Danilo Di Luca muses on near miss in Tirreno-Adriatico stage six
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Danilo Di Luca muses on near miss in Tirreno-Adriatico stage six

by Ben Atkins at 6:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tirreno-Adriatico
 
Italian closer than ever to post-ban victory but rues previous day's missed opportunity more

danilo di lucaDanilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone) has had a number of fourth place finishes in the last two seasons, but today - in the sixth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, in Marche - the Killer came closest yet to his first victory since his return to the sport after his suspension for the use of CERA. The 36-year-old just failed to catch up with the final kilometre attack of eventual stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), was overtaken in the dash for the line by Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), and finished the stage in third.

With Acqua & Sapone teammate Carlos Betancur in the stage’s long breakaway up ahead, Di Luca was able to sit comfortably in the peloton until the action started on the final lap.

"On the last climb, less than two kilometres from the finish, the pace went up further and I tried to get away from a small group with a good attack,” Di Luca explained. “We were away, Nibali and I, and behind us were no more than a dozen riders, and in there was [Nibali’s Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Peter] Sagan.

“It was immediately obvious that Sagan was working for Nibali, and seeing how it went in previous days, I thought he would keep the race closed down to allow for Nibali to sprint,” he continued. “So when Rodriguez went I hesitated, waiting for Sagan to move."

Sagan actually just kept his tempo without closing the gap, so Di Luca was forced to try to make it up to the Katusha rider himself.

"When I saw that Sagan could not close the gap I had to go long, but by then the advantage was too much," he said.

Di Luca’s third place is his best post-ban result to date, following another fourth place on stage four. It was the day in between though, that has left the Killer with his biggest regret so far, as a crash on the mountainous stage to Prati di Tivo robbed him of what he sees as a chance of victory.

"I’ve ridden a good Tirreno but I haven’t got much from it,” he said. “I have few regrets over the stage today, and of Chieti, but the one that simply gives me a bad taste in the mouth is the stage that finished in Prati di Tivo. It was probably the stage where I was going strongest and was not just there to collect; in Prati di Tivo I had good condition and I was very determined. A fall just in front of me during the final descent has caused a "hole" from the head of the race that meant that I started the climb with a minute and a half’s delay from the leaders.

“I rode final climb very strongly, but I'd lost a fantastic opportunity to win the stage,” he added.

Nibali won that stage and Di Luca finished 1’15” behind him in 15th place, which is the exact amount that he trails the Sicilian by heading into the final day’s time trial. With both Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) ahead of Nibali though - despite a possible stage victory missed - Di Luca admits that overall victory would have been beyond him.

“In all probability I would not have won the Tirreno, because there are other riders that are stronger against the clock than me,” he said, “but [if I’d have won stage five] it would be a different Tirreno-Adriatico for me."

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