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 21, 2007

Dekker takes TdS Stage 6, Efimkin in yellow

With a major hailstorm striking during the race, organizers shortened the day's stage, skipping the Nufenenpass, and restarting the stage at Ulrichen at the 95 kilometers to ride point. Some riders reportedly needed medical treatment from hail strikes, and some team cars were damaged.

With the finish line just 1.7 kilometers below the day's last climb, the peloton's climbers had their eye on today's stage. Lampre's Damiano Cunego attacked on the slope, to be matched by (who else?) Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni.

When the select group brought those two back, Simoni's teammate José Angel Gomez Marchante attacked, but Cunego countered (shadowed by Simoni), and as the top of the climb approached, it looked like the strong group of 8 riders, including two Vladimirs, Karpets and Efimkin, as well as Simoni, Cunego, and Gomez Marchante, would come down to a sprint.

But Rabobank had a rider sitting quietly at the back of that group, fighting to hang on, and perhaps 200 meters before the top, Thomas Dekker gapped the leading group. Once over the top, Dekker streaked away on the downhill to the finish, going hard, tongue out, all the way to the 200-meter mark, when he finally felt comfortable sitting up, zipping the jersey, and enjoying the big win.

Former race leader Frank Shleck managed to stay with the climbers until the day's last 5 kilometers or so, but lost 1:20 on the day, and passes the jersey to Caisse d'Epargne's Vladimir Efimkin.

Dekker, the Tour of Romandy winner this year, said he was here starting his training for the Tour, and was surprised to feel so strong.

Tour of Switzerland Stage 6 Top 10
1) Thomas Dekker, Netherlands, Rabobank
2) Gerrit Glomser, Austria, Volksbank
3) Gilberto Simoni, Italy, Saunier Duval-Prodir
4) Vladimir Karpets, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
5) Damiano Cunego, Italy, Lampre
6) José Angel Gomez-Marchante, Spain, Saunier Duval
7) Vladimir Efimkin, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
8) Matteo Carrara, Italy, Unibet.com
9) Andreas Klöden, Germany, Astana
10) Uran

Overall standings after Stage 6
1) Efimkin, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
2) Gomez-Marchante, Spain, Saunier Duval
3) Frank Schleck, Luxembourg, CSC
4) Carrara, Italy, Unibet.com
5) Vladimir Karpets, Russia, Caisse d'Epargne
6) Kim Kirchen
7) Damiano Cunego
8) Xavier Florencio
9) Gilberto Simoni
10) Stijn Devolder

Bennati holds the sprint jersey, while Alessandro Proni holds the King of the Mountains jersey.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 21, 2007 in Andreas Klöden, Damiano Cunego, Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Gilberto Simoni, Thomas Dekker, Tour de Suisse 2007, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2007

Simoni takes stage win, Di Luca holds jersey at Giro

Yahoo! eurosport | Simoni conquers the Zoncolan

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.


CyclingNews.com | Giro Stage 17 - Simoni: King of Zoncolan | Stage 17 photos

GrahamWatson.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 17 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2007 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Dave Zabriskie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2007, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 07, 2007

Giro 2007 rosters announced

Gazzetta.it: Giro d'Italia | Le squadre

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

April 18, 2007

Runaway choo-choo: Tour de Georgia turned upside-down

Gianni MeersmanThe youngest Discovery Channel rider, Belgium's Gianni Meersman, came out on top after a wild ride into Chattanooga.

Discovery Channel, Quick Step, Saunier Duval, and Health Net all put two riders in a 13-rider break that formed about 30 kilometers in. The Tinkoff Credit Systems team, behind race leader Daniele Contrini, was short-handed (because of injuries and the Euro schedule, they brought only 6 riders, and Tyler Hamilton is apparently focused on individual results), and none of the teams with riders in the break would cooperate to chase.

As a result, as the break worked through four categorized climbs, the gap went out and out, to 17 minutes, then 21 minutes, about 23 minutes as the break finished the course, and ultimately 29:07 when the peloton arrived.

In the break, Saunier Duval's Rubens Bertogliati and Quick Step's Kevin Seeldraeyers were the first to make a move, on the day's last climb. They were quickly reabsorbed, and Health Net's Jeff Louder, CSC's Christian Vandevelde, and Louder again went for victory as 8 survivors streaked through the streets of Chattanooga.

In the end, it was Meersman who carried the day, ahead of David Cañada and Janez Brajkovic. Cañada is the immediate beneficiary of the daylong break, taking the leader's jersey, 3 seconds up on 5 riders: teammate Bertogliati, Vandevelde, Brajkovic, Louder, and Seeldraeyers. BMC's Scott Nydam sits another 20 seconds back, with every other rider at least 2 minutes back, and ex-race leader Contrini sitting 14th, 27:47 back.

A lot of big names sit even farther back: Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Gilberto Simoni, David Millar, Dave Zabriskie, and Tyler Hamilton among them.

I'm following the race in more detail over at my Tour de Georgia weblog, and have posted a photoset from Tuesday's stage between Thomaston and Rome to Flickr. I'll probably do quick stage wrap-ups here through Sunday's finale in Atlanta.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 18, 2007 in Christian Vande Velde, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2006

Crazy Jane, back with a vengeance

Some of the most literate and passionate weblogging on the Tour has come from “Crazy Jane,” who often contributes to Daily Peloton's Tour coverage (anywhere you see “Updated and Delicieux”), and whose weblog, Le Tour Delicieux, remains in my blogroll, despite being silent for two years (2! years!), in the hope that she'll turn her considerable talents back to the Tour. She's also (along with Velogal and Marianne's Twenty-One Stages, others?) one of the few women writing about the Tour.

Jane is in Paris for the Tour finale, and has posted a number of terrific pictures of riders before yesterday's La Creusot TT, including Hincapie (above), Viatcheslav Ekimov, Gilberto Simoni, Thomas Voeckler, Jens Voigt, Chris Horner, Axel Merckx (times two), Vladimir Karpets, Stefano Garzelli, Stuart O'Grady, and Didi “Tour devil” Senft, plus some fan shots.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2006 in George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Photo galleries, Stuart O'Grady, The Tour Devil, Thomas Voeckler | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 13, 2006

Stage 11 final climbs

De la Fuente and Wegmann ride together almost 3:30 ahead of the pack, down to around 40 riders.

AG2R still has 6 riders up front.

Wegmann is gapped; De la Fuente is 25 seconds ahead of him already. AG2R has been replaced at the front by T-Mobile. Four T-Mobiles lead. Moncoutié is off the back, Voeckler is gone. Sastre's here, Boogerd is here, Landis, Cadel Evans. Guerini is off the back, Calzati is cooked. Popovych, Mercado and Vande Velde are at the back, not yet dropped but likely to be soon.

Dessel is dropped! The yellow jersey is in trouble, riding with Patrik Sinkewitz a few seconds behind the field. Mayo has abandoned many minutes behind the action. That leaves 166 riders in the Tour.

