May 07, 2007
Giro 2007 rosters announced
Giro organizers unveiled rosters for the 2007 Giro d'Italia today.
Four former winners of the race -- Astana's Paolo Savoldelli, Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni, Lampre's Damiano Cunego, and Acqua & Sapone's Stefano Garzelli -- will feature in this year's edition, but a lot of media attention will be on the missing defending champion, Ivan Basso, who admitted today he was a client of Eufemiano Fuentes.
The shadow of Operación Puerto appears to have fallen on Tyler Hamilton of Tinkoff Credit Systems and Jorg Jaksche of Astana, as well. Neither is on their team's race roster, despite claims by Tinkoff that Hamilton is clear to race.
There are some other interesting plot points that actually involve racing: Robbie McEwen and Alessandro Petacchi are set to renew their rivalry, possibly challenged by a couple of transplants from US racing: Argentina's Juan José Haedo of CSC and New Zealand's Greg Henderson of T-Mobile. Paolo Bettini wears number 1 in Basso's absence. Danilo Di Luca continues to try to evolve into a Grand Tour contender.
Three US riders are set to make the start: Discovery Channel's George Hincapie, Saunier Duval's Aaron Olson, and CSC's Dave Zabriskie.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2007 in Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2007, Giro d’Italia, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Basso admits Puerto involvement in face of DNA test
Ivan Basso came clean today. At a hearing with an Italian anti-doping prosecutor, the defending Giro d'Italia champion admitted his involvement in blood doping.
Basso, 29, told Ettore Torri of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) he was in fact involved with Spanish Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, and said he would cooperate with the ongoing CONI investigations. Facing a likely DNA test to confirm or deny his involvement with the doping ring, Basso looks likely to be suspended from all racing for 2 years, and from ProTour teams for an additional 2 years.
Italian cycling federation head Renato Di Rocco:
The head of the Italian cycling federation Renato Di Rocco applauded Basso's decision to collaborate, telling the Gazzetta dello Sport, "Ivan has done exactly what everyone asked of Pantani, and Marco didn't do; now, we ask in the name of cycling to not leave Ivan Basso alone."
UCI president Pat McQuaid:
"Most of all I am very sad that a talented rider like Basso seems to have been involved in some illicit practices," he said. "On the other hand I'm trying to look at this news in a more positive light. Our constant efforts, with our other cycling partners, to put cyclists under pressure are paying off.
"Right now it's not easy to break the rules," he added.
Basso is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow to make a public statement.
AP Sports quotes Basso's lawyer that no further bombshells are expected: “ ‘This kind of activity was carried out individually,’ Martelli said in a telephone interview. ‘He never saw or heard of other riders.’ ”
Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian) | Basso confessa: "Tolto un peso dalla coscienza"
February 12, 2007
Giro organizers move further from UCI with '07 team selections
I guess the Grand Tour organizers really mean it; RCS today announced the Giro's team lineup, and they've left out ProTour team 19, Unibet.com.
RCS also initiated a new system, where three ProTour teams (Caisse d'Epargne, Gerolsteiner, and Rabobank) have the option to race or not race in the Giro and Milan-San Remo.
All 18 pre-Unibet.com ProTour teams are invited. If all three option teams choose not to race, then RCS will choose 7 wild-card teams from these eight teams on February 16:
Acqua & Sapone
Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia expialidocious
If the three option teams choose to race, the RCS will name only 4 wild-card teams to the final race field.
For Milan-San Remo, the same rules apply, but RCS will select six to nine wild-cards (depending on ProTour commitments) from the above list plus Ireland's Tenax-Salmilano, for 24 total teams.
The Grand Tour organizers and the UCI have been feuding over the ProTour, which required all teams to race in every event, and required race organizers to set aside 18, and now 19, places for ProTour teams. RCS, ASO, and Unipublic prefer more wild cards.
January 09, 2007
UCI takes ProTour/Grand Tour squabble to EC
The UCI is planning to ask the European Commission to intercede in the ongoing squabble between the UCI and its ProTour and the organizers of the three grand tours: The Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, and the Vuelta a España.
The UCI posted a press release on its website:
The UCI has today decided to prepare a formal complaint to the European Commission concerning the anti-competitive conduct of the organizers of the Grands Tours.
The organizers of the Grands Tours have acted as a cartel in order to protect their own dominant position in the field of professional road cycling.
In particular the organizers of the Grands Tours have deliberately tried to undermine the development of the UCI ProTour.
This conduct is detrimental to the interest of teams, riders and the wider development of cycling in Europe and in the world as a whole.
The UCI has repeatedly tried to engage the organizers of the Grands Tours in a constructive dialogue; however they have refused to cooperate in any meaningful way leaving the UCI with no alternative other than to seek intervention by the European Commission in this matter.
I find it hard to side with the UCI on this one: The national tours own the crown jewels of the sport (not just the GTs), and the UCI is trying to get them to treat their biggest events like every other race. If you agree with the UCI, make your case in the comments.
July 08, 2006
ASO president says grand tours done with ProTour
Patrice Clerc, president of Tour organizers ASO, says his organization, Vuelta a España organizers Unipublic and Giro d'Italia organizers RCS, have given up on integration with the UCI's ProTour.
The grand tours worked out a provisional agreement in 2005 that has been in force since, and the UCI and grand tour organizers met in April to try to hammer out an agreement, but Clerc today said, “There will be no further discussions over a commercial system that is purely economic, closed and cut off from the outside world.”
The grand tour organizers don't want their races to become merely the longest of the ProTour events, and so had lobbied for fewer ProTour teams (and correspondingly more wildcard teams in the GTs) and for a system of promotion and relegation like European football.
If in fact the alliance is over, the grand tour organizers take with them many of the season's best-known races, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Milan-San Remo.
June 05, 2006
Simoni on Basso claims: Never mind...
