By Andrew Hood
Just in case anyone thought Tuesday’s victory was a fluke, Italian Damiano Cunego (Saeco) won Wednesday’s demanding five-climb second stage to secure his hold on the leader’s jersey in the Giro di Trentino. Cunego, the 1999 junior world champion, shot off alone to win the 171km second stage to win in 4 hours, 50 minutes, 23 seconds. The 22-year-old finished 34 seconds ahead of Saeco team captain and Trentino defending champion Gilberto Simoni.
The four-stage Giro di Trentino continues Thursday with the 165km third stage from Roncone Breguzzo to Fiavè.
Giro di Trentino (ITA 2.2), Stage 2
1. Damiano Cunego (I), Saeco, 171km in 4:50:23
2. Gilbert Simoni (I), Saeco , at 0:34
3. Giuliano Figueras (I), Panaria
4. Jure Golcer (Slo), Formaggi Pinzolo
5. Pavel Tonkov (Rus), Lampre all same time
Overall after two stages
1. Damiano Cunego (I), Saeco, 9:39:25
2. Jure Golcer (Slo), Formaggi Pinzolo , at 0:49
3. Gilbert Simoni (I), Saecno , at 0:53
3. Giuliano Figueras (I), Panaria , at 0:55
5. Pavel Tonkov (Rus), Lampre , at 1:06
Cunego earns his stripes
Damiano Cunego’s breakthrough victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Trentino in Italy on Tuesday confirmed his rising star status on his Saeco team.
He already earned kudos from team captain Gilberto Simoni. Speaking on Saeco’s official web page, Simoni said the 22-year-old Cunego is a name to watch for the future.
“I said that Damiano Cunego is a little real champion,” Simoni said before Cunego’s second victory in as many days on Wednesday. “He must to be patient, able to wait, be modest and less headstrong. But he is an important rider for the future.”
Simoni showed some life in his legs after taking sixth in the opening stage under some warm Italian sun following some foul weather during his recent trip to Spain for the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour of Aragon. Simoni finished second to his young teammate on Wednesday and now sits in third place in the overall standings.
Cunego, the 1999 world junior champion, was satisfied following his first major European victory.
“I’m very happy. For me this represents not an arrival point, but this performance it’s a beginning. I wish to wear the leader jersey to the end of the race,” he said.
Danielson Giro hopes tied to Switzerland
Euro-rookie Tom Danielson (Fassa Bortolo) is fully recovered from the bronchitis that forced his early withdrawal from the recent Tour of the Basque Country and is now in Italy preparing for his next race, Switzerland’s Tour of Romandie.
Romandie (April 27-May 2) will have an impact Danielson’s immediate future. A strong performance at the tough Swiss race could earn him a ride in the Giro d’Italia.
“I am going to Romandie with two goals. No. 1, I want a good ride. No. 2, I want to show the team I’m strong and can go to the Giro d’Italia and do something,” Danielson told VeloNews.
With illness all but zapping Fassa Bortolo’s designated Giro leader Dario Frigo, Danielson’s position on the Giro team remains uncertain. The 26-year-old said if Frigo isn’t fit to race the Giro, Fassa Bortolo is considering building its entire Giro team around ace sprinter Alessandro Petacchi.
If that happens, Danielson might be left off of the squad, though Danielson is still hopeful he will be able to make his grand tour debut next month.
“If I have a good ride in Romandie, then I can prove I can do something in the Giro and they still might take me. Whether it’s to try to win a stage or help the team,” he said. “It would be a good experience.”
Danielson said if he doesn’t start the Giro, he’d likely race the Tour of Luxembourg and perhaps even get a nod for the Tour de France instead.
“After the Giro, I’m scheduled to do the Tour du Suisse, then take a break in July. But who knows, if I don’t make the Giro, maybe I’ll do the other race,” he said. “I hope to do either the Giro or the Tour.” Ullrich racing Flèche, Liège
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) started today’s edition of Flèche Wallone and is scheduled to start Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège after skipping out on Amstel Gold Race last weekend.
The 1997 Tour de France champion has been receiving some criticism for being out of shape and already being behind in his preparation to take on Lance Armstrong in the 2004 Tour.
But in an entry on his official web page (www.janullrich.de), Ullrich said he’s been diligently training and is ready for the Ardennes classics.
“I’ve been able to train under the best conditions the past few days,” Ullrich said. “On Thursday, I rode with Andreas Kloeden and Matthias Kessler for some hours. The past three days alone I rode between 160km and 180km per day. I start Wednesday to help Mario (Aerts) at Flèche. The next step in my (Tour) preparation begins. I’m on my plan.”
Bettini re-signs with Quick Step
Two-time World Cup champion Paolo Bettini has signed a two-year contract extension with his Quick Step-Davitamon team, L’Equipe reported Wednesday.
“I enjoyed a great 2003 season with my team. I am part of an extremely professional team, which has allowed me to get to my best,” Bettini said. “To work in such a group is the first step to reaching important results.”
Bettini finished third in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, the fourth round of the World Cup series, but dropped out of the Flèche Wallone race Wednesday in Belgium.
UCI releases cyclo-cross dates
The UCI released dates and venues for its new – and considerably expanded – 2004/05 cyclo-cross World Cup series on Wednesday. The 11-round series – up from six this past season – opens Oct. 10 in Wortegem-Petegem in Belgium and concludes in Lanarvilly in France on Feb. 13. The schedule change reflects a new World Cup calendar adopted by the UCI management committee during the world championships at Pont-Château, France, last January.
Round 1, Oct. 10: Wortegem-Petegem (Belgium)
Round 2, Oct. 28: Tabor (Czech Republic)
Round 3, Nov. 14: Pijnacker (Netherlands)
Round 4, Nov. 27: Koksijde (Belgium)
Round 5, Dec. 5: Wetzikon (Switzerland)
Round 6, Dec. 8: Milan (Italy)
Round 7, Dec. 28: Hofstade (Belgium)
Round 8, Jan. 2: Aigle (Switzerland)
Round 9, Jan. 16: Nommay (France)
Round 10, Jan. 23: Hoogerheide (Netherlands)
Round 11, Feb. 13: Lanarvilly (France)
Armstrong makes TIME list
Five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was among the athletes selected to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
The seven sports figures chosen all are listed among “Heroes and Icons,” one of five categories used by the magazine in the issue on newsstands Monday.
Also selected: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Real Madrid’s David Beckham, British marathoner Paula Radcliffe, golfer Tiger Woods, basketball player Yao Ming and yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar.
Armstrong overcame testicular cancer and has won the Tour de France five times.
“If Armstrong wins the Tour de France again this summer, he will establish a new standard for the sport,” the magazine wrote.
— By The Associated Press
Museeuw not out of woods yet in doping case
Recently retired classics king Johan Museeuw could still face a hearing before the Belgian cycling disciplinary commission concerning the case last fall involving Belgian veterinarian José Landuyt and soigneur Herman Versele.
According to a report on the Belgian wires, Museeuw, Jo Planckaert (Mr Bookmaker) and Chris Peers (Chocolade Jacques) could go before the commission within the next 30 days.
Blood and urine samples taken from the riders were negative, but the riders’ names were linked to an investigation into Landuyt and Versele, who were being investigated for providing banned substances to athletes.