Francesco Chicchi goes two from two in San Luis second stage
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Francesco Chicchi goes two from two in San Luis second stage

by Ben Atkins at 6:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Tom Boonen makes it an Omega Pharma-Quick Step one-two as weather improves

francesco chicchiFrancesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) made it two from two this season, with a second straight victory in the second stage of the Tour de San Luis. The Italian sprinter, who won stage one by the narrowest of margins, took victory by a slightly longer distance this time, and it was teammate Tom Boonen – who was also sitting up and celebrating – who took second place. 24-year-old Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare) improved on his ninth place of the previous day, with one of the best results of his career in third.

“It was yet another phenomenal day,” said a very happy Chicchi. “I was supposed to help Boonen’s sprint in the end, seen as that was what we had decided during the morning meeting. I started the sprint with Casper and Tom right on my wheel. About 300 meters from the finish line I looked behind me and I didn’t see Tom anymore.

“At that point I launched my sprint and only in the last 50 meters I saw Tom near me,” the Italian explained. “We both raised our hands and I stopped thinking about the sprint. It was only after passing the finish line that I understood I had won. It’s the first time I win two stages in a row during the same race; it’s a great feeling. Winter training and the serene atmosphere in the team are bringing in great results.

“Let me thank my team once again,” he added. “The guys raced a team time-trial again today and they took Tom and I by the hand up until the very last kilometre. It’s a pleasure to race alongside athletes that are such great professionals.”

Conditions for the 145km between Fraga and Juana Koslay couldn’t have been more different to the previous day, with the peloton racing under the hot summer skies that had been expected in the Argentine summer.

Antonio Cabrera (Chile) was the one to make the first move, attacking almost immediately and very quickly opening a gap of two and a half minutes. He was soon joined by Emmanuel Guevara (San Luis Somos Todos), Mauricio Neisa (Col-Comcel), and Edwin Avila (Colombia); the four-man group continued to build their lead; up to a maximum of 5’30” as Neisa took the mountain points over the 3rd category La Florida after 85.5km.

With the Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Saxo Bank teams in control of the front of the peloton though, the breakaway was doomed to fail.

By the second intermediate sprint, with 45.3km to go, the peloton had reduced the deficit to just three minutes, and it continued to drop as the race followed its predominantly downhill course.

Inside the final 15km the group’s lead was down to just 40 seconds and, with the Movistar, Rabobank, and Androni Giocattoli teams on the front of the speeding bunch, it was finally caught with just 9km to go.

The closing stages featured some uneven road surfaces, and a slight incline and a large roundabout in the final kilometre. None of this was enough to disrupt the teams of the sprinters however, and it was Omega Pharma-Quick Step that came out on top once again.

At first Boonen was thought to have taken the victory but, after consulting the photofinish, Chicchi was awarded the stage.

“We controlled the race perfectly once again today,” the Belgian explained. “I was trying to get Chicchi’s wheel at the last kilometre in order to enhance my sprint, but another rider hit my front wheel making me wallow for a moment. I lost a few positions but I managed to keep good speed.

“I made my sprint attempt in the final meters and found myself head to head with Chicchi,” he continued. “We looked at each other and just by instinct we both raised our arms. We didn’t know who of us had won but it didn’t matter. We’re happy to have given the team another great day. I am in good shape and there will be more time for me to win.”

Having taken two stages straight, it’s highly unlikely that Chicchi will make it three from three. The 168km third stage will cross the 1st category Alto de Nogoli after 60km, and finish at the top of the 1st category Mirador del Potrero. The Italian holds the leader’s jersey by 14 seconds over Juan Jose Haedo, but neither is likely to be anywhere near the top of the standings the next day.

Result stage 2
1. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3. Jake Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
4. Francisco Ventoso (Esp) Team Movistar
5. Jimmy Casper (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank
7. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Colnago-CSF Bardiani
8. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Team Nippo
9. Hector Fabian Aguilar (Uru) Funvic-Pindamonhangaba
10. Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural

Standings after stage 2
1. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank @ 14s
3. Jake Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling @ 16s
4. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Team Nippo
5. Paolo Locatelli (Ita) Colnago-CSF Bardiani @ 19s
6. Jimmy Casper (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ 20s
7. Francisco Ventoso (Esp) Team Movistar
8. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Colnago-CSF Bardiani
9. Grischa Janorschke (Ger) Team NetApp
10. Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Christina Watches-Onfone


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