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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for May 15, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

86th Giro d'Italia news

Rest Day 1

Alessandro Petacchi
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

After five fairly easy stages in the Giro, the race took a break today (Thursday) for the first time, with the entire peloton transferring to Napoli last night. The next 11 days of the Giro will present the first difficulties in the mountains, beginning with Saturday's stage 7 to Terminillo, which finishes on top of a 1675 metre climb. There are also the stages to Monte Zoncolan (stage 12, May 22) and the really tough day to Alpe Pampeago (stage 14, May 24), both of which will be key stages in this year's Giro. The first time trial (stage 15) will take place on May 25 from Merano-Bolzano, and it's a rarity in the Giro to have two full weeks of racing before one stage against the clock.

Apart from that, the sprinters will have plenty of opportunities in the next block to win stages, and perhaps we'll see Mario Cipollini finally get his 41st stage win.

The current leader of the race is the tall Fassa Bortolo sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who grabbed the Maglia Rosa on the first stage and has not let it go, never finishing outside the top five and then winning another stage yesterday while wearing pink. Due to the 20 second time bonuses for each stage win, Petacchi now has 49 seconds lead to second place, but he's going to need more than that to keep the jersey on Stage 7. Stefano Garzelli, Francesco Casagrande, Franco Pellizotti and Gilberto Simoni are all poised to take the jersey on the stage to Terminillo, but there are of course many other candidates at this early stage of the race.

For our complete Giro coverage so far, see the following links

Stage previews, results and live reports
Scott Sunderland diary
Guido Trenti diary

More woes for Frigo

Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) was caught up in the crash at the end of stage 5, and lost another 19 seconds to the leaders, putting him in 33rd place, 1'37 down on Petacchi. "It was really too bad," Frigo told La Gazzetta dello Sport today. "Because with 1.5 kilometres to go we made that left turn and I found the road was completely blocked by a crash in the front of the peloton, and I just couldn't get by. I'm really disappointed. So far in this Giro, everything is going wrong for me."

However, he and his friend Aitor Gonzalez cheered up considerably after the stage, when they were on the bus to airport. All the team personnel from Fassa Bortolo were saying happy birthday to Matteo Tosatto who was 29 yesterday.

Cipollini meets school children

The 2003 Giro reached its first rest day with Mario Cipollini still unable to equal Alfredo Binda's record of 41 stage wins. Binda (1902-1986) not only won 41 stages of the Giro, he also won the race overall five times, and was a three time World Champion. He was one of the true Italian greats of cycling.

But Cipollini is still a champion even when his beloved rainbow jersey isn't the first across the finish line. A bunch of excited kids from Lecce and Bari who are members of a programme called "Ciclismo & Scuola" had for a few minutes free access to Super Mario. And they actually took advantage of it.

Many pictures, autographs and questions after, a smiling Cipollini said what that meeting meant to him. "I'm very pleased to have been given the opportunity to share these moments with these kids. After all, they're our future and the future of cycling."

Supported by Mapei and the Italian federation, "Ciclismo & Scuola" will have other stages during the 2003 Giro.

Courtesy of João Cravo

Stage 6 Preview: Maddaloni-Avezzano 222 km

Tonight, two Eurofly charter flights will take the riders and key staff for a one hour flight from Catania to Napoli at 1830 and 1900. There will be a rest day on Thursday.

On Friday it will be a long sprinters stage from the outskirts of Naples to Avezzano in l'Aquila province. Breakaways should be the order of the day after the Intergiro in Cassino until the race reaches Avezzano for a final 38km around the dead flat piana di Fucino, and the sprinters teams can pull back any break.

Pellizotti online

Alessio rider Franco Pellizotti has officially launched his website,, to coincide with the Giro d'Italia. The site (in Italian) contains his daily diary entries as well as a mailing list. In future it will be possible to chat with Pellizotti online and to win prizes.

