Latest News for May 13, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones & Tim Maloney
86th Giro d'Italia news
No revenge for Garzelli
After his win in stage 3 yesterday, Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola-SoDi) looks to be in improving form, but it's hard to say if he'll be able to last for three weeks. "The last week of the Giro is really hard and for now I'd rather not think about it," Garzelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I'm just going day by day, I'm really happy with the win and we'll see how everything goes."
During his suspension, Garzelli didn't touch his bike for four or five months. "Really it wasn't until last December I started again. I was only thinking about the start of the Giro. I left the fog behind in Varese and went to the sun in Spain to get in shape. I just put short term goals in my mind. I didn't look past that. That's how things started. I kept achieving those goals and it went pretty well. I even went out and trained near my house in Italy on the courses that I've raced on here before just to keep myself interested. But I'm not really looking for any revenge."
As for his GC position [2nd overall], Garzelli commented that. "I gained some time yesterday, but I'd already lost some time before. This is a tough Giro. we'll see in Milan that the gaps between the riders will be in minutes."
Yesterday Garzelli's faithful teammate and fellow Varese rider Oscar Mason did a nice job of setting him up for the sprint. He trains with Mason and Dario Andriotto almost every day. His teammates really like him because he's a simple and down to earth guy.
Garzelli was considered the golden boy of Italian cycling for his good looks and enormous talent. It will be interesting to see how he does in the Giro with the key stage of Terminillo yet to come.
Petacchi wants more time in pink
Alessandro Petacchi says that he thinks he can keep the Maglia Rosa for four more stages, as he is starting to settle into the role of race leader. "I'm feeling less nervous, more aware of my role in the race," he said.
This was evidenced by the way he called his teammates in the front to set him up for the sprint yesterday. "I saw Domina was working hard for Colombo. I realised they wanted to get the jersey away from me. Although the whole squad wasn't available to me I had Cioni and Bruseghin. I told them to ride tempo and not go all out. I was happy to finish third and keep the jersey."
Petacchi confidently stated, "If the final climb to the finish was only 500m I probably would have been able to win, but Garzelli weighs 14 kilos less than me, which is a big difference on a climb like that."
After the Giro, Petacchi will take a break and will not do the Tour de France. But he will ride the Vuelta and hopes to be selected for the Italian national team in Hamilton. That was a great experience. I hope to ride for the Italian national team again."
Petacchi's popularity has soared in Italy since his win on Saturday. A good looking young sprinter obviously gets a lot of attention, but the most important thing for Petacchi was to hear from Claudio Zanette, the brother of the deceased Denis Zanette. Petacchi had dedicated his win to Denis on Saturday. "That was the most wonderful call I got," said Petacchi. "I still have Denis in my memory."
Simoni compliments Petacchi
The Saeco team is having its best season ever, and is now rated as the number one team by the UCI. Its leader Gilberto Simoni hopes to improve that by winning the Giro d'Italia. In yesterday's stage 3, Simoni finished seventh, and also holds that place in the general classification.
Simoni gave credit to Stefano Garzelli for the win. "That's who the prognostic thought would win. He had a great sprint, but I also have to give my compliments to Petacchi. I didn't think he would be up there with the top riders for the sprint. I thought Colombo might take it, but the Domina guys went so hard, especially in the last kilometre, that we were all dead. It was a really tough sprint but I felt good. I was riding up front all day. And of course you notice the heat especially with the helmet, but we've all got them on."
Simoni noticed that Gonzalez and Frigo lost some time. "Yeah I saw that but the finale yesterday was pretty complicated, but it's never good to lose any time . Right now, Garzelli and Casagrande are looking great."
Problems with changing pace for Pantani
Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) was 16th yesterday, and still feeling good. "My form is good, but I'm still suffering a little bit from the changes of rhythm in the race," he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I can notice that especially when we were in the up and down section I feel strong but I just can't change my pace fast enough. So I realise that I'm not quite on the level of the best riders. It's good that I was riding in the front, that way you avoid any possibility of crashing. My form isn't great but it's pretty good."