Moreau, Landis, Kessler, Rogers, Boogerd, Azevedo, Arroyo, Sastre, Schleck, Cunego, Zubeldia, Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Menchov all are together at the front. Fothen, Totschnig, Hincapie are at the back of the lead group.

Wegmann is caught and instantly dropped. Cunego is falling off the pace.

Hincapie is falling off the lead group, behind Mercado. Kessler is done. He's barely moving up the Portillon. Parra is dropped from the front group. Only one T-Mobile at the front, and it's Rogers, as Klöden is back a few places. Simoni is at the back of the lead group. I thought he was dropped, but he's still there.

Now Boogerd and Rasmussen lead the field, ahead of Leipheimer, Landis, and Klöden. De la Fuente is still alone 2 minutes up the road. He's 1 kilometer from the summit, where the race will pass into Spain.

De la Fuente cements his King of the Mountains lead atop the Portillon. Rasmussen is 2nd over the top, ahead of Boogerd and Landis. Carlos Sastre falls just over the top of the climb. He's chasing, and should catch up before the climb to the Pla de Beret.

Hincapie is reportedly 5 minutes down, behind Dessel's group, which is 3:40 behind Landis and Klöden, who are 1:40 behind De la Fuente.

David Arroyo and Damiano Cunego have attacked from the Landis group. Landis is near the back of the 14 leaders. They have about 20 miles to ride. Menchov and Rasmussen lead Landis, Leipheimer, Boogerd, Fothen, Evans, Sastre, Schleck, Zubeldia, Simoni, Totschnig, Moreau, Klöden, Rogers, Parra, and Azevedo. Arroyo and Cunego are 33 seconds behind De la Fuente and 37 seconds ahead of the Landis group.

De la Fuente is caught, and tucks in behind Arroyo. They're 40 seconds ahead of the Landis group, which is 1:05 up on the yellow jersey group. Now Cunego sits up, and the trio is captured, leaving 21 riders on the lower slopes of the Pla de Beret with a shot at the stage win.

The three Rabobanks lead the select group, with Simoni just behind. Cunego is dropped with 20 kilometers/12.5 miles to ride.

The leaders are onto the final climb, with 15 kilometers to go. This one's not as steep as the day's previous climbs, but plenty long.

The lead group is splitting up: Michael Rogers is gone, Azevedo's gone, Fothen, Simoni is gone, Parra is gone. Who is doing this damage? It's Michael Boogerd driving the pack. Frank Schleck is gone. Zubeldia is 8 meters off the back. Rasmussen is gone.

Still Boogerd driving, and Moreau is gone.

It's Sastre, Klöden, Landis, Boogerd, Menchov, Evans, Leipheimer with less than 10 kilometers to go. Boogerd is still at the front.

Boogerd is finished, and Menchov has another gear. He goes and Klöden is gone. Landis, Sastre, Leipheimer and Evans match him. Leipheimer tries an attack, but they won't let him go.

There are some games among the five leaders, and Landis has moved to the front. Now he pulls off, and looks for somebody to set the pace. Dessel the yellow jersey is less than 3:30 behind. He may hold the yellow jersey. The top is only 4 kilometers away. Boogerd and Klöden are less than 20 seconds behind.

There's one kilometer to the top, and the yellow jersey is now more than 4 minutes behind. Klöden is now 45 seconds back.

Leipheimer goes full steam, Menchov matches him, and Landis. Sastre and Evans can't respond. Menchov attacks as they pull Leipheimer back, and Landis goes with him. Leipheimer is third wheel, now he's dropped by 5 meters. Menchov and Landis ride side by side. Now there are three. But they've slowed, and Sastre may get back up there.

Menchov leads over the top. It's down to Landis, Menchov and Leipheimer with 2 kilometers to the finish. Leiphiemer comes around, it's going to be a finishing sprint, and Menchov leads in the two Americans. Menchov takes the stage win, with Leipheimer 2nd and Landis 3rd. Evans maybe 17 seconds back, with Sastre. Boogerd is 6th at 1:05. Zubeldia, Schleck, and Klöden at 1:35. Landis gets a time bonus for 3rd, and Dessel is fighting to the line.

Moreau finishes at 2:29. Dessel is over the summit. Totschnig, Fothen, Parra, Rogers at around 3:10. Dessel's got his head down with 1k to ride. Landis is going to be very close to the yellow jersey.

Azevedo, Simoni, and Arroyo finish at 4:10 or so. Dessel will finish next, with Caucchioli and Cunego. Floyd Landis will pull on the leader's jersey as Dessel comes in at 4:45!

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Christophe Moreau, Damiano Cunego, David Moncoutié, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Stage 11 on the road

Today's a legbreaker; 5 major climbs, which are likely the reason the peloton was somewhat passive yesterday.

First up is the Col du Tourmalet, one of the Tour's legendary climbs.

CSC's Giovanni Lombardi withdrew low on the climb of the Tourmalet, and Iban Mayo sits almost 3 minutes behind the main field, gesturing angrily at the race motorcycle, hovering nearby in case he drops out.

AG2R and Phonak are leading the peloton, with Merckx, Perdiguero, and Robbie Hunter (!) leading Landis. Saunier Duval's David de la Fuente, Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann, Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha, and Euskaltel's Iker Camano are 5:11 ahead of the field. Wegmann apparently wasn't joking earlier in the Tour when he went out grabbing king of the mountains points, and he's doing most of the work in the leading quartet today.

Rubiera is off the back for Discovery, Thor Hushovd, Samuel Dumoulin. Gilberto Simoni is off the back. Boonen, Brard and Voeckler have reportedly also fallen off the pace. Chris Horner is reportedly dropped, and Paolo Savoldelli (!). Some of these guys will chase back on, but they've got 4 more 1st-Category climbs to go. Sandy Casar is off the back.

Zabriskie is maybe a minute back, and three Discovery riders are sitting together at the back of the leading group. Egoi Martinez finally falls off the back, and Ekimov and Noval work back up into the field. AG2R still has 6 riders in the front, doing their yellow jersey proud.

As the leading quartet approach the summit, they all are climbing out of the saddle, and De la Fuente marks Wegmann. Wegmann keeps the pace low, and finally, De la Fuente launches an attack. Wegmann sits on his wheel, looking for the summit points and cash prize, but De la Fuente has the inside line and gets the prize. As the main chase group approaches the summit, Rasmussen attacks, joined by Voeckler, and Voeckler outscraps the skinny Dane for 5th place points. Yellow Jersey Dessel takes 7th, good for 8 points.

There was a split in the front group, but they're back together now, approaching the base of the Col d'Aspin, our next climb. The peloton is growing on the descent, and Voeckler attacked over the Tourmalet and has more than a minute on the field, sitting about 4 minutes behind Camano, Wegmann, De la Fuente, and Flecha.

