June 28, 2007
Mazzoleni, Di Luca, Petacchi called before CONI
Two separate doping investigations by the Italian Olympic Committee will bring Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Di Luca, and Eddy Mazzoleni before investigators next week.
Petacchi hopes to present his therapeutic use exemption for the asthma medication salbutamol and be cleared to race in the Tour de France, after one of his 5 doping tests from the Giro d'Italia came back with a salbutamol level of 1320 nanograms/milliliter. His other Giro tests were all below the trigger value of 1,000 nanograms/mL.
Petacchi is suspended from competition until the committee reaches a decision, which puts him out of the Italian nationals and threatens his spot in the Tour.
Di Luca and Mazzoleni will appear before the same investigator as Petacchi, Ettore Torri, as part of a hearing on what's been called the “Oil for Drugs” case, resulting from raids conducted during the 2004 (!) Giro d'Italia. Di Luca has already ruled out a Tour ride, after winning the Giro, but Mazzoleni, 3rd in this year's Giro,
may be is suspended during the investigation, which would will keep him off the Astana squad. The case apparently took its name from evidence that some ridres may have been trading massage oil for performance enhancers.
June 26, 2007
If it's June, we must be awaiting the other shoe
Just like last year, cycling fans sit less than two weeks before the Tour, with doubts about many of the sport's biggest names.
Alessandro Petacchi and Leonardo Piepoli are still waiting on results from “B” samples taken during the Giro. One or more of the 2007-dominating Astana team has tested non-negative in out of competition tests while training in plain jerseys, leading the UCI to refer to them as “men in black.” “B” samples to come.
Meanwhile, four Giro racers will face interviews from Italian officials over suspiciously low levels of hormones. Giro champion Danilo Di Luca, Eddy Mazzoleni, Riccardo Ricco, and Gilberto Simoni all showed hormone levels that resembled preadolescents, which might result from the use of masking agents intended to hide doping.
The UCI is pushing a new Rider's Pledge as a stick to force riders to provide DNA samples. Back in April, I said “Six riders reportedly refused to join in [by providing DNA samples], but should suffer no consequences. For now, at least.” The Pledge is the UCI introducing consequences.
Posted by Frank Steele on June 26, 2007 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Andrey Kashechkin, Danilo Di Luca, Doping, Gilberto Simoni, Riccardo Ricco | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
June 04, 2007
Giro champ Di Luca will skip Tour de France
After locking up his first Giro d'Italia victory yesterday, Danilo Di Luca announced he will skip the Tour de France and try to peak again for late season races, including the World Championships in Germany.
“I won the season-long ProTour in 2005 and now it's an objective again this year. This is my first Giro victory but I want to continue winning to make 2007 the best season of my career,” he said.
The plan looks to leave Liquigas without a GC contender for the Tour: Manuel Beltran is their rider with the highest Tour placing, when he was 13th back in 2003, riding for Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel. Triki also has 2 top 10s at the Vuelta, including last year, when he was 9th.
Look for Liquigas to instead seek out opportunistic breaks for Filippo Pozzato, Luca Paolini, Magnus Backstedt, and Franco Pellizotti, depending on who winds up on their Tour squad.
May 30, 2007
Simoni takes stage win, Di Luca holds jersey at Giro
Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni dominated the last mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia, but couldn't kill the Killer.
Simoni, who won atop Monte Zoncolan in 2003, repeated the success, finishing with teammate Leonardo Piepoli 7 seconds ahead of CSC's Andy Schleck. Race leader Danilo (Killer) Di Luca, dropped 6 kilometers from the finish, scratched his way to the line 31 seconds behind Simoni in 4th, leaving him a healthy 2:24 gap in the overall standings to Schleck in 2nd and 2:28 to Simoni in 3rd.
It was the first race up the climb's difficult western side, but Di Luca didn't crack, and it looks like the Saturday time trial will be decisive. It's unlikely but possible that Di Luca could lose 2:24 to Andy Schleck in a TT, but Simoni's grip on 3rd looks especially tenuous. And who is nipping at Simoni's heels? Former teammate and archrival Damiano Cunego, who sits 1:01 behind Simoni's final podium spot.
CSC's David Zabriskie, who was 5th in the 2004 TT world championships (run on Saturday's course), told CyclingNews:
“You know, I wake up in the morning and I piss excellence. I'm just a big hairy American winnin' machine.”
More seriously, Zabriskie said he's been working for Schleck, but hopes to do well in Saturday's TT. He was 4th in Stage 13's uphill time trial.
May 07, 2007
Giro 2007 rosters announced
Giro organizers unveiled rosters for the 2007 Giro d'Italia today.
Four former winners of the race -- Astana's Paolo Savoldelli, Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni, Lampre's Damiano Cunego, and Acqua & Sapone's Stefano Garzelli -- will feature in this year's edition, but a lot of media attention will be on the missing defending champion, Ivan Basso, who admitted today he was a client of Eufemiano Fuentes.
The shadow of Operación Puerto appears to have fallen on Tyler Hamilton of Tinkoff Credit Systems and Jorg Jaksche of Astana, as well. Neither is on their team's race roster, despite claims by Tinkoff that Hamilton is clear to race.
There are some other interesting plot points that actually involve racing: Robbie McEwen and Alessandro Petacchi are set to renew their rivalry, possibly challenged by a couple of transplants from US racing: Argentina's Juan José Haedo of CSC and New Zealand's Greg Henderson of T-Mobile. Paolo Bettini wears number 1 in Basso's absence. Danilo Di Luca continues to try to evolve into a Grand Tour contender.
Three US riders are set to make the start: Discovery Channel's George Hincapie, Saunier Duval's Aaron Olson, and CSC's Dave Zabriskie.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2007 in Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2007, Giro d’Italia, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack
March 13, 2007
Di Luca takes Milano-Torino
Looks like Danilo Di Luca is going to use 2005 rather than 2006 as the template for this season.
Two years ago, Di Luca won the ProTour title on the strength of a tremendous spring, when he won Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne, and two stages of the Giro d'Italia. Last year, he focused on the Giro d'Italia, and had a single victory, Stage 5 of the Vuelta a España.
Di Luca's first win of 2007 came at Milano-Torino, on a breakaway from about 10 miles out with Barloworld's Mauricio Soler. Kim Kirchen of T-Mobile led the field in for 3rd place.
