By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
If Alex Zülle intends to use the Tour of Switzerland as evidence that he and his Coast team should have been invited to the Tour de France, he got off to a good start as he blazed through the opening prologue through the streets of Lucerne Tuesday.
Zülle held off Alexia’s Giuseppe Di Grande and Allesio’s Laurent Dufaux to win the 5.7km prologue in 7:37. Zülle, who finished second in the 1999 Tour de France, upped his tempo over the last three kilometers following a challenging 800 meter climb to beat Di Grande and Dufaux by six and seven seconds respectively.
Despite its 10th place in UCI team ranking’s Zülle’s Coast squad missed out on a wildcard pick for the Tour de France. The team was again rejected by the Tour when a replacement was needed after organizers disinvited the Saeco team following two the positive drug tests of team leader Gilberto Simoni. The Tour opted, instead, to invite the French Jean Delatour squad, ranked at the bottom of the UCI’s 30 Division I teams.
For Di Grande, the second place finish could mark the beginning of a successful return to the professional peloton after being implicated in last year’s Giro d’Italia drug scandal.
The 28-year-old Italian was subsequently sacked by his former team, Tacconi, after he was found to have used banned substances and he was banned for six months by the Italian Cycling Federation.
Tomorrow’s stage covers a relatively flat 172 km from Lucerne to Schaffhausen.
1. Alex Zülle (Swi) Coast, at 7:37:48 (44.85 kph)
2. Giuseppe Di Grande (I) Index Alexia, at 05.53 seconds
3. Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Alessio, at 06.83
4. Davide Rebellin (I) Gerolsteiner, at 07.08
5. Tobias Steinhauser (Ger) Gerolsteiner, at 07.34
6. Uwe Peschel (Ger) Gerolsteiner, at 10.11
7. Paolo Savoldelli (I) Index Alexia, at 10.90
8. Bobby Julich (USA) Telekom, at 12.12
9. Francesco Casagrande (I) Fassa Bortolo, at 12.28
10. Daniel Schnider (Swi) Phonak, at 12.87
11. Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo, at 12.91
12. Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Alessio, at 12.94
13. Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Telekom, at 13.04
14. Steve Zampieri (Swi) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi, at 13.23
15. Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak, at 13.52
16. Gerhard Trampusch (A) Mapei-Quick Step, at 14.43
17. Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo, at 14.60
18. Andrea Noé (I) Mapei-Quick Step, at 16.11
19. Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak, at 16.24
20. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Lampre-Daikin, at 16.87