Giro d'Italia Femminile, Cat 2.9.1

Italy, July 1-12, 1998

1     2     3     4     5     6     7a     7b     8     9     10     11     12

Stage 10, Bibione - Bibione, 97.5 kms:

 1. Anna Wilson (Aus) AIS 				     2.14.46 (40.960)
 2. Gabriella Pregnolato (Ita) Mimosa Sprint
 3. Sara Felloni (Ita) Edilsavino
 4. Cinzia Faccin (Ita) Mista Verde
 5. Katia Longhin (Ita) Fanini Record Rox
 6. Zinaida Stahurskaia (Bul)  Mista Verde
 7. Elisabeth Chevanne Brunel (Ita)  Fanini Record Rox
 8. Susy Pryde (NZ) Saeco-Timex
 9. Oksana Saprykina (Ukr)
10. Alessandra Cappellotto (Ita) Acca Due O Lorena

GC after Stage 10

 1. Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Mimosa-Sprint		    24.43.55
 2. Linda Jackson (Can) Saeco-Timex 				1.21
 3. Barbara Heeb (Swi) Acca Due O Lorena 			2.48
 4. Edita Pucinskaite (Lit) Acca Due O 				4.45 
 5. Allesandra Cappellotto (Ita) Acca Due O Lorena  		4.47      

Anna Wilson Reports

Hi Bill, well we are now only 2 stages away from the finish of this race and fatigue is setting in. Today was a great day for the Aussies - a flat circuit race around Bibione. The Saeco team was out for a big one today - they had riders off the front nearly all day and they were setting a pretty mean pace too. There were three intermediate sprints and after the third one Giana Roberge of Saeco went ballistic with Linda Jackson on her wheel. They caught the Sprint team off guard and managed to get a group away without Luperini. Panic set in to the Sprint team and Marsal and Sunstedt had to do a lot of driving to get back in contact. After that the Sprint team were a lot more vigilant and the pace was too high in the final couple of laps for any breaks to survive. So we prepared ourselves for a sprint finish and the Australian team got ready to lead me out.

2 k's to go we had Kristy Scrymgeour, Tracey Gaudry, Liz Tadich and myself all in the first 10 riders. Lucky for us because just then there was a big pile up behind us which took out a lot of riders including Greta Zocca who won the first two stages. Linda Jackson also came down along with 4 other Saeco riders and she ended up losing 40 seconds. That won't affect her second place on GC but it makes it that much tougher to challenge Luperini in the final two stages.

Anyway, back to the sprint. My main challenger left in the race after the crash was Sara Fellone who is in the sprint jersey. Kristy Scrymgeour led me into the final kilometre and got me on the Fanini train for the sharp right hander 600 from the finish. I stayed on Fanini until 400 metres to go when Kristy came through again and took me til 200 to go. From there I opened up the sprint and was delighted to hold on for a 3rd stage victory. I told the media that if Luperini wins her 4th stage with the hilltop finish tomorrow then I will just have to win my 4th on Sunday! We will see!

So all in all a great day for us Aussies and a shocker for the Saeco team. 2 days left and tomorrow is meant to be one of the hardest of the tour. Hilltop finish and big climb midway as well so I think I will be back in grovel mode and the climbers will be able to laugh at us mere sprinters as they tonk away up the climb.

Speak to you tomorrow

Official News Release

Nica Lewis, Press Officer for the Tour writes:

Anna Wilson won her third stage in this Giro d'Italia (the 92 km Bibione-Bibione), but her umpteenth sprint finish was overshadowed by a crash that included Canadian Linda Jackson, second in the overall rankings behind Fabiana Luperini. With four km to go, a crash shattered the main group, which was cruising at high speed towards the finish line. The pink jersey, Luperini, was untouched, but her closest followers, Jackson, Heeb and Pucinskaite lost time. Jackson, in particular (who reached the finish 36 seconds after Wilson) landed hard on her hip, causing a bruise that might seriously affect her chances for tomorrow's stage.

Fabiana Luperini is counting the hours until the climb in Tambre (in the foothills of the Dolomites), that will probably decide the result of this spectacular Giro d'Italia. After Thursday's stage at Pordoi Pass, where the Tuscan rider took back the pink jersey, the destiny of the Giro hangs on the 45 seconds that were separating the 40-year old Canadian, Linda Jackson of Saeco-Timex from Luperini. But today's stage may have reduced that Canadian's hopes, who now follows with 1'21.

With tears in her eyes, Jackson said, "I'm really disappointed. This is the second time that I lose time for reasons not related to my abilities. My back really hurts."

In any case, honor for Anna Wilson, the true sprint queen of this Giro. "The race was really fast. I was in the lead group of ten and heard the crash behind me. I wasn't sure who was involved. My team mates worked well for me. Kristy Scrymgeour led me out of the final turn. Sara Felloni was on her wheel and, with 200 meters to go, I took off on the left while Felloni went on the right. On the finish line, I didn't raise my arms because I thought Felloni and Zocca were right there. I didn't realize that Zocca was slowed down by the crash."

All eyes are on tomorrow, for the last act of the Luperini-Jackson contest -- unless there's unhappy news from Saeco-Timex's medical team -- before the final parade on Sunday from Conegliano to Vittorio Veneto. The 11th stage, 97.3 km from Longarone to Tambre, is replete with challenges: there are three Gran Premi di Montagna: the first at Pieve d'Alpago (676m - 2000 ft), after 32 km, the second at St. Anna Pai (km 51,5 at 1044m - 3100 ft) and third, the toughest, Broz, two km from the finish at Tambre (965m - 2900 ft). The climb to Broz is described as the most difficult ever encountered in women's cycling, comparable to the Mortirolo, even though it is seven km shorter than the most famous peak in the Men's Giro d'Italia. It rises 565m (1695 ft) in seven km.

Already for several days now, Fabiana Luperini has been saying that Tambre was going to be "her" stage. And one can be sure that the pink jersey she wears won't lessen her intention to attack in her classic style.

From James Victor, Australian Team Manager

The stage profile suited the Australians and the challenge was there for another stage victory and to regain the points jersey.

The Points Classification is awarded to the best all-round rider, based on points from stage finishes, mountain sprint points and intermediate sprints points, when the rider may not be a specialist climber to be higher placed on overall classification.

Anna has taken her opportunities, endeavouring to stay as highly placed as possible overall, but realistic of her climbing abilities against the worlds best climbers who are dominating the top positions.

Anna's stage wins have been well calculated on the terrain that suits her, and with strong committed team support, today was the icing on the cake of what this team has become renowned for recently.

Comments are being received all round from opposing teams about how well the Aussies are working together, and taking their opportunities, and using their strengths to their optimum capacity.

Today, it was a plan of beng agressive out on the open road, and stretch the limits of the domestics of the other teams to keep up the chase.

Anna was to sit-in and wait for the last hour to either jump clear with a small group as she did for her 2nd stage win, or use the skills and speed of her team-mates to have her in good position for the bunch sprint.

Everything worked to perfection, with Tadich, Feldhahn and Gaudry all featuring in early brakes and attacks, with the peloton not letting anyone get too far away, it was down to 7 laps of a 7.5 km twisting and technical circuit to decide the stage.

Kristy Scrymgeour was given instructions to keep Anna up close, and have her in the first 5 riders out of the last corner at 500 metres to go.

The U.S. Saeco-Cannondale team had the speed high from 6 km to go, with 2nd placed overall, Linda Jackson on the front trying to help set her team for a good sprint finish, and also keep herself out of trouble.

The Australians were tucked right in behind, with all ready for the mad scramble in the last 2 km.

At 1.5 km to go a huge crash of about 15 - 20 riders, with Jackson involved, saw all the Australians miss it and keep their good position near the front.

1 km to go, Scrymgeour let's loose with Wilson tucked on her wheel, coming out of the last corner with Sprint Classification leader Falloni on 3rd wheel.

200 metres to go and Wilson goes right, Falloni left, and it was a drag race to the line, with Wilson winning comfortably in the end.

Another great team win, Anna's 3rd for the tour, equalling Luperini's number of stage wins for this tour, and an atmosphere in the Australian camp that has been rarely experienced before, but getting stronger everyday.

Wilson also gained more points in 2 intermediate sprints to regain the Points Jersey on 130 points, and move 29 points clear of Heeb with 2 days to go. (Stage win = 25 points).

Tomorrow is an extremely tough day again, with about 6km of 39 * 25 cog terrain. Anna's climbing has been tested to the limits this week, and the points jersey is the objective now, with another good stage result possible on Sunday, finishing the tour in Vittorio-Veneto.

Stage 11, Longarone - Tambre d'Alpago, 97.3 kms:

 1. Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Mimosa-Sprint   		     3.02.14 (33.024)
 2. Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Mimosa Sprint
 3. Barbara Heeb (Swi) Acca due O Lorena 			0.25
 4. Edita Pucinskaite (Lit) Acca due O Lorena
 5. Linda Jackson (Can) Saeco-Timex 				1.01
 6. Juana Somarriba (Spa) Vittorio Veneto-Sprint 		1.26
 7. Monica Bandini (Ita) Edilsavino 				2.02
 8. Alessandra Cappellotto (Ita) Acca due O Lorena 		2.12
 9. Valentina Polkhanova (Rus) Edilsavino 			2.37
10. Roberta Bonanomi (Ita) Mimosa Sprint 			3.07
GC after Stage 11

 1. Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Mimosa-Sprint 		    27.46.09 (37.653)
 2. Linda Jackson (Can) Saeco-Timex 				2.22
 3. Barbara Heeb (Swi) Acca Due O Lorena 			3.13
 4. Edita Pucinskaite (Lit) Acca Due O 				5.10
 5. Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Mimosa Sprint 				6.01
 6. Joane Somarriba (Spa) Vittorio Veneto Sprint 		6.40
 7. Alessandra Cappellotto (Ita) acca Due O Lorena 		6.59
 8. Barbara Bandini (Ita) Edilsavino 				7.01
 9. Valentina Polkhanova (Rus) Edilsavino 		       10.46
10. Imelda Chiappa (Ita) Edilsavino 			       11.08

Anna Wilson Reports

Hi Bill,

Well the hardest day of the tour certainly lived up to its name. Never has a 39 25 felt quite so big as it did today. Anyway, it was the Saeco squad that basically controlled the first 30 flat kms and then we began climbing. The bunch was thinned out to about 30 riders as we climbed steadily and Sprint was setting a nice tempo on the front. Then after one climb of about 6 kms and a few kilometres up the next climb the road suddenly yawned up in front of us and Luperini decided she had had enough of the bunch. She cleared out and the climbers set about chasing her and the rest of us started praying for 28's to miraculously appear on our clusters!

Over the top of that climb a group of 12 got together, including Luperini. I was in the second group which was about 15 strong. Marsal was doing a lot of driving in my group and I thought maybe we were close enough to catch the climbers on the flat road before the final climb. We went down an awesome descent - about 20 hairpins - and Marsal was giving it a fair bit of stick. When we reached the bottom I got the call that we were 4 minutes behind the lead group. Well maybe we wouldn't catch them before the final climb!

My bunch just rolled turns along the flat stretch and then with about 9 kms to go we turned right and craned our necks at some ridiculous angle to look at the road ahead. Back into the 39 25 and my God, it wasn't easy even in that gear. I heard later that in the front group, Edita Pukinskaite and Pia Sunstedt broke away on the flat and hit the final climb together. Luperini got across to them on the climb and she and Pia dropped Edita. Pia is a Sprint rider as well and Luperini and her rode together to the finish and Luperini let her win the stage. Barbara Heeb ended up third and I think Jackson was 4th. In any case, Jackson is still second overall in the tour.

So I got up the climb as best I could and rode into the finish. I think I lost about 10 minutes on Luperini which makes a total of about 20 minutes for the tour so tomorrow I think I can seriously challenge the tour lead with a daring breakaway. Well you have to dream!

One day to go so spirits are high here. There is one climb tomorrow but we are hopeful that no one will be too enthused about hammering up there.

Speak to you tomorrow

Official News Release

Nica Lewis, Press Officer for the Tour writes:

Fabiana Luperini virtually won her fourth Giro díItalia in a memorable day for her and for her team, Mimosa-Sprint, as she dominated this penultimate and very difficult stage. In fact, on the climb to Tambre, the extraordinary Tuscan had only one rider who was able to maintain her pace, her teammate Pia Sundtedt, from Finland. As they approached the finish line, Fabiana generously left the victory to Pia without even trying to sprint. "It was a perfect day for me and my team," said Luperini. Iím also happy for Pia Sundstedt, since she was totally unlucky in the Giro del Trentino which she lost because of a crash."

The Finnish rider of course thanked her team captain: "Fabiana was great, she waited for me and helped me. Iím happy for her, because with this fourth victory in the Giro, she is now legendary." Sundstedt attacked with the Lithuanian Pucinskaite. But Luperini waited for the right moment, and started a spectacular climb planting her adversaries one by one on the last kilometers of the ascent. Only Sundstedt, with the "benediction" of Fabiana, was able to resist. Also doing well were the Swiss rider Barbara Heeb, third at 25 seconds along with Pucinskaite; and fifth the Canadian Jackson, who defended herself well in spite of the injuries she sustained in Fridayís crash at Bibione.

Tomorrow a grand parade for the athletes of the pink caravan who will conclude this highly-contested Giro díItalia with the 12th stage, the 116-km Conegliano-Vittorio Veneto. A large crowd of spectators is expected for the conclusion of this pink race.

Stage 12, Conegliano - Vittorio Veneto, 116 kms:

 1. Greta Zocca (Ita) Vittorio Veneto-Sprint 		     2.47.09 (41.352)
 2. Sara Felloni (Ita) Edilsavino
 3. Anna Wilson (Aus) AIS
 4. Nada Cristofoli (Ita) Vittorio Veneto Sprint
 5. Zita Urbonate (Lit) Acca Due O Lorena
 6. Zinaida Stahurskaia (Bul) Mista Verde
 7. Mara Calliope (Ita) Mista Verde
 8. Cinzia Faccin (Ital) Mista Verde
 9. V. Karpenko (Ukr) Ukraine
10. Monica Bandini (Ita) Edilsavino
Final GC

 1. Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Mimosa-Sprint 		    30.33.18
 2. Linda Jackson (Can) Saeco-Timex 				2.22
 3. Barbara Heeb (Swi) Acca Due O Lorena 			3.13
 4. Edita Pucinskaite (Lit) Acca Due O 				5.10
 5. Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Mimosa Sprint 				6.01
 6. Joane Somarriba (Spa) Vittorio Veneto Sprint 		6.40
 7. Alessandra Cappellotto (Ita) acca Due O Lorena 		6.59
 8. Barbara Bandini (Ita) Edilsavino 				7.01
 9. Valentina Polkhanova (Rus) Edilsavino 		       10.46
10. Imelda Chiappa (Ita) Edilsavino 			       11.08
14. Anna Wilson (Aus) AIS				       20.49
40. Juanita Feldhahn (Aus) AIS
46. Liz Tadich (Aus) AIS
56. Kristy Scrymegeour (Aus) AIS
74. Lisa Robinson (Aus) Oliviero
79. Geraldine Denham (Aus) VIS

DNF Kim Palmer (Aus) ACTAS crashed Stage 1

112 starters and 86 finishers

Points Classification:

 1. Anna Wilson (Aus) AIS					140 points
 2. Barbara Heeb (Swi) Acca Due O Lorena			117
 3. Sara Felloni (Ita) Edelsavino Mista				115
 4. Fabiana Luperini (Ita) Mimosa-Sprint			110
 5. Alessandra Cappellotto (Ita) acca Due O Lorena		101

Anna Wilson's results for the Points Jersey:

Stage 1 - 11th
Stage 3 - 3rd
Stage 4 - 1st
Stage 7a - 1st
Stage 7b - 3rd
Stage 8 - 6th
Stage 10 - 1st
Stage 12 - 3rd

