No cigar for Michele Scarponi at Rocca di Cambio
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

No cigar for Michele Scarponi at Rocca di Cambio

by Ben Atkins at 4:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Good form for defending champion on first mountain finish; Lampre-ISD loses Maglia Rosa as Adriano Malori cracks

michele scarponiIt was close, but no cigar, for Lampre-ISD’s Michele Scarponi at Rocca di Cambio on stage seven of the Giro d’Italia, as he was outsprinted in the closing metres by Astana’s Paolo Tiralongo. The defending Giro champion [by virtue of the retrospective disqualification of Alberto Contador - ed] took advantage of a number of riders being taken by surprise by the sharp turn at the bottom of the final section of the climb.

Scarponi told Lampre-ISD teammate Przemyslaw Niemiec to accelerate into the final kilometre and only Tiralongo was able to follow.

“It was a hard stage,” said Scarponi afterwards, “made even harder by the heat that we’ve had in the last few days. In the first part of the stage we looked after [Adriano] Malori’s Maglia Rosa then, in the finale, I tried not to take too many risks against the other men in the general classification.”

Following a brief descent however, the course took a sharp right turn onto the final, steep part of the climb, and it was here that Scarponi’s plans changed.

“Into the last kilometre and a half I saw that a number of riders had got stuck on the corner and so I asked Niemiec to increase the pace,” he explained. “Later, when I noticed that we had opened up a gap, I jumped and was only followed by Tiralongo.”

The Astana rider clung to Scarponi’s wheel until, as the Lampre-ISD man slowed a little in the final hundred metres, he jumped past to take only his second victory in a 13-year professional career [the other coming in last year’s Giro on the mountaintop finish of Macugnaga - ed].

“Congratulations to Paolo,” Scarponi added. “Maybe I went a little bit long, but it was a good second place.”

Unfortunately for Lampre-ISD, not only did Scarponi miss out on the stage victory, but Malori was unable to follow the pace of the peloton on the final climb. With a little over 15km to go, the 24-year-old smiled to the TV camera moto, kissed his Maglia Rosa, and waved it goodbye as he passed it on to Garmin-Barracuda’s Ryder Hesjedal.

The team’s two-headed assault on the general classification continues however, with Damiano Cunego finishing with most of the rest of the overall contenders, just 11 seconds back.

"The final climb was tough, considering that it was climbed at a high pace,” said the 2004 Giro winner. “I rode to try to get a result but, when I felt that I was not at my best, I talked to Michele since he was better, and he tried a long sprint.

“I lacked the change of pace,” he added, “but managed to stay with the other top riders. "

Scarponi and Cunego now sit in 16th and 24th places respectively, with another tough hilltop finish tomorrow. Malori lost more than eleven minutes on the stage, and will now revert to his usual role of supporting his team captains.

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