Tafi's great break closes Cup gap
Monday 18 August 1997
The Italians came to the British round of the World Cup with great expectations, and Andrea Tafi did not disappoint his countrymen who have taken the honours for six of the past eight years.
As the 242-kilometre race through Kent wound down to three testing circuits in the centre of Rochester, which inspired several of Charles Dickens' works, Tafi too found inspiration.
With 15km remaining, he forced the pace once more to shake off his four co-leaders, and ride away to win by 43 seconds and turn himself into a Cup challenger. He closed to within 35 points of the series leader, Rolf Sorensen of Denmark, and with three rounds to be decided is on course for his best season.
"I am looking forward to the next round in Zurich on Sunday. It will be hard but my form is good," Tafi said. "I did not have a good start to the year, but my team kept faith with me.
"When I heard that the pursuers were only 25 seconds behind us I attacked to maintain our lead, but I saved my best move for later. My biggest fear was [Gianluca] Bortolami. He has such great form," he said, but after one attempt at resisting Tafi, Bortolami conceded to the stronger man.
Tafi's best result until Rochester was last year's victory in another Cup counter, the Tour of Lombardy. This year he took second place in the Dutch round behind the 1996 Tour de France winner, Bjarne Riis, and with more points in Spain last week followed by a maximum of 100 yesterday, Tafi lifted the Cup gloom from his Mapei team.
The quest of his Belgian team-mate, Johan Museeuw, to score a World Cup hat-trick slumped when the world champion failed to score in three previous rounds. Yesterday he was among the non-finishers, and so too was the British hope Chris Boardman, again the victim of a fall as the field pursued Tafi and his men.
Boardman changed his damaged bike for a spare, but pulled out on the finishing circuit, complaining of a painful back. He had to quit last month's Tour de France after displacing two vertebrae, an injury from which he had almost recovered.
Max Sciandri kept the home flag flying with a solo chase that earned him sixth place and was only six seconds short of capturing the remnants of Tafi's co-leaders as they raced along the banks of the Medway.
"When my team told me that Tafi had gone away on his own, then I was able to attack," he said. Sciandri had been handicapped because his French team-mate, Stephane Heulot, was with the leaders.
"I gave it all I had, but it was too late," said the Olympic bronze medallist who has a reputation to maintain in the British round. He won in 1995 when it was in Leeds, and last year was second there, a placing rated as a failure.
He failed to respond when Andrea Ferrigato "jumped" in sight of the finish. Yesterday the Derby-born, Italian-based member of a French team wiped away that bitter memory.
Ferrigato had to fight for second place with fellow Italian Bortolami, the World Cup winner three years ago, after they - with Tafi, Heulot, and Italy's Andrea Vatteroni - had escaped from the pack more than 70km from the finish.
Sorensen was content with his day's work as 13th place helped boost his lead over the Italian Michele Bartoli to 29 points. Bartoli finished out of the scoring yesterday for the second time in two rounds.
ROCHESTER CLASSIC (151.25 miles): 1 A Tafi (Mapei-GB, Ita) 6hr 7min 42sec; 2 A Ferrigato (Roslotto-ZG, It) +43sec; 3 G Bortolami (Festina, It), 4 S Heulot (La Francaise des Jeux, Fr); 5 A Vatteroni (Scrigno-Gaerne, It) all same time; 6 M Sciandri (La Francaise des Jeux, GB) +49sec. Overall World Cup standings: 1 R Sorensen (Rabobank, Den) 225pts; 2 M Bartoli (MG, It) 196; 3 A Tafi 190; 4 B Zberg (Mercatone Uno, Swit) 120; 5 L Jalabert (ONCE, Fr) 114; 6 M Sciandri 113.
Latest in Sport
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on today but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Manchester City transfer news: City determined to sign Paul Pogba and meet £71m British transfer record
Liverpool to confirm Sean O'Driscoll and Pep Lijnders for Brendan Rodgers' backroom coaching staff
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's premier supplie...
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...