May 07, 2007

Giro 2007 rosters announced 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

February 25, 2007

Dominguez takes Stage 7, Leipheimer the overall at ToC

VeloNews | Sprinters have their day as Leipheimer cruises to Tour of California title

So far, the Tour of California has been the Discovery Channel/CSC Variety Hour, with guest stars Paolo Bettini and Graeme Brown. CSC has 3 wins, 2 by Juan José Haedo and one by Jen Voigt, while Discovery Channel has two by Leipheimer in the race's two time trials.

So it's understandable the US squads were on the attack today on the circuit race in Long Beach.

Danny Pate of Slipstream and Tim Johnson of HealthNet kicked off the day's big break, joined by Johnson teammate Karl Menzies, Pate teammate Steven Cozza, Toyota-United's Sean Sullivan, Priority Health's Ben Jacques-Maynes, and T-Mobile's Adam Hansen. At one point, Pate was yellow jersey on the road, but Discovery had plenty of help today from teams looking for a sprint stage win, including BMC, Credit Agricole, and Rabobank.

Menzies was the final survivor with around 2 miles to ride. Pate would take the overall most-aggressive rider's jersey for his active role all week.

From there, the ProTour teams worked to place their sprint specialists. CSC got on the front, with Rabobank trying to set up Graeme Brown and Gerolsteiner working for Robert Förster. At the line, the win went to Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez, who found and attacked from Brown's wheel.

“For me it is better if I find my own way in a sprint,” said Dominguez. “With four laps to go I found Graeme Brown's wheel and I stayed there. When we started the sprint he just took me all the way to the finish.”

Dominguez was brought over to Toyota-United partly to fill the gap left by Juan José Haedo, now riding for CSC, who took the points jersey for the overall tour.

Levi Leipheimer wraps a wire-to-wire overall win in front of the home crowd. It's going to be very interesting to see how his season develops; this could either be his payoff for working for Basso at the Grand Tours, or the beginning of the big season he's worked for.

Best young rider goes to Rabobank's Robert Gesink, :41 ahead of Matthew Lloyd of Predictor-Lotto. CSC took the team classification, 2:19 up on Discovery Channel. Said Stuart O'Grady:

“We came here with the objective of going for the overall. But getting three stage wins plus second, fourth, fifth, sixth, the overall team classification and the sprinters jersey was a superb week. We've come from a really hard training camp and it was hard. But the hard days are paying off and we've come away from this with way more than expected and we are all very happy.”

Christophe Laurent took the King of the Mountains overall. | Leipheimer takes jersey from start to finish

CyclingNews | Stage 7 photo gallery | Complete stage results | Complete General Classification | Tour of California Stage 7 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on February 25, 2007 in Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2007

California Cricket: Bettini takes ToC Stage 4

VeloNews | Bettini's stage win a great curtain-raiser for Friday's TT showdown | Two world champs go one-two in SLO

Catching up from a couple of busy days, so these won't be news if you've been paying attention to the Tour of California.

On Thursday, Paolo Bettini got his first-ever win in the United States. He narrowly outsprinted world under-23 champion Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile, with CSC's Juan José Haedo third.

Christophe Laurent of Credit Agricole joined a host of US continental riders for the day's primary breakaway, and therefore Laurent took over the lead in the king of the mountains competition. Also on board were Kirk O'Bee, Alejandro Acton, Aaron Olson Lucas Euser, Hilton Clarke, and Sean Sullivan. The peloton was content to let this group get away, and only Discovery Channel worked until very late in the stage, when Liquigas and Rabobank joined in to try and give their sprinters a chance. Finally, with 5 kilometers to ride and CSC driving the field, the break was captured.

Ciolek was first around the day's last corner, with Bettini on his wheel, but there was no denying the rainbow jersey, who took a photo finish that had the top three spread over about a wheel's width.

Bettini complimented T-Mobile's young German:

It was very hard for me to close that gap and the sprint was close by only a few centimeters. I was fortunate to have the power to come back to him today. He is very young and very fast and with experience he is going to be a very big rider."

Levi Leipheimer maintained the race lead, although Jens Voigt threatened to gap the field while setting up Haedo for the sprint.

Also: | Amgen Tour of California Stage 4

Amgen Tour, Stage 4: A Casey Gibson gallery | Stage 4 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on February 22, 2007 in Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

Stage 3 to the old master: Jens Voigt leads the way

Voigt over the top

Jens at the top of Sierra Road
By Ken Conley.

It was a Tour de France style climb up Sierra Road today, and the cream of the field was first to the top.

A large break went away early, featuring CSC's Jens Voigt, Discovery Channel's Jason McCartney, three riders each from Liquigas and HealthNet-Maxxis, Steven Cozza and Will Frischkorn from Team Slipstream, Jelly Belly's Nick Reistad, QuickStep's Jurgen Van De Walle, and seven others. They got 5 minutes advantage on the field, and Discovery burned a lot of matches chasing.

Finally, Rabobank joined in, and the gap started to come down. Then came Sierra Road. The breakaway fell apart on the 10-kilometer climb, and Ivan Basso was the only Discovery Channel rider who could help team leader Levi Leipheimer, with Hincapie and Danielson falling off from the chase effort. Even Basso fell away shortly up the climb, leaving Leipheimer, Chris Horner, and Rabobank's Robert Gesink the strongest of the main field.

Voigt and McCartney were best of the break, but Leipheimer's group was sweeping through the break's remnants, closing fast. The five joined up a few kilometers from the summit.

Over the top, with 22 kilometers down into San Jose, Leipheimer led Voigt, Horner, Gesink, and McCartney. Fifteen riders were about a minute back, but Leipheimer and McCartney went all out to put some time into the field, and Voigt knew just how to play it.

Voigt saved himself for the last kilometers, and when the time came, he delivered. With Quick Step and Paolo Bettini reeling in the leaders, Voigt led Leipheimer, then Chris Horner over the line.

Voigt's bonus time moves him into 2nd overall, 3 seconds behind Leipheimer. Health Net's Rory Sutherland sits 3rd, at 15 seconds with Chris Horner 4th at 16 seconds back.