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.
May 29, 2006
Basso triumphant, anointed Tour favorite
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)
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.
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
Flickr'ing the Giro
There are a few from yesterday's stage, too -- I'm partial to this shot (which two minutes later got a few more cameras), and AllessioAllessio's set from Livorno.
this one shot by Giovanni Lentini.
Garate takes Stage 19, new papa Basso comfortable in Giro lead
On paper, Stage 17 was this year's Giro queen stage. But when weather and team dissent led organizers to behead the queen, chopping off the top of the stage, today's stage stepped in. With four big climbs in 224 kilometers, it was the best chance for somebody to try to put the hurt on king-to-be Ivan Basso, celebrating the birth this morning of his second child, a son.
A solid early break got 5 minutes on the field over the second major climb. The highest placed rider was Danilo Di Luca, 12th at 18:27, and some other familiar names were along, including Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt of CSC, Paolo Bettini and Juan Manuel Garate of QuickStep, Johan Tschopp of Phonak, and Francisco Vila of Lampre.
On the Pordoi, Bettini and Julich were quickly off the back, and Ceramica Panaria's Fortunato Baliani led the group over the top, nearly 7 minutes ahead of the pack, to take the lead in the climber's jersey competition.
At the foot of the last climb, Di Luca, Garate, and Voigt were riding with Tschopp, Lampre's Evgeni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec, and Francisco Vila, Ceramica Panaria's Baliani, Laverde, and Emanuele Sella, Patrice Halgand, and Ivan Parra.
Valjavec launched the first attack, joined quickly by Voigt. Parra and Villa tried to bridge, but never quite made it. Parra fell off Villa's pace, to be replaced by Garate, and that pair caught Valjavec and Voigt. Valjavec quickly attacked again, and was countered by Garate, who gapped the trio, only to have Voigt (!) jump out and catch his wheel.
Back in the field, Piepoli turned on the burners, and Simoni, Cunego, and Basso were the only ones who could match him. Once again, Savoldelli was quickly off the back, and once again Discovery's Tom Danielson led him in. Gutierrez drifted off the leaders' group, and Simoni smelled 2nd on the GC, and attacked. Basso and Cunego countered, but Cunego couldn't match the pace, and yo-yoed desperately on and off Basso and Simoni, slowly drifting back, but passing break survivors along the way.
In the last few kilometers, everyone had to be thinking back to the 2005 Tour, and George Hincapie's win over Phonak's Oscar Pereiro after Pereiro had set pace all day. Today, we had a big generalist/superdomestique, Voigt, teammate of the overall race leader, riding alongside a climber, Garate, with an uphill finish, and again, it looked like the big man, Voigt, had played all his cards right for the win. Voigt patiently sat in, and then, with less than 300 meters to go, he patted Garate on the back, gave him a little push, and sat up.
Garate couldn't believe his luck; he had tried to ride Voigt off his wheel unsuccessfully, and now, he was handing Garate the win? The little man, riding in his Spanish champion's jersey, put a safe cushion behind him, still glancing nervously several times back at Voigt, then with 50 meters to ride, he pointed back, acknowledging the gift, zipped his jersey, and took the stage.
Back with the GC riders, the question was, where's Gutierrez? Simoni looked a little like Gibos past, and he and Basso led in all riders not involved in the break, finishing 7th and 8th at 2:15. Behind them, Cunego and Gutierrez, both of whom had looked near popping, were clawing for every inch, and Gutierrez came 11th at 2:39 and Cunego 12th at 2:40. Savoldelli, Piepoli, Baliani, Danielson, Sandy Casar and Victor Hugo Peña finished together at 4:16, while Pellizotti came in at 5:11.
On GC, that means Basso leads by 6:07, with Gutierrez in 2nd, 4:27 clear of Simoni, who now has a 2:25 cushion on Savoldelli. Pellizotti falls from 5th to 6th, while Cunego pole-vaults from 8th to 5th, now 15:13 back.
One notable DNF, as Jan Ullrich drops out, complaining of back pain.
Five riders were still competing in Liberty Seguros jerseys, and the team ownership promises the team will continue through the end of the season, even without a large portion of the 8 million euros Liberty was kicking in.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 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.
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
Saunier Duval-Prodir's Leonardo Piepoli descended faster than a Falco Saturday to win Stage 13 at the Giro. Piepoli, a climbing specialist, took his first Giro win.
Ivan Basso once again showed he's the class of the contenders, blowing up the field on the ascent of Colle San Carlo, and actually losing time on the closing descent to La Thuile, as he took it gently on slick roads.
Piepoli, who spent last Sunday's climb to the Maielletta shepherding team leader Gilberto Simoni, was given free rein Saturday, and made the most of it. He crested the last climb with Basso, then put 44 seconds into CSC's leader on the descent.
José Enrique Gutierrez of Phonak and Simoni, were 3rd and 4th on the day, at 1:19 to Piepoli, losing 35 seconds to Basso. They topped the climb at 1:24, but pulled Basso back somewhat on the descent. Damiano Cunego, who looked like the most promising contender on last Sunday, rode in with Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli, 2:36 back of Piepoli.
Basso just keeps building his cushion on the GC, now leading Gutierrez by 3:27, Savoldelli by 5:30, Wladimir Belli by 7:35, and Simoni by 8:00. Danielson's 7th, at 8:35, Cunego's 8th, at 8:58, and Di Luca is 9th at 10:36.
Selle Italia's José Rujano, who animated last year's Giro, abandoned on the road, possibly owing to his strange contract, which has him moving to Quick Step June 1. Thomas Vaitkus, who won Stage 9, also abandoned on the road. T-Mobile's Michael Rogers didn't start because of a toothache, while triple stage winner Robbie McEwen didn't start, complaining of a minor illness.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 20, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 18, 2006
Ullrich rocks Giro, takes TT
Looks like Jan Ullrich is TT-fit for the Tour de France.