19th Tour de l'Aude Féminin

The next major appointment on the women's calendar is the Tour de l'Aude Féminin, which starts on May 16 with a 3 km prologue in Gruissan, France, and finishes on May 25 in Limoux. The Tour de l'Aude was started in 1985 by Jean Thomas, who already had experience organising men's races. One of his motivations was to give women's racing more recognition, and together with his daughter Anne-Marie he sought the assistance of sponsors and the media to support the race. After his death, Anne-Marie continued his work, and the 11 day race now has a 50 strong staff to ensure its smooth running.

Over the years, it's expanded from 4 to 11 days, and the Tour de l'Aude is now ranked as a UCI 2.9.1 event, equivalent to the Grande Boucle (women's Tour de France). Past winners include Maria Canins, Jeannie Longo, Catherine Marsal, Leontien Van Moorsel, Fabiana Luperini, Hanka Kupfernagel, Lyne Bessette and most recently Judith Arndt, who'll be back this year with her new team Nürnberger to defend her title.

The teams list this year contains 19 squads numbering six riders each. National teams from Australia, Germany, Canada, Spain, France, Great Britain, Netherlands and Russia will take part, along with the trade teams Nürnberger, Vlaanderen-T Interim, Team GRACE S.A.T.S., Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai, Saturn, Team 2002 Aurora RSM, Bik Powerplate, Farm Frites-Hartol, Rostex Quantum, Mazza and Velodames Colnago.

After a flat 3 km prologue time trial in Gruissan, the race features a number of hilly stages but no big mountains until stage 8. Stage 2 around Rieux Minervois has the 7 km climb of Col des Jouys (6.5%) located at the halfway point, while stage 3 contains two Cat. 1 climbs and a Cat. 2. The most serious challenge comes in stage 8 (Axat - Axat, 123 km), in which the riders will have to tackle the Hors Categorie climbs of Col de Dent (13.5 km) and Col de Garavel (11.5 km) as well as the Cat. 1 Col de Brenac. Apart from prologue, the race also features an individual time trial on stage 5 in Castelnaudary, over 31.5 kilometres.

The stages

Prologue - May 16: Gruissan - Gruissan ITT, 3 km
Stage 1 - May 17: Port La Nouvelle - Port La Nouvelle, 123 km
Stage 2 - May 18: Rieux Minervois - Rieux Minervois, 115 km
Stage 3 - May 19: Lezignan Corbières - Lezignan Corbières, 121 km
Stage 4a - May 20: Thezan des Corbières - Saint Laurent de la Cabrerisse, 45 km
Stage 4b - May 20: Saint Laurent de la Cabrerisse - Durban Corbières, 49 km
Stage 5 - May 21: Castelnaudary - Castelnaudary ITT, 31.5 km
Stage 6 - May 22: Castelnaudary - Castelnaudary, 115 km
Stage 7a - May 23: Montreal d'Aude - Bram, 35 km
Stage 7b - May 23: Bram - Saissac, 63 km
Stage 8 - May 24: Axat - Axat, 123 km
Stage 9 - May 25: Saint Hilaire - Limoux, 109 km

Van Petegem back next week

Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix winner Peter Van Petegem will make his return to competition next week in the Tour of Belgium, which begins on Wednesday. Van Petegem planned to start in the Tour de Picardie today, but had to put it off due to a sore throat.

Lotto-Domo will take Peter Van Petegem, Axel Merckx, Serge Baguet, Leon van Bon, Stefan van Dijk, Nico Eeckhout, Glenn D'Hollander and Leif Hoste to the Tour of Belgium.

Belgians to Sydney

The Belgian cycling federation will send three riders to Sydney for the fourth and final round of the UCI Track World Cup, which starts on Friday, May 16. Dimitri De Fauw and Iljo Keisse will partner each other in the madison, and one of each of them will contest the points race, and the other the scratch race. John Van Den Abeele will ride in the individual pursuit.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)