Col d'Aspin is not splitting the field like the Tourmalet. The peloton is still 70-80 strong. Casar is off the back, and Benjamin Noval, among a few others. Voeckler is 2:20 behind the leaders, and more than 3 minutes ahead of the field. Zabel and Garate have fallen out of the field; Rinero, David Millar, Philippe Gilbert, Chechu Rubiera are also dropped. Voeckler is closing fast on the leaders.

Wegmann launches with more than 300 meters to the summit, and De la Fuente wasn't ready to contest it, so Wegmann takes the 18 points over the top, ahead of De la Fuente, Flecha and Camano. Voeckler 5th at 1:30, and Michael Boogerd leads Rasmussen up to the line for 6th place points at 4:05.

Next, the Col de Peyresourde.

Voeckler continues to close, 35 seconds to the leaders, while the peloton is now 3:49 back as the leading quartet pass the "10 kilometers to the summit" sign.

Camano is falling off the lead group as Voeckler approaches from behind. They're about 15 seconds back. Flecha is laboring hard, and he's dropped. Voeckler goes by Camano.

Egoi Martinez and Stefano Garzelli have fallen off the field. Klöden is right up front, with Michael Rogers on his left shoulder. Pereiro is off the back for, and Popovych is "stretching the elastic" at the back of the pack.

Wegmann and De la Fuente are riding alone for the summit, gaining time on Voeckler and Flecha. Flecha's 1:00 back, Voeckler's at 1:39. The sweat is dripping out of his helmet.

Leaders are 1k to the top; let's see how the games go. De la Fuente is trying to get Wegmann to come around. They're side-by-side. De la Fuente hits the afterburners from pretty far out, and Wegmann couldn't match him. De la Fuente may be cramping, but he's the new leader of the King of the Mountains competition, for now at least. Camano is caught by the main field. Flecha is 3rd to the summit at 2:10, but Voeckler is caught, and Rasmussen gets 4th over the top at 3:00.

Popovych is 40 meters off the back, and looking for the team car.

I'm going to start a new post for the Portillon and the Pla de Beret.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2006 in Gilberto Simoni, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Tour de France 2006, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 12, 2006

Stage 10 on the road

Former world champion Laurent Brochard of AG2R didn't make today's start, and Jimmy Engoulvent of Cofidis abandoned on the road, leaving 168 riders in the race.

A 13-rider break formed at about 45 kilometers, taking the points over the 3rd-Category climb and at the 2nd sprint line.

That break: CSC's Jens Voigt, AG2R's Cyril Dessel, Rabobank's Joost Posthuma, Lampre's Daniele Bennati, QuickStep's Cedric Vasseur, Euskaltel's Inaki Isasi and Inigo Landaluze, Saunier Duval's Christophe Rinero, Française des Jeux's Carlos da Cruz, Liquigas's Manuel Quinziato, Agritubel's Juan Miguel Mercado, Bouyges Telecom's Matthieu Sprick, and Cofidis's Cristian Moreni.

Dessel led Rinero, Sprick and Mercado, the Agritubel team leader, over the Col d'Osquich, which is sort of today's warm-up climb.

Bennati is a fair sprinter, and took max points at the day's last intermediate sprint, ahead of Da Cruz and Voigt.

About 80 kilometers into the 191-kilometer day, the gap is up to about 8 minutes, and the leaders have started up today's longest climb, the Col de Soudet. T-Mobile and Phonak are setting pace in the peloton.

The leaders are splitting now, with Voigt, Quinziato, Posthuma and Da Cruz off the back, and Sprick at the back.

Rinero, Dessel, Mercado, and Landaluze are riding together for the top of the Soudet, with the peloton about 9:15 back. The other 9 former breakaway riders are spread out back down the slope.

Hushovd off the back of the peloton. He'll be looking for the grupetto. Brad Wiggins is back there. Iban Mayo is at the back of the field! He's got two teammates with him; Sandy Casar is at the back. The peloton is still 80 or more riders, but Mayo is about to lose contact, on the first major climb of the Tour. Boonen is back here, as well.

Conversely, Levi Leipheimer is riding right next to the 6 T-Mobiles leading the main group. Hincapie, Moreau, Sastre, Landis, and Evans are all there, as well.

Mercado has attacked in the break, and Dessel is riding with him, but Landaluze and Rinero are dropped.

The grupetto has been gapped; all the sprinters are together back there. Matthias Kessler is doing most of the T-Mobile pacesetting. Near the summit, Mercado attacks, Dessel comes back and passes and gaps Mercado. Dessel takes max points over the summit, with Mercado 50 meters back, which will put Dessel up into 2nd in the King of the Mountains competition.

Honchar is one of the last riders in the main chasing group, with his T-Mobile teammates still leading it. Gilberto Simoni is only a few riders ahead, and Thomas Voeckler has fallen off and sprinted back into the field.

Over the top, the gap to Mercado and Dessel is 9:42, and Landaluze is rejoining them at the front of the race. Now Rinero catches on, and there are 4 leaders. Their gap is up over 10 minutes, with Michael Rogers descending a little ahead of his T-Mobile teammates on the front of the chase group.

Cyril Dessel in the yellow jersey? He's the highest placed rider in the break, which is now up at 10:30, and Inaki Isasi is back in the group.

Now Moreni and Vasseur are very close to rejoining the leaders, which would put 7 riders in the lead, with 10:40 on the primary chasing group, where you'll find most of the team leaders. Mayo has caught back onto this group, as well.

The 7 leaders now have 11 minutes in hand, and have started up the Col de Marie Blanque, with less than 50 kilometers to ride.

Voigt, Quinziato and Posthuma have been caught on the lower part of the Marie Blanque; The gap to Mercado's lead group is 10:20. Mercado and Dessel have gapped the other 5 riders, and quickly got 100 meters on them. Landaluze is coming off the front, and rides between Dessel/Mercado, and Christophe Rinero.

Main chase group has brought it back under 10 minutes. Mercado and Dessel are only 2 kilometers from the summit, then will have 40 kilometers down into Pau.

Peña leads Landis near the front of the main chase group, two Discovery riders are also there. T-Mobile still is doing most of the work, but Honchar has been two-thirds back in that group for a while. Sprick is recaptured from the earlier break. Mercado and Dessel are 9:40 up the road.

Dessel leads Mercado over the Marie Blanque, which will put him in the lead in the mountains jersey; Landaluze is only a few seconds behind.

The main chase group is slimming down again, as Rubiera, Zabriskie, Jerome Pineau, David Monoutié, Axel Merckx, and others are falling off the pace. Honchar is dropped, as well, but only 20 meters off the back. He'll get back on the descent.

Rasmussen has attacked out of the chase group, presumably to take some mountain points. Marcus Fothen is goiing the other way, off the back of the chase group, a few bike lengths behind Leipheimer, who's suffering. Just ahead of him is Damiano Cunego. Honchar is consistently one of the last 2-3 riders in the chase group, but he hasn't lost contact, as have Leipheimer and Cunego.