T-Mobile's 1997 Tour champion scorched the 50-kilometer (31 mile) time trial course today, finishing in 58:48, for his first race victory since last year's Tour of Germany.
Ullrich showed he's got the numerator down on the power-to-weight ratio, and the upcoming mountains should help him shrink his, um, denominator.
"To beat Ivan Basso is going to give me a huge morale boost. I knew right from the start that I was going to have a good day.
Giro leader Ivan Basso of CSC was 2nd on the day in 59:16, 28 seconds back, but ahead of Italian TT champion Marco Pinotti, at 1:01, T-Mobile's Sergei Honchar, at 1:09, and Paolo Savoldelli, at 1:19. Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez rounds out the top 6 at 1:42.
Damiano Cunego, who was best able to hang with Basso on Sunday's first big climb of the Giro, lost 5:06 (!) to Basso in today's TT, and Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca did only slightly better.
In the GC, Gutierrez remains in 2nd, now 2:48 back, while Savoldelli slips to 3rd behind Honchar at 3:24 and 3:26. Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson is now 5th overall, 5:38 back, with Cunego 8th at 6:54, Simoni 9th at 7:13, and Di Luca 10th at 7:33.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 18, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack
May 15, 2006
Vaitkus takes Giro Stage 9
Finally, somebody managed to outkick Robbie McEwen at the Giro, and it was Lithuania's Thomas Vaitkus of AG2R.
Paolo Bettini threw up his arms in celebration as the leaders crossed the line, and he was moving faster than Vaitkus, but photo review showed that Vaitkus was first over the line, followed by Bettini and T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack.
Vaitkus has been among the leaders in the Giro's other sprint finishes, and his finishing kick today makes him the first Lithuanian to win a Giro stage, and also contributes to the cycling youth movement, as Vaitkus is just 24.
McEwen could salvage only 4th, as he followed Pollack's wheel, but started the sprint too late.
No change to the overall GC.
May 14, 2006
Basso ascendant: Takes Stage 8, Giro lead
Basso rode alongside the other race favorites on the day's final climb, and one by one, they cracked. Race leader Sergei Honchar was among the first, but surprisingly, Discovery Channel's defending Giro champ Paolo Savoldelli also quickly went off the back, as did 2005 Giro revelation José Rujano.
Hometown hero Danilo Di Luca was next, yoyoing off a small group, while Basso sat spinning comfortably on the wheel of teammate Carlos Sastre. Like Basso, Gilberto Simoni was riding with a teammate, Leonardo Piepoli, and also in the leading group were Damiano Cunego, Phonak's Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Luca Mazzanti and Giampaolo Caruso.
Rujano bravely fought back onto the select group, and launched the first attack. Sastre let him dangle off the front like a rabbit leading the greyhounds, and Rujano was recaptured within a kilometer or so. Next to go was Cunego with 4k to the summit, and he went hard. Only Basso could hold his wheel, but he did so with seeming ease, and after perhaps 150 meters, Basso soloed off the front.
Cunego couldn't respond, and 2-time Giro champ Simoni watched Basso ride away, seemingly content to ease in, riding on Piepoli's wheel. This was a stage where Simoni needed to regain some of the time lost in Saunier Duval-Prodir's team time trial, but instead, he lost another 1:15. That's got to depress his team, which spent much of today controlling the race to give Simoni a chance at the stage and some GC. Simoni after the stage:
"When Cunego went I was already at my limit, so I couldn't respond," said the two-time Giro champion. "Basso, on the contrary, had no fear. This was impressive. He did a great climb today. He's going to be difficult to beat, because he also has a very strong team."
Di Luca was trapped in no-man's land, behind the leaders, but ahead of the group that formed around Savoldelli and Andrea Noè.
When the dust cleared, Basso had won the stage, and sits 1:34 up on Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez in the GC. Savoldelli was shepherded to the line by Tom Danielson, but lost 2:20 on the day. Il Falco's Giro may not be over, but he's going to need some extraordinary performances and extraordinary luck to win it - he's 2:35 back, with 2 weeks featuring loads more of the same to go.
Savoldelli quoted in CyclingNews:
"The Giro is not finished here...I knew Basso was strongest and I knew that I wasn't on a good day right away when the climb started. I went into the red zone right away and couldn't hold the pace. Thanks to Danielson, I was able to limit the loss. But the next step is the TT and then, the last week is so hard. But to lose 2'35 on the first climb, that's a lot... it should be 1'20". But I'm still optimistic."
Basso's ride was just stunning. He looked so comfortable, turning an easy rhythm and dropping everyone in sight, and credit for his freshness has to go largely to Carlos Sastre, who did a monster turn setting tempo on the final climb to Maielletta.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 14, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 12, 2006
McEwen again, as Pollack takes Giro lead
With Alessandro Petacchi recovering from a fractured kneecap, Robbie McEwen is clearly the class of the sprinters at the Giro. Today's stage reminded me of a pro basketball game -- not that much reason to tune in until the last 5 minutes.
The doomed break of the day was Ceramica Panaria's Sergiy Matveyev, Dredit Agricole's Christophe Edalaine, and Euskaltel-Euskadi's Andoni Aranaga, who spent 200+ kilometers (about 125 miles) in front, and were relentlessly reeled back by a field powered mostly by Jan Kuyckx and Preben Van Hecke of Davitamon-Lotto.
The D-L riders' efforts would pay off handsomely at the line. In a finishing field sprint that reportedly hit 71 km/hour (44 mph), McEwen beat T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack by half a bike's length, and took his 3rd stage win of this Giro. With a time bonus, Pollack moves into the overall race leadership. AG2R's Tomas Vaitkus was 3rd, with Leonardo "L." Duque 4th.
1) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, in 5:24:13
2) Olaf Pollack, T-Mobile, same time
3) Tomas Vaitkus, AG2R Prevoyance, s.t.
4) Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, s.t.
5) Koldo Fernandez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
6) Fabrizio Guidi, Phonak, s.t.
7) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, s.t.
8) Elia Rigotto, Team Milram, s.t.
9) Axel Maximiliano, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, s.t.
10) Manuele Mori, Saunier Duval-Prodir, s.t.
Pollack's bonus time moves everyone around, but doesn't really affect the gaps between overall hopefuls. Honchar's at :02, Voigt and Rogers at :08, Basso at :13, and Savoldelli at :22.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 12, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
May 11, 2006
So what happened to Discovery?
Maybe the biggest surprise today was the subpar showing from Discovery, which has been dominant in recent Tour TTTs, and finished 3rd, 39 seconds back, or to make it sound worse, 3 seconds in front of Liquigas.
The Paceline's TTT wrapup noted that the team wasn't using aerobars across the board, with only the first 3 riders tucking. Graham Watson points out that Savoldelli wasn't taking many pulls, which he says “hints that the team was saving his legs and energy for a forthcoming stage.” Danielson, on the other hand, was “doing long, long turns on the front of the train, a demonstration imitated by Jason McCartney as well.” Somebody wasn't pulling through, though, because Ekimov got so cooked he was dropped on the finishing straight.
My guess, from seeing the web stream and the photographs, is that the team's inexperience in the discipline is what cost them. Neither Danielson nor McCartney had ever done a TTT before. The squad lost most of their time on the front end, dropping 24 seconds in the first 9.7 kms, 9th best. From then on, Discovery was a solid 3rd at each time check. Danielson told VeloNews he had trouble grabbing a wheel after his pulls, and perhaps the team wasn't as coordinated as in past years, when Discovery reportedly practiced the TTT with an eye toward the Tour.
And hey -- maybe it was just bad luck. Sean Yates is running the team here, and rode in the Giro's last team time trial in 1989. Near the finish, a black cat ran onto the course, catching Yates's wheel and causing a chain reaction in the 7-Eleven squad.
Either way, the damage was slight, and Danielson also told VeloNews, “I feel like I'm getting stronger every day of this Giro.”
Jan Ullrich's teammate, race leader Sergei Honchar, says the team is focused on July, not May, and that it was all he could do to stay with the squad when Ullrich and Rogers reached full boil: "In the last 5k I was having trouble breathing, they were pulling so hard."
Of course, mad TTT skillz won't mean diddly come July -- the Tour won't feature a team time trial this year.
Giro TTT photo galleries from around the web
(l-r) Disco slowdown, T-Mo gogo, Honchar trades magenta for pink
Armstrong hitchin' a ride; Basso, CSC on the top step
New pink jersey leading T-Mobile, old pink jersey w/Gerolsteiner squad.
CSC takes Giro TTT; T-Mobile's Honchar new race leader
Team CSC turned on the afterburners today to scorch the Giro d'Italia's team time trial. One of my favorite cycling stages, the TTT is a combination of power and cooperation, with teams riding in tight rotating pacelines, varying the workload so their strongest TT men spend more time pulling, and lead-group riders are awarded the time of the 5th member of their team to cross the line. The course today was a pure power course, flat to gently descending, with few turns and wide roads.
Most of the early teams came in around 38 minutes, but CSC, starting 5th from last, came in at 36:56. Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile squad, riding here in support of Ukraine's Sergei Honchar, departed 5 minutes after CSC, and four of their riders finished in 36:55, but Matthias Kessler was gapped at the finish, and came in 2 seconds back to give T-Mobile a 2nd place in (correction) 36:57.
Then came Team Discovery, which had dominated the TTT of recent Tours de France. Without Armstrong and Hincapie, this was a different Discovery, and they finished at the front of the 2nd tier, 39 seconds behind CSC, which held up for 3rd on the day. They were already 24 seconds down at the 10 km (6-mile) mark, and didn't put on the late-stage rush they've shown in the Tour.
Gerolsteiner, riding last with race leader Stefan Schumacher, could manage only 6th, at 1:03.
T-Mobile can take solace in the race leadership, as Sergei Honchar now leads CSC's Jens Voigt and T-Mobile teammate Michael Rogers by 6 seconds. Among GC threats, Basso is 4th at 11 seconds, Savoldelli drops to 5th at 20 seconds, Danilo Di Luca is 12th at 44 seconds. Damiano Cunego's Lampre squad was 1:04 back, and Gilberto Simoni's squad was 1:26 behind CSC. I'll post their new placings when I see them.
The day's big winner has to be Ivan Basso. He's picked up 39 seconds or more against the real Giro threats (sorry, Sergei), and he's no slouch in the mountains. Di Luca, too has to be pleased, as Liquigas limited the damage, finishing 4th on the day at 42 seconds.
The big loser is Gilberto Simoni, who just took 90 seconds of damage in a 40 minute ride.
This was the first TTT in the Giro in 17 years, and there will be none in the Tour de France this year. Organizers had watered down the TTT the last few years to help the Euskaltel-Euskadis of the world, but it's a shame to see it eliminated. The TTT is a very photogenic (and telegenic) event, and it emphasizes the team aspect of cycling in a very visible way.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Michael Rogers, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)
May 08, 2006
Schumacher takes classics-style Giro stage, Petacchi out
Schumacher wisely marked QuickStep's Paolo Bettini, who dropped the field to try to reel in Discovery Channel's Jose-Luis Rubiera, but couldn't close the gap. At about 800 meters to ride, Schumacher squashed the Cricket, kung-fued Chechu, and took the biggest win of his career. Chechu was 2 seconds back for 2nd, and Schumacher's Gerolsteiner teammate Davide Rebellin led in the field 6 seconds back.
