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"I started my sprint at 250m to go because I was in the front and it was clear there was no chance to wait any longer. Bravo to Ivan for a good sprint, and for catching our attack on the final climb before the finish," Tiralongo says

Photo: Unipublic/Graham Watson

PAOLO TIRALONGO

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19.04.2013 @ 10:17 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Veteran Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) came tantalizingly close to taking his only third victory as a professional in yesterday's Giro del Trentino but he was outsprinted by Ivan Santaromita (BMC). Many thought that he had started his final acceleration but the double Giro stage winner was adamant that he could not have waited any longer.

 

Paolo Tiralongo had been a professional for more than 11 years when he finally took his first win as a professional in 2011. It was even a very prestigious one as he won a mountain stage to Macugnaga in the Giro d'Italia after being formidably helped by former team captain Alberto Contador.

 

As soon as he broke the drought, the wins started to come easier and last year he repeated his performance by taking another victory in his home grand tour. He was even in the GC mix for most of the race before he faded in the last week of racing.

 

Yesterday he was very close to make it three wins in three years as he managed to join an 11-man escape group in the early part of the race. He stayed in the wheel of an accelerating Michele Scarponi (Lampre) in the day's final climb. However, Ivan Santaromita (BMC) joined the duo just over the top of the ascent and the Italian ended up taking the win ahead of his older compatriot.

 

Afterwards, Tiralongo faced some criticism due to his handling of the final sprint. Despite his experience he was left with the front position as the trio almost came to a standstill in the last kilometer and he opened a long sprint. However, he could not keep up his pace and Santaromita managed to take the win with a convincing margin.

 

Tiralongo denied that he could have handled the sprint any different.

 

"I started my sprint at 250m to go because I was in the front and it was clear there was no chance to wait any longer," he said. "Bravo to Ivan for a good sprint and for catching our attack on the final climb before the finish."

 

The Astana team has been immensely strong on the race and when the favourite group was reduced to around 20 riders in yesterday's had summit finish, 6 of the team's 8 riders were still present. The made another display of power yesterday as both Tiralongo and Tanel Kangert were part of the early break while behind the team's other strong climbers covered moves and led the bunch on the day's final climb.

 

The team got its reward as previous holder of the young riders' jersey, Michael Rodriguez (Colombia), could not keep up the pace and young climbing sensation Fabio Aru is now the new leader of the competition.

 

Sports director Alexandr Shefer was happy to once again see the team dominate in the mountains.

 

"It's unfortunate not to win the stage, but Astana showed today how strong we are as a team," he said. "We had Paolo and Tanel Kangert in the early breakaway and Dyachenko and Kessiakoff chasing down the attacks on the final climb. Aru was setting a very good tempo up the hill and very much deserves the best young rider jersey."

 

The team gets a final chance to dispose Maxime Bouet (Ag2r) of his overall lead in today's hard summit finish. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is 3rd overall 3.57 behind the Frenchman while Aru and Dyachenko are 7th and 8th respectively.

 

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