July 03, 2006
Di Luca drops out
Danilo Di Luca, leader of the Liquigas team, was the first rider to abandon the 2006 Tour de France. He didn't take the start this morning, after suffering in yesterday 2:29 behind the field.
Di Luca, who owned the spring classics season in 2005, set his sights on the Giro d'Italia this year. After a disappointing showing there, he had targeted the Tour to redeem his season.
The infection and withdrawal may make him focus on the fall classics and the world championship, races that seem to suit his style better.
June 17, 2006
Liquigas finalizes Tour squad
CyclingPost reports that Liquigas has finalized its Tour roster, with Stefano Garzelli and Danilo DiLuca leading the team.
TdFblog favorite (and 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner) Magnus Backstedt will look for a good break to take a 2nd career stage win and help to set up Luca Paolini in the early sprints.
- Liquigas 2006 Tour de France squad:
- Stefano Garzelli
- Danilo Di Luca
- Magnus Backstedt
- Luca Paolini
- Michael Albasini
- Patrick Calcagni
- Kjell Carlström
- Matej Mugerli
- Manuel Quinziato
May 26, 2006
Garate takes Stage 19, new papa Basso comfortable in Giro lead
On paper, Stage 17 was this year's Giro queen stage. But when weather and team dissent led organizers to behead the queen, chopping off the top of the stage, today's stage stepped in. With four big climbs in 224 kilometers, it was the best chance for somebody to try to put the hurt on king-to-be Ivan Basso, celebrating the birth this morning of his second child, a son.
A solid early break got 5 minutes on the field over the second major climb. The highest placed rider was Danilo Di Luca, 12th at 18:27, and some other familiar names were along, including Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt of CSC, Paolo Bettini and Juan Manuel Garate of QuickStep, Johan Tschopp of Phonak, and Francisco Vila of Lampre.
On the Pordoi, Bettini and Julich were quickly off the back, and Ceramica Panaria's Fortunato Baliani led the group over the top, nearly 7 minutes ahead of the pack, to take the lead in the climber's jersey competition.
At the foot of the last climb, Di Luca, Garate, and Voigt were riding with Tschopp, Lampre's Evgeni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec, and Francisco Vila, Ceramica Panaria's Baliani, Laverde, and Emanuele Sella, Patrice Halgand, and Ivan Parra.
Valjavec launched the first attack, joined quickly by Voigt. Parra and Villa tried to bridge, but never quite made it. Parra fell off Villa's pace, to be replaced by Garate, and that pair caught Valjavec and Voigt. Valjavec quickly attacked again, and was countered by Garate, who gapped the trio, only to have Voigt (!) jump out and catch his wheel.
Back in the field, Piepoli turned on the burners, and Simoni, Cunego, and Basso were the only ones who could match him. Once again, Savoldelli was quickly off the back, and once again Discovery's Tom Danielson led him in. Gutierrez drifted off the leaders' group, and Simoni smelled 2nd on the GC, and attacked. Basso and Cunego countered, but Cunego couldn't match the pace, and yo-yoed desperately on and off Basso and Simoni, slowly drifting back, but passing break survivors along the way.
In the last few kilometers, everyone had to be thinking back to the 2005 Tour, and George Hincapie's win over Phonak's Oscar Pereiro after Pereiro had set pace all day. Today, we had a big generalist/superdomestique, Voigt, teammate of the overall race leader, riding alongside a climber, Garate, with an uphill finish, and again, it looked like the big man, Voigt, had played all his cards right for the win. Voigt patiently sat in, and then, with less than 300 meters to go, he patted Garate on the back, gave him a little push, and sat up.
Garate couldn't believe his luck; he had tried to ride Voigt off his wheel unsuccessfully, and now, he was handing Garate the win? The little man, riding in his Spanish champion's jersey, put a safe cushion behind him, still glancing nervously several times back at Voigt, then with 50 meters to ride, he pointed back, acknowledging the gift, zipped his jersey, and took the stage.
Back with the GC riders, the question was, where's Gutierrez? Simoni looked a little like Gibos past, and he and Basso led in all riders not involved in the break, finishing 7th and 8th at 2:15. Behind them, Cunego and Gutierrez, both of whom had looked near popping, were clawing for every inch, and Gutierrez came 11th at 2:39 and Cunego 12th at 2:40. Savoldelli, Piepoli, Baliani, Danielson, Sandy Casar and Victor Hugo Peña finished together at 4:16, while Pellizotti came in at 5:11.
On GC, that means Basso leads by 6:07, with Gutierrez in 2nd, 4:27 clear of Simoni, who now has a 2:25 cushion on Savoldelli. Pellizotti falls from 5th to 6th, while Cunego pole-vaults from 8th to 5th, now 15:13 back.
One notable DNF, as Jan Ullrich drops out, complaining of back pain.
Five riders were still competing in Liberty Seguros jerseys, and the team ownership promises the team will continue through the end of the season, even without a large portion of the 8 million euros Liberty was kicking in.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 20, 2006
Piepoli takes Stage 13; Basso still the man
Saunier Duval-Prodir's Leonardo Piepoli descended faster than a Falco Saturday to win Stage 13 at the Giro. Piepoli, a climbing specialist, took his first Giro win.
Ivan Basso once again showed he's the class of the contenders, blowing up the field on the ascent of Colle San Carlo, and actually losing time on the closing descent to La Thuile, as he took it gently on slick roads.
Piepoli, who spent last Sunday's climb to the Maielletta shepherding team leader Gilberto Simoni, was given free rein Saturday, and made the most of it. He crested the last climb with Basso, then put 44 seconds into CSC's leader on the descent.
José Enrique Gutierrez of Phonak and Simoni, were 3rd and 4th on the day, at 1:19 to Piepoli, losing 35 seconds to Basso. They topped the climb at 1:24, but pulled Basso back somewhat on the descent. Damiano Cunego, who looked like the most promising contender on last Sunday, rode in with Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli, 2:36 back of Piepoli.
Basso just keeps building his cushion on the GC, now leading Gutierrez by 3:27, Savoldelli by 5:30, Wladimir Belli by 7:35, and Simoni by 8:00. Danielson's 7th, at 8:35, Cunego's 8th, at 8:58, and Di Luca is 9th at 10:36.
