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Look Who’s On Form: Cunego Wins at Settimana Coppi e Bartali

Really, there should be a law against race names of unusual length.

Damiano Cunego of Lampre-NGC beat out Josè Serpa of Serrementi Diquigiovanni-Androni (whose team has far too many names) in a two up sprint to win today’s Stage 2 of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali. The two riders escaped on the descent from the final climb of the day, the Monte Trebbio. Giovanni Visconti of ISD finished third and took over the leader’s jersey from his team-mate ISD sprinter, Oscar the Cat.

An early breakaway departed the main field after 35 kilometers. Alessio Signego of Adria Mobil and Luca Fioretti of Centri della Calzatura built up a maximum lead of 5’38” after the first ascension of the Monte Carla (sister to Monte Carlo?). But Liguigas and ISD, the team of race leader Oscar Gatto, soon went to work, not willing to allow the break to have too much fun. By kilometer 125, it was all over for Signego and Fioretti. Gruppo compatto.

On the Monte Trebbio, a split opened up in the field, and nine riders escaped. The new break included: Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto (who won the overall last year), Damiano Cunego of Lampre-NGC, José Serpa of Serramenti Pvc Diquigiovanni Androni Giocattoli (Ha!), Sylvester Szmyd of Liquigas, Domenico Pozzovivo of Csf Group Navigare, Robert Kiserlovski of Amica Chips Knauf, Massimo Giunti of Miche Silver Cross, Giovanni Visconti of ISD, and Przemyslaw Niemiec of Miche Silver Cross. Pre-race favorite Michele Scarponi, who won the Settimana in 2007, did not make the move. With 200 meters to climb, José Serpa launched an attack. The move came at the steepest section of the climb. Only Cunego could follow.

From the top of the 500 meter climb, there remained 20 kilometers of descending to ride to the finish. Cunego and Serpa put their descending skills to work and maintained their advantage. After the descent came a flat 600 meters. Cunego easily won the sprint over Serpa by several bike lengths.

Behind, the group of seven followed by 19 seconds. Giovanni Visconti of ISD won the sprint for third ahead of Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto. Visconti took over the leader’s jersey, thanks to his team’s win in the rainy crono on Tuesday.

Cunego recently returned to Italy after a training camp at altitude in Tenerife in preparation for the Ardennes races, which represent his first major objectives of the season. “This victory is good for me,” he said afterwards. “And also for our team, which has suffered from the illness of Ballan and the indisposition of Lorenzetto on the eve of Sanremo. It is also a victory achieved against a worthy, strong, and on form adversary,” Cunego continued. “It shows that the work I have been doing is right,” he concluded.

For his part, Serpa was disappointed to miss the stage win, but also was also content with his developing form. He will be “at the shoulder” of Davide Rebellin at Flèche-Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, after the team received notification today that the ASO has offered them an invitation to both races. Serpa is also looking forward to the Giro d’Italia, and considered today’s ride a good sign of things to come.

The new race leader Giovanni Visconti is hoping to defend his jersey, though tomorrow’s hilly stage will certainly complicate his task. With just seconds in hand over Cunego, Visconti will have a difficult time defending his race lead. “I had hoped to win the stage, but the jersey is a nice consolation,” he said. Visconti made the group of the favorites on the climb, but when Serpa and Cunego attacked, he did not “have the legs to follow.” “I am hoping for the overall victory: Tomorrow will be a difficult stage, I will try to hold on to the jersey.”

Wednesday’s stage 3 covers 163 kilometers between Borgo S.Lorenzo and Serramazzoni. It is a lumpy, bumpy affair, with few flat stretches, and should favor the attackers. Visconti’s lead will no doubt come under pressure, as the course will make controlling the race very difficult for ISD. Cunego needs only 9 seconds to take over the lead. The finish is a quick uphill, that looks made for a rider like Cunego or Diluca, the fast finishers who do so well in Italian cycling. Course details.

Sources, Gazzetta dello Sport and tuttobiciweb.it, who has full results listed.

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