Over the top, it's 9:20 between the day's leaders and the main chase group. Mercado, Dessel, or Landaluze (13 seconds behind) is almost guaranteed the stage win now.

Twenty kilometers to go, and the chase group is at 9:33. Landaluze has never caught Mercado and Dessel, and rides almost 30 seconds behind. AG2R have sent 5 riders to the front of the chase group to disrupt the chase. Mercado won Stage 8 of the 2004 Tour.

The gap is steady at about 9:35, with only about 6 kilometers (3.5 miles) to ride. Dessel is doing all the pacesetting, as Mercado sits in.

Honchar, who was on bottle duty earlier, now has moved to the front, and will lead T-Mobile and the chase group into Pau in the yellow jersey.

The peloton is finally closing the gap a bit. As the leaders come inside the final 3 kilometers, the gap drops to about 9 minutes.

They're under the flamme rouge, with 1 k to ride. Dessel is watching Mercado closely. They're side-by-side through an S-bend, and Mercado is back on the wheel. Dessel is slowing, there he snaps the whip, Mercado comes around, they're both going hard for the line, and Dessel tries to get around at the last second, and almost does, but Mercado takes the stage win.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Laurent Brochard, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2006

So who are the team leaders?

Today was supposed to be the day when we found out the GC men for the teams with podium dreams. A few things have definitely cleared up.

There are a few guys who stepped up and showed they're the leaders of their teams, with hopes for high overall places: Landis is the man for Phonak, as expected; Cadel Evans for Davitamon-Lotto, Denis Menchov for Rabobank, Vladimir Karpets for Caisse d'Epargne, Christophe Moreau at AG2R. All finished within about 2 minutes of the Ukraine Train today.

CSC is back to one leader: Carlos Sastre. It was funny the first week of the Tour to read, within 24 hours, a US source touting Bobby Julich as the rider who would have to step up to fill Basso's shoes, Eurosport Germany referring to “new CSC leader Jens Voigt,” and to read that the team itself voted Sastre its captain. Sastre is the best rider of those three, and Julich's crash and Voigt's easy ride today reinforce that.

A bunch of other things are way foggier than they were yesterday.

Gerolsteiner claimed to have two co-captains, Totschnig and Leipheimer, coming into the Tour. After today, they're both 4+ minutes down, and Leipheimer may not be generating much power. They've got Marcus Fothen, who sits 5th, 1:50 back, and finished 12th in the 2005 Giro, but he's only 25 years old. He could compete for the young rider's jersey.

T-Mobile opened a big old powerful Pandora's Box full of superstrong riders. Their slowest rider today finished 14 seconds faster than Britain's TT specialist David Millar. They've got the 4 potential leaders we all thought Discovery Channel might show: Honchar, Michael Rogers, Andreas Klöden, and Patrik Sinkewitz, and I could make a case for any of them. Chris Carmichael tips Klöden, and I could see that: he's German and he's been through this before.

And what about Discovery Channel? Savoldelli has 20 seconds on George Hincapie, who had suggested the road would choose the team's leader through the first week and today's ITT. I've never seen Hincapie as crestfallen as on OLN's prime-time coverage; he really looked flattened. Popovych and Azevedo were even farther back today; I say Savoldelli's the horse to back. Marcello at VeloChimp.com agrees.

There are also a number of team leaders who are really hard to take seriously now, even with mad climbing skills: Gilberto Simoni is 5:34 down, Thomas Voeckler 5:35, Iban Mayo sits 6:11 down, and Damiano Cunego is at 7:06. David Moncoutié? 12:15 down.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Damiano Cunego, David Moncoutié, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Georg Totschnig, Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Sergei Honchar, Thomas Voeckler, Tour de France 2006, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006

Simoni on Basso claims: Never mind...

VeloNews | Simoni retracts Basso charge

Face to face with an investigating tribunal, Gilberto Simoni has decided that maybe Ivan Basso, facing the biggest payday of his career and carrying a photo of the newborn son to whom he had told the press he hoped to dedicate the day's stage win, didn't actually offer to sell Simoni Stage 20 at the Giro after all.

“I made some erroneous statements but I didn't want to damage Basso's reputation, certain things are part of the race,” said Simoni.

Simoni's lawyer was even more blunt:

“Simoni has denied everything. There was never any question of an agreement, even less so a sum of money,” said the rider's lawyer Giuseppe Napoleone. “However, he was interviewed straight after the finish and he was flustered. But there was never any mention of numbers, we now want the affair to be closed, also for the sake of the Saunier-Duval team.”

Simoni could be sanctioned for “bringing the sport into disrepute.” Given the current investigation in Spain, seems like it would take a little more than an overcompetitive Italian getting a little over-emotional after a stage loss to do that.

If he is sanctioned, there's a chance he could miss this year's Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 5, 2006 in Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2006

Basso triumphant, anointed Tour favorite

Eurosport | Ivan Basso wins Tour of Italy

Ivan Basso took the next step in his development as a rider, wrapping up the Giro d'Italia in Milan yesterday. Basso nailed down a dominating 9:18 margin of victory, and became the consensus favorite to win the 2006 Tour.

Gerolsteiner's Robert Forster took the sprint finish to take Stage 21, but Team CSC wasn't letting anything else happen on the stage.

Gilberto Simoni is still mouthing off about Basso's win in Saturday's Stage 20, when Simoni claims Basso asked for money to let Simoni take the stage win. Basso admits that he convinced Simoni they should ride together on the descent of the Mortirolo, but says the rest of Simoni's story is a fabrication.

The two biggest surprises of the Giro have to be defending champion Paolo Savoldelli's 6th overall and José Enrique Gutierrez taking 2nd.

Juan Manuel Garate takes the climber's jersey, Paolo Bettini both the points jersey and the 110 Gazzetta competition (normally the Intergiro).

Jan Ullrich, who still plans to show up at the start of the Tour July 1, held a press conference Friday night to discuss his Giro exit and his condition after almost 3 weeks of competitive racing. Ullrich says he and director Rudy Pevanage had planned to withdraw Thursday night, but decided that would look “ill-timed” in light of the doping allegations coming out in the Spanish press. With his back hurting on Friday, apparently the result of a strength imbalance between Ullrich's legs, the two decided there was no reason for Ullrich to continue.

On Basso's Giro mastery:

Ullrich: He makes a strong impression. And his CSC team is well-balanced. Ivan is on top of his game. However, I don’t think he will win the Tour. The competition is Italy is distinctively weaker than the one in France. And I want to have a say in it, too. (laughs)


IHT.com | Cycling: Above the pack, but not suspicion?

Samuel Abt gives Gutierrez a well-deserved callout, and examines Simoni's comment on Saturday that Basso “seems like an extraterrestrial,” with the connotation that something more than good training habits were responsible for his performance.