Pantani also dashed any rumours of any bad vibes with Cipollini. Yesterday Italian TV showed them riding together and talking before the climb. "Between us, our relationship is fine," stated Pantani. "There's really no rivalry at all and we both know it."
The new mandatory helmet laws definitely do not please Pantani. "I'm still not in favour of helmets during racing. I also look at a lot of other things to do with security, the race course, the barriers, the roads. I repeat that the use of the helmet should be our choice, which is a position that's echoed by Cipollini."
Frigo and Gonzalez lose more time
Fassa Bortolo teammates Dario Frigo and Aitor Gonzalez couldn't keep up with their sprinter Alessandro Petacchi on the final climb yesterday, and lost nine seconds to the winner Garzelli. It's not a lot of time, but it's a sign that things aren't quite 100 percent.
"Neither me nor Aitor are going great and I don't really know why," Frigo told La Gazzetta. "Yesterday we probably started the sprint too far back. We came up but it was pretty late. Aitor and I rode together because I couldn't pass him."
"At this moment there are some other riders stronger than Aitor and I. But this Giro will be won in three weeks, not in this week or the second. But to have this disadvantage over Garzelli in three stages is a bit of a handicap."
Gonzalez was more relaxed about it, saying that "It's no problem for me. I'm doing fine. I'm not afraid of the climbs of the Giro d'Italia. I've already climbed the Angliru."
McEwen goes on the attack
In the third stage of the Giro yesterday, sprinter Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) was seen off the front in the final 10 kilometres, taking advantage of his bike handling skills on the descent to open up a 15 second gap to the peloton, before he was caught by the Fassa Bortolo train with 5 km to go.
Still smarting from his disqualification in the previous stage, McEwen told Het Nieuwsblad, "I had to try it. I wanted to react to my disqualification of the previous day. I still think that was unjust."
"I knew I wouldn't stand a chance in the uphill finish so I chose to attack," he continued. "I should have been able to go a bit earlier though, so I could take more than 15 seconds, but I wasn't at the front at that time. I was too far back over the top of the climb. So the peloton kept me in sight, and decided not to hang around."
Verbrugghe will not start
Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo) will not be able to start the fourth stage of the Giro, after crashing on the final descent of yesterday's stage. Lotto team doctor Daniel De Neve said that Verbrugghe had a big swelling at the top of his left knee, as well as contusions to his left shoulder."
Verbrugghe left to go home on Tuesday morning. "It's a shame that we're losing him because he was gradually finding his form again. We don't know when he'll be back in action."
Lotto-Domo team director Hendrick Redant commented in the VUM newspapers after yesterday's crash. "It was sad to see him go slower and slower in the final kilometres," Redant said. "I stayed with him after he crashed in one of the numerous bends on the descent of Fagnano Castello. It is a miracle that there weren't more riders who came off, I have rarely seen such a difficult descent!"
Verbrugghe had tried to stay at the front on the descent. "I knew that the finish was on a small climb and that I was not without a chance there," he said. "I had good legs on Sunday and felt good again."
Stage 4 - May 13: Acquappesa Marina-Vibo Valentia, 170km
Stage 4 is a flat jaunt with a tailwind down the rocky Tirrenean coastline, along the Gulf of San Eufemio, then up the easy 10km climb up to the Cresta di Zungri after 135km. This is the same climb where Aitor Gonzalez grabbed his first win of the 2003 season in the Giro di Reggio Calabria, and at least 50 riders should stay together.
In the last 20km at the base of the climb, there is a long gradual uphill with the last 6km downhill to finish in the centre of Vibo Valentia. Look for Petacchi and Baldato to battle with Robbie McEwen for stage honours, and if Mario can find his climbing legs, the World Champ may find a way for his 41st Giro stage win.