Factoring in his margin of victory over Paolo Savoldelli, and the 20-second stage win bonus, Schumacher finds himself in the race leader's jersey, 13 seconds ahead of Savoldelli, 23 seconds ahead of Davide Rebellin.
Despite losing the race lead, Paolo Savoldelli gained time on most of his overall GC rivals, and now leads Sergei Honchar by 18 seconds, Danilo Di Luca by :23, Ivan Basso by :28, Damiano Cunego by :30, and Gilberto Simoni by :49.
Team Milram sprint superstar Alessandro Petacchi got tangled up in a late race pileup, needed medical attention, and came in 14:38 back. After the race, he abandoned, with a fractured kneecap. He's returning to Italy for surgery, and may not be able to start the Tour. Petacchi has 19 stage wins in the last 3 Giros.
Tomorrow's the Giro's last day in Belgium, with a rest day Wednesday and the team time trial from Piacenza to Cremona on Thursday.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 8, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 07, 2006
Reminder: Same-day Giro Stage 2 coverage on OLN today
McEwen rides Milram train to Giro Stage 2 win
Team Milram's Alessandro Petacchi had made no secret of his desire to take today's Giro d'Italia Stage 2, from Mons to Charleroi.
As the peloton approached the finish line, his Milram team executed the plan to perfection, as his teammates slowly fell off, keeping the pace high enough to discourage opportunistic attacks, and launching Petacchi with 200 meters to go.
But today, the sun didn't rise in the East, the roadrunner didn't escape, and Petacchi couldn't finish out the sprint. Instead, Davitamon-Lotto's Robbie McEwen, following Petacchi's wheel, was able to come around and take the first road victory of the 2006 Giro.
T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack (who took the sprinters' points jersey at the Tour of California) was 2nd, Paolo Bettini of QuickStep was 3rd, and Petacchi was 4th. Leonardo "L." Duque of Cofidis rounds out the top 5.
Maybe there's still some life in the old-timers: McEwen is 33, Pollack, Bettini, and Petacchi are 32.
With the sprint finish, there was no significant change in the overall, where Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli (celebrating his 33rd birthday) still leads Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee by 11 seconds, and José Enrique Gutierrez by 13 seconds.
1) Robbie Mcewen, Davitamon-Lotto, in 4:51:40
2) Olaf Pollack, T-Mobile, same time
3) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, s.t.
4) Alessandro Petacchi, Team Milram, s.t.
5) Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, s.t.
6) Tomas Vaitkus, AG2R Prevoyance, s.t.
7) Alberto Loddo, Selle Italia, s.t.
8) Koldo Fernandez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
9) Axel Maximiliano, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, s.t.
10) Graeme Brown, Rabobank, s.t.
As it happened tickers:
Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Bradley McGee, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Giro Stage 1 photo galleries posted
(l-r) Simoni, Cunego, Basso, Savoldelli
José Enrique Gutierrez, Danilo Di Luca
Ullrich looks big.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Giro 2006 web resource roundup
TV:OLN is repeating their approach from last year, providing a weekly recap show on their Cyclysm Sundays show and live coverage of Monday - Saturday stages through a partnership with Cycling.TV, at $19.99 for the entire Giro. If you already subscribe to Cycling.TV, that's another $19.99 to get the Giro. Mac users note: it works if you've installed Windows Media/Mac and/or Flip4Mac; I had better luck in Firefox and Safari than Camino.
Tickers:Look for live text coverage from VeloNews, cyclingnews.com, and Eurosport, with commentary most days at Daily Peloton.
Online Resources:The official site, in English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German.
A team-by-team look at the Giro d'Italia
Riders in the race:
Jason McCartney's Giro Blog
Riders sitting out the Giro:
PezCycling News | Magnus Maximus : Giro Watching
May 06, 2006
Savoldelli takes Giro Stage 1
Defending Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli of Discovery Channel took today's short time trial in Belgium.
Savoldelli was the only rider to covered the 6.2 kilometers in less than 8 minutes. His 7:50 was 11 seconds faster than Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee, and 13 seconds ahead of José Enrigue Gutierrez of Phonak.
Among other favorites, Danilo Di Luca was 10th on the day, at 19 seconds, Ivan Basso was at 23 seconds, Cunego was at :25, and Gilberto Simoni was at :26.
Paolo Bettini, who had hoped to wear the race leader's jersey after Stage 3, came in at 8:32, so he'll need to take 42 seconds out of Savoldelli.
Among Americans, Bobby Julich finished in 8:35, Tom Danielson was in at 8:11, Jason McCartney at 8:21, Phonak's Patrick McCarty, starting his first grand tour, was 93rd in 8:44, and Saunier-Duval's Aaron Olson, likewise starting his first GT, finished in 9:07.
Jan Ullrich finished in 8:39 for 80th on the day.
1) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, in 7:50
2) Bradley McGee, Française des Jeux, at :11
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :13
4) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, same time
5) Serguei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :15
6) Francisco Perez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, at :16
7 José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, same time
8) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :17
9) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, at :18
10) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, at :19
Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Giro visiting extreme northern Italy
The Giro d'Italia kicks off today, in Seraing, Belgium.
Today's stage is another of those “non-prologue prologues,” 6.2 kilometers (or about 4 miles) in length, with a healthy climb in the middle.
The official Giro page calls this year's race the five-star edition, with defending champion Paolo Savoldelli, Ivan Basso, 2004 winner Damiano Cunego, 2003 winner Gilberto Simoni, and Danilo Di Luca the five favorites.
We'll also get to watch Jan Ullrich riding into condition, facing a very difficult final week of racing.
