Lorenzo Bernucci plays down the impact of his stage win, but it came at the ideal time with his Fass
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Judging by the extent of his talkativeness in his post-race press conference, Lorenzo Bernucci is not a man whose mobile phone can usually expect to see a great deal of activity.
Life, though, has a habit of changing when you win a stage of the Tour de France, especially when it is your very first pro victory. The 25 year old from La Spezia appeared to have discovered this when, prior to procycling calling his mobile phone just after 6.30pm tonight, it was already groaning under the weight of around 70 text messages.
Among them was not – at least yet – anything from team-mate and fellow native of the Ligurian resort of La Spezia, Alessandro Petacchi. Neither had Bernucci received any indication that his efforts in Nancy would be rewarded with another year riding under Fassa Bortolo chief Giancarlo Ferretti, with whom he has a contract for the 2006 season. This evening, Bernucci and his team-mates were awaiting news of Ferretti’s negotiations with a mystery backer apparently close to agreeing a deal to take over from Fassa Bortolo next year. “Apparently, all that’s missing is the signature,” Bernucci told procycling.
Earlier, Bernucci had affirmed that a stage victory in the world’s most prestigious wasn’t likely to change him. “My life won’t be different when I wake up tomorrow,” said the former Landbouwkrediet-Colnago rider, who Ferretti snapped up after some fine performances in the 2004 Classics season. “When I’m asked to go back and get a bottle, I won’t hesitate, just as I won’t hesitate if someone invites me to ride my own race. The Classics are in my DNA, but I’ll certainly never forget this race.”
Bernucci later reflected on a victory which surprised no one more than himself. “I wasn’t thinking about going for the victory today,” the Italian admitted. “I was near the front when Vinokourov attacked and then, when Mengin fell, I gave it everything until the finish. Growing up, idolising Gianni Bugno, I’d always dreamed about the Tour de France. From now on the Tour will always occupy a special place in my heart.”
While Bernucci was savouring his victory and no doubt more plaudits tonight, Giancarlo Ferretti was unavailable for comment on the state of his sponsorship negotiations.