82nd Giro d'Italia, Grand Tour

Italy, May 15-June 6, 1999

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This year's Giro d'Italia is less open than it has been in the past. The earlier flat stages will still see the big combines leading their sprinters onto the final straight for the mayhem which goes as a sprint. The main riders to watch in the sprinting showdowns include:

Dutchman Jeroen Blijlevens (TVM, born December 29, 1972), who has won stages in the Vuelta and the Tour but never in the Giro.

Italian Mario Cipollini (Saeco, March 22, 1967), known for marketing purposes as Super Mario and who has won 25 Giro stages already. He is chasing another 17 to equal the record.

Slovakian Jan Svorada (Lampre, August 28, 1968), who has won stages in all the major tours. He is a former ice hockey player.

There will be two time trials in this Giro and the "races of truth" were used by riders like Miguel Indurain to win the overall GC. The tactics he used in the Giro and the Tour differed from the barnstorming days of Eddy Merckx but they were still very effective in winning the overall. There are two riders in this year's Giro who will show up in the time trials.

Ukrainian Sergei Gontchar (Vini Caldirola, July 3, 1970), has distinguished himself as a top-line time trialler. He has already worn the Maglia Rosa twice before and has won a bronze and silver medal at the Worlds in this discipline. He is not as dominant as Indurain was nor can he climb like the Spaniard. So he will not threaten the overall but will place highly in the ITTs.

Swiss rider Alex Zülle (Banesto, July 5, 1968), is coming back into racing after serving a 6-month suspension for admitting to using EPO during his time at Festina. He won the World ITT in 1997 and has already dominated Gontchar in the 1998 Giro time trials. He can also climb better than the Ukrainian. However, he often blows up at critical moments in the mountains and will not be able to get far enough ahead of Marco Pantani in the ITTs to make up for the Italian's supremacy in the mountains.

This year's Giro is highlighted by the tough climbing that the riders face. The parcours for this year is biased towards the dedicated climbers and not by accident - last year's winner Marco Pantani is the national cycling treasure. It is likely that the overall winner will be a climber. The interest will also be in the battle between Banesto's José Maria Jimenez and hot favourite Marco Pantani.

Pantani (Mercatone Uno, January 13, 1970) is favoured by the parcours without doubt. He has also improved his time trialling performance to reduce the time loss he used to face in that event. But on the steep slopes, no-one in the peloton can pedal as quickly.

José Maria Jimenez (Banesto, February 6, 1971) will be competitive though. He is no longer constrained to working for Abraham Olano in this race given Olano's decision not to ride the Giro. Zülle will also work for him given his lack of preparation.

Of the other climbers who will be aiming to take stage wins, Spaniards Roberto Heras (Kelme-Costa Blanca, February 21, 1974) and Daniel Clavero (Vitalicio Seguros, August 8, 1968) are the two most likely. Heras is riding the Giro for the first time but has placed in the top 6 in the last two Vuelta's and has also shown he can win stages. Clavero was 5th on the GC in last year's Giro and placed highly the year before in the Vuelta. His high placings reflect his climbing skills.

And what of the others who are non=specialists but do well in all disciplines? Current World Champion, Switzerland's Oscar Camenzind (Lampre, September 12, 1971) placed 4th last year and is likely to be close again.

Pundits are looking to his teammate Italian Mariano Piccoli (September 11, 1970) who has shown since 1995 that he can perform well in this race. He has wont he mountain's classification (1995 and 1996) and won the points classiciation last year. He will support Camenzind strongly.

Giro Data:

The 90th year for the race with the first edition being held on May 13, 1909.

This is the 82nd edition. The race was not held during the two great wars in Europe (1915-18 and 1941-45).

The race is organised by RCS Sport, a group which runs the race for the founders, the Italian sport's newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. They have invited 18 teams (with 9 riders) to this year's race. The invitations are at the discretion of the organisers.

The 22 stages will be combined with a rest day between the stage to Rapallo and the climbing stage of Borgo San Dalmazzo. The riders will cover 3757 kilometers which is considerably shorter than the longest Giro, which in 1954 covered 4337 kms. The shortest edition in 1909 covered only 2448 kms.