Selle Italia's José Rujano, who animated last year's Giro, abandoned on the road, possibly owing to his strange contract, which has him moving to Quick Step June 1. Thomas Vaitkus, who won Stage 9, also abandoned on the road. T-Mobile's Michael Rogers didn't start because of a toothache, while triple stage winner Robbie McEwen didn't start, complaining of a minor illness.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 20, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 18, 2006
Ullrich rocks Giro, takes TT
Looks like Jan Ullrich is TT-fit for the Tour de France.
T-Mobile's 1997 Tour champion scorched the 50-kilometer (31 mile) time trial course today, finishing in 58:48, for his first race victory since last year's Tour of Germany.
Ullrich showed he's got the numerator down on the power-to-weight ratio, and the upcoming mountains should help him shrink his, um, denominator.
"To beat Ivan Basso is going to give me a huge morale boost. I knew right from the start that I was going to have a good day.
Giro leader Ivan Basso of CSC was 2nd on the day in 59:16, 28 seconds back, but ahead of Italian TT champion Marco Pinotti, at 1:01, T-Mobile's Sergei Honchar, at 1:09, and Paolo Savoldelli, at 1:19. Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez rounds out the top 6 at 1:42.
Damiano Cunego, who was best able to hang with Basso on Sunday's first big climb of the Giro, lost 5:06 (!) to Basso in today's TT, and Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca did only slightly better.
In the GC, Gutierrez remains in 2nd, now 2:48 back, while Savoldelli slips to 3rd behind Honchar at 3:24 and 3:26. Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson is now 5th overall, 5:38 back, with Cunego 8th at 6:54, Simoni 9th at 7:13, and Di Luca 10th at 7:33.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 18, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack
May 14, 2006
Basso ascendant: Takes Stage 8, Giro lead
Basso rode alongside the other race favorites on the day's final climb, and one by one, they cracked. Race leader Sergei Honchar was among the first, but surprisingly, Discovery Channel's defending Giro champ Paolo Savoldelli also quickly went off the back, as did 2005 Giro revelation José Rujano.
Hometown hero Danilo Di Luca was next, yoyoing off a small group, while Basso sat spinning comfortably on the wheel of teammate Carlos Sastre. Like Basso, Gilberto Simoni was riding with a teammate, Leonardo Piepoli, and also in the leading group were Damiano Cunego, Phonak's Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Luca Mazzanti and Giampaolo Caruso.
Rujano bravely fought back onto the select group, and launched the first attack. Sastre let him dangle off the front like a rabbit leading the greyhounds, and Rujano was recaptured within a kilometer or so. Next to go was Cunego with 4k to the summit, and he went hard. Only Basso could hold his wheel, but he did so with seeming ease, and after perhaps 150 meters, Basso soloed off the front.
Cunego couldn't respond, and 2-time Giro champ Simoni watched Basso ride away, seemingly content to ease in, riding on Piepoli's wheel. This was a stage where Simoni needed to regain some of the time lost in Saunier Duval-Prodir's team time trial, but instead, he lost another 1:15. That's got to depress his team, which spent much of today controlling the race to give Simoni a chance at the stage and some GC. Simoni after the stage:
"When Cunego went I was already at my limit, so I couldn't respond," said the two-time Giro champion. "Basso, on the contrary, had no fear. This was impressive. He did a great climb today. He's going to be difficult to beat, because he also has a very strong team."
Di Luca was trapped in no-man's land, behind the leaders, but ahead of the group that formed around Savoldelli and Andrea Noè.
When the dust cleared, Basso had won the stage, and sits 1:34 up on Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez in the GC. Savoldelli was shepherded to the line by Tom Danielson, but lost 2:20 on the day. Il Falco's Giro may not be over, but he's going to need some extraordinary performances and extraordinary luck to win it - he's 2:35 back, with 2 weeks featuring loads more of the same to go.
Savoldelli quoted in CyclingNews:
"The Giro is not finished here...I knew Basso was strongest and I knew that I wasn't on a good day right away when the climb started. I went into the red zone right away and couldn't hold the pace. Thanks to Danielson, I was able to limit the loss. But the next step is the TT and then, the last week is so hard. But to lose 2'35 on the first climb, that's a lot... it should be 1'20". But I'm still optimistic."
Basso's ride was just stunning. He looked so comfortable, turning an easy rhythm and dropping everyone in sight, and credit for his freshness has to go largely to Carlos Sastre, who did a monster turn setting tempo on the final climb to Maielletta.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 14, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 11, 2006
CSC takes Giro TTT; T-Mobile's Honchar new race leader
Team CSC turned on the afterburners today to scorch the Giro d'Italia's team time trial. One of my favorite cycling stages, the TTT is a combination of power and cooperation, with teams riding in tight rotating pacelines, varying the workload so their strongest TT men spend more time pulling, and lead-group riders are awarded the time of the 5th member of their team to cross the line. The course today was a pure power course, flat to gently descending, with few turns and wide roads.
Most of the early teams came in around 38 minutes, but CSC, starting 5th from last, came in at 36:56. Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile squad, riding here in support of Ukraine's Sergei Honchar, departed 5 minutes after CSC, and four of their riders finished in 36:55, but Matthias Kessler was gapped at the finish, and came in 2 seconds back to give T-Mobile a 2nd place in (correction) 36:57.
Then came Team Discovery, which had dominated the TTT of recent Tours de France. Without Armstrong and Hincapie, this was a different Discovery, and they finished at the front of the 2nd tier, 39 seconds behind CSC, which held up for 3rd on the day. They were already 24 seconds down at the 10 km (6-mile) mark, and didn't put on the late-stage rush they've shown in the Tour.
Gerolsteiner, riding last with race leader Stefan Schumacher, could manage only 6th, at 1:03.
T-Mobile can take solace in the race leadership, as Sergei Honchar now leads CSC's Jens Voigt and T-Mobile teammate Michael Rogers by 6 seconds. Among GC threats, Basso is 4th at 11 seconds, Savoldelli drops to 5th at 20 seconds, Danilo Di Luca is 12th at 44 seconds. Damiano Cunego's Lampre squad was 1:04 back, and Gilberto Simoni's squad was 1:26 behind CSC. I'll post their new placings when I see them.
The day's big winner has to be Ivan Basso. He's picked up 39 seconds or more against the real Giro threats (sorry, Sergei), and he's no slouch in the mountains. Di Luca, too has to be pleased, as Liquigas limited the damage, finishing 4th on the day at 42 seconds.
The big loser is Gilberto Simoni, who just took 90 seconds of damage in a 40 minute ride.
