Posted by Editoress on 02/18/03
1. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4:53:13
2. Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Saeco
3. Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio
4. Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep-Davitamon
5. Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave
6. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal Service
7. Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco
8. Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre
9. Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
10. Uros Murn (Slo) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave all s.t.
28. Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service 2:09
67. Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service 8:17
69. Jeff Louder (USA) Navigators Cycling Team
76. Steffen Kjaergaard (Nor) US Postal Service
80. Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service all s.t.
Report Courtesy Navigators
The Navigators Cycling Team opened their 2003 competition season today with the tough, 183Km Tropheo Laigueglia (Italy), a UCI 1.2 event. With six previous winners on hand, as well as nine TT1 squads, the men in blue had their work cut out for them.
The event is known for its climbs, as the peloton completes three separate circuits through the hilly coastal region of Northwestern Italy, the three major ascents topping out at over 2,200 feet (690m). Cold temperatures of 40F greeted the riders as they made their way toward the first climb of the day at 39Km in.
With the field largely intact and led by the red jerseys of the Saeco squad, which was obviously protecting the positions of their leaders (and winners of the past 2 editions) Mirko Celestino and Danilo DiLuca, the first significant attack came near the summit of the first KOM by Paolo Bettini (Quickstep). His escape was short-lived however as the field was power packed and still being led by Saeco.
The field, in a long single line, made its way down the twisting slopes to Garlenda and right to the base of the 2nd major climb, which is actually the same summit, but from the opposite direction. The Navigators squad was in the mix as the pace on this ascent had quickened over the previous climb, and the field started to get whittled down by the terrain as well as the action at the front. Chris Baldwin, showing good form during the team's recent training camp, crested the 2nd KOM in perfect position, about 5 wheels back from the front. As the riders descended the hills and made their way back toward the coast, race radio was reporting a crash in the front group that involved Baldwin. Although not seriously hurt, Chris was unable to continue in the race.
The peloton, now broken into several groups, raced hard over the 30Km of lowlands as the Navigators squad re-grouped after several teammates waited on their leader. Heading into the final ascent of the day, the peloton was all back together, although much smaller in size. The final climb would prove pivotal in the selection for the front group. The remaining riders split into a fast-moving front group of about 40, then smaller groups of riders at various levels of early-season fitness.
Navigators had 6 of their members still racing, but none had made it into the front group. The leaders raced over the last 30Km back into Laigueglia, with the victory being taken by Filippo Pozzato (Fassa Bortolo) over Fabio Sacchi (Saeco).
Although a good result escaped the Navigators squad on the day, it was clear that the 2003 racing season has begun. The day presented itself with all of the elements of bike racing action, complete with bright spots, low points, and a quick and fiery transition from training camp to top-flight competition. The Navigators team will now travel north to France, for more international racing action.
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