The weather: It's sunny and warm with a south westerly wind, which will blow across the riders along the coast.
Join us for our live coverage of the fourth stage, commencing at 14:30 CEST (08:30 EDT/05:30 PDT/22:30 AEST).
47th Vuelta Asturias
The 47th edition of the Vuelta Asturias will also incorporate the Subida al Naranco this year, extending the event to six days. Although the final classification of the Vuelta Asturias will be decided on Saturday, May 17, most of the riders will participate in Sunday's race as well.
The Vuelta is a fairly standard five stage race weighted towards the mountain specialists, as it contains plenty of climbs and no time trials. Stage 1 from Oviedo to Llanes is over 166 kilometres, with a couple of moderate climbs situated near the end of the stage to make it interesting. The second stage from Llanes to Gijon is a little bit tougher, featuring one Cat. 3 and two Cat. 2 climbs in the final 60 km, with the finish in Gijon at the bottom of a descent. Stage 3 takes the riders over the Cat. 1 climb of Alto de San Lorenzo, located roughly halfway through the stage. If the sprinters make it over this, then they have an easy run to the finish in Aviles.
The fourth stage is the toughest of the tour, starting in Cafés Toscaf and finishing atop the Santuario del Acebo, a Special Category climb of 1172 metres. The other obstacles during the stage include the Cat. 1 Pozo de las Mujeres Muertas (1096m, km 97) and the Special Category Puerto del Connio (1315m, km 140). The final stage is from Cangas del Narcea to Oviedo, over 164 kilometres. It contains a slightly tricky finish but by that stage, the classification should be determined.
The Subida al Naranco on Sunday will provide the riders with an extra challenge. Finishing on the Cat. 1 climb of Naranco (590m, 5.2 km at 6.5%), the race is traditionally won by the strongest climber in the pack, as it usually comes together by the foot of the final climb. However this year may be different, with five hard days of racing preceding it.
The race will feature last weekend's Alcobendas winner Joseba Beloki (ONCE-Eroski), who is right on track for the Tour de France. Also Santiago Botero (Telekom), who finished third in Alcobendas, his first race in Europe this year, will contest the Vuelta Asturias. It's possible that Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) will ride in the Subida al Naranco, providing he has recovered sufficiently from an operation to remove a boil.
Euskaltel-Euskadi, iBanesto.com, ONCE-Eroski, Kelme-Costa Blanca, Paternina-Costa de Almeria, Relax Fuenlabrada, Labarca 2-Cafe Baque, Spanish U23 team, Milaneza-MSS, La Pecol, Domina Vacanze, Saeco, Ag2r-Prevoyance, Cofidis, Brioches la Boulangère, Lokomotiv, Phonak, Telekom and 05 Orbitel.
Stage 1 - May 13: Oviedo - Llanes, 166.3 km
Perpignan pot belge case resumes
The trial of 26 people accused of being part of a drug ring in the Pyrénées-Orientales and Rhône-Alpes regions in France will resume on Tuesday morning, when they will present themselves before the court in Perpignan. The accused have been charged with drug trafficking in the region between the years of 1997 and 2000, with the infamous "pot belge" drug cocktail being the main doping product used. The list includes doctors, pharmacists and current and former riders, such as 1999 French cyclo-cross champion Christophe Morel, ex-Festina pro Thierry Laurent, and former Credit Agricole team doctor Hervé Stoïcheff.
The drug network was discovered in February 2000, when policemen surprised a couple of young racers injecting themselves in their car near Perpignan. They revealed the name of their supplier and an investigation was opened immediately, eventually rounding up 27 people, one of whom has died since the trial started.
Most of the accused are amateur racers, many of whom became addicted to the drugs they were taking, to the point that when they retired from racing they were still taking the drugs. However the majority of the suppliers of the doping products remain at large, and investigators believe that they are located in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The hearings will continue until Thursday evening, and a judgment of the case is expected on Friday.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)