The day's Top 10:
1) Jens Voigt, Germany, Team CSC, 3:43:44
2) Levi Leipheimer, US, Discovery Channel, same time
3) Christopher Horner, US, Predictor-Lotto, s.t.
4) Robert Gesink, Netherlands, Rabobank, at :04
5) Paolo Bettini, Italy, Quick Step, s.t.
6) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, s.t.
7) Enrico Gasparotto, Italy, Liquigas, s.t.
8) Dimitri Fofonov, Kazakhstan, Credit Agricole, s.t.
9) Bram De Groot, Netherlands, Rabobank, s.t.
10) Sergey Lagutin, Uzbekistan, Navigators Insurance, s.t.

General classification:
1) Levi Leipheimer, US, Discovery Channel, 12:46:25
2) Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, at :03
3) Rory Sutherland, Australia, Health Net-Maxxis, at :15
4) Chris Horner, USA, Predictor-Lotto, at :16
5) Mauricio Ardila Cano, Colombia, Rabobank, at :17
6) Ben Day, Australia, Navigators Insurance, at :18
7) Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, Health Net-Maxxis, at :19
8) Michael Rogers, Australia, T-Mobile, s.t.
9) Sergey Lagutin, Uzbekistan, Navigators Insurance, at :20
10) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, s.t.

Also: | Tour of California Stage 3

VeloNews | Voigt wins stae, Levi leads in Amgen Tour

Posted by Frank Steele on February 21, 2007 in Chris Horner, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 18, 2007

Flickr'ing the ToC prologue

So far, there are two sets of photos worth checking out at Flickr on today's Tour of California prologue: Leslie Veen's and David Schloss's.

My faves:

Paolo Bettini warms up, by Leslie Veen


CSC climb the hill, by David Schloss


Basso up close and personal

The Specialized Angel

Ken Conley checks in, with my favorites, I think, being this shot of Leipheimer passing a shreiking bright banner. and this one of Stuart O'Grady, suffering up Telegraph Hill.

Update Monday a.m.:

Graham Watson's prologue gallery

Casey Gibson checks in at VeloNews, and I would say he's got one shot where he outdoes the master. | Prologue photo gallery

The Paceline (free subscription req.) | Three Sets of CA Prologue Pics

More from Flickr: Great shot of Hincapie showing the colors by 1115; Saul Raisin working the crowd, by on2wheelz (who has dozens of good shots); and just look at all of Ken Conley's pics (warmup set/race set): I especially love Jason Donald with the big burrito, the Angel, and this shot of Chris Baldwin.

Update to the update: has a nice gallery up, as does ProCyclingPress, a site I've never seen before.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 18, 2007 in Paolo Bettini, Photo galleries, Stuart O'Grady, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 14, 2007

Tour of California rosters released

Amgen Tour of California | 2007 Rider Roster Announced

I am going to hate missing the Tour of California. With the obvious exception of Floyd Landis, fans will get to see pretty much every American racing in the ProTour, and many of the world's best riders will be racing in the US for the first time.

The race, kicking off Sunday, will feature the winners of 4 stages and the prologue of the 2006 Tour de France: Thor Hushovd, who took the prologue and Stage 21, CSC's Jens Voigt, Stage 13, Michael (Spider) Rasmussen, who dominated the Alpine climbs and won Stage 16 and the king of the mountains, and Matteo Tosatto, who won Stage 18.

You want Americans? They got 'em: George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, and Jason McCartney from Discovery Channel; Dave Zabriskie, Bobby Julich, and Christian Vandevelde from Team CSC; Freddie Rodriguez and Chris Horner from Predictor-Lotto; Aaron Olson, now with T-Mobile; and of course the US-based Pro Continental and Continental teams, mostly populated by US riders.

You want ProTour royalty? They got 'em: World champion Paolo Bettini, world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara, reigning Giro champion Ivan Basso, and former world TT champion Michael Rogers.

There are also lots of old faces on new teams, as with Michael Barry, Greg Henderson and Jakob Piil, all now with T-Mobile, Juan-José Haedo, dominant in US sprints last year, and now racing for CSC, and Henk Vogels, now racing for the Continental Toyota-United squad.

Also, injured Credit Agricole rider Saul Raisin, whose recovery continues, plans to ride each stage noncompetitively and visit with fans at the start and finish. He's also promoting a ride March 31st in Dalton, Ga. called Raisin Hope.

Should be a heck of a race.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 14, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Igor Astarloa, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Saul Raisin, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

National championships roundup

Peter Mazur
Peter Mazur,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
A few surprises in the European national championships, as 32-year-old former Telekom pro Dirk Muller took the German title, and Spain called the whole thing off.

Riders in bold are provisional 2006 Tour de France starters.

ITT: Peter Luttenberger, CSC; Road: Bernhard Kohl, T-Mobile

Road: Niko Eeckhout

ITT: Brian Vandborg, CSC; Road: Allan Johansen, CSC

ITT: Jaan Kirsipuu, Credit Agricole; Road: Erki Pütsep, AG2R

ITT: Sylvain Chavanel, Cofidis; Road: Florent Brard, Caisse d'Epargne

ITT: Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner; Road: Dirk Muller

Great Britain:
Road: Hamish Haynes

ITT: Marzio Brusheghin, Lampre; Road: Paolo Bettini, QuickStep

ITT: Maxim Iglinskiy, Milram; Road: Andrey Kasechkin, Astaná-Würth

ITT: Benoit Joachim, Discovery Channel; Road: Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile

ITT: Stef Clement, Bouyges Telecom; Road: Michael Boogerd, Rabobank

ITT: Kurt Asle Arvesen, CSC; Road: Lars Petter Nordhaug, T-Mobile

ITT: Peter Mazur, Saunier Duval (at right); Road: Mariusz Witecki

ITT: Gustav Larsson; Road, Thomas Lövkvist, Française des Jeux

ITT: Fabian Cancellara, CSC; Road, Gregory Rast, Phonak

ITT: Andrey Grivko, Milram

Posted by Frank Steele on June 26, 2006 in Fabian Cancellara, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2006

Bettini adds Italian jersey to golden helmet | Bettini wins second Italian championship

On a sweltering day in northeastern Italy, Paolo Bettini took the Italian road-racing championship, and will wear the Italian champion's jersey for the next year, along with his Olympic champion golden helmet.