ProCycling | Basso crowned Giro king

Eurosport | Ivan Basso wins Tour of Italy

CyclingNews.com | General Classification | Stage 21 Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 29, 2006 in Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2006

Basso wins Stage 20, Giro

Ivan Basso flashed a picture of his newborn son Santiago as he crossed the finish line with a Stage 20 victory today, leading Gilberto Simoni across the line by 1:18.

Basso again showed an extra gear that no one else could match. He and Simoni shed the field to top the Mortirolo together, and stayed away together until the final 2 kilometers of the Passo Aprica, when Basso just flew away from the 2-time Giro champion.

At 2:51, Damiano Cunego led in José Enrique Gutierrez, who cemented his 2nd place overall. Defending champ Paolo Savoldelli could manage no better than 5th, at 6:03, and that moves Cunego into 4th overall, dropping Savoldelli into 5th.

Barring a lightning strike, Basso will win his first Giro d'Italia championship tomorrow in Milan.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 27, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

cyclingnews.com | Report & Results

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 24, 2006

Piepoli pips Basso on shortened Stage 17

Saunier Duval's Leonardo Piepoli took another stage win today, as organizers chopped off the brutal final 5.5-kilometer final climb to Plan de Corones in recognition of the nasty weather. Race temperatures were below freezing on the mountaintops, and a steady rain fell for much of the stage.

Piepoli sheltered team leader Gilberto Simoni until late on the climb, then rode across when the leading pack broke into two 4-man bunches, joining CSC's Ivan Basso, Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez, and Ceramica Panaria's Julio Perez. Gutierrez saw Simoni was isolated and pushed the pace, but in the last kilometer, he gave way to the Italian duo, and Piepoli showed a little in the last few meters to discourage Basso from contesting the finish.

The stage conclusion pretty much mirrored what we've been seeing throughout the Giro: Basso and Piepoli are the strongest climbers in the Giro, and Gutierrez of Phonak is a tick behind. Double Giro winner Simoni of Saunier Duval-Prodir just doesn't have the legs to contend in the overall, but he did back onto the podium today, with Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli losing 1:29 and third place overall, and being shepherded in by (major correction: provisional results had Tom Danielson) teammate José Rubiera in 16th place. Savoldelli told CyclingNews:

“Well my Giro is getting worse day by day,” lamented Savoldelli. “I still have motivation, but I'm not competitive. But I'm hanging tough and my team is working really well. Because of the rain, I'm feeling better today from my allergies, but I'm still not competitive. I want to do more but I just don't have the legs.”

Damiano Cunego climbed much of the final ascent on his own, down around 9th place, then caught and passed Simoni in the day's last meters, to finish 7th on the day at :41, improving to 5th overall.

Liquigas' Franco Pellizotti managed to bridge to Basso in the last couple of kilometers, but was dropped along with Gutierrez when Piepoli and Basso smelled the finish line. Look for more from him tomorrow, as the Giro travels to his home region.

Ullrich watchers: He was 120th, at 11:11.

Top 10:

1) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval-Prodir, in 3:21:26
2) Ivan Basso, Team CSC, same time
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :15
4) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas, at :19
5) Julio Perez, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, at :28
6) John Gadret, AG2R, at :37
7) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, at :41
8) Gilberto Simoni, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :48
9) Sergio Ghisalberti, Team Milram, at :58
10) Giampaolo Caruso, Liberty Seguros, same time

Posted by Frank Steele on May 24, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Filippo Pozzato, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2006

Piepoli takes Stage 13; Basso still the man

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 13

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.


VeloNews.com | Basso tightens grip on Giro as Piepoli earns tough win

cyclingnews.com | Stage 13 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Stage 13 photo gallery

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

VeloNews.com | Ullrich shows his form; Basso solidifies grip on jersey

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.


cyclingnews.com | Jan's one mean motor scooter

Enormous picture of Ullrich at Gazzetta dello Sport

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

CyclingNews.com | Stage 8 - Sunday, May 14

Ivan Basso announced his presence with authority on Sunday, taking control of the 2006 Giro d'Italia.

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.


Eurosport.com | Basso claims pink jersey in style

VeloNews.com | Advantage Basso

CyclingNews.com | Results | General Classification | Photo gallery

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

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 6 results

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

Giro Stage 2 photo galleries

Aaron Olson w/Simoni, Missaglia, McEwen outfoxes Petacchi

Click through to GrahamWatson.com

Savoldelli, McEwen (click through to CyclingNews.com)

Posted by Frank Steele on May 8, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Gilberto Simoni, Paolo Savoldelli, Photo galleries, Robbie McEwen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2006

Giro Stage 1 photo galleries posted

Graham Watson:

(l-r) Simoni, Cunego, Basso, Savoldelli

(Click through to GrahamWatson.com for full-size images)


José Enrique Gutierrez, Danilo Di Luca

Click through to cyclingnews.com for full-size images)


Ullrich looks big.

Click for AP cycling photo wire. Unlike the others, this will be current when you click through.

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

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:

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia LIVE race ticker

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

July 05, 2005

Zabriskie falls out of yellow jersey, Armstrong takes the lead

Zabriskie checking bike after fall
Zabriskie checks
his bike after fall
David Zabriskie's yellow jersey reign came to a sudden end this morning, as Zabriskie crashed hard with a little more than 1 kilometer to ride in the team time trial.

Discovery Channel turned in a strong performance, perhaps not as dominant as in recent years, but enough for the stage win, and to put Armstrong in yellow, as the TTT has the last couple of years. Their average speed of 57.31 km/hour smashes the old record held by Gewiss-Ballan from 1995, which was 54.93 km/hour. They finished with all 9 riders, underlining the top-to-bottom strength of their squad.

Organizers had added a rule after Gilberto Simoni slid into the barriers right at the end of last year's TTT, and finished 6 seconds behind his Saeco teammates. He was timed at 2:42 behind US Postal vs. 1:30 artificially capped for the rest of Saeco, so the new rule gives riders who fall in the last kilometer the same time as the group they were riding with. Unfortunately, Zabriskie's fall came outside of the last kilometer, so Zabriskie falls to 9th overall, 1:26 behind Armstrong.

T-Mobile rode a surprising strong ride, to take third on the day, and limit Jan Ullrich and Alexandre Vinokourov to 30 seconds lost on the stage. Vino is the most highly placed GC threat to Armstrong, at 1:21, but Ivan Basso is now at 1:26, and Ullrich at 1:36. T-Mobile came in with 6 riders together.

Phonak was (correction) 5th, capped at 50 seconds, so Floyd Landis drops to 1:50 back; Phonak finished with the minimum 5 riders.

