Chicchi claims Tour de San Luis opener

Mon, 23 Jan 21:15:00 2012

Italy's Francesco Chicchi won the first stage of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in a sprint finish.

Francesco Chicchi, 2011 - 0

Chichi had to hold off a committed challenge from home rider Juan Jose Haedo to seal the win by millimetres after 189km of racing between San Luis and Villa Mercedes.

The victory was Omega Pharma-Quick Step's first of the year, and propels Chicchi into an early lead of the event.

"I must thank the entire team for the great work they did and the trust they placed in me," said Chicchi.

Emmanuel Guevara (San Luis Somos Todos) launched an early solo attack and was joined by team-mate Maximiliano Badde and Cesar Berti (Uruguay) as they built up a lead in excess of 11 minutes.

But the escape came to an end just over 20km from the finish with Tom Boonen launching a solo attack inside the final 2km to disrupt the leadout trains of Saxo Bank and Movistar and setting up the Italian for victory.

The sixth edition of the seven-stage race has attracted five ProTour and seven Pro Continental teams with Team Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador heading the line-up.

Three-time Tour de France champion Contador and other GC contenders Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) all crossed the line in the 33-man lead group.

Chicchi leads Haedo by four seconds and Mauro Richeze by six seconds in the overall going into Tuesday's second stage, a 145.3km trek from Fraga to Juana Koslay.


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