Bettini won in typical fashion, launching a strong attack with 10 kilometers to ride. Ten other riders bridged, including Danilo Di Luca and Stefano Garzelli of Liquigas, Pietro Caucchioli of Credit Agricole, Mirko Celestino of Milram, and Luca Mazzanti of Ceramica Panaria.

The group of 11 stayed together to the line, and Bettini was the fastest, with Celestino barely behind, and Di Luca third.

Joining Bettini will be Marzio Bruseghin, who won Wednesday's Italian TT championship. It was the first win of Bruseghin's career, and he'll be flaunting the maglia tricolore at the Tour prologue.

Also: | 2006 Italian Road Championships photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 25, 2006 in Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

QuickStep welcomes Rujano, rests Bettini

Monday's EuroFile | Quick Step names Tour nine

QuickStep is looking to put reigning world champion Tom Boonen in green at Tour's end.

They've got 2006 Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato, 2006 Giro Stage 19 winner Juan Mañuel Garate, and QuickStep's latest addition, José Rujano.

Venezuela's Rujano owned the mountains at last year's Giro, but dropped out of this year's Giro early, just before his bizarre contract expired with Selle Italia, and his contract with QuickStep started. Rujano has since apologized for his season thus far, and for withdrawing from the Giro when he did (see Rujano says thanks and goodbye to Selle Italia, from

Paolo Bettini will not race the Tour, likely looking toward September's World Championship in Salzburg.

    QuickStep-Innergetic 2006 Tour de France squad:
  • Tom Boonen
  • José Rujano
  • Cedric Vasseur
  • Wilfried Cretskens
  • Steven De Jongh
  • Juan Manuel Garate
  • Filippo Pozzato
  • Bram Tankink
  • Mateo Tosatto

Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Filippo Pozzato, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 16, 2006

Bettini stays with QuickStep

Eurosport | Bettini extends with Quick Step

QuickStep's reigning Olympic champion, Paolo Bettini, will stay with the team for another two years.

QuickStep's manager Patrick Lefevere had fueled speculation that Bettini would jump ship to T-Mobile when he said the team couldn't afford the salaries of its three superstars: Bettini, reigning world champion Tom Boonen, and Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato.

Eurosport reports Bettini walked away from a 2 million euro proposal from T-Mobile to re-sign with QuickStep, and that the signing is likely to leave Pozzato looking for a new squad next year. He's been linked to Cofidis, and has said he would like to take teammate Guido Trenti with him.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 16, 2006 in Filippo Pozzato, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006

Nuyens takes Suisse Stage 3 and race lead | Nuyens moves into Swiss Tour lead

QuickStep's 26-year-old Nick Nuyens kept the freshest legs in a late-stage breakaway Monday to take the 3rd stage of the Tour de Suisse.

As a teammate of Paolo Bettini, also in the selection, Nuyens didn't work as hard to make the break stick, and easily outkicked T-Mobile's Linus Gerdemann, Astaná-Würth's Jorg Jacksche, and Saunier Duval's Koldo Gil.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich was near the front for most of the day, and he, Bettini, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, David Canada, Giampaolo Caruso, and the 4 who would break away formed a superstrong group of 10 with about 20 kilometers to ride.

Michael Rasmussen, Bradley McGee, and Robbie McEwen were shelled by the high tempo, and came in around 4 minutes back.

Also: | Stage 3 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 12, 2006 in Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rasmussen, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2006

Tour of Switzerland kicks off today

Cycling4all | Tour de Suisse start list

Cycling4All offers a final Tour de Suisse start list. Of course, Jan Ullrich is the biggest Tour GC threat at the race, starting today, but there are a lot of other Tour players involved.

Top sprinters Tom Boonen and Robbie McEwen are here, and are the favorites for the Tour's green jersey this year. Thousand-time (okay, six-time) green jersey Erik Zabel is here, as well, leading Team Milram.

Others in competition: Michael Rasmussen, Paolo Bettini, Cadel Evans, Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, and Bradley McGee.

Web streaming coverage is available from Cycling.TV's premium subscription service, where £19.99, or about $37, gets you a full year of racing. Today and tomorrow, subscribers have both the Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de Suisse to choose from.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 10, 2006 in Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Tom Boonen, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)

Also: | 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 | 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 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. | 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 15, 2006

Vaitkus takes Giro Stage 9

Eurosport | Vaitkus wins in photo-finish

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.

Also: | Giro Stage 9 wrapup | Results< | Overall standings | Photo gallery | 2006 Giro Stage 9 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2006

McEwen again, as Pollack takes Giro lead | Giro d'Italia Stage 6 Live Report

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.

Top 10:
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 08, 2006

Schumacher takes classics-style Giro stage, Petacchi out | Schumacher takes lead after wet, ugly day at Giro

Schumacher's powerful win
Schumacher's win at Namur
Fotoreporter Sirotti/
Stefan Schumacher took an enormous win in Belgium today, winning Stage 3 of the Giro on the ascent to the citadel of Namur.

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.

Also: | Petacchi leaves the race | Giro Stage 3 wrapup | Full results

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

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.

Top 10:
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: | VeloNews | Eurosport | Daily Peloton

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

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.

Top 10:
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

Also: | Savoldelli throws down the gauntlet

Eurosport | Back in pink for Savoldelli | Full results | Photo gallery

Tickers: Daily Peloton | VeloNews |

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

April 23, 2006

Valverde again; wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège | Valverde wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège Alejandro Valverde followed up Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne victory with a big win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday. Michael Boogerd and Valverde's teammate Joaquin Rodriguez were caught with 6 km to ride; among the leaders with 5 km to ride were Davitamon-Lotto's Chris Horner alongside Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile, Danilo Di Luca, Andrey Kashechkin, Paolo Bettini, Danilo Diluca, Damiano Cunego, and Frank Schleck and Ivan Basso of CSC. With 1k to ride, Sinkewitz attacked, with Basso following, but he couldn't get away. In the select sprint, Valverde was the strongest, continuing the European youth movement -- Valverde's 25. He's also the first Spaniard ever to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Top 10: 1) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, in 6:21:32 2) Paolo Bettini, Quickstep, same time                                   3) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, s.t. 4) Patrik Sinkewitz, T-Mobile, s.t. 5) Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank, s.t. 6) Miguel Perdiguero, Phonak, s.t. 7) Frank Schleck, CSC, s.t.                                               8) Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto, CSC, s.t. 9) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, s.t.                                              10) Ivan Basso, CSC, s.t. Also: | Liège-Bastogne-Liège live ticker