This was the first TTT in the Giro in 17 years, and there will be none in the Tour de France this year. Organizers had watered down the TTT the last few years to help the Euskaltel-Euskadis of the world, but it's a shame to see it eliminated. The TTT is a very photogenic (and telegenic) event, and it emphasizes the team aspect of cycling in a very visible way.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Michael Rogers, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 08, 2006
Schumacher takes classics-style Giro stage, Petacchi out
Schumacher wisely marked QuickStep's Paolo Bettini, who dropped the field to try to reel in Discovery Channel's Jose-Luis Rubiera, but couldn't close the gap. At about 800 meters to ride, Schumacher squashed the Cricket, kung-fued Chechu, and took the biggest win of his career. Chechu was 2 seconds back for 2nd, and Schumacher's Gerolsteiner teammate Davide Rebellin led in the field 6 seconds back.
Factoring in his margin of victory over Paolo Savoldelli, and the 20-second stage win bonus, Schumacher finds himself in the race leader's jersey, 13 seconds ahead of Savoldelli, 23 seconds ahead of Davide Rebellin.
Despite losing the race lead, Paolo Savoldelli gained time on most of his overall GC rivals, and now leads Sergei Honchar by 18 seconds, Danilo Di Luca by :23, Ivan Basso by :28, Damiano Cunego by :30, and Gilberto Simoni by :49.
Team Milram sprint superstar Alessandro Petacchi got tangled up in a late race pileup, needed medical attention, and came in 14:38 back. After the race, he abandoned, with a fractured kneecap. He's returning to Italy for surgery, and may not be able to start the Tour. Petacchi has 19 stage wins in the last 3 Giros.
Tomorrow's the Giro's last day in Belgium, with a rest day Wednesday and the team time trial from Piacenza to Cremona on Thursday.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 8, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 07, 2006
Giro Stage 1 photo galleries posted
(l-r) Simoni, Cunego, Basso, Savoldelli
José Enrique Gutierrez, Danilo Di Luca
Ullrich looks big.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
May 06, 2006
Savoldelli takes Giro Stage 1
Defending Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli of Discovery Channel took today's short time trial in Belgium.
Savoldelli was the only rider to covered the 6.2 kilometers in less than 8 minutes. His 7:50 was 11 seconds faster than Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee, and 13 seconds ahead of José Enrigue Gutierrez of Phonak.
Among other favorites, Danilo Di Luca was 10th on the day, at 19 seconds, Ivan Basso was at 23 seconds, Cunego was at :25, and Gilberto Simoni was at :26.
Paolo Bettini, who had hoped to wear the race leader's jersey after Stage 3, came in at 8:32, so he'll need to take 42 seconds out of Savoldelli.
Among Americans, Bobby Julich finished in 8:35, Tom Danielson was in at 8:11, Jason McCartney at 8:21, Phonak's Patrick McCarty, starting his first grand tour, was 93rd in 8:44, and Saunier-Duval's Aaron Olson, likewise starting his first GT, finished in 9:07.
Jan Ullrich finished in 8:39 for 80th on the day.
1) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, in 7:50
2) Bradley McGee, Française des Jeux, at :11
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :13
4) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, same time
5) Serguei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :15
6) Francisco Perez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, at :16
7 José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, same time
8) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :17
9) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, at :18
10) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, at :19
Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Giro visiting extreme northern Italy
The Giro d'Italia kicks off today, in Seraing, Belgium.
Today's stage is another of those “non-prologue prologues,” 6.2 kilometers (or about 4 miles) in length, with a healthy climb in the middle.
The official Giro page calls this year's race the five-star edition, with defending champion Paolo Savoldelli, Ivan Basso, 2004 winner Damiano Cunego, 2003 winner Gilberto Simoni, and Danilo Di Luca the five favorites.
We'll also get to watch Jan Ullrich riding into condition, facing a very difficult final week of racing.
To follow today's stage, check out:
VeloNews.com | Giro Race Viewer (having problems at 10:40 Eastern)
I'll be posting a Giro roundup later today.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Paolo Savoldelli | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
April 23, 2006
Valverde again; wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège
VeloNews.com | Valverde wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège Alejandro Valverde followed up Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne victory with a big win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday. Michael Boogerd and Valverde's teammate Joaquin Rodriguez were caught with 6 km to ride; among the leaders with 5 km to ride were Davitamon-Lotto's Chris Horner alongside Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile, Danilo Di Luca, Andrey Kashechkin, Paolo Bettini, Danilo Diluca, Damiano Cunego, and Frank Schleck and Ivan Basso of CSC. With 1k to ride, Sinkewitz attacked, with Basso following, but he couldn't get away. In the select sprint, Valverde was the strongest, continuing the European youth movement -- Valverde's 25. He's also the first Spaniard ever to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Top 10: 1) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, in 6:21:32 2) Paolo Bettini, Quickstep, same time 3) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, s.t. 4) Patrik Sinkewitz, T-Mobile, s.t. 5) Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank, s.t. 6) Miguel Perdiguero, Phonak, s.t. 7) Frank Schleck, CSC, s.t. 8) Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto, CSC, s.t. 9) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, s.t. 10) Ivan Basso, CSC, s.t. Also: cyclingnews.com | Liège-Bastogne-Liège live ticker
Posted by Frank Steele on April 23, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Kashechkin, Chris Horner, Danilo Di Luca, Frank Schleck, Ivan Basso, Paolo Bettini, Patrik Sinkewitz, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
July 25, 2005
Di Luca still heads ProTour rankings
Lance Armstrong, who would generally take over the World Cup lead with a strong Tour showing, moves only into 2nd in the new ProTour's post-Tour rankings, trailing Danilo DiLuca by 45 points. Alexandre Vinokourov will move up when Armstrong is removed from the listings: He's third, just 3 points behind Armstrong.
1) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, 184 pts
2) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, 139 pts
3) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, 136 pts
4) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, 120 pts
5) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 111 pts
6) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, 98 pts
7) Santiago Botero, Phonak, 95 pts
8) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 94 pts
9) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, 92 pts
10) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 89 pts
Other Americans in the Top 20 are Levi Leipheimer, 15th at 80 points, and Bobby Julich, 16th at 79.
Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Bobby Julich, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack
June 21, 2005
Magnus is in: Liquigas-Bianchi name TdF squad
Danilo Di Luca, coming off a very strong Giro d'Italia, will skip the Tour to focus on defending his ProTour leader's jersey in the later ProTour races.
That leaves Liquigas-Bianchi with a squad built toward stage wins:
May 30, 2005
Di Luca holds ProTour lead
Danilo Di Luca continued to lead the inaugural UCI ProTour competition, ahead of Tom Boonen and Alessandro Petacchi.
Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli leapfrogged into 5th overall with his Giro d'Italia win, while Bobby Julich and George Hincapie, still deadlocked at 75 points, are now tied for 8th in the standings.
Current Top 10:
1) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas-Bianchi, 184 pts
2) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, 112 pts
3) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 111 pts
4) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 94 pts
5) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, 89 pts
6) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, 86 pts
7) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, 80 pts
8) Bobby Julich, Team CSC, 75 pts
9) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 75 pts
10) Jens Voigt, Team CSC, 72 pts
Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Bobby Julich, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
Savoldelli seals Giro, Petacchi takes final stage
No big surprises on Sunday, as Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli held his race lead into Milan, and Alessandro Petacchi took one last sprint win for his 4th of the Giro.
With Lampre's Gilberto Simoni 2nd by 28 seconds, the Giro saw its closest finish since 1976.
Savoldelli told procycling.com he doesn't see himself as Discovery Channel's next Tour de France threat:
“We have another young rider on the team, Popovych, who is the future of the team for the Tour,” Savoldelli said. “The team believes they can build him up and win the Tour once Lance retires. That’s fine with me. The Tour is a special kind of race and I’ve already been there a few times.”
Big news of the Giro:
- The ProTour appears to have kicked the race up a notch, as the required participation by all 20 ProTour teams led to one of the most exciting and competitive Italian tours of the last 10 years.
- Danilo Di Luca showed he can develop into more than a classics rider, as he contended right up to the race's last weekend.
- Ivan Basso had an up-and-down Giro, getting knocked out of overall contention, but coming back to win two straight stages. His fitness is clearly excellent.
- Congratulations to Dave Zabriskie, who took a TT stage for the Americans.
- Savoldelli will be a tremendous asset to Lance Armstrong at the Tour -- he and Azevedo can climb with almost anybody, certainly any of the GC contenders.
- José Rujano is a name to remember: he was able to ride away from anybody at will anytime he wanted to during the Giro.
- Paolo Bettini: Points jersey
- José Rujanoz: Climber's jersey
- Stefano Zanini: Intergiro jersey
May 28, 2005
Rujano conquers Finestre, Savoldelli solidifies Giro lead
José Rujano took a spectacular win on Saturday, doing his Giro king of the mountains jersey proud. On a day when the Giro rode a dirt road up the side of its only Categoria Speciale climb (equivalent but typically harder than the Tour's HC climbs), Rujano rode away from 2-time Giro winner Gilberto Simoni on the final climb to Sestrière.
Meanwhile, Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli found his leader's jersey under constant attack: Simoni, trailing by 2:09 at the start of the day, got a gap on the day's worst climb, and had Di Luca and Rujano along, in an attempt to break the race open. Simoni occasionally had the lead on the road, but Savoldelli battled all day long, and found help from Juan-Manuel Garate, Sergei Gonchar, and Tadej Valjavec, who had been dropped by Simoni and Rujano.
A reflection of how hard this day was: the 10th-placed rider, Emanuele Sella of Panaria, came in 5:06 back!
1) José Rujano, Selle Italia-Colombia, 5:49:30
2) Gilberto Simoni, Lampre-Caffita, at :26
3) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas-Bianchi, at 1:37
4) Juan Manuel Garate, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at 1:53
5) Wim Van Huffel, Davitamon-Lotto, at 1:55
6) Serguei Gonchar, Domina Vacanze, same time
7) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, same time
8) Tadej Valjavec, Phonak, same time
9) Mauricio Alberto Ardila, Davitamon-Lotto, at 2:38
10) Emanuele Sella, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, at 5:06
Giro decisive stage underway
It all comes down to today. Gilberto Simoni's last chance to take a third Giro, on terrain well-suited for him, but trailing Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli by more than 2 minutes.
Simoni gapped Savoldelli early on the day's biggest climb, the Colle delle Finestre, and quickly got 45 seconds on the maglia rosa. Alongside Simoni are Di Luca (!), Garate, Rujano, and X others. Ivan Basso covered this break, but then fell off, back into Savoldelli's group, and then off of that pack as well. Vladimir Karpets similarly has been dropped by Simoni's group.
Now, on the dirt (!) road near the top of the climb, there are only 4 riders left in Simoni's group: Simoni, Di Luca, Rujano (who has to be looking for a stage win after a Giro of stellar climbing), and Valjavec.
Now Valjavec has been dropped. There's still another (easier) climb up to the finish, and where the riders that have been shed by Simoni's group wind up (with Savoldelli or Simoni) on the descent is going to be interesting: Savoldelli has spent most of the climb leading his group, while Simoni, Di Luca, and the others who were in their group were trading pulls.
At 4:14 Italian time, the Simoni group has 1:42 on Savoldelli! The gap has gone up dramatically -- looks like Savoldelli may have hit a wall. This is exactly the situation where Tom Danielson would have been an incredible asset.
Near the top of the Finestre, Simoni and Di Luca have 2:12 on Savoldelli, putting Simoni in the virtual maglia rosa. Savoldelli is going to have to make up some time on a 9 km descent (his specialty) and an 11 km climb (Simoni's specialty), if he's going to take a second Giro title.
Valjavec and Garate are in no-man's-land between Simoni and Savoldelli, but more than a minute up the road from Savoldelli. If Savoldelli could close that gap, would they have the legs or the motivation to work? It may be academic.
At 4:30, the leaders (Di Luca, Simoni, Rujano) are back on asphalt for the descent. Di Luca, who has been driving the break, takes the King of the Mountains points, but that's not what he's riding for -- he's trying to get back on the podium, after a disappointing ride on Thursday. Rujano has (and had even before today) the King of the Mountains competition sewn up.
Gap at the summit: 2:19.
On the descent, Savoldelli has picked up Gonchar and Van Huffel, and dropped the gap to 2:05, but CyclingNews points out the time bonuses at today's stage finish: 20, 12 and 8 seconds for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Crediting Simoni with 3rd on the day, he would still take the race lead if it ends as it is now.
Di Luca is cramping on the flats between the descent and the final climb, having a lot of trouble, trying to get hydrated. Savoldelli is about 40 seconds behind Valjavec and Garate, who are together.
Now Di Luca is dropped, and Simoni and Rujano are starting up the day's final climb, leading by 1:50. If Simoni took the stage win bonus, it would be enough, assuming Savoldelli wasn't third, but it's going to be extremely close.
Savoldelli has picked up Garate and Valjavec, and sits at 1:45. He's got a pretty good group now, with Gonchar, Garate, Valjavec, and Ardila. Di Luca is 10 seconds back of Rujano and Simoni, and that's got to hurt Simoni: Di Luca was doing a lot of the work on the last climb.
Savoldelli continues to close down Simoni: it's 1:30 now, with Di Luca between, nearly 20 seconds behind Simoni.
Simoni has been riding Rujano's wheel, and won't come around when Rujano tries to get him to take a pull, so Rujano has dropped him! He's got 5 seconds on Simoni, with Di Luca another 30 seconds back, and Savoldelli's group still closing, 1:24 behind Rujano (and 1:09 to Simoni).
Rujano started the day 3 minutes back of Savoldelli, so if he could finish with 2:40 and the day's bonus, he could take the race lead. On the other hand, Savoldelli's group is closing on Di Luca, who is just totally out of gas, so Savoldelli could take 3rd on the day. Even if Savoldelli holds the race lead, Rujano could move into 2nd overall, if he finishes with 47 seconds on Simoni.
Rujano takes the stage! Now it's all down to the gaps. Rujano also takes a 20 second time bonus.
Simoni 2nd, at 26 seconds (+12 second bonus).
Di Luca holds out for 3rd, at 1:34, with an 8-second time bonus.
Here comes Savoldelli, at 1:54 -- Savoldelli holds the maglia rosa, Simoni holds on to 2nd.
May 27, 2005
Basso takes ITT for 2nd straight Giro win
CSC's Ivan Basso, who lost more than a half-hour during last weekend's mountain stages, has recovered enough to win 2 consecutive stages at the Giro d'Italia. On Friday, Basso covered the 34-kilometer course in 45:05, 9 seconds faster than Illes Balears' Vladimir Karpets,, and 20 seconds ahead of Basso teammate David Zabriskie, who won the Giro's first time trial.
Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli, the race's overall leader, was 4th on the day, and extended his lead over Gilberto Simoni (10th on the day) by 1:06, Danilo Di Luca (14th on the stage) by 1:32, and José Rujano (16th) by 1:36.
Sunday's stage is largely ceremonial, so Simoni, now 2:09 back in the overall, will need to do something special on Saturday's stage to have a chance at a 3rd Giro title.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 27, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Dave Zabriskie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Ivan Basso, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
May 22, 2005
Vande Velde on Stage 14
Christian Vande Velde got to witness Ivan Basso's jour sans firsthand today. The CSC team is going to have to figure out what they can save from this Giro, now that they have no shot at the podium. I was pretty surprised they put the brakes on today, and kept nearly the entire squad back, defending Basso, long after it was clear his day, and his Giro, were shot.
Vande Velde gives Basso a major shout-out for finishing the stage at all, and says he is himself suffering with the junior-league version of Basso's stomach troubles.
Despite the incredible difficulty, I actually did have a really funny moment, though. At one point, coming down a long descent, there were only two of us zooming down the hill, chasing to get back on to some group ahead of us. It was just Michael Barry and me. I started laughing.
Michael looks over and says "what are you laughing about?"
I just thought it was so funny that here in the middle of the Giro d'Italia, out of a peloton of - what, 165 guys? - it's just me, and the one guy in the world who I constantly train with. We were out there with no one else around. I mean, we ride together probably 90 percent of the time, whether it's back in Boulder or in Girona, or ....
"We could be anywhere in the world right now, Michael," I told him. "We always ride together and here we are doing it again... but we're in the middle of the Giro d'Italia."
Vande Velde thinks Savoldelli will take the overall, but looking at the course profile, it looks like Simoni has more opportunities to make up time on the uphills than Savoldelli has on the time trials. There's also a stage with a late climb that, were it a spring classic, would look tailor-made for Danilo Di Luca. This one's anything but over.
Stage 14 photo galleries
More Stage 14 photos @ GrahamWatson.com
Cunego & Bye, bye, Basso from cyclingnews.com
Parra again; Savoldelli maintains slim lead
Ivan Basso is effectively out of contention at the Giro d'Italia. After losing 1:08 to Savoldelli on Saturday's last climb, giving the Discovery Channel rider the race leader's jersey, stomach problems have apparently taken their toll on the CSC leader: Basso finished Sunday's stage 42 minutes (!) behind Parra.
Selle Italia-Colombia's Ivan Parra showed off his climbing form, taking his second consecutive stage as the race passed over the legendary Stelvio in the Italian Dolomites.
Danilo Di Luca and Gilberto Simoni showed they're not dead yet, as they put 27 seconds into Savoldelli on the day's final climb. Di Luca sits second, 25 seconds back, with Simoni at 1:48.
Monday's stage is the descent from the Dolomites, followed by Tuesday's rest day. Savoldelli looks likely to hold the maglia rosa at least through Wednesday. Thursday and Saturday have some significant climbing bracketing Friday's last individual time trial.
It's been and continues to be an amazing Giro. Di Luca has shown he's much more than a classics rider, Savoldelli has shown what he can do if he's healthy, you had the McEwen/Petacchi/Bettini rivalry, the faceoff between Baden Cooke and Bettini -- just an amazing race.
Real Life has kept me from posting as much as I usually do, but I'm going to try to catch up a bit today with posts on previous stages, with the help of the Wayback Machine in TypePad.
May 21, 2005
GrahamWatson.com Stage 13 photo gallery
Di Luca, Basso, Savoldelli @ GrahamWatson.com
Parra takes Stage 13; il Falco poaches Basso for lead
Another stage win for the "minor" teams, as Ivan Parra of Selle Italia-Colombia managed to serve both team and self on a long breakaway through the Dolomites.
Parra was riding largely to support teammate José Rujano, seeking the overall Giro climber's jersey, but still had the legs to put 23 seconds into his breakmates and 4 minutes into the GC candidates.
Ivan Basso, complaining of stomach pains, couldn't hang on the day's last climb, and Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli took advantage, gaining 1:08 on Basso (and 6 seconds on Gilberto Simoni), and moving into the race lead, 50 seconds up on Basso. Danilo Di Luca is nipping at Basso's heels, 53 seconds behind Savoldelli. Simoni is back at 2:16 in 4th.
Stage Top 10:
1) Ivan Parra, Selle Italia-Colombia 6:31:35
2) Juan Manuel Garate, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :23
3) José Rujano, Selle Italia-Colombia, at :23
4) Pietro Caucchioli, Credit Agricole, at :27
5) Tadej Valjavec, Phonak, at 1:45
6) Matthias Kessler, T-Mobile, at 2:55
7) Giampaolo Caruso, Liberty Seguros, at 3:03
8) Wladimir Belli, Domina Vacanze, at 3:48
9) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at 4:00
10) Gilberto Simoni, Lampre, at 4:06
Savoldelli told Eurosport Armstrong told him to sit tight after the stage win on Thursday, and to rely on his time-trial performance to beat Ivan Basso.
"I decided not to take his advice and attacked today. Now I've got the pink jersey I think I did the right thing."
Many, many abandons today, including Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Discovery Channel's Ryder Hesjedal, Jaan Kirsipuu, Joseba Beloki, and, most surprisingly, potential GC contender Stefano Garzelli of Liquigas-Bianchi. Garzelli hurt his leg on a fall earlier this week, and just didn't have it when the road turned up. Perhaps with Di Luca riding so well, the team wanted to reset his season goals a bit, and avoid any conflict.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 21, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Ivan Basso, Jaan Kirsipuu, Joseba Beloki, Lance Armstrong, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 11, 2005
Bettini DQ'ed at Stage 4 finish; Luca Mazzanti awarded stage
A hard-fought sprint at the line today left Baden Cooke with nowhere to go but into the barricades (shades of Djamolodine Abdoujaparov) and initially gave the pink jersey, Quick Step's Paolo Bettini, a second stage win.
After discussion among the judges, Bettini was "relegated" from the final sprint, and given the field's time. That won't endanger his maglia rosa, but it gives the day's win to Luca Mazzanti of the Panaria team, which has a second stage win to go with Brett Lancaster's prologue victory. Mazzanti also leapfrogs into 3rd overall, behind Bettini and Danilo Di Luca.
Cooke had told Eurosport he was worried about "tricky finish" of Stage 4.
Basso, Simoni, Cunego, Garzelli, and even many of the sprint specialists (including Petacchi, Zabel, O'Grady, and McEwen) finished in the main field, but Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli, who won the Giro in 2002, lost about 40 seconds on all the other GC contenders. Savoldelli sits 29th overall, at 1:09 from Bettini, and trailing his Discovery teammate Volodymyr Bileka by 5 seconds.
Former Tour de France contender Joseba Beloki, who has never returned to top form after his crash in the 2003 Tour, finished at 1:18 behind Mazzanti, and sits more than 10 minutes back overall.
Start the Petacchi watch as Di Luca breaks the sprinters
Tell me the truth: Did anyone out there believe we would be waiting for Stage 4 of the Giro with no wins by Alessandro Petacchi? How about that his best result so far would be in the prologue (he was also 3rd in Stage 1, but 3 seconds back)?
Today, Danilo Di Luca and his Liquigas-Bianchi squad helped make a break with all of the GC hopefuls as the race thundered up a climb at Santa Tecla, about 10 kilometers from the finish. Petacchi found himself on the wrong side of the break, along with race leader Robbie McEwen, trailing the 50 riders in the break by about a minute.
At the line, Di Luca nipped Lampre's Damiano Cunego and Liquigas teammate Stefano Garzelli for the win. Paolo Bettini was 6th on the day, and moves back into overall race leadership, but Di Luca looms 9 seconds back, and Cunego, the defending Giro champ is 3rd at 17 seconds.
Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli sits 5th overall, just 26 seconds behind Bettini, with Gilberto Simoni (Cunego's teammate/rival) 9th at 33 seconds. Ivan Basso is 14th at 36 seconds.
Di Luca has had a fantastic season, winning Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne, and the Tour of the Basque Country, and currently leading the ProTour competition. It was Di Luca's 3rd career win at the Giro, and first since 2001. After the stage, he said he would be gunning for race leadership Thursday.
The field of sprinters was thinned out a bit on Wednesday when Davitamon-Lotto's Tom Steels abandoned, citing stomach problems.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Ivan Basso, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
April 20, 2005
Di Luca takes Flèche Wallonne
Danilo Di Luca rode smart and strong to win Flèche Wallonne today.
With CSC strongman Jens Voigt (2nd at last year's Tour de Georgia) whittling down a seven-man break, Di Luca's Liquigas squad, led the peloton in chasing Voigt, who had been with the leaders for 150 km, and spent 40 kms on his own. Voigt was reeled in with 4 kms to ride.
"It was only when we reached the foot of the last climb that I thought of winning," Di Luca finally said. "The strongest riders were all at the front and I knew what I had to do. I made a mistake last year on the steep [19 -percent] turns and I finished second to Rebellin."
1) Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi)
2) Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo)
3) Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
4) David Etxebarria (Alkorta), at :04
5) Oscar Freire (Rabobank), at :04
Di Luca takes the ProTour lead away from Tom Boonen, who he now leads by 19 points.
April 17, 2005
Di Luca takes Amstel Gold
The Amstel Gold just finished up, with Danilo Di Luca of Liquigas continuing to move up the podium, edging Michael Boogerd for the overall win. Boogerd is second here for the third consecutive year.
Mirko Celestino of Domina Vacanze was third on the day. Last year's winner here, Davide Rebellin, was fourth overall, while Oscar Freire was back aound 10th. Discovery Channel's George Hincapie doesn't appear to have factored in the last two hours of the race, although race reports are a little sketchy because of heavy fog on the course.
April 15, 2005
Amstel Gold previews
Davide Rebellin is the returning Amstel Gold champ, the first in his 2004 three-run of Amstel, Fleche Wallone, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This season, he was second at the Tour of the Basque Country to Danilo Di Luca, both of whom bear watching on Sunday.
Discovery Channel DS Johan Bruyneel says George Hincapie is good to go:
"George is in great shape, both mentally and physically," said Discovery director Johan Bruyneel.
Other riders to watch include Paolo Bettini, Oscar Freire, and Michael Boogerd. Tom Boonen, who is seemingly winning at will, won't be racing, nor will Peter Van Petegem, who's hurt.