To follow today's stage, check out:
VeloNews.com | Giro Race Viewer (having problems at 10:40 Eastern)
I'll be posting a Giro roundup later today.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Paolo Savoldelli | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
January 10, 2006
Petacchi in for Giro and Tour
At the Milram team presentation in Bremen Tuesday, Alessandro Petacchi said he intends to ride both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in 2006.
Petacchi, who has owned the Giro the last three years, winning 19 stages, had complained that the 2006 Giro route wasn't to his liking.
Petacchi has been highly critical of a Giro route that, he says, only offers him five or six potential stage-winning opportunities ... Petacchi also revealed that his first objectives this season would be “Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders”.
December 09, 2005
Grand Tours to ProTour: Drop dead!
The Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España are splitsville with the UCI's ProTour. After more than a year of negotiations turned to squabbling, the big 3 can see no reason to stick with the newish ProTour, which the UCI hoped would become as well-known as other season-long sports tours, like the PGA tour.
In a joint statement released Friday, the Grand Tour sponsors say the ProTour was fundamentally unfair because all events were worth the same points, and because race-winning teams who weren't part of the ProTour, including Comunidad Valenciana and Panaria, earned no points.
This removes not only the three-week tours, but their sponsored events, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Nice, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Lombardy, Flèche Wallonne, and Tirreno-Adriatico from the ProTour.
The big 3 will still allow all ProTour teams entry in 2006, if they desire, but in 2007, they plan to take the 14 highest-scoring teams on a new points system, plus up to 8 wildcards for each tour.
Patrice Clerc, the president of Tour de France organisers, said: "Maintaining for 2006 the agreement we had for 2005, in other words a status quo, makes no sense because the situation was only a transition aimed at reaching a global agreement on the Pro-Tour, which the UCI are now saying they will not come up with."
To encourage squads to ride all three Grand Tours, which the ProTour rules required, organizers will pay a 100,000 euro bonus to teams participating in the Vuelta, Giro, and Tour, and will bring back the Trophee des Grands Tours, with a 2 million euro total split among the 7 teams with the best combined performance in the national tours.
May 03, 2005
Zabel to ride Giro
Erik Zabel will ride in his first Giro d'Italia, starting Saturday.
On Sunday, Zabel won the 'Rund um den Henninger Turm' for the third time, marking the second win (after Vinokourov's Liege-Bastogne-Liege) for T-Mobile this year.
The full T-Mobile Giro squad:
OLN extends weekend Giro coverage, offers for-pay weekday coverage
Outdoor Life Network will offer two hours of coverage for each Saturday and Sunday stage of this year's Giro d'Italia. If 16 hours of Phil Liggett, Bob Roll and Paul Sherwen won't cut it, they're also selling web-streaming of the weekday coverage ("without commercial interruption") for $5.95.
No word on the technical details, and no sign-up is yet available, but it's likely to be linked from their main cycling page when it is.
You can download their release (in Microsoft Word format(?)) here.
Update: the service is provided through MediaZone in Windows Media, with no Mac support.
April 22, 2005
Ag2R only wild card for 2005 Tour de France
France's AG2R squad will join the 20 ProTour squads in this year's Tour de France. The announcement leaves Agritubel and a few other hopefuls on the sidelines for this year's Tour.
It also leaves the Tour 9 riders shorter than in many recent years, when ASO has invited 22 squads.
Next month's Giro d'Italia will be a more democratic affair, with 24 squads competing, better representing Italian cycling.
January 22, 2005
2005 Giro route announced
The route for this year's Giro d'Italia was unveiled on Saturday.
Of note is the "prologue" May 7th: It's 1.15 km long. That's not a misprint -- the Giro will kick off with every rider giving his all for 2 minutes.
Last year's winner Damiano Cunego, whose Saeco team has morphed into Lampre-Caffitta, told Yahoo! Sport he thinks the profile is well-suited to a title defense:
"I can only say that on paper I like this Giro, but I will need to go and have a look at it to get a better idea," said the 23-year-old. "It seems to me like the tour will suit the climbers, but we'll see."
There are 5 big climber's stages, 2 ITTs (plus the prologue), and 10 sprinter-friendly stages already marked on Alessandro Petacchi's calendar.
Over at Cyclingnews, Tim Maloney tips a battle between Cunego and CSC's Ivan Basso, who hasn't ridden the Giro in 5 years. Maloney gives longer odds on Stefano Garzelli, or Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli, nursing a broken collarbone.
January 20, 2005
Petacchi to skip Tour, focus on Vuelta and World's
The world's fastest closer will skip the Tour de France this year.
Alessandro Petacchi, who won 4 stages of the 2003 Tour but faltered in 2004, will instead focus on winning the biggest one-day race in the world, the road World Championship, this year in Madrid. Petacchi will also race (but probably not finish) the Vuelta a España, which finishes one week before Worlds.
Petacchi, who set a record last year with 9 (!!!) stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, will also contest the Italian grand tour in May.
December 01, 2004
ProTour finalizes agreements with grand tours
Organizers of the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, and the Vuelta a España have agreed to be part of the 2005 ProTour, guaranteeing the new tour's teams entry in all three events, and 8 others run by the grand tour organizers.
Representatives of all three races still have reservations about the new system, and have asked UCI president Hein Verbruggen for changes before the 2006 ProTour.
The three major tour organisations, ASO (Tour), RCS (Giro) and Unipublic (Vuelta), restate in their letter to Verbruggen that they still want to see the development of an ethical code, the introduction of some form of promotion/relegation format for the ProTour and a written understanding about TV, image and other rights relating to events.
November 23, 2004
Svorada, Astarloa to exit 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."
June 01, 2004
Graham on Gilberto's Giro
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.
May 31, 2004
Armstrong scouts Mortirolo in Italian Alps
Cyclingnews.com quotes from an interview between Lance Armstrong and La Gazzetta dello Sport. Apparently, Armstrong is training in the Italian Alps, and rode the Mortirolo, the hardest climb in Saturday's Stage 19 of the Giro.