Posted by Frank Steele on April 23, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Kashechkin, Chris Horner, Danilo Di Luca, Frank Schleck, Ivan Basso, Paolo Bettini, Patrik Sinkewitz, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 17, 2006

Amstel Gold photo galleries | Amstel Gold Race

Wesemann was strongest but second Prerace favorite Bettini and Wesemann Schleck makes the decisive break
Wesemann, Bettini, Schleck
Graham Watson

Also: | 41st Amstel Gold Race photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on April 17, 2006 in Frank Schleck, Paolo Bettini, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 16, 2006

Frank Schleck takes Amstel Gold

Eurosport | Schleck's golden gift

CSC's Luxembourg champion Frank Schleck has been in more breaks this season than Allan Iverson. Sunday, he took it to the hoop.

Schleck attacked out of a 10-man break with 9 kilometers to ride, to beat Steffen Wesemann of T-Mobile and perennial Amstel podium finisher Michael Boogerd of Rabobank. Shleck is the first Luxembourgian to win Amstel, and the first to win a classic since Marcel Erzner took Liége-Bastogne-Liége in 1954.

T-Mobile had three men in the lead group late, but Wesemann couldn't match Schleck's move. Pre-race favorite Paolo Bettini of Quickstep was 8th on the day, back 53 seconds.

Somebody noted the youth movement apparent in the classics so far, with Boonen, Cancellara, and Schleck all 26 or less.

Don't forget OLN has same-day coverage of Amstel Gold this afternoon on Cyclysm Sundays.

Top 10:
1) Frank Schleck, Team CSC, 6:25:39
2) Steffen Wesemann, T-Mobile, at :22
3) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank at :46
4) Karsten Kroon, Team CSC, at :48
5) Patrik Sinkewitz, T-Mobile, same time
6) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
7) Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak, s.t.
8) Paolo Bettini, QuickStep, at :53
9) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, at :57
10) Sergey Ivanov, T-Mobile, at 1:07

Also: | Amstel gold fan pics

Daily Peloton | Amstel Gold live ticker | 41st Amstel Gold results

Posted by Frank Steele on April 16, 2006 in Davide Rebellin, Frank Schleck, Paolo Bettini, Patrik Sinkewitz, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2006

Milan-San Remo wrapup

PezCycling News | Milano-Sanremo 2006: New Prince Crowned in Primavera!

Pozzato's perfect move
Pozzato's perfect move
AP/Antonio Callani
I just finished watching the OLN coverage of Milan-San Remo. What an awesome race. Filippo Pozzato played it exactly right both strategically and tactically. Reading the live text feeds on the web, I couldn't tell whether the Frank Schleck group with Sanchez and Pozzato got swallowed up or not, and now I see why.

The peloton made contact with the six leaders, who were fighting every inch of the way, so instead of the typically engulfing end to the break, the break members stayed out at the tip of the spear. As Milram tried to set up its finishing sprint, coming around the break remnants, Igor Astarloa (the OLN commentators thought it was Rinaldo Nocentini of Acqua e Sapone) just put the hammer down. Pozzato not only caught him, but came around him, charging super hard, and the gap held up. Astarloa wound up 11th.

If you watched the TV coverage, VeloNews fingers Ivan Gutierrez as the Caisse d'Espargne rider trying to wave off the motorcycles -- he thought they were hovering a little too close to Petacchi's chasers, giving the peloton a bit of a draft.

Petacchi was all class in defeat:

"I was in top form, but I didn't have the luck today," Petacchi said. "You need to have the luck to win Milan-San Remo. Our team rode great today and I wanted to pay back their efforts with a victory. But my compliments go to Pozzato. Quick Step worked the tactics perfectly with Pozzato on the wheel and they left the chase up to us."

Top 10:

1) Filippo Pozzato, Quick Step, in 6:29:41

2) Alessandro Petacchi (I), Milram, same time

3) Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas, s.t.

4) Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step, s.t.

5) Danilo Napolitano (I), Lampre, s.t.

6) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.

7) Stefano Garzelli, Liquigas, s.t.

8) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, s.t.

9) Martin Elmiger, Phonak, s.t.

10) Matteo Carrara, Lampre, s.t.

Also: | Pozzato outfoxes favorites to win Milan-San Remo

Daily Peloton | 97th Milan-San Remo Rider Comments | What's written on Pozzato's right arm? | Full Results

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, Igor Astarloa, Milan-San Remo 2006, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 17, 2006

Milan-San Remo previews

Eurosport | Petacchi declares intent

Boonen (l) and Petacchi
MSR favorites: Boonen and Petacchi

Milram's Alessandro Petacchi says he's (duh!) the team's leader for Milan-San Remo tomorrow, and that he's glad to have Quick Step's Tom Boonen as the favorite in the season's first classic.

"It's no secret that Boonen wants to start the classics season with a win at Sanremo. This time, he is obligated to step up to the plate. Him and his [Quick Step] team, of course."

Boonen has said that though he does not like the race, his intention is to win the first, and longest, classic of the season.

"Last year, nobody talked about [Boonen] before the race and all the pressure was on me," Petacchi said. "This year the roles are reversed, and that doesn't bother me."

PezCycling News details the tactical considerations throughout the course, and notes that Boonen and Petacchi are even with oddsmakers at 4-1, with Thor Hushovd 9-1.

VeloNews reminds us that this race isn't always a sprinters' showdown. This year, I think it is, but I suppose we could see a repeat of 2003, with all those sprinter teams waiting for each other to put in an effort to chase down a quality break. I don't think we will, John Wilcockson doesn't think we will, and I'm sure neither Petacchi nor Boonen thinks we will. Wilcockson mentions again that organizers intend to add the Pompeiana to the route (PezCycling offers a report on the climb), between the Cipressa and Poggio, in an effort to eliminate an annual sprint finish.

Cycling4All has the final start list.


