By Andrew Hood
Stefano Garzelli (Sidermec) won Thursday’s opening stage of the Tour of Trentino in northern Italy in a dramatic comeback for the Italian star. Garzelli, who was kicked out of last year’s Giro after testing positive for a banned diuretic, beat compatriot Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) and Slovenian Tadej Valjavec (Fassa Bortolo) in a sprint in the 170km stage from Arco to Moena.
Tour of Trentino (UCI 2.2), Stage 1, Arco to Moena
1. Stefano Garzelli (I), Sidermec, 170.5km in 4:58
2. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saeco, at 6 seconds
3. Tadej Valjavec (Slo), Fassa Bortolo, same time
4. Sabaliauskas (Lit), Saeco, s.t.
5. Graziano Gasparre (I) De Nardi-Colpack, at 15 seconds
Van Bon takes Dutch semi-classic
Dutch rider Leon Van Bon (Lotto-Domo) won his first race of the season in Thursday’s Dutch semi-classic Veenendaal-Veenendaal in a sprint against fellow escapee Marc Wauters (Rabobank). Australian Robbie McEwen, back from a crash last week, led the bunch across at 12 seconds back.
Veenendaal-Veenendaal (UCI 1.2)
1. Leon Van Bon (Ned), Lotto-Domo, 4 hours, 34 minutes, 14 seconds
2. Marc Wauters (B), Rabobank, same time
3. Robbie McEwen (Aus), Lotto-Domo, at 12 seconds
4. Bram Schmitz (Ned), BankGiroLoterij
5. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor), fakta – all same time
Scholz wins tough stage in Germany
Birthday boy Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) took the hardest stage of Germany’s Tour of Lower Saxony (the Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt) on Thursday, finishing ahead of Telekom’s Danilo Hondo in a 7-up sprint. The 206-km stage from Goslar to Oterode featured no less than seven rated Category 2 and Category 3 climbs. Gerolsteiner’s Michael Rich, winner of Wednesday’s time trial, retained the overall lead.
Tour of Lower Saxony (UCI 2.3)
Stage 2, Goslar to Oterode
1. Ronny Scholz (G), Gerolsteiner, 206km
2. Danilo Hondo (G), Telekom
3. Raphael Schweda (G), Coast
4. Scott Sunderland (Aus), fatka
5. Jens Heppner (G), Wiesenhof
6. Peter Weening (Ned), Rabobank
7. Stefan Schumacher (G), Telekom – all same time
8. Matteo Carrara (I), at 27 seconds
9. Theo Eltink (Ned), Rabobank, at 30 seconds
10. David Kopp (G), Telekom, at 35 seconds
Astarloa’s win one for the books
Igor Astarloa’s dramatic victory in Wednesday’s Fleche Wallone was one for the history books, making him the first Spanish rider to win a Belgian classic.
The Spaniards have been knocking at the door recently – primarily with Euskaltel’s David Etxebarria’s success at Liege-Bastogne-Liege (2nd in 2000, 3rd in 2001) – but Astarloa finally scored the big breakthrough win.
“Finally I demonstrated that I am a racer for the big classics,” Astarloa said after beating compatriot Aitor Osa (iBanesto.com) up the steep Mur de Huy finishing climb.
While it wasn’t a World Cup win, his Fleche Wallone victory got huge play in the Spanish press in Thursday’s editions.
“I was looking at the race manual last night and I suddenly realized nobody else from Spain had ever won the event,” Astarloa said. “It makes me very proud.”
The Saeco rider finished second at last year’s HEW Cyclassics behind Johan Museeuw and second again at the Clasica San Sebastian in Spain behind Laurent Jalabert and finished fourth overall in last year’s World Cup battle.
Rebellin out three to five weeks
Davide Rebellin’s injury is worse than first diagnosed and now it looks like the Italian Gerolsteiner captain will likely miss next month’s Giro d’Italia. Rebellin crashed in the early going of Wednesday’s Fleche Wallone and suffered a fracture in his left arm, which will sideline him three to five weeks.
Rebellin, 31, was a favorite for Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, where he finished third in 2000 and second in 2001. The hard-working Italian has been riding back into form and won a stage at Paris-Nice in March, but will have to sit out the Giro, which takes place May 10 to June 1. Pantani won’t start Trentino
A tooth-ache is keeping Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) from starting Thursday’s four-day Tour of Trentino (UCI 2.2), an important Giro d’Italia warm-up race in the Dolomites.
Pantani’s absence leaves another question mark on the true form of the controversial Italian rider, who’s coming back to racing after missing much of the 2002 with a racing ban and poor form. Pantani has declared he’s aiming to win the 2003 Giro in a last-gasp effort to revive his troubled career, but he’s been a shadow of his former self at his races so far this season.
Pantani struggled through the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour of Aragon in Spain despite training hard throughout the off-season in the Canary Islands and Mallorca.
Saeco’s Gilberto Simoni and Fassa Bortolo’s Dario Frigo headline the field in what’s Simoni’s “hometown” race. Two-time defending champion Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) won’t be starting.
Stefano Garzelli (Sidermec-Vini Caldiroli) will also be at the start-line as he reappears after failing a doping test during last year’s Giro d’Italia for a banned diuretic. The former Giro winner is hoping to find his legs for his comeback in time for the Giro.
The Tour of Trentino is a selective race loaded with medium to difficult climbs, including Passo Pramadicia (1431 meters), Passo Mendola (1363 meters), Passo Forcella (1397 meters) and Passo Predaia (1250 meters).
Giro de Trentino (UCI 2.2), April 24-27
Stage 1 Thursday, Arco to Moena, 170km
Stage 2 Friday, Moena to Ronzone, 166km
Stage 3 Fondo to Levico Terme, 165km
Stage 4 Caldonazzo to Arco, 156km
Teams(Italian, unless otherwise indicated)
Ciarocchi Immobiliare and Amore & Vita
Flanders-I TeamNova (B)
CCC Atlas (Pol)