Gerolsteiner must be glad for the cap: without it, Levi Leipheimer would have lost 45 seconds more than the 80 seconds their 8th place gives them. He's now 2:31 off Armstrong's pace.


letour.fr | Intermediate timing | Overall standings after Stage 4

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2005 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, Gilberto Simoni, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Stage results, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Surprise! Simoni will miss Tour

cyclingpost.com | Lampre enter Tour de France without Simoni

When Lampre Tour hope Damiano Cunego was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, fans could take comfort in the team's other leader, Gilberto Simoni, who won the 2003 Giro d'Italia, and was 2nd this year. Simoni is rumored to be leaving the team at the end of the year (his contract's up).

Simoni talked a great deal of trash before the 2003 Tour, and then lost time by the bucketful, salvaging his Tour with a brilliant victory in Stage 14. Today, Lampre released their Tour roster, and Simoni is nowhere to be seen:

Gianluca Bortolami
Salvatore Commesso
Gerrit Glomser
David Loosli
Eddy Mazzoleni
Evgeni Petrov
Daniele Righi
Alessandro Spezialetti
Gorazd Stangelj

Seems like Simoni would have had at least as good a shot at a stage win as any of these guys...

Update: This update by Juan Fuentes at BiciRace.com might help explain it: After explaining that Patxi Villa will take his slot on the Tour squad, he notes:

They want me to save energy for the Vuelta because we will have to do a great second half of the year to get some results.

They may want to save Simoni for a run at the Vuelta.

Update (6/28): BBC Sport says Simoni is suffering from "muscle fatigue."

Posted by Frank Steele on June 27, 2005 in Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2005

Cunego to miss Tour

Eurosport | Cunego out of Tour

Lampre's Damiano Cunego, the 2004 Giro d'Italia winner and the presumed future of the squad, will miss the Tour de France as he continues to battle Epstein-Barr virus.

His absence should give Gilberto Simoni a last hurrah as the leader of the squad. The two have bickered over their roles, and Simoni is rumored to be headed to a different team next year.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 21, 2005 in Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2005

Cunego diagnosed with Epstein-Barr, likely to miss Tour

Italy's Cunego doubtful for Tour de France

Last year's Giro d'Italia winner, Damiano Cunego of Lampre, didn't come near repeating, though he did contribute to teammate Gilberto Simoni's 2nd overall at the 2005 race.

Afterward, he underwent medical tests that diagnosed Epstein-Barr virus that's likely to keep him out of this year's Tour de France.

Ironically, the news comes on the heels of a three-year contract extension, and rumors that Simoni, Cunego's rival for team leadership, is in discussions with other teams for next season.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 9, 2005 in Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2005

Giro Stage 20 photo galleries

More Stage 20 photos @ GrahamWatson.com

Petacchi and Bettini from cyclingnews.com

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Savoldelli seals Giro, Petacchi takes final stage

VeloNews.com | Savoldelli wins Giro; Petacchi takes finale

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.

Jersey winners:

  • Paolo Bettini: Points jersey
  • José Rujanoz: Climber's jersey
  • Stefano Zanini: Intergiro jersey


DailyPeloton.com | Giro Stage 20, GC, and Jersey Finals
The Paceline.com (free reg. req.) | SAVOLDELLI WINS GIRO!

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Dave Zabriskie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2005

Rujano conquers Finestre, Savoldelli solidifies Giro lead

cyclingpost.com | Savoldelli survives, Rujano takes stage victory

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!

Top 10:

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


CyclingNews.com | Preliminary results
ThePaceline.com (members only) | Giro d'Italia Stage 19 Report

Posted by Frank Steele on May 28, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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.

Live coverage:

Daily Peloton

Posted by Frank Steele on May 28, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2005

Basso takes ITT for 2nd straight Giro win

VeloNews.com | Basso again!

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 24, 2005

Simoni says he'll win Giro

procycling.com | Simoni: I'll win the Giro

Having successfully handled the threat of teammate Damiano Cunego, who has ridden a strong race in his support, Gilberto Simoni told race sponsor La Gazzetta dello Sport he's the overall favorite for Giro victory.

The course profile is certainly friendly to the climbing specialist: Thursday's stage to Limone Piemonte ends with a 25 kilometer+ climb, Friday's time trial includes the 7 kilometer climb of the Superga in a 34 kilometer package, and Saturday's stage is the last day of brutal climbs, most notably the Finestre, whose final 8 kilometers is over gravel! Once over the Finestre, the riders have a steep 8-kilometer descent, then will climb the final 18 kms into Sestrieres.

“The Limone Piemonte stage will be a rich antipasto for what is to come,” Simoni tells Gazzetta. “After that is the Superga time trial, and anyone who thinks that I will have difficulties that day is going to be very much mistaken. The fact that that time trial is very hard suits me very well. Then on Saturday the Finestre will be my launching pad. [Lampre team manager] Beppe Martinelli has told me that he has already won a Giro at Sestriere with Garzelli. We are hoping that’s a good omen.”

Posted by Frank Steele on May 24, 2005 in Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2005

Vande Velde on Stage 14

VeloNews.com | Vande Velde's View: How I spent my 29th birthday

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.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 22, 2005 in Christian Vande Velde, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Ivan Basso, Paolo Savoldelli | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stage 14 photo galleries

More Stage 14 photos @ GrahamWatson.com

Cunego & Bye, bye, Basso from cyclingnews.com

Posted by Frank Steele on May 22, 2005 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Paolo Savoldelli, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Parra again; Savoldelli maintains slim lead

VeloNews.com | Parra scores a second Giro stage; Savoldelli holds 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.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 22, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Ivan Basso, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2005

Parra takes Stage 13; il Falco poaches Basso for lead

BBC SPORT | Parra seals win as leader changes

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


Eurosport.com | Savoldelli ignores Armstrong advice

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."

Daily Peloton | Giro d'Italia Riders and Abandons - Updated 21 May

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

Start the Petacchi watch as Di Luca breaks the sprinters

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 3

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.


Daily Peloton | Giro d'Italia Stage 3 Interviews

VeloNews.com | Complete Results

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

May 05, 2005

A look at Giro rosters

VeloNews | Tentative start list for 2005 Giro d'Italia

Time for the annual Gilberto Simoni drama-fest, as he and Cunego slug it out for the overall, and leadership of their own Lampre team, all over Italy. Time, of course, for the Giro d'Italia.

Of course, the last few Giros have also seen the emergence of Alessandro Petacchi, whose Fassa Bortolo blue train has placed him perfectly for so many sprint wins. Potentially adding to the sprint drama this year is T-Mobile's Erik Zabel, who believes that some of this year's stages will be hard enough to neutralize Petacchi, and give Zabel (and teammate Olaf Pollack) a shot at a stage win in a select group.

Over at CSC, Ivan Basso has said he's riding for the Giro-Tour double, and raring to go. CSC will be riding two Americans, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde, in Basso's support.

Discovery Channel will finally get a real look at new team member Paolo Savoldelli, who won the 2002 Giro, and has a reputation for finishing long tours strongly. Tony Cruz, Tom Danielson, Jason McCartney and Michael Barry are coming off April's Tour de Georgia.