PezCycling News | SanRemo Primer: The Italian Translation

La Gazzetta dello Sport | Official Milano-San Remo site (in Italian) | Petacchi, Boonen top faves for MSR | San Remo fever | Milano-San Remo predictions (free reg. required) | Discovery Channel Announces Milan-San Remo Squad

Posted by Frank Steele on March 17, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Milan-San Remo 2006, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

Classics kick off Saturday with Milan-San Remo | Cycling: Sprinters savor the classics

With Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico out of the way, we can look forward to La Primavera, Milan-San Remo, the first classic of the year, running this Saturday in Italy.

It's the longest of the classics, at more than 180 miles and about 7 hours in the saddle. Last year, Alessandro Petacchi finally took his first win in San Remo, ahead of Danilo Hondo (and whatever became of him?) and Thor Hushovd.

In 2004, Erik Zabel timed his sprint perfectly, and looked to have his 5th Milan-San Remo locked up, only to sit up early and lose to Rabobank's Oscar Freire.

Over at the International Herald Tribune, Samuel Abt handicaps the 2006 edition of the race. The obvious favorites are Petacchi and Tom Boonen, both of whom are winning sprints seemingly at will this year. Both of them have some extra baggage, their teammates Zabel (with Petacchi at Milram) and Paolo Bettini (with Boonen at Quick Step), who won the race in 2003.

Bettini is banged up from a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, but told Eurosport he'll definitely be racing on Saturday:

"I'm going to start the race on Saturday and then worry about getting to San Remo," he added on Tuesday ... "My back and my knee still hurts when I stand on the pedals but I'm optimistic things will improve," he said ... "Unfortunately, Milan-San Remo is the longest race of the season. I just hope my back and knee don't hold me back during the final part of the race."

Boonen toured the race finish Monday. If he could win here, he would be just the 5th man to win the race while world champion. Even so, he's my pick.

Also: | Milan-San Remo provisional start list

Milan-San Remo Maps and Profiles | Milan-San Remo

CyclingRevealed | History of San Remo: The Beginning | Coppi's Grand Journey

Posted by Frank Steele on March 14, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Hondo, Erik Zabel, Milan-San Remo 2006, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2006

Bettini again at Tirreno-Adriatico, O'Grady out 4-6 weeks | Deja vu for Bettini

Quick Step's triple world champion Paolo Bettini is 2-for-2 at Tirreno-Adriatico, after a 2nd stage win in Frascati on Thursday.

Said Bettini:

CSC's O'Grady broke 5 ribs and his collarbone
O'Grady hurting
Fotoreporter Sirotti/

"I'm not thinking about the general classification, I'm taking things on a day by day basis. Tomorrow's stage is one that I have already won twice, in 1999 and 2003. We'll have to see if I can make it three."

Bettini closed almost 30 seconds on Daniele Contrini in the last 2 kms, passing him in the last 500 meters and outsprinting Milram's Erik Zabel (again). It was Zabel's 9th 2nd-place on the young season. LPR's Mikhaylo Khalilov was 3rd. That's how the overall shakes out, so far, since both stages had the same 1st and 2nd-place riders.

Stuart O'Grady, now riding for CSC, was victim to a pothole, and broke five ribs and his collarbone.

Overall Standings
1) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, in 8:11:54
2) Erik Zabel, Milram, at :08
3) Mikhaylo Khalilov, LPR, at :16
4) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, same time
5) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, and about 50 other riders, at :20

Eurosport | Bettini does it again | Bettini doubles up at Tirreno

Photos: | Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 2 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on March 9, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Paolo Bettini, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tirreno-Adriatico '06, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2006

Bettini takes 1st stage at Tirreno-Adriatico | Cycling-Bettini wins first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico

Bettini wins Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 1
AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
Paolo Bettini seized the day, saying he's intent on competing for the overall title at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Bettini outsprinted Erik Zabel, the eternal 2nd, and Thor Hushovd on the slightly uphill finish. Zabel had the leadout services of teammate Alessandro Petacchi, who felt the finish suited Zabel better than himself:

"The only way we could win was to make Quick.Step work because we knew that Paolo (Bettini) was the man to beat. In any case, Erik rode great today. With 1km to go, he was a bit behind and came up fast. Yes, he lost, but he lost to Bettini who is the best in the world for this kind of finish. So I'm willing to do what it takes to help my teammate win."

Bettini has seemingly made a career on finishes too tough for the pure sprinters. He won the overall here in 2004:

"I'm not going to hold back. This year's route is tough. The stage five time trial and the uphill finish at San Giacomo on stage six will decide the race," Bettini said.

"Levi Leipheimer and Stefano Garzelli are the big favourites but I've thrown my hat into the ring and I'm going to give it a go."

Longtime Lance Armstrong nemesis Filippo Simeoni took a very long flyer today, jumping out with only 4 kilometers ridden, being joined soon by two other riders, dangling almost 10 minutes off the front, then being caught with less than 3 kilometers left on the stage.


Eurosport | Bettini on song, Zabel second | Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 1: Bettini is the best

Photos: | Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 1 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on March 8, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, Tirreno-Adriatico '06, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2005

McGee takes TdS Stage 3; Ullrich holds lead

Yahoo! Sport | McGee wins Tour of Switzerland third stage

McGee in a sprint
McGee, from gallery

Australia's Brad McGee is looking well-prepared for the Tour, as he took a sprint win on Stage 3 at the Tour of Switzerland today. Jan Ullrich continued in the race's overall lead, but McGee now sits just 2 seconds back, followed by Michael Rogers at 18 seconds.

Last year, McGee had a disastrous Tour because of back, hip, and leg pain he said were initially caused by planting olive trees at his home.

In 2003, McGee won the Tour prologue, but then abandoned, complaining of metabolic problems; later tests suggested he was making too much insulin, screwing up his blood sugar levels.

At one point, McGee said 2005 was the year when he thought he could win the Tour's overall title; his good form has got to at least make him a favorite in this year's prologue.

Olympic champion Paolo Bettini didn't take the start this morning, blaming stomach problems.

