani and then we had three of use on the descent of Mortirolo," he explained. While Pérez was not able to stay in contact, Sella and Baliani were joined by Domenico Pozzovivo, who had been at Sella's side.

When the group hit the base of the final climb, Sella jumped away, and none could follow, although Gilberto Simoni tried. "I saw that I had the same condition that I had in the Dolomite stages. I hit hard at the start of the Aprica and Simoni was not able to follow. I am a little sorry for him, but..."

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