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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for May 7, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

2004 Giro d'Italia stage by stage

With the Giro about to start, Tim Maloney and Paul Mirtschin take a look at what's in store for the riders on the first of the year's three-week epics.

Simoni in 2003
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

The 2004 Giro d'Italia, the 87th running of Italy's grand tour, kicks off in Genoa on May 8 and winds 3,435km around Italy until the 30th. The prologue and 20 stages of the Giro consist of 12 flat stages, one individual time-trial, 3 medium mountain stages and 4 mountain stages, three of which have mountain top stage finishes.

The 87th Giro will kick off on May 8 with a fast, flat and winding prologue 6.9km time trial to determine the first Maglia Rosa. The 6.9km course winds through the centro storico of the Ligurian port city of Genoa where Cristoforo Colombo set sail for America 513 years prior. Starting in the Piazza della Vittoria, the 15 turn course will favour a specialist like '03 TdF prologue winner Brad McGee (FDJeux.Com) or a young gun like Colnago's Tomas Vaitkus, but watch our for massive Magnus Bäckstedt (Alessio-Bianchi) of Paris-Roubaix glory, Lampre powerhouse Rubens Bertogliati, Chocolate Jacques' Flo Brard or even Mr. Mario Cipollini, who's no slouch in these short, fast prologues.

The Giro's first road stage heads west along the coast from Genoa, and then climbs up into the Ligurian and Langhe hinterlands before the finish in the truffle and wine capital of Alba. This stage is a dangerous one for the Giro favourites because a break could go away early. The 143km first stage finishes with four 5km finishing circuits in Alba.

A 184km second stage offers more tough racing across the narrow, twisting backroads of Liguria, where a dangerous break could get away early. Stage 2 crosses the famous mushroom growing woods of Val di Taro before the crucial final 11km ascent of the Passo del Brattello 20km before the finish in Pontremoli.

Click here for the full stage-by-stage preview

Enter the Cyclingnews Fantasy Giro game

Win a Specialized frameset!

Win one of these
Photo: © Specialized
Click for larger image

The Cyclingnews Giro d'Italia 2004 fantasy cycling game is now officially open at The grand prize for this year's Giro game is a Specialized 04 S-Works E5 Road Frameset (Domina Vacanze team replica), featuring Columbus Aerotec tubing, S-Works carbon fork with carbon steerer, Pavé advanced composite seatpost and Mindset headset (1 1/8"). There will be additional prizes for the top scorers that will be detailed in the coming days.

The rider list is available now so you can pick your teams for the Giro d'Italia 2004 game. You can try out as many teams as you like for stages 1-5. You only need to pay for the teams you want to enter in the competition by the beginning of stage 6 (May 14). Thus, there is no disadvantage to entering a team once the Tour is under way.

For more information on joining, see the rules section.

Good luck!

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be providing live coverage of the 87th Giro d'Italia, starting each day from approximately 14:30 CEST/08:30 EDT/05:30 PDT/22:30 AEST.

Also see:

Route preview
Start List

Stage profiles

Gilberto Simoni interview
Dr Ferrari's view
Trent Wilson diary
Simoni's reaction

2003 Giro

Vandenbroucke faces court again

Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo) is facing another court appearance in relation to the events of February 2002, where he was found in possession of illegal substances after a police search of his home. According to Het Nieuwsblad, Vandenbroucke must appear in court in Gent, after the case was referred to it by the court in Dendermonde. He faces up to five years in jail for possession of EPO, testosterone, growth hormones, aranesp, clenbuterol and morphine

Vandenbroucke has already served a six month suspension in Flanders for his transgression, and his lawyer Luc Deleu argues that that is sufficient. "He hoped that he would not have to appear before the judge," Deleu was quoted as saying. "The problem is that he would be punished twice. On the one hand by the Flemish Government and on the other hand by the courts. Because he has already received a disciplinary punishment from the Flemish Government, he can not be punished further by the courts. The decree, a Flemish law, explicitly states that the disciplinary sanction is an excuse for the sportsman in question."