Also: | McGee takes third stage of Tour of Switzerland

Quoting McGee:

"For the first time I started training for the Tour de France last October," he said. "I am continuing to make progress and in fact I think I am ahead of schedule." | Tour de Suisse Stage 3

Picking up the DP commentary as Koldo Gil is trying a late breakaway:

But unfortunately for him, there was a certain German wearing a certain yellow thingy around today. And "wearing" two great legs too, by the way: Jan Ullrich drove the chasing bunch into Sankt Anton, and poor Koldo was brought back with just 500m left. Then it was time for the sprint, and for Brad McGee to get proper reward for the perfect race he rode today. | McGee closes in on Ullrich

There were some notable performances with the Tour de France in mind. Spaniards Iban Mayo and Alejandro Valverde were both prominent in the front group, while Sinkewitz’s Quick Step team-mate Michael Rogers was also up there. Missing, though, was Joseba Beloki, who finished almost six minutes down and is now very short of time in which to rediscover his best form. | Tour de Suisse Stage 3 results

Posted by Frank Steele on June 13, 2005 in Alejandro Valverde, Bradley McGee, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 30, 2005

Giro Stage 20 photo galleries

More Stage 20 photos @

Petacchi and Bettini from

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 | 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 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

Also: | Giro Stage 20, GC, and Jersey Finals
The (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 23, 2005

Petacchi takes third stage; Savoldelli takes lead to rest day

Eurosport | Petacchi makes it three

Alessandro Petacchi took his third stage win of this year's Giro today, ahead of T-Mobile's Erik Zabel and Quick Step's Paolo Bettini -- certainly the best 3 sprinters left in this year's Giro.

It was Petacchi's 18th career Giro victory. As you would expect, Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli retains the overall race lead.

The day's Top 10:
1) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 3:32:41
2) Erik Zabel, T-Mobile, same time
3) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, same time
4) Simone Cadamuro, Domina Vacanze, same time
5) Marco Velo, Fassa Bortolo, same time
6) Paride Grillo, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, same time
7) Henk Vogels, Davitamon-Lotto, same time
8) Robert Forster, Gerolsteiner, same time
9) Isaac Galvez Lopez, Illes Balears, same time
10) Sven Krauss, Gerolsteiner, same time

Posted by Frank Steele on May 23, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Giro d'Italia 2005, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

Your Giro quote of the day | Brutto finish in Frosinone

From Baden Cooke, who saw victory snatched away by the race barriers and Paolo Bettini's squirrely sprint:

F***! I f**king got over the hill no worries. None of the sprinters were left, I got on Bettini's wheel, he hit out early, I gave him a length, and I was f**in' absolutely cruising. Dropped it down the gears, ran at him, just about to blow his helmet off as I went past him...and he's just turned left and put me in the barrier. I had it won, I was just about to throw my hands in the air. Instead I did five somersaults down the road!

Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2005 in Baden Cooke, Giro d'Italia 2005, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bettini DQ'ed at Stage 4 finish; Luca Mazzanti awarded stage | Stage 4 results

A hard-fought sprint at the line today left Baden Cooke with nowhere to go but into the barricades (shades of Djamolodine Abdoujaparov) and initially gave the pink jersey, Quick Step's Paolo Bettini, a second stage win.

After discussion among the judges, Bettini was "relegated" from the final sprint, and given the field's time. That won't endanger his maglia rosa, but it gives the day's win to Luca Mazzanti of the Panaria team, which has a second stage win to go with Brett Lancaster's prologue victory. Mazzanti also leapfrogs into 3rd overall, behind Bettini and Danilo Di Luca.

Cooke had told Eurosport he was worried about "tricky finish" of Stage 4.

Basso, Simoni, Cunego, Garzelli, and even many of the sprint specialists (including Petacchi, Zabel, O'Grady, and McEwen) finished in the main field, but Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli, who won the Giro in 2002, lost about 40 seconds on all the other GC contenders. Savoldelli sits 29th overall, at 1:09 from Bettini, and trailing his Discovery teammate Volodymyr Bileka by 5 seconds.

Former Tour de France contender Joseba Beloki, who has never returned to top form after his crash in the 2003 Tour, finished at 1:18 behind Mazzanti, and sits more than 10 minutes back overall.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Erik Zabel, Giro d'Italia 2005, Joseba Beloki, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

Start the Petacchi watch as Di Luca breaks the sprinters | 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 | 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 09, 2005

It's going to be an interesting Giro | Bettini e buonissimo!

QuickStep's Paolo Bettini found Stage 1 of the 2005 Giro suited him perfectly.

Bettini made a move in the last kilometer of the race, where the course came to a short steep uphill. It was a trademark Bettini move, and Alessandro Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo squad wasn't able to respond in time to reel in the 2004 Olympic road race champion.

Coming up to the line, Lotto's sprint specialist Robbie McEwen showed he's back in terrific form after an early-season flu led him to skip the spring classics, as he put a second into Petacchi and took 2nd on the day. Petacchi, who took 9 stages of last year's Giro, was 3rd, followed by Baden Cooke and Manuele Mori.

The full top 10:

1) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, in 5:09:32
2) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, at :03
3) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, at :04
4) Baden Cooke, Francaise Des Jeux, at :04
5) Manuele Mori, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :04
6) Erik Zabel, T-Mobile Team, at :04
7) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas-Bianchi, at :04
8) Mirko Celestino, Domina Vacanze, at :04
9) Damiano Cunego, Lampre-Caffita, at :04
10) Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano, Davitamon-Lotto, at :04

It was Bettini's first-ever Giro win, and he'll wear the maglia rosa for the first time.

Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli finished with the leaders, and sits 4th overall, 22 seconds behind Bettini, and 3 seconds ahead of Lampre's Cunego. Ivan Basso finished at 9 seconds today.


Daily Peloton | Giro Stage 1 Live Report | Stage 1 full report (with results)

Posted by Frank Steele on May 9, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Baden Cooke, Damiano Cunego, Erik Zabel, Giro d'Italia 2005, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 15, 2005

Amstel Gold previews | Amstel Gold preview: Rebellin back for another crack at gold

BBC Sport | Hincapie targets Amstel triumph

Davide Rebellin is the returning Amstel Gold champ, the first in his 2004 three-run of Amstel, Fleche Wallone, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This season, he was second at the Tour of the Basque Country to Danilo Di Luca, both of whom bear watching on Sunday.

Discovery Channel DS Johan Bruyneel says George Hincapie is good to go:

"George is in great shape, both mentally and physically," said Discovery director Johan Bruyneel.

Other riders to watch include Paolo Bettini, Oscar Freire, and Michael Boogerd. Tom Boonen, who is seemingly winning at will, won't be racing, nor will Peter Van Petegem, who's hurt.