The Daily Peloton has individual pieces on each squad, looking at who's got a shot at the overall, who will be fishing for stages, and who's just killing time.


Eurosport.com | The cream of Italy's crop

Posted by Frank Steele on May 5, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Christian Vande Velde, Damiano Cunego, Dave Zabriskie, Erik Zabel, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Ivan Basso, Tom Danielson | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2005

Graham Watson Stage 5 gallery available

Click through for more.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 11, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Gilberto Simoni, Paris-Nice '05, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Simoni takes Stage 5, Julich the lead at Paris-Nice

Eurosport | Simoni tames Toulon

Gilberto Simoni rode away from the field 2 kilometers before the finish atop Mont Faron, and won his first race as a member of the Lampré team.

Simoni, whose climbing won him the Giro d'Italia in 2001 and 2003, was followed by Cadel Evans of Australia, and David Moncoutié at the summit.

Julich finished 10th on the day, 40 seconds behind Simoni, and leads Saunier Duval's Constantino Zaballa by 19 seconds, and iBanesto's Alejandro Valverde by 20 seconds.

Stage results

Overall standings


My favorite picture of Simoni ever, from the 2003 Giro

Reuters.co.uk | Julich takes Paris-Nice lead

Reuters notes that T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov, who won this climb in 2003 on the way to overall victory, was "dropped early in the climb and looks to have lost all hopes of a final victory".

Posted by Frank Steele on March 11, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Gilberto Simoni, Paris-Nice '05, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

O'Grady, Simoni headline Tour Down under

Yahoo! Sport | Aussie power inspires Giro winner Simoni

The Tour Down Under kicks off tomorrow, with six stages through South Australia.

Among Tour-level riders, Aussies Stuart O'Grady, Cadel Evans, and newly crowned Aussie champion Robbie McEwen (and newly dethroned Aussie champion Matthew Wilson, for that matter) will be racing close to home, while Gilberto Simoni headlines the visiting cast.

Given the time difference, racing should be kicking off in just a few hours.

Posted by Frank Steele on January 17, 2005 in Cadel Evans, Gilberto Simoni, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2004

Svorada, Astarloa to exit Lampre?

procycling | Astarloa looking for new team?

Eurosport.com | Svorada leaves Lampre

The Lampre team has inherited many of the riders from the dissolved Saeco team, including Damiano Cunego and best bud Gilberto Simoni. That leaves less room for some of the team's previous leaders, and today Jan Svorada announced that he'll move down to cycling's minor leagues, signing with eD'system ZVVZ (don't ask me how to pronounce THAT).

Procycling also reports that former world champion Igor Astarloa is on the prowl for a new team. Astarloa has hotfooted it from Saeco to Cofidis to Lamppre since his rainbow jersey in 2003. Bjarne Riis says he looked at signing Astarloa, but couldn't afford him on the team's current budget.

Procycling also quotes La Gazzetta dello Sport, interviewing Simoni, who says Cunego "betrayed" him at Bormio in last year's Giro, and that he will target the 2005 Giro, "but I don't trust anyone anymore."

Posted by Frank Steele on November 23, 2004 in Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d’Italia, Igor Astarloa, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2004

Armstrong takes Stage 13; Voeckler fights to keep yellow

Lance Armstrong was clearly the strongest man in the race today, as he powered through one of the Tour's hardest stages and took the win. It's Armstrong's 19th career stage win.

Thomas Voeckler scrapped the entire day to hold the yellow jersey by just a few seconds at the top, finishing in the Top 15 for the stage. What an amazing ride...

Looks like the prognosticators were right about this being a 2-man race, but they had the wrong 2nd man: Ivan Basso again rode to the top of the mountain right alongside the 5-time winner.

Iban Mayo came in 115th at 37:40. His race for the GC is completely over. We'll see if he can recover enough to compete for a mountain stage.

Stage 13 standings:
1) Armstrong
2) Basso (CSC), same time
3) Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 1:05
4) Klöden (T-Mobile) at 1:27
5) Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 1:27
6) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 2:42
7) Azevedo (US Postal) at 2:50
8) Moreau (Credit Agricole) at 2:51
9) Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi) at 2:51
10) Simoni at (Saeco) at 3:43
11) Pereiro at (Phonak) at 4:29
12) Goubert at (AG2R) at 4:29
19) Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 6:39
24) Brochard (AG2R) at 8:21
49) Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) at 21:35

The overall after Stage 13:
1) Voeckler
2) Armstrong at :22
3) Basso at 1:39
4) Klöden at 3:18
5) Mancebo at 3:28
6) Totschnig at 6:08
7) Azevedo at 6:43
8) Ullrich 7:01
9) Caucchioli 7:59
10) Casar 8:29
11) Simoni
12) Sastre
13) Pereiro
14) Leipheimer

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Roberto Heras, Stage results, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 12, 2004

Abt busy: profiles of Mayo, Simoni

IHT | A brooding rebel with many causes

NYTimes.com | Basque Cyclist, Mayo, Enjoys Salad Days on Tour

Samuel Abt, the best English-language cycling writer, offers up profiles of Euskaltel-Euskadi's Iban Mayo (in the New York Times) and Saeco's Gilberto Simoni (in the International Herald Tribune).

On Simoni, the lead is my favorite:

You don't have to be Sigmund Freud or even a Dick Tracy Junior G-Man to figure out that when Gilberto Simoni failed to sign in for two consecutive days at the start of stages in the Tour de France he was betraying a certain reluctance to continue in the race.

Mayo has tired of The Question (have you peaked too early?):

"I've been asked one hundred times and I keep saying the same thing: No. My preparation has gone wonderfully but I still have room to improve. Last year at the Dauphiné," he continued, referring to a weeklong mountainous race in France in June, "I was better than I am now, so I still have room to improve." He finished that Dauphiné in second place, behind Lance Armstrong.

Abt has tired of The Pun (although he couldn't resist "Mayo Can Still Lay It On Thick" used ironically).

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Rider profiles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 10, 2004

Simoni: Did Martinelli wield cattle prod?

Yahoo! Sport | Desperately seeking rest, but struggling Simoni will continue on Tour

How badly must things be going when you can't even abandon the Tour de France successfully?

Gilberto Simoni of Saeco apparently tried to abandon the Tour today, and race radio announced he was out, but his team director managed to keep him going, and he resumed chase, and rejoined the peloton 30 minutes later.

After the stage, he told AFP:

"I'm hoping to continue but I'm really looking forward to Monday's rest day.

"Hopefully after that it will be a new start for me, and an altogether different race.

"I can't give up. I've done a lot of work this year, and put in a lot of hours preparing for the Tour."

Something about the Tour doesn't agree with Gilberto. Last year, he came into the Tour all bluster, saying he would teach Lance Armstrong a little something about climbing mountains. Unfortunately, he spent most of the Tour feeling like death, before redeeming himself with a stage victory on Stage 14.

