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Filippo Pozzato's current rich vein of form, which has already seen him win the HEW Cyclassics Cup and the Tour of Lazio in the last couple of weeks, was extended today when he won the second stage of the Deutschland Tour into Bodenmais. The Italian just overhauled Liberty Seguros' Jorg Jaksche at the finish, with a strong group of riders right behind them.
Pozzato's Quick Step team-mate Bram Tankink was among the riders who came home just behind the Italian, but he was in close enough contact to maintain the lead he took on stage one.
Once again the stage was run off in pretty miserable conditions thanks to persistent drizzle. The lead group was whittled down going over two second-category climbs coming into the finish, and Jaksche burst away from this group in the last few hundred metres.
It seemed that the German had done enough to win on home soil, but Pozzato's superior sprinting speed got him up to and past the Liberty rider in the last few metres. The consolation for Jaksche was that Pozzato was soon picking him out as the most likely winner of the race during post-stage interviews.
"There were two climb sections during the final," Pozzato explained, "one of about 10 kilometres long and the other a little bit shorter just a few kilometres from the finish line. It was hard work but I managed to keep up along with the best riders - all in all there were no more than 15 of us. Today's performance makes me a bit bitter thinking about the San Sebastian Classic where I just wasn't able to ride how I wanted to therefore didn't get the result I wanted either."
At 280 metres from the finish, Pozzato launched himself after Jaksche, getting up to the German right on the finish line. "When the race had finished no one seemed to know who had won. The judges had to refer to the photofinish to decide who the winner was. When Jaksche made his move I thought, OK, here we go but decided to wait a bit before making my own move, then when I got to the 300-metre mark I thought I'd better get going otherwise he would have won the stage.
"I am very happy with how I rode today. I'll be putting myself at my team-mates' disposal for the general classification. I also want to do well in light of the World Championships. If [Italian team manager Franco] Ballerini calls me I'll be ready to accept any role he offers."
Race favourite Jan Ullrich was not too far behind the pair, but ominously he was the only T-Mobile rider to feature at the front of the race. "I am happy to have finished in the lead group. I haven't lost any time on the favourites even though I am still handicapped by a cold," he said.
Stage 2, Pegnitz-Bodenmais
1 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick.Step 199.3km in 4.49.40
2 Jrg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros
3 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Davitamon-Lotto
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Francaise des Jeux
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
7 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak
8 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
Dazzling Pozzato denies JakscheClose
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