Rastelli Wins First Italy Stage
FRANCAVILLA AL MARE, Italy (AP) _ Maneuvering around fallen cyclists on a slippery asphalt, Italy’s Ellis Rastelli outsprinted Ukrainian Vladimir Duma to win the first stage of the Giro d’Italia race Sunday.
Belgium’s Rik Verbrugghe, who completed the leg in fifth place with the same time as the winner, retained the pink jersey of overall leader he earned in Saturday’s time test prologue.
Marco Pantani, among the race favorites, finished ninth.
Olympic champion Jan Ullrich was among the late finishers who were delayed by the spills. The German captain of the Telekom team trailed the winner by nearly two minutes and fell 2 minutes, 34 seconds, behind Verbrugghe in the overall standings.
Rastelli, of the Liquigas team, completed the 125.2-mile course from Giulianova to Francavilla al Mare in 5:15:06.
Several cyclists fell in the final hilly section as rain made the road slippery. Organizers said no one was seriously injured.
Referring to the spills, the winner said, ``I was lucky to stand up and to be in front. It was difficult to keep balance even pedaling at 10 kilometers per hour. Then I produced a fine sprint.″
Duma, of the Ceramiche Panaria team, rushed into the lead 200 yards from the finish but then faded, allowing Rastelli’s comeback.
Overall, Verbrugghe led Dario Frigo by nine seconds and third-place Jan Hruska by 13 seconds.
Monday’s second stage will be 103.5 miles from Fossacesia to Lucera.
Sprinters, led by Mario Cipollini, are expected to take advantage of the almost flat course.