Update: VeloNews has posted a preliminary start list for Amstel Gold.
October 29, 2004
Cipo unretires ... again
On second thought, says Super Mario, I don't like golf and I wouldn't get nearly the attention I get riding, so I'll be back next year.
Cipollini signed with Italy's Liquigas Sport, where he'll join TDFBlog favorite Magnus Backstedt, Stefano Garzelli, and Danilo Di Luca.
The 37-year old, who holds the record for the most number of Giro d'Italia stage wins with 42, retired two years ago before making a comeback.
Cipollini has also won 12 stages of the Tour, but has been plagued by injury over the past year.
"[I will ride] with the enthusiasm as if it were my first season," said the rider also known as "Super Mario".
July 02, 2004
More courts: Di Luca to sue Tour
Danilo Di Luca of Saeco intends to sue the Amaury Sport Organisation for banning him from its Tour de France, starting tomorrow.
Di Luca was refused entry because he is under investigation for doping in Italy, but he maintains that organizers should let him race, because he hasn't been banned by the UCI or sanctioned by the Italian federation. Di Luca suggested last week that there's as much reason to ban Lance Armstrong as Danilo.
"I'm going to sue the Tour de France and ask for considerable damages," Di Luca told Reuters after returning to Italy from Liege, where the Tour will start on Saturday.
"I decided to take legal action after the meeting with race director Jean Marie Leblanc. Not being able to ride the Tour de France has caused huge damage to my image ... There was no reason why I should not be allowed but Leblanc decided otherwise. He decides everything at the Tour de France."
July 01, 2004
Di Luca out; Loosli joined
Earlier rumors were wrong about Danilo Di Luca; Saeco has removed him and replaced him with David Loosli of Switzerland.
Cycling4all quotes AFP that Andrea Peron, Pavel Padrnos, and Stefano Zanini are being discussed over some 2001 doping charges. More if it happens.
June 29, 2004
Gazzetta reports Di Luca to start for Saeco
The Italian sports daily reports that Danilo Di Luca will start for Saeco, despite a link reported by LeMonde in mid-June between Di Luca and 4 other riders and an Italian doctor nicknamed 'Ali the Chemist.'
If it's true, it looks like his protestations may have worked.
You have to wonder if the ASO will relent on Cedric Vasseur if they actually let Di Luca take the start.
Cycling4all.com is reporting the Saeco squad (based on the Gazzetta story) as:
• Gilberto Simoni
• Stefano Casagranda
• Mirko Celestino
• Salvatore Commesso
• Danilo Di Luca - ??
• Gerrit Glomser
• Jörg Ludewig
• Evgueni Petrov
• Marius Sabaliauskas
And here's another team skimping on Australians by substituting an Austrian, Gerrit Glomser.
Cycling4All.com also reports that the Liberty Seguros squad is finalized, featuring Heras, Allan Davis as the Australian, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (henceforth "G de G") and Christian Vande Velde, as reported earlier.
Domina Vacanze are also complete, flouting the Australian rule with an entirely Italian squad supporting (and likely pushing, given his fitness level lately) Mario Cipollini. Not a tucker-bag in sight.
June 26, 2004
Di Luca: Why ban me but not Armstrong?
Saeco's Danilo Di Luca, who is apparently barred from the Tour because he's been implicated but not charged in an ongoing police investigation into drugs provided by an Italian doctor, told AFP that there's as much reason to ban 5-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong as to keep Di Luca from starting the Tour on Saturday.
"I've never tested positive and the phone taps which claim to involve myself reveal nothing.
"What's more, the (sport's governing body) UCI has already said that the position of Leblanc is unfounded," added Di Luca, who said he had been a victim of over-zealous Italian police.
"I just happen to be the subject of an investigation by the Italian law because that's the way it is here."
He added: "I also wonder if (Lance) Armstrong will be at the start line, after the revelations in this book, which alleges that he has used illicit substances, and which was allowed to be published in France by French judges."
Di Luca is still racing, and will participate in Italy's national championships tomorrow.
June 16, 2004
Italian doping conversations in Le Monde
A number of telephone conversations made during a doping investigation of Italian racers have turned up in Le Monde (Google translation), including Saeco's Danilo Di Luca, Eddy Mazzoleni, and Alessandro Spezialetti.
The calls involve an Italian doctor nicknamed "Ali the Chemist" who has been charged with providing performance-enhancing drugs and helping riders avoid testing positive.
Investigators believe the conversations are of EPO, and Mazzoleni at one points discusses trying to import a new kind of EPO, only available in the US:
"We should maybe bring it in through England or Spain, tomorrow my girlfriend's coming up, and then there's the accountant, we should be able to do it," Mazzoleni tells Santuccione before adding "Above all, if you're not successful for the Giro, then for the Tour [de France]... "
Domina Vacanze has suspended 2 riders, Mario Scirea and Alessandro Galletti, for their part in the scandal. Police have discovered a "supply network of blood transfusion bags" through Galletti.
Fassa Bortolo's Fabio Sacchi is also implicated, according to Le Monde.
Patrice Clerc, president of the Amaury Sport Organisation, which runs the Tour, wants these riders' teams, and the Cofidis team, to drop any riders being investigated for doping before the Tour starts July 3rd.
"I don't see how they can start the Tour if they are found guilty of dangerous links through tapped phone calls," Clerc told AFP. "There are still cheats out there. We have to own up to it and fight to eliminate not only the riders but everyone in their set-up involved in it."
Neither Saeco nor Fassa Bortolo has taken action against its riders yet, as has Domina Vacanze. Clerc said he wants to see those riders plus Cedric Vasseur of Cofidis banned. Cofidis has proclaimed that Vasseur is innocent until proven guilty, and is allowing him to race in the meantime.
March 06, 2004
Murcia: Di Luca takes stage, Valverde takes lead
On the climb up the Col Marco Pantani (aka Collado Bermejo) today, race favorite Alejandro Valverde manufactured the deciding break, putting pressure on former race leader José Iván Gutiérrez, who lost 52 seconds on the climb.
At the line, it was Danila Di Luca of the Saeco squad who scored the stage win, ahead of Valverde in 2nd, and Australia's Cadel Evans, riding for T-Mobile in 3rd. Leonardo Piepoli of Saunier Duval also finished in the same time in 4th.
Lance Armstrong, previously in 2nd overall, fell back with a 35th place finish, 6:12 behind Di Luca.