Tuesday 24 January 2012 - 22:43

Chicchi, Boonen go 1-2

Chicchi, Boonen go 1-2

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team sprinter Francesco Chicchi won his second stage in a row at Tour de San Luis, besting teammate Tom Boonen in yet another bunch sprint finish on Tuesday afternoon.

"It's the first time I win two stages in a row during the same race, it's a great feeling," Chicchi said. "Winter training and the serene atmosphere in the team are bringing in great results. Let me thank my team once again. The guys raced a team time-trial again today and they took Tom and I by the hand up until the very last kilometer. It's a pleasure to race alongside athletes that are such great professionals."

The second stage of Tour de San Luis was similar to the first in terms of race tactics, but the weather was very different. On Tuesday the peloton rode through hot summer weather, whereas Monday they were battered by rain, wind, and hail at one point.

Antonio Cabrera (CHI) made the initial breakaway attempt, getting a two minute and 30 second gap on the peloton just minutes into the 145.3 km race. Daniel Diaz (SLS), Edwing Avila (COL) and Mauricio Neilsa (COL) bridged to him quickly, and the gap grew to about four minutes and 25 seconds midway through the race.

However, the peloton reeled the break in slowly. Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team worked at the front of the peloton to cut the gap to three minutes and 15 seconds roughly 8 km before the second sprint point area (45.3 km remaining).

The break was brought to within 40 seconds with 15 km remaining, and then caught at 9 km remaining. That left plenty of time for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team to set up its leadout train.

The final 3 km of racing was on rough roads, and the last kilometer included a slight uphill. That didn't bother Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team, as Boonen and Chicchi crossed the line so closely, Boonen was initially called the winner.

However, after looking at photos of the finish, Chicchi was awarded the victory.

"It was yet another phenomenal day", a very happy Chicchi said. "I was supposed to help Boonen's sprint in the end, seen as that was what we had decided during the morning meeting. I started the sprint with Casper and Tom right on my wheel. About 300 meters from the finish line I looked behind me and I didn't see Tom anymore. At that point I launched my sprint and only in the last 50 meters I saw Tom near me. We both raised our hands and I stopped thinking about the sprint. It was only after passing the finish line that I understood I had won."

Chicchi continues to hold the leader's jersey, going into Stage 3 of Tour de San Luis. Unlike the last two stages, which were flat enough to suit sprinters, the third stage includes two category 1 climbs and a category 3 climb within the 168.2 km course. The second category 1 climb is where the stage finishes.

"We didn't know who of us had won but it didn't matter," Boonen said. "We're happy to have given the team another great day. I am in good shape and there will be more time for me to win."


For results and photos, click here

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