Road

Freire pips Cipo, Pozzato takes overall at Tirreno-Adriatico

Rabobank's Oscar Freire won Wednesday's final stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico to send a very strong message to world champion Mario Cipollini. Just days before the World Cup opener at Milan-San Remo, Freire got around Cipo and his formidable train to upset the world champion. “Guess I got lucky and Cipo made a mistake,” Freire said. Cipollini came in second, but won two bunch sprints during TA, Italy's first major stage race of the season. German Erik Zabel came across third, a good sign for the struggling Telekom veteran who's only won once this season on the eve of his major

By Andrew Hood

Rabobank’s Oscar Freire won Wednesday’s final stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico to send a very strong message to world champion Mario Cipollini.

Just days before the World Cup opener at Milan-San Remo, Freire got around Cipo and his formidable train to upset the world champion.

“Guess I got lucky and Cipo made a mistake,” Freire said.

Cipollini came in second, but won two bunch sprints during TA, Italy’s first major stage race of the season. German Erik Zabel came across third, a good sign for the struggling Telekom veteran who’s only won once this season on the eve of his major early-season goal.

Fassa Bortolo’s Filippo Pozzato won the battle of the time bonuses to take the overall title. Pozzato started the day just 1 second behind Saeco’s Danilo Di Luca, winner of Tuesday’s stage. Pozzato took the lead on intermediate sprints to score the biggest win so far this fast-rising star.

“I don’t want to get too excited yet, but I think someday I can fight for races like Milan-San Remo or the world championships,” he said.

Tirreno-Adriatico’s most difficult climbing stage was canceled Sunday after snow and fog made racing conditions too perilous. As a result of the cancellation and the fact that the race had no, intermediate sprints and finish-line time bonuses played huge role in determining the outcome.

Riders take a break before the hype begins in earnest for Saturday’s Milan-San Remo (of course, it already has in Italy). Defending champion Cipollini is the pre-race favorite, but Freire and Zabel will be nipping at his heels.