Simoni last updated his diary over at Bicycling.com after Stage 5:

I don't see this as "my Tour." It's more than the fact that I'm not leading it, honestly I didn't expect to be at this point, but everything seems to be going wrong. Too much stress; everyday I feel uncomfortable.

I have a real rumble in my head. A small part of me says leave the race go back home, but the other part of me wants to push and do everything I can for my chances to win this race.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2004

Simoni whining again

VeloNews | Simoni: 'I want to go home'

"I feel really bad, I just want to go home," said the 32-year-old Simoni, who earlier this year had to suffer the humiliation of seeing a younger teammate, Damiano Cunego, take the Giro's pink jersey and hold onto it until the race finish in Milan.

"I can cope with bad luck, but what can I do about race regulations? One hundred and twenty guys finished behind me yesterday, but I lost a minute more than them. It's a stupid rule.

"I came here hoping to win the race but my morale is in my boots. I've never liked the Tour anyway. I want to go home. I'll be carrying on, and we'll see what happens. But it's really difficult when it's like this."

Alitalia is ready when you are, Gibo.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

July 07, 2004

Simoni's senior moment

Eurosport | Whoops

One interesting side effect of the, um, funky time trial rules is that riders gapped by their team are given their time, and don't get the bonus. That's why Eddy Seigneur was eliminated when he soloed in after getting dropped by his RAGT team during the TTT.

The slippery cobbled finish claimed some time from one rider with high hopes: Gilberto Simoni and a couple of his teammates slid into the barriers, and Simoni was slowest back on the bike. His teammates weren't sure whether to finish or not, so Simoni crossed the line 6 seconds after the rest of his team.

Since he was gapped by his team, he doesn't get the time bonus limiting their damage, so where all his teammates clocked in at 1:30 behind US Postal, Simoni was way back at 2:42 on the day.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

US Postal takes team time trial; Armstrong in yellow

US Postal took the team time trial. Armstrong is in yellow, and the real leaders will start to emerge on GC.

Phonak finished 2nd on the day, 67 seconds back, but that will be capped at 20 seconds.

Illes Balears-Banesto, at 1:15, are capped at 30 seconds, and so on.

Top 10:
1) US Postal                    1.12.03
2) Phonak                       at 1:07 adjusted - :20
3) Illes Balears                at 1:15 adj - :30
4) T-Mobile                      at 1:19 adj - :40
5) CSC                            at 1:46 adj - :50
6) Rabobank                    at 1:53 adj - 1:00
7) Liberty Seguros            at 2:25 adj - 1:10
8) Euskaltel - Euskadi        at 2:35 adj - 1:20
9) Saeco                         at 2:37 adj - 1:30
10) Alessio - Bianchi            at 2:57 adj - 1:40

Early reports are that this puts US Postal in the Top 5 on the general classification (GC), much as last year:

1. Lance Armstrong (USP)
2. George Hincapie (USP) at 10"
3. Floyd Landis (USP) at 16"
4. Jose Azevedo (USP) at 22"
5. Jose Luis Rubiera (USP) at 24"
6. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (PHO) at 27"
7. Viatcheslav Ekimov (USP) at 30"
8. Tyler Hamilton (PHO) at 36"
9. Santos Gonzalez (PHO) at 37"
10. Bert Grabsch (PHO) at 41"

Looking at the team leaders, and anyone else I'm keeping an eye on, it's:

1) Armstrong (USPS)
2) Hamilton (Phonak) at 36"
3) Jens Voigt (CSC) at 43"
4) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 55"
5) Bobby Julich (CSC) at 1:00
6) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 1:01
7) Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 1:08
8) Ivan Basso (CSC) at 1:17
9) Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros) at 1:29
10) Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) at 1:45
11) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 2:02
12) Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) at 2:25
13) Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) at 2:29
14) Laurent Brochard (AG2R) at 2:30
15) Richard Virenque (Quick Step) at 2:39
16) Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches la Boulangere) at 2:45

Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) at 3:22
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 5:27
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 5:33
Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) at 5:58
Michael Rogers (Quick Step) at 6:16
Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi) at 9:09 (and the roads haven't turned up yet!)
Benjamin Noval (US Postal) at 22:37
Bradley McGee (Fdjeux.com) at 22:49

And our new lanterne rouge:
Davide Bramati (Quick Step) at 27:51

Bramati and a few others were dropped by their teams during the TTT, and had to straggle in alone (or in one pair's case, with a teammate). Eddy Seigneur of RAGT was also dropped, but couldn't finish within the time limit, and was eliminated.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 7, 2004 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Christophe Moreau, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Magnus Backstedt, Robbie McEwen, Roberto Heras, Stage results, Top Stories, Tour news, Tyler Freaking Hamilton, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

June 01, 2004

Simoni vs. Cunego: the aftermath

Procycling.com | Cunego's rise leaves Simoni bitter and in limbo

There are rumors Saeco's Gilberto Simoni, winner of the 2001 and 2003 Giro d'Italia, may try to get out of the final year of his contract, rather than share team leadership with 2004 Giro winner Damiano Cunego.

On Sunday, twenty-four hours after Simoni called Cunego a “bastard and an ignoramus”, he had claimed the pair had “patched up their differences”. Few, though, were convinced.

Asked whether Simoni and Cunego, the master and the undergraduate, were now friends again, Simoni could only reply: “we’ll have to work together in the future for the common good of the team, so we need to be.”

Simoni insisted his conditioning was good enough to win the race:

“Even if I am finishing the Giro in third place, I don’t consider myself beaten,” Simoni asserted. “I could have brought the world crashing down in those last couple of stages. Had I really wanted to win the Giro, I would have attacked earlier on the Mortirolo [stage 19, Bormio – Presolana]. Or I could have followed Garzelli on the Gavia [stage 18, Cles Val di Non – Bormio 2000]… Why didn’t I? I couldn’t.”

(Here I think "couldn't" is "was not allowed to".)

Posted by Frank Steele on June 1, 2004 in Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Graham on Gilberto's Giro

GrahamWatson.com | Graham's View

Graham Watson eats a little crow in his weekly column, where he had predicted Gilberto Simoni would take the Giro, and spends the rest of the column wondering how Simoni's breakdown came to be:

The questions are: did Simoni come to the Giro at 80% of his best form, hoping that he'd win anyway? Did he come to the Giro believing he was in the best of form - and that winning was a near-certainty, given the apparent lack of opposition? Or did he deliberately start the race with the knowledge that he was saving his best for the Tour in July? Whichever answer you opt for, the fact is that Simoni was a bitterly disappointed man in Milan last Sunday, and will want to re-assert his supremacy within his team and within cycling by leading the climbing challenge in the Tour. But can he?

I guess we'll see in July.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 1, 2004 in Gilberto Simoni, Giro d’Italia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack