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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition News for May 30, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Giro stage wrap up: Frigo returns, Garzelli crashes but retains GC position

High mountains
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Dario Frigo followed in the footsteps of his teammate Aitor Gonzalez, coming good for a stage win after a slow start to the Giro. Frigo won the biggest mountain stage of the Giro ahead of race leader Gilberto Simoni after the two climbed most of the final climb together. Stefano Garzelli barely hung onto second place overall after he crashed on the dangerous descent of the Colle di Sampeyre, taking out Marco Pantani in the process.

Garzelli was not visibly injured, but his time losses were important. Pantani, on the other hand, looked to be on the brink of abandoning the race, suffering from a possible shoulder or collarbone injury. The Pirate summoned his strength, however, and remounted the bike in an effort to finish the stage, and hopefully the Giro.

Gutsy Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych, sensing an opportunity to profit from the adverse conditions (but not knowing Garzelli had crashed), took more risks and attacked on the snow covered descent of the Sampeyre, opening a gap ahead of Frigo, Georg Totschnig, and Simoni. On the final climb, however, Frigo was too strong, reeling in Popovych and pounding to the line with only the Maglia Rosa on his wheel.

Garzelli did well to salvage his second place overall from Popovych, while the abandon of Francesco Casagrande early in the race and Marco Pantani's ill-fated descent helped shuffle the top ten.

Stage 18 full results and report
Live report
Scott Sunderland's diary

Frigo satisfied

Dario Frigo lost most hopes of being a contender for the general classification after the first week of the Giro. That didn't stop him from steadily building up for a big win Thursday, conquering both the biggest day of climbing, and the worst weather the Giro has seen thus far.

"Finally I had a good day after a difficult beginning to my season," Frigo commented. "For once, the cold helped me."

Thanks also to hard his tempo riding on the last climb, which nearly shed race leader Gilberto Simoni in the final kilometres, Frigo moved from 13th to 7th place overall.

35 Riders eliminated

Thirty five riders did not make the time limit in today's epic 18th stage of the Giro. Despite the appalling weather conditions, the organisers chose to enforce the rule that all riders have to finish within 11 percent of the winner. In today's stage, the time limit was therefore 36'40, which meant that the groups arriving at 40 and 50 minutes respectively were eliminated.

The 35 included six fold stage winner Alessandro Petacchi, who finished last on the stage, won by Fassa Bortolo teammate Dario Frigo. "This was the worst day of my life," Petacchi said after the race. "Last night I barely slept, maybe two hours total. I knew that this would be a horrible day. The time delay? I'm tired... So tired that it doesn't really matter any more."

A host of Petacchi's fellow sprinters suffered the same fate of elimination, including Saeco's Dario Pieri and Fabio Sacchi, Domina Vacanze's Daniele Bennati, Alessio's Angelo Furlan and's Jimmy Casper. Moreno Di Biase of Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave also missed the cut, which will provide Magnus Bäckstedt (Team fakta-Pata Chips) with a somewhat smoother ride in the blue jersey of Intergiro leader. There are now just 97 riders left in the race for the final three stages.

Pantani to decide Friday

Pantani unsure
Photo: © Sirotti
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Marco Pantani looks to have escaped his stage 18 crash without any fractures, but the Pirate plans still to take stock of his injuries Friday morning before deciding whether or not to continue in the Giro. Pantani went down on the treacherous descent of the Colle di Sampeyre, in the company of Stefano Garzelli. The same duo that battled side by side on the climb of the Zoncolan found themselves on the ground together after Thursday's crash.

Garzelli was quick to scramble back to his bike, knowing his 2nd place overall was in jeopardy, but Pantani took several minutes to regain his composure, nursing his injured left shoulder and arm. Finally the Pirate remounted and bravely carried on, finishing the stage in 23rd position, 16 minutes down on stage winner Frigo, and dropping from 10th to 14th in the overall standings.

"I was confident going into this stage," a disappointed Pantani told ANSA. "I wanted to have a day of my own, and I was riding as I had hoped."

Like Mario Cipollini after his crash last week, Pantani will hope for a good night sleep, and will make the decision about continuing in consultation with his team. "In order to best gauge the extent of the trauma, we need to wait 12 hours," said Pantani's Mercatone Uno team doctor, Roberto Parravicini.

Simoni won't rest until Milan

Gilberto Simoni, by many estimates, may just have won the Giro d'Italia at the end of Thursday's stage 18. With a seven minute lead on his most consistent rival Stefano Garzelli, Simoni is an increasingly solid candidate for the final victory in Milan on Sunday. Like many who have led the grand tours, however, Simoni won't count his victory until the final finish line is crossed.

"The Giro is won in Milan," he explained after stage 18. "True, today I took a big step forward, but it has been hard. Very hard."

The Maglia Rosa did show signs that he was not invincible, struggling a bit to hold Dario Frigo's wheel in the closing stages of Thursday's race. Nevertheless, the slight difficulty in keeping pace was hardly a concern, particularly knowing that he would put still more time on his key rivals. Simoni is also quick to credit his team, which placed several riders in the early break Thursday, and protected its leader until the slick descent from the Sampeyre. "My teammates have been incredible," Simoni said. "It's rare to find a team that so consistently puts into practice the directeur sportif's instructions."

Scott Sunderland's epic day

Getting in the early break was definitely part of Team fakta-Pata Chips' Scott Sunderland's plans today, but he didn't count on the weather conditions at the top of the second climb, or the 25 kg rock that hit the team car:

Sunderland in action
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

"Kim asked me whether I wanted the rain jacket at the top. But I couldn't really afford the lost time on the descent. It was probably a bad call because of the snow. I had to get around a few cars, then I came across and saw Garzelli and Pantani laying there... Sandy Casar took his feet out on the descent, and at that point I said it wasn't worth it. These guys were mad. I was a bit disappointed not to be able to hold them and I was completely frozen at the bottom. I had a job not shivering myself off the bike.

"When I got to the bottom I had to do a time trial to the finish. The worst thing was that Kim Andersen gave me a bottle and some squeezys to keep me going, and then said he was just going back to look after the other guys. But after he'd gone back, a 25 kilogram rock landed on the bonnet of the car and bounced onto the windscreen! It jumped to the top of the windscreen and lucky it got stuck there and didn't wipe out the bikes. If it had landed on the windscreen itself I don't think they would have been there. As it was, there was a huge whole in the bonnet and they couldn't see out of the windscreen..."

Read the rest of the diary entry here.

Garzelli thinks podium

Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) lost 5'10" on race leader Gilberto Simoni in stage 18 after crashing alongside Marco Pantani, but the former Giro winner remains content with his performance, particularly in light of his year out of competition. "I don't know if, without the fall, we would have caught Simoni," Garzelli explained honestly after the stage.

Simoni aside, Garzelli also had to worry about his position in the general classification, threatened simultaneously by his ill-timed crash and a strong attack from Yaroslav Popovych, who took even greater risks to escape alone on the descent of the Sampeyre.

"It was a relief when I crossed the line and they told me that I kept [my second place] by a few seconds," Garzelli explained, "even though several minutes were lost to Simoni."

CSC to start in Clarendon Cup

Danish division I team CSC will be one of big drawcards for this Sunday's Clarendon Cup, which takes place in Arlington, Virginia. Featuring Julian Dean, Thomas Bruun Eriksen and 2002 Paris-Tours winner Jacob Piil, the CSC squad will use the Clarendon Cup as a tune up for the Wachovia series next week. They will add to an already strong field of 167 riders who will compete in the National Racing Calendar event.

Now in its sixth year, the Clarendon Cup has become one of North America's best known criterium events, not only being included on NRC, but also as the third stop in the brand new American Criterium Championship Series. Thus it's not surprising that there will be 15 professional teams battling it out on the technically challenging one kilometre circuit in the heart of Arlington's downtown.

2002 Clarendon Cup Pro/Elite Men's winner Vasilli Davidenko returns with nine of his Navigators teammates (including 2000 Olympic gold medallist Marty Nothstein) to make it two in a row, but Davidenko will definitely have his hands full. Out to beat him are the likes of Chris Horner (Saturn), the current leader in the National Racing Calendar series, US Postal sprinter Robbie Ventura, and a pair of men who won big in the Memorial Day weekend NRC races, Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance) and Hayden Godfrey (7 UP/Maxxis).

Meanwhile, defending Women's champion Ina Teutenberg of Germany is back to aim for a fifth victory at the Clarendon Cup for her dominant Saturn squad. However, former Virginia resident Tina Mayolo-Pic, who recently won the grueling Saturn Women's Classic from Teutenberg's teammate Laura Van Gilder, will be heading up a Diet Rite squad eager to capitalize on that recent success.

Besides the Pro/Elite Men's and Women's events, there are races for other categories, as well as three special events for the local community. The Kid's Race not only involves competitions for children ages 10 and under, but also includes a helmet giveaway and 'Bike Safety' art contests and school assemblies. The Silent Auction allows spectators to bid on a variety of items, with all proceeds going to area charities. And the Law Enforcement Relay consists of four-rider teams from such law enforcement groups as the U.S. Secret Service, the National Park Service, and a half-dozen area police department.

Trevorrow moves into hospitality

One of Australian cycling's most well-known figures, race organiser and former national road champion John Trevorrow, will today open his latest venture, a cafe and bar along one of the most famous cycling routes in Melbourne.

On the corner of Barkley Street and Beach Road, Cafe Cogs is en-route for those who partake in the Hell Ride and other, less-frantic 'training' rides in the Victorian capital. Given his background in cycling, as a rider, race organiser and journalist (Trevorrow secured the quote of the 2002 Tour de France when interviewing Robbie McEwen for last year), the cafe is adorned with a great deal of cycling memorabilia.

Among the items on display is the green jersey McEwen wore on the final stage of last year's Tour, as well as items from US Postal, trophies and photographs. Trevorrow said he has also secured new sponsorship for what is known as the "Bay Crits", a series of criteriums held in and around Melbourne during January which attract the top Australian and some international riders.

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