Gotti breaks Italy's Giro drought

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The unfancied Ivan Gotti became the first Italian in six years to win the Giro d'Italia yesterday, beating the defending champion, Pavel Tonkov of Russia, by 1min 27sec.

Mario Cipollini, Gotti's Saeco team-mate, took the final stage in Milan, beating Sweden's Glenn Magnusson in a crowded sprint.

The traditionally ceremonial final leg, 102 miles from the spa resort of Boario Terme to Milan, was a triumphant parade for the 28-year-old Gotti, wearing the race leader's pink jersey he captured in the 14th stage. He finished in the same time as Cipollini to beat Tonkov and another compatriot, Giuseppe Guerini, in the final standings.

Gotti built up an overall lead in his favourite climbing stages and held off Tonkov in two individual time trials. The Italian snatched the pink jersey from Tonkov in the Alpine stage which ended in Cervinia and extended his lead in another climbing stage.

This year's Giro, avoided by some Europeans, who preferred to prepare for the Tour deFrance, was marred by several accidents, which knocked out such pre-race favourites as Luc Leblanc and Marco Pantani. Of 180 starters, only 110 made it to Milan.

Chris Boardman won the prologue of the Dauphine Libere for the fourth year in a row in the streets of Grenoble yesterday. The world one hour record holder covered the 5.1km flat course in 5min 50sec. Alex Zuelle of Switzerland was second, three seconds behind, with another time trial specialist, the Russian, Viacheslav Yekimov, third.