"It's a terrible climb...it's perfect for a mountain bike. On the hardest parts, I was riding a 39x27 and I was hurting, really hurting. (Mortirolo) is the hardest climb I've ever ridden. My time up the climb? It's not important; I rode the Mortirolo to have some fun and ride with the 'cicloamatori'...there were a few raindrops, but it was a great day.
This year's Tour goes nowhere near the Italian Alps, leading the interviewer to ask if Armstrong is planning to ride next year's Giro:
"You never know..."
Graham Watson Giro d'Italia Stage 20 gallery updated
All the standard last-stage shots are here: the jersey winners all together, the winner's team (notably missing is Simoni), and the sprint winner, Petacchi.
Cunego crowned, Petacchi extends record at Giro
Italy's newest cycling hero had his coming-out party in Milan on Sunday, as Damiano Cunego finished off his biggest victory, in the 2004 Giro d'Italia. Cunego becomes the races youngest winner since Giuseppe Saronni in 1979.
On the stage, Alessandro Petacchi extended his modern Giro record for stage wins to 8, ahead of Marco Zannotti in 2nd.
Cunego's GC lead was attacked, by Saeco teammate Gilberto Simoni among others, on Saturday, but Sunday's flat stage was more of a coronation.
Serhiy Honchar finished in second overall, 2:02 back, while 2001 and 2003 Giro winner Simoni was 3rd.
"His future is incredible, he can win many races. He's already four or five years ahead of the others," said Saeco's sport director, Giuseppe Martinelli. "He's not your typical rider. He's a strong climber, but has a quick sprint.
Petacchi on the stage win record:
"The first win was a liberation and the last was something special, but all the victories were important," Petacchi told Reuters after leading the pack home again on Sunday.
"After three weeks of racing and all the mountain stages I was very tired, but I was pleased the way I won the sprint. I had another great lead-out from my teammates and Zanotti and the other sprinters were well behind me at the line."
VeloNews on the internecine squabble between teammates Simoni and Cunego:
Though team officials tried to play it down, the split within the Saeco team has been the major story in the Italian press.
"Cunego deserved to win this Giro," Martinelli insisted. "He proved he was the strongest and the team supported him. For him to win is incredible. No one expected it."
Following Cunego's Saturday-morning press conference, Saeco riders and staff dressed in pink to pose for a picture - except Simoni, who refused to join the love fest. One newspaper reported Simoni would try to break his final year with Saeco to join another team, possibly Quick Step or his former team Lampre.
It's certain that the two men will not ride this year's Tour de France together, whether as teammates or as rivals - Cunego says he might not tackle that grand tour until 2006. As for Simoni, he refused to talk about the upcoming Tour. Part of his plan for the 2004 season was to come into the Giro fresher with the idea to be stronger in July.
"I don't want to think about the Tour. I've been racing for 20 days, and all I want to do is go home and see my family," Simoni said. "After that I'll come up with some plan to conquer the world."
May 30, 2004
Eurosport has an excellent look at the career of Damiano Cunego, the Giro d'Italia champion-in-waiting, who's likely to take the biggest victory in his career later today in Milan.
The Eurosport article goes so far as to compare Cunego to 3 former champions: Marco Pantani, Bernard Hinault (the only Giro winner with more stage victories than Cunego's 4), and Fausto Coppi himself (one of few Giro winners younger than 22-year-old Cunego).
When during Thursday's first Dolomites stage from San Vendemiano to Falzes, it became clear that it was not Simoni's day, Cunego pounced on his date with destiny, securing the pink jersey and signing the deed the next day with the win in Bormio.
And what's next for Cunego? He won his junior world championship in Verona, his hometown in 1999, and the city plays host to the senior road worlds this year, so mark Cunego as a favorite there.
May 25, 2004
Cunego in pink jersey after Tuesday stage win
Damiano Cunego of Italy's Saeco team has taken over the lead at the Giro d'Italia. Cunego put more than a minute into all opponents with a solo breakaway with 12 kilometers to ride.
Two-time defending champion Gilberto Simoni, Cunego's teammate, lost 2:30 on the stage, and sits 4th, 2:38 back.
Cunego is one of the great young hopes of Italian cycling; he was the world junior road champion in 1999.
Cunego paid justifiable tribute to his team-mates, especially Simoni as the two-time champion had set out at the start of the race as the team leader but had confessed earlier in the event that if Cunego was stronger than him then he should go for it.
"'Gibo' (Simoni) is a great leader, a true champion" said Cunego.
"He left it to me to race my race. The situation is a little complex but he accepts it at the moment.
"We will carry on racing alongside each other, without annoying one another."
Former race leader Yaroslav Popovych lost more than 4 minutes Tuesday, with more climbing to come.
Cunego isn't counting his chickens just yet:
"The pink jersey in Milan? There is still a long way to go," said Cunego.
Simoni played along with Saeco's team tactics, perhaps at his own expense. The two-time Giro champion could only watch as Cunego rode to victory in the 217km stage from San Vendemiano to Falzes.
"Damiano was the strongest today and the team supported him," said Simoni, who fell to fourth at 2:38 back of his young protégé. "It puts us in good position to win the Giro once again, which is the top goal for the team."
McEwen exits Giro
Robbie McEwen has abandoned the Giro d'Italia, avoiding the last week of mountain climbing to focus on the green jersey competition at the Tour de France.
"I've already had a lot of racing this season and I've got to think of the Tour de France," said McEwen, second in Monday's 15th stage behind Italian Alessandro Petacchi, before he flew home to Belgium.
May 24, 2004
Petacchi wins his eighth!
Alessandro Petacchi surprised no one today when he set the modern record for stage wins in a single Giro d'Italia. Petacchi edged Australia's Robbie McEwen and Germany's Olaf Pollack for the stage win.