Warrant issued for Rumsas' arrest

The court in Bonneville, France, has issued an international warrant for the arrest of Lithuanian rider Raimondas Rumsas, in relation to the doping affair that involving his wife Edita following the 2002 Tour de France. Investigating magistrate Franck Guesdon also wishes to question Polish doctor Krysztof Fisek over his relationship with Rumsas.

The affair began at the conclusion of the Tour de France when Edita Rumsas' car was stopped at the French border and searched by customs officers. They found a large quantity of medical products, some of which were illegal. Edita was imprisoned in Bonneville for 68 days while French authorities tried (without success) to question Raimondas over his role in the affair.

In 2003, Raimondas Rumsas was suspended for a year after he tested positive for EPO during the Giro d'Italia, and he is still serving that penalty. In November 2003, Rumsas was awarded a symbolic euro after claiming damages against Franck Guesdon. Rumsas claimed that in a newspaper interview, Guesdon insinuated that Rumsas took illegal substances in order to finish third in the 2002 Tour de France.

Broken arm for Dean

New Zealand sprinter Julian Dean is out of action for several weeks after crashing during stage 2 of the Four Days of Dunkirk. Dean fell after 70 km of the 183 km stage between Hem and Saint Pol sur Mer, and was immediately taken to hospital. There he was diagnosed with a broken right forearm.

Rabobank favourites for Olympia's Tour

The 52nd Olympia's Tour starts this year with a 7 kilometre prologue in Den Bosch on May 15, finishing 9 days later in Buchten. The race, classified as a UCI 2.5 stage race, will see 16 teams take part: half from the Netherlands and half from other countries. And if recent form is anything to go by, the Rabobank TT3 will start as the outright favourites.

Currently occupying the first four positions on GC in the U23 Thüringen-Rundfahrt, as well as finishing 1-2-3 in the U23 Rund um den Henninger Turm and putting three riders in the crucial 17 man break in the first stage of the Tour de la Manche (besides numerous other successes this year), Rabobank possesses an incredible depth of talent and will be hard to beat. Racing on Dutch soil with two time trials programmed in the 10 stages will further help their cause.

Rabobank's competition will come from Dutch teams Van Vliet-EBH, Van Hemert-Eurogifts, Team Moser, Löwik-Tegeloko, Bert Story-Piels, Apac and Axa, and foreign teams Perutina Ptuj, Angelin Travel, Marco Polo, Rosso Sport, Beveren 2000,, Team PH and a Russian National Team.

The organisers have placed an age limit of 27 on participants in this year's tour, in order to make the race a real test of up and coming riders.

The stages

Prologue - May 15: Den Bosch ITT, 7 km
Stage 1 - May 16: Den Bosch-Den Bosch, 141 km
Stage 2 - May 17: Den Bosch-Wateringen, 157 km
Stage 3 - May 18: Wateringen-Nunspeet, 185 km
Stage 4 - May 19: Surhuisterveen-Veendam, 93 km
Stage 5 - May 19: Veendam ITT, 27.5 km
Stage 6 - May 20: Veendam-Tiel, 232 km
Stage 7 - May 21: Tiel-Tiel, 160 km
Stage 8 - May 22: Ossendrecht-Buchten, 200 km
Stage 9 - May 23: Geleen-Buchten, 202 km

Colombian team for Track World Cup

Five Colombian riders will make the journey down under for the Track Cycling World Cup in Sydney (May 14-16). The team is José Serpa, Arles Castro, Alex González, Juan Pablo Forero and Carlos Alzate, with José Julián Velásquez serving as team manager. Colombia will contest the 4000m individual and team pursuits, the points race, madison and scratch race. Wilson Meneses will ride the 1000m time trial.

The same squad will be at the Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne (May 26-30), with the addition of Maria Luisa Calle and Diana García.


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