NEO-PRO PRONI WINS AT TOUR OF SWITZERLAND
Italy’s Alessandro Proni (Quick Step) took his first win as a professional rider at the Tour of Switzerland on Monday with a long-range attack and then a determined acceleration on the last climb.
25 year-old Proni went away with Spain’s Daniel Navarro (Astana) and Luis Pasamontes (Unibet.com) after just 20km of the 228.7km stage and then jumped away alone with six kilometres to go. He was almost caught over the top but held on during the fast descent to win seven seconds clear. 2006 Clasica San Sebastian winner Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) was second, with Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) third.
Fabian Cancellara (CSC) also finished seven seconds behind and hung onto his overall lead. Proni is now second, just two seconds behind.
“I made attacks like that as an amateur but to do it in my first year as a professional and so win my first professional race is something else. I can’t believe it,” Proni said.
“This is a special moment in my career and I have to thank a lot of people, especially my amateur coach Luca Scinto in Italy. This win is dedicated to my family, my wife Luana and my daughter Rebecca.”
“It seemed crazy to attack after just 20km but we gained a ten-minute gap during the stage and we always thought we had a chance of staying clear. My directeur sportifs Serge Parsani and Luca Bramati encouraged me all day from the team car and convinced me I could win with a late attack.”
“It would have been nice to take the race leader’s jersey as well but I happy just to have won the stage. I’m on form but I never expected to have such a great day.”
Britain’s Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) finished almost 30 minutes behind Proni and was 20 minutes behind the main group containing sprinters such as Robbie McEwen (Predictor) and Daniele Bennati (Lampre).
The nine-day Tour of Switzerland continues on Tuesday with another hilly stage between Nauders in Austria and Triesenberg-Malbun in Liechtenstein. The 167.2km stage ends with 10km climb to the finish.