Update: VeloNews has posted a preliminary start list for Amstel Gold.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 15, 2005 in Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, George Hincapie, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005

Tirreno-Adriatico set to kick off | Sprinters galore in 40th Tirreno-Adriatico

If you're wondering where the superstars of racing are, and why they're not at Paris-Nice, it's because they're in sunny Italy, readying for the 2nd race of the ProTour, which kicks off tomorrow in Civitavecchia.

Most of the world's best sprinters are on hand, including both Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi, Stuart O'Grady, Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire, and Paolo Bettini, last year's winner.

We'll get a look at Joseba Beloki, who's back on a Spanish squad with Liberty Seguros, T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden, CSC's Ivan Basso, and Discovery's George Hincapie.

Tirreno-Adriatico runs seven stages, and most of these riders will also contest Milan-San Remo a week from Saturday.

Also: | official startlist

Daily Peloton | Tirreno-Adriatico Preview

Posted by Frank Steele on March 8, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Andreas Klöden, Erik Zabel, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Joseba Beloki, Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Tirreno-Adriatico '05 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 18, 2004

Bettini: Tour "stepping stone to a gold medal" | Bettini eyes gold in Athens, not Tour glory

"I'm not here to win the Tour but to work hard to peak at 110 percent in mid-August," he told Reuters.

"The Tour is the biggest race in cycling but August will be the most important month of my season. Hopefully July and the Tour will be a stepping stone to a gold medal."

Bettini, 3rd in the UCI rankings, has been riding strongly in support of Richard Virenque's quest for a 7th King of the Mountains title.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2004 in 2004 Olympics, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2004

Virenque climbs to Stage 10 victory

BBC SPORT | Virenque delights crowds
Here's one for the old-timers in this Tour of youngsters, as 34-year-old Richard Virenque took a dramatic breakaway win.

The Quick Step-Davitamon team leader maintained a fierce tempo as he closed in on a seventh Tour stage win received a raptorous reception when he rode into Saint-Flour after 6:00.24 in the saddle.

The victory was France's 14th on Bastille Day since the war and the first since Laurent Jalabert's 2001 win.

Quick Step's strategy in the King of the Mountains competition is now clear: They sent Bettini out in the race's early days to keep another rider from loading up on garbage KoM points, and used him today to keep anyone from limiting Virenque's gains by leading the field over the line.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what Christophe Moreau of Credit Agricole was up to in grabbing the crumbs of the lowest king of the mountain placing; any ideas?

You won't be reminded of it on OLN, but Virenque was the rider in the very center of the Festina affair that overshadowed the 1998 Tour.


BBC Sport | Tour de France stage 10 photos

Posted by Frank Steele on July 14, 2004 in Paolo Bettini, Photo galleries, Richard Virenque, Stage results | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 05, 2004

Stage 2 Preview: Charleroi to Namur

Today's stage is about 121 miles, with a 50-kilometer introduction to France before returning to Belgium for what's very likely to be a sprint finish.

There are just two climbs, both 4th Category, on the course, and the finish in Namur is the first there since 1959.

The course has a sharp turn 200 meters from the line, which might interrupt the Fassa Bortolo train, and disrupt Alessandro Petacchi's chance to get a sprint win.

VeloNews tips Baden Cooke or Robbie McEwen, but I'm picking Tom Boonen, who pulled off in the last meters of yesterday's stage when he threw a chain, but looked to be in good position and riding well. McEwen will be motivated because he rides for a Belgian team, but Boonen is Belgian himself.

Look for green jersey Thor Hushovd to contest a few intermediate sprints, trying to get enough time on Cancellara to take over the yellow jersey.

At Stage 2's start, it's:

m_jaune.gif  Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo)

m_vert.gif  Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)

m_pois.gif  Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Davitamon)

m_blanc.gif  Fabian Cancellara (worn by Bernhard Eiser -

Jens Voigt will ride in the red race numbers of yesterday's most aggressive rider.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2004 in Fabian Cancellara, Paolo Bettini, Stage profiles, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 01, 2004

Petacchi new world No. 1

Cycling4all | UCI ranking - individual riders 2004 - per 27.06.2004

Bassed on his record Giro d'Italia, Alessandro Petacchi has taken over the lead in the UCI world rankings. Jumping from number 227 all the way to number 6 is Damiano Cunego, who jumps ahead of Lance Armstrong through his overall Giro victory.

Erik Zabel is a tiny 15 points back of Petacchi, with Quick Step's Paolo Bettini another 56 points behind Zabel. Jan Ullrich cracks the top 10, based on his Tour de Suisse win, and Tom Boonen jumps from 90 to 12.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 1, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Erik Zabel, Jan Ullrich, Paolo Bettini, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2004

Zabel the bridesmaid again at Semana Catalana | Zabel second again as Valverde looms

Fassa Bortolo showed they have more than one sprint threat, as Fabian Cancellara took the stage over Zabel, then Rabobank's Bram de Groot.

Alejandro Valverde, the star of Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, was 6th on the day, and active in the day's racing. Erik Dekker of Rabobank was 9th.

Zabel remained number one in the world rankings released today, ahead of Alessandro Petacchi, Paolo Bettini (who dropped from 2nd), and Valverde.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 22, 2004 in Alejandro Valverde, Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 20, 2004

Milan-San Remo: Zabel blows it at the line | Milan-San Remo: Zabel's suicide means glory for Freire

T-Mobile's Erik Zabel, a 6-time Tour green jersey winner and 4-time Milan-San Remo winner, made a rookie mistake on Sunday to blow his chance at a first victory this season, throwing his arms up in triumph before crossing the line, and letting Rabobank's Oscar Freire, world champion in 1999 and 2001, nip him on the finish line.

“I can’t believe it,” Zabel said tonight. “I came round Petacchi and was so sure that I’d won. I raised my arms to celebrate. Then I saw Freire under my right shoulder.”

Zabel adds to a string of second-place finishes this year, with Stuart O'Grady of Cofidis third, and Italian super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo relegated to fourth, the first bunch sprint he's lost this year.