Under 23: Cindy Pieters (Bel) Vlaanderen 2002

Anna Wilson Reports

Well the last stage of the Giro was a very fast one. Everyone was out in force for desperate last attempts at a stage win and there were no more stages to hold back for or conserve energy for so it was pretty full on. At the start of the day Luperini and Heeb were on equal points for the mountain jersey and there was one cat 3 climb for the day. On cat 3 climbs only the first 2 places get points. Everyone expected Luperini to let Heeb have the points since Heeb had been the one really trying for the jersey and Luperini accumulated most of her points on Mountain top finishes. However, surprise, surprise, Luperini went for the sprint and flicked Heeb by one point for the jersey. It seems she had a bit of a point to prove with Heeb.

Anyway, from the mountain sprint to the finish there were many attacks. Dream Team in particular was keen to get someone away since they were without a sprinter since Ziluite retired. The Sprint team was just as keen to keep it all together and force of numbers were on their side so in the end it came down to a sprint finish. Luperini actually was the last in the lead out train for Sprint - repaying a few debts. I mistimed my sprint a little and was a bit disappointed to finish 3rd behind Sara Felloni and Greta Zocca. Still I held on to the points jersey which I was absolutely thrilled about.

After the finish the Australian team all regrouped and then just stood around with dazed looks on our faces - too stuffed to think about moving! The first 12 day tour for the year under our belts and a month to recover before the Tour de France.

Our next race is Thuringen in Germany - a 5 day tour starting on the 29th July. I'll email you from there.

Official News Release

Nica Lewis, Press Officer for the Tour writes:

In an enthusiastic day at Vittorio Veneto, crowned by a huge audience, Fabiana Luperini today triumphantly concluded the 9th Giro díItalia Internazionale femminile: the pink jersey is hers again, as it was in 1995, 1996 and 1997. No one has ever won the Giro díItalia four consecutive times, not only in the short history of the womenís Giro, but also in the menís Giro. The Tuscan champion completed an exemplary Giro díItalia, showing that she is as strong mentally as physically: the loss of the pink jersey to Canadian Linda Jackson at the end of the time trial didnít discourage Luperini, who found physical and mental energy to do her best in the following stages, winning on Pordoi Pass and dominating the 11th stage that ended at Tambre (won by her team mate Pia Sundstedt). In total, she had three stage wins in this Giro. What is most incredible about Fabiana Luperini and her record of victories is what sheís accomplished at her age: barely 24Ĺ years old, she has already won four Giro díItaliaís and three Tour Femmininís. Until now, no one has succeeded in doing the same at such a young age.

The four consecutive victories at the Giro díItalia represent an important statistic in the history of cycling. Only Anquetil and Merckx were able to do the same at the Tour de France. Were she to repeat in 1999, Fabiana would match Indurain, who won the Tour de France five consecutive times. In terms of victories in the big Tours (Italy and France), only Hinault (5 Tourís and 3 Giroís) rests above Fabiana Luperini (4 Giroís and 3 Tourís). With seven victories, she also ties the records of Indurain (2 Giroís and 5 Tourís) and Coppi (5 Giroís and 2 Tourís).

The last stage ended as expected in a field sprint, with Italian Greta Zoccam from nearby Vicenza, who wore the pink jersey in Cagliari and closes this Giro with three stage wins. Zocca, and all her team mates from Mimosa-Sprint and Vittorio Veneto-Sprint, dyed their hair pink to celebrate Fabiana Luperiniís victory. A day of great happiness for the Tuscan: "Thanks to everyone, thanks to my team, to my fans. Again, the facts tell the story, and this is precisely why I refuse to respond to those who assert that I was favored in this race. After having won four Giroís and three Tourís, I believe I donít have to prove anything to anyone. I won by my merit, prevailing over great adversaries, beginning with Jackson." Canadian Linda Jackson was the other big star in these twelve days of racing. "Iím happy to have done this well on a course that wasnít designed for me. Next year, give me a 40-km time trial and Iíll promise you that the race will be decided by milliseconds!"

Results from Andrea Mandiroli, our reporter in Italy and reports from Nica Lewis, Press Officer for the Giro