Four riders were as much as 10 minutes ahead of the field early, but the Fassas brought them back to give Petacchi a shot at the record.
Yaroslav Popovych of Landbouwkrediet-Colnago retains the overall lead, but it's pretty much time for the climbers to take over, which Popovych thinks could happen as soon as tomorrow:
"It is the stage that I fear the most," said the 24-year-old, who holds a lead of 1:27 over defending Giro champion Gilberto Simoni. "I know I am going to be attacked and it is feasible that I will lose the maglia rosa. After that I will just take each stage as it comes."
Petacchi looks to set Giro stage recordYahoo! Sport | Petacchi in seventh heaven after equalling Giro record
If he wants to win, nobody is stopping Alessandro Petacchi. He's won half the stages in this year's Giro d'Italia, with a week still to ride. That equals the modern record of 7 stage wins shared by Freddy Maertens, Roger De Vlaeminck, and Beppe Saronni. Back in the stone age, Alfredo Binda won 12 stages in 1927. Asked how many stages in total he thought he could win, Petacchi said he likes the profile of two more stages:
"There are still two stages left where sprints are possible, this Monday and next Sunday. But the next stage is long and the team is starting to feel the effects of working for me so much.Yaroslav Popovych of the Ukraine will spend at least today in the pink jersey, as he holds the overall lead by 3 seconds over Serhiy Honchar, with Bradley McGee of Australia 1:02 back, and 2-time defending Giro champion Gilberto Simoni looming 1:27 back. The last week is mostly one for the climbers, where Simoni has traditionally excelled. Also: VeloNews | Seven
"Plus, the mountains are just around the corner and we have to think about saving some energy."
Petacchi added: "Seven victories - it hasn't quite sunk in. To equal Saronni is just unbelievable. He was on[e] of my idols."
May 19, 2004
How many Giro stages will Petacchi win?
Alessandro Petacchi is just unbeatable at this stage of his career. I can't remember anther sprinter who just took stages by the fistful like he is right now.
Today he took his fifth stage (of 10 so far) in the Giro d'Italia.
Giro rest day update: Fast Freddy stage win; which Saeco?Tuesday was a rest day in the Giro d'Italia, so the riders take stock and look forward to the more tactical stages over the next 2 weeks. One of the big surprises of the Giro so far was Monday's victory by Fred Rodriguez of the United States, riding for Acqua e Sapone, who took Alessandro Petacchi straight up in a sprint, something almost no one has been able to do this year. “Fast Freddy” has his account of the victory online at VeloNews. Rodriguez timed his sprint masterfully, out-thinking Petacchi to the line:
“Usually right before the sprint, there's a little let-down. It comes just as the lead out guy finally starts to die, but before, say Petacchi, surges to the line. So I really just tried to anticipate that surge and, at that point, I jumped on the left side into the headwind, put it in my 54x11 and put my head down. Somewhere along there - maybe 100 meters from the line - I saw Petacchi come along side me, but he didn't have the legs to come around.”VeloNews handicaps the current standings, and suggest keeping an eye on Australia's Bradley McGee, who's 1:49 back. There are two Saecos atop the standings, but the team minimizes any friction between Damiano Cunego and 2-time Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni. From The Daily Peloton:
“I learn something new from Gilberto everyday,” Damiano Cunego says. “Damiano is giving me a big hand by sharing the responsibilty of the team leadership,” explains Gilberto Simoni.Simoni says he's marking Stefano Garzelli as a rival for the overall race victory. The Daily Peloton also has three pages of photos from the Giro prologue, back on May 8th. Friday is a key stage for Alessandro Petacchi, whose team sponsor, Fassa Bortolo, and bike sponsor, Pinarello, both hail from Treviso, where the stage ends.
May 16, 2004
Petacchi takes 4th stage win at Giro
Alessandro Petacchi's 2004 is looking a lot like his 2003: If he shows up, and there's a sprint, he's going to take it.
Sunday, he took the Giro's eighth stage, for his 4th stage win so far.
Robbie McEwen took 2nd, and Lithuania's Tomas Vaitkus was 3rd. McEwen is the only man not named Alessandro to win a sprint stage so far this year, when he took Thursday's stage.
Damiano Cunego of Saeco continues in the pink leader's jersey, after his masterful stage win on Saturday.
Cipollini: 'I think that my career ends here'
Mario Cipollini dropped out of the Giro on Saturday. The Lion King holds the record for Giro stage wins, but hadn't won a stage in this year's Tour of Italy, the first time he's come away empty-handed.
Add in an injury suffered during Wednesday's stage, and 3 stage wins so far by Cipo's heir apparent, Alessandro Petacchi, and it was a little more than Italian cycling's prima ballerina could handle:
"It is possible that my career will stop here. It is difficult to find stimulation. For now, I don't want to think about the Tour de France," Cipollini told reporters.
Of course, Cipo announces retirements like J-Lo announces engagements; this is at least the third I remember.
Procycling.com also has a very good wrap-up of Cipollini's Giro, and his current state.
March 02, 2004
Giro teams announced
The Giro d'Italia is 2 months away (May 8-30), and the invited teams were announced on Monday:
Acqua e Sapone-Caffé Mokambo (Italy)
Ceramiche Panaria - Margres (Italy)
Chocolat Jacques-Wincor-Nixdorf (Belgium)
Colombia-Selle Italia - (Colombia)
De Nardi - (Italy)
Domina Vacanze - (Italy)
Fassa Bortolo - (Italy)
Fdjeux.com - (France)
Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé - (Italy)
Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme (Spain)
Phonak Hearing Systems (Switzerland)
Saunier Duval - Prodir (Spain)
Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie (Italy)
For everything you ever wanted to know about this year's Giro, check out Daily Peloton's Giro d'Italia page.