Milan-San Remo's length (about 180 miles), and a couple of climbs in the last 20 miles, tend to sap the legs of the specialist sprinters. Mario Cipollini fell off the lead bunch on the penultimate climb, and never rejoined the leaders:

“Mario simply isn’t competitive at the moment,” Cipollini’s team manager Vincenzo Santoni told us. A few metres away the Lion King was keeping his own counsel in the Domina Vacanze team-bus. “At least a ‘campione’ won,” Santoni continued. “Petacchi? It’s one thing to win a sprint after 200km, another thing to do it after nearly 300.”

Other results of note: US Postal's Max van Heeswijk was 5th overall, and George Hincapie of USPS was 13th. Defending Milan-San Remo winner Paolo Bettini, who tried to repeat last year's success with a breakaway attempt on the Poggio, couldn't stay away in a stiff headwind, and finished 8th.

Also: | Freire pips Zabel to claim Milan-San Remo quotes Petacchi:

Petacchi made his move with 100 metres to go and Zabel followed suit before overtaking the "disappointed" Italian, who admitted he may have misjudged his final sprint.

"I lost just like I did at Paris-Tours," said the Italian, who last season became the first ever rider to win at least three stages in all the Tours of Italy, France and Spain.

"I had a great team around me and I've let them down. The Cipressa and Poggio (climbs) were raced at a very fast pace and I think I paid for that in the sprint, where my legs just gave out. "I think I probably attacked too early."

On winner Freire:

Freire is now hoping to maintain his lead in the World Cup - with a view to taking the rainbow jersey from two-time defending champion Bettini.

"Last year the World Cup jersey was my main aim, but I couldn't get near it," said Freire who should compete in all ten races this season except for Paris-Roubaix on April 11.

"This time I hope to be able to maintain my run of results until the end (of the competition). I'm likely to meet Bettini a lot along the way, so it's not going to be easy."

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 17, 2004

Handicapping Milan-San Remo | Tirreno-Adriatico: Petacchi and Bettini send out final warning points out Tirreno-Adriatico's stars, overall winner Paolo Bettini (defending Milan-San Remo champion) and 3-stage winner Alessandro Petacchi, as the two most likely to win at Milan-San Remo on Saturday, ahead of Erik Zabel, who has won three times at Milan-San Remo:

Zabel was second in his German champion’s jersey in San Benedetto yesterday but must surely realise that the odds are against him winning a fourth Milan-San Remo on Saturday. Petacchi’s sprinting in the first month of the 2004 season has been simply peerless. He is so far unbeaten in five bunch finishes since February.

"I hope that I don’t lose my first one on Saturday," the 30-year-old Fassa Bortolo speed king remarked wryly yesterday. "I’d just like to go a bit better uphill: that’s the goal I’ve worked towards and the reason I’ve finished the Tirreno, despite the pain in my legs. To compare with 2003 I’d say that I’m stronger this year. Last year I was ill when I came back from Paris-Nice."

For his part, Bettini will try to avoid a bunch sprint if possible:

"Everyone has seen how Petacchi is riding so I don’t have too many options: I either go clear with a group and back myself to beat them or, if it ends in a bunch sprint, I just try to earn as many World Cup points as possible."

Posted by Frank Steele on March 17, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2004

Tirreno-Adriatico full results | Tirreno-Adriatico Results - Stage 7 has full stage and final standings for Tirreno-Adriatico. Bettini's final margin of victory in the GC was only five seconds over Rabobank's Oscar Freire, with T-Mobile's Erik Zabel 3rd at 11 seconds and two Cofidis riders, Igor Astarloa and Stuart O'Grady rounding out the top five at 18 and 21 seconds.

Zabel was second to Petacchi in the Stage 7 sprint finish, with Saeco's Gabriele Balducci third.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 16, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tirreno-Adriatico: Petacchi the last stage, Bettini the overall

Eurosport | Petacchi wins again

Fassa Bortolo Alessandro Petacchi took the final stage at Tirreno-Adriatico today, and QuickStep-Davitamon's Paolo Bettini took overall honors.

You would have to be nuts to bet against Petacchi at Saturday's Milan-San Remo.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 16, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

That's a photo finish

(Click through for photos) | Another notch for Bettini

Paolo Bettini won an incredibly close sprint at Tirreno-Adriatico today to hold on to the race leader's jersey with one stage to race. With the win, Bettini leads Oscar Freire in the GC, but by only 7 seconds. Considering the winner's time bonus for tomorrow's stage, Freire could win the overall by taking the stage and keeping Bettini out of the top three.

Bettini, of the QuickStep-Davitamon team, also won Saturday's Stage 4. He's the defending champ at Milan-San Remo, scheduled for Saturday, and clearly has the early-season conditioning to place well there.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 15, 2004 in Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2003

Stage 7: Virenque powers to yellow

Five-time king of the mountains Richard Virenque of QuickStep (who was at the center of the Festina scandal in 1998) won today's stage to Morzine decisively, and will wear yellow tomorrow.

Virenque also won the stage to Morzine in 2000 (which was the stage where Armstrong bonked and lost time, though he retained the yellow jersey).

Rolf Aldag rode a brilliant stage, and finished second in the stage. At one point, he was dropped by Virenque and his teammate Paolo Bettini, but fought back up to Virenque, and later dropped him on a climb!

Sylvain Chavanel and Australia's Michael Rogers gapped the field to finish 3rd and 4th.

Several contenders rode themselves out of contention, including Gilberto Simoni and Santiago Botero.

Tyler Hamilton stayed with Armstrong's group, which will populate most of the leaderboard.

Today's results:
1) Richard Virenque (QuickStep) 6:06:03
2) Rolf Aldag (Telekom) at 2:29
3) Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches) at 3:45
4) Michael Rogers (QuickStep) at 4:02
5) Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) at 4:06
6) Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) same time
7) Laurent Dufaux (Alessio) s.t.
8) David Millar (Cofidis) s.t.
9) Georg Totsching (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
10) Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) s.t.

Also at 4:06:
15) Lance Armstrong (US Postal)
18) Carlos Sastre (CSC)
19) Manuel Beltran (US Postal)
21) Jan Ullrich (Telekom)
24) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto)
25) Tyler Hamilton (CSC)
26) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel)
32) Joseba Beloki (ONCE)
33) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo)
37) Jorg Jaksche (ONCE)

Posted by Frank Steele on July 12, 2003 in Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Richard Virenque, Stage results, Sylvain Chavanel | Permalink | Comments (0)