Napolitano and Garzelli put the points on the board for the Acqua & Sapone team
February sportsmen of the month
The Acqua & Sapone team made a relatively late start to the season. Nevertheless, the first races on the new FOCUS bikes went (pretty much) according to plan. Within just eight days, Stefano Garzelli and his team achieved a total of seven top ten placings with Garzelli himself and the sprinter Napolitano leading the way.
The first races of the year are really tough for almost all riders. At the start of this season, the ice-cold weather of the last few weeks made things even more difficult. Varying levels of physical fitness among the riders are also typical for this time of year. Going into the season with extremely different goals, some of the athletes show far better early form than others. Consequently, some riders – particularly those who are focused on the classic spring races – set an impressive pace, whilst others are happy just to be able to keep up with the field over the first fast kilometres.
For some professionals, the season started back in mid January in Australia. The Acqua & Sapone team, on the other hand, did not get going until relatively late with the GP Costa degli Etruschi on 4th February. Nevertheless, the first days of racing on the new FOCUS Izalco bikes went like clockwork. Over eight days, one of the riders of the team, wearing its all-white kit, finished in the top ten in all seven races. In particular, Stefano Garzelli, who had arrived from the high altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada just a few days before his first race, put in an impressive performance. In the final stage of the Tour Méditerranéen he was third to cross the line – and expressed his disappointment afterwards that the stage had not been tougher. The commissioners had shortened the course on the legendary ascent to Mont Faron due to snow fall, thus making the race slightly easier. Perhaps he could have improved his position, had the final ascent remained part of the course.
It wasn't just the climbers who put themselves to the test. There were also exciting duels between the sprinters on the finishing straights of Southern Europe. Danilo Napolitano, the 32-year-old sprinter in the Acqua & Sapone team, was ranked in the top ten three times. He just keeps getting better and better! After an initial ninth place, he achieved sixth and second place finishes in the Tour Méditerranéen. These results are a real source of hope for the pending spring classics, including the Strade Bianche, which is played out on Tuscany's white gravel tracks.
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