Francesco Ginanni has become the first rider to double in Italy’s one-day classic, Trofeo Laigueglia, since Eddy Merckx and Filippo Pozzato. The 24 year-old Italian out-sprinted Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) after his Androni Giocattoli helped pull back the day’s escape.

Ginanni wants to further the link to Merckx and Pozzato, adding his name to the list of Milan-San Remo winners.

“It’s my dream,” said Ginanni. “To make it happen, though, I have to try to eliminate riders like [Alessandro] Petacchi and [Mark] Cavendish on the final climb.”

Today, however, he won one of Italy’s smaller one-day classics, a race Lance Armstrong won in 1993. His team Androni Giocattoli kept watch over an eight-man move that went free in the early stages of the 183-kilometre race, up and over Passo Balestrino.

Through Laigueglia, after a 69.8-kilometre loop, Donato Cannone (Ceramica Flaminia), Paolo Longo Borghini (ISD-Neri), Damiano Caruso (De Rosa-Stac Plastic), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF Inox), Pasquale Muto (Miche), Alexandre Pichot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), and AG2R La Mondiale team-mates Guillaume Bonnafond and Rene Mandri held 6’33″ over the main group led by Ginanni’s team.

“We were concerned when they continued to hold three to four minutes over the race’s second half,” said Ginanni. “The team went to the front and the gap, fortunately, came down steadily.”

The last of the escapees, Pichot and Caruso, were reeled in at eight kilometres out. The bright blue and fuchsia colours of Lampre the led the way down the waterfront, with the Ligurian Sea on its left. It was not for their new sprinter Petacchi, who was out sick with a stomach bug, but for 26-year-old Gavazzi.

“The team still has faith in me, even with the arrival of Petacchi,” Gavazzi said. “They showed it today, especially Daniele Pietropolli, but unfortunately Ginanni was faster.”

Gianni used Lampre’s lead-out to his advantage, nipping Gavazzi at the line with Pietropolli one spot further back in third. Next stop, San Remo?

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