Stage 6 is the longest stage and will cover 257 kms between Lauria and Foggia. This is short compared to the longest ever stage held in 1914 from Lucca to Roma, which covered a huge 430 kms and was won by Costante Girardengo. Girardengo had to wait until 1919 until he could win the Giro. It was the next race after the break due to WWI

The average daily kms (excluding the ITTs) over the course of the race is 170.772. In 1998 it was 175.818, and in 1997 it was 176.910.

There will be 262 kms of pure climbing this year compared to 264 kms last year and 283 kms in 1997. However, this year the climbs are tougher and there are 5 mountain top stage finishes - Monte Sirino, L’Aquila Gran Sasso d’Italia, Oropa, Alpe di Pampeago, and Madonna di Campiglio.

The mountains classification (green jersey) comprises 32 sprints. There are 7 Cat 1, 9 Cat 2 and 10 Cat 3 climbs.

Of the 81 races to date, Italians have won it 55 times. Belgians have won it 7 times (Merckx 5), and the French have won it 6. Joining Merckx on 5 wins was Italians Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi.

The closest winning margin occured twice - 12 seconds - in 1955 when Fiorenzo Magni (Ita) beat Fausto Coppi (Ita) and again in 1974 when Eddy Merckx (Bel) beat Italian Gianbattista Baronchelli.

Eddy Merckx also holds the record for wearing the leader's jersey - the maglie rosa - the most times - a total of 78.

The rider who has competed in the most Giros is Italian Wladimiro Panizza, who entered 18 times (finishing 16 times). Another Italian Pier Mattia Gavazzi entered 17 times (finishing 14).

Only 4 riders have won the Giro after taking the lead in the first stage. They are Costante Girardengo (1919), Alfredo Binda (1927), Eddy Merckx (1973), and Italian Gianni Bugno (1990).

Major Climbs:

Stage 1:  Contrada Veninata                            614 metres

Stage 3:  Portella Mandrazzi                          1125 metres

Stage 5:  Passo la Colla                               594 metres
          Monte Sirino (Stage Finish)                 1525 metres

Stage 6:  Valico Torre di Satriano                     855 metres

Stage 8:  Valico di Monte della Selva                 1235 metres
          Ovindoli                                    1379 metres
          Gran Sasso d'Italia (Stage Finish)          2130 metres

Stage 10: Bocca Serriola                               730 metres

Stage 11: Passo di Viamaggio                           983 metres

Stage 13: Passo della Cisa                            1039 metres
          Passo del Brattello                          953 metres
          Passo Cento Croci                           1055 metres
          Valico Monte Pollano                        1050 metres

Stage 14: Colletto di Rossana                          617 metres
          Montemale                                    931 metres
          Colle Fauniera                              2511 metres
          Madonna del Colletto                        1304 metres

Stage 15: La Serra                                     595 metres
          Oropa (Stage Finish)                        1180 metres

Stage 19: Cima di Campo                               1427 metres
          Passo Manghen                               2047 metres
          Alpe di Pampeago (Stage Finish)             1760 metres

Stage 20: Candriai di Monte Bondone                    980 metres
          Ballino                                      755 metres
          Madonna di Campiglio (Stage Finish)         1520 metres

Stage 21: Passo del Tonale                            1883 metres
          Passo di Gavia "Cima Coppi"                 2621 metres
          Passo del Mortirolo                         1852 metres
          Valico di Santa Cristina                    1427 metres

Complete Starting List

Mercatone Uno-Bianchi		Amica Chips-Costa de Almeria

1 Marco Pantani (Ita)		11 Eugeni Berzin (Rus)
2 Enrico Zaina (Ita)		12 Daniele Depaoli (Ita)
3 Stefano Garzelli (Ita)	13 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus)
4 Riccardo Forconi (Ita)	14 Felice Puttini (Swi)
5 Massimo Podenzana (Ita)	15 Amilcare Tronca (Ita)
6 Ermanno Brignoli (Ita)	16 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita)
7 Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita)	17 Armand De Las Cuevas (Fra)
8 Marco Velo (Ita)		18 Marco Gili (Ita)
9 Simone Borgheresi (Ita)	19 Emiliano Murtas (Ita)

Ballan-Alessio			Banesto

21 Fabio Baldato (Ita)		31 José Luis Arrieta (Spa)
22 Filippo Baldo (Ita)		32 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita)
23 Andrea Ferrigato (Ita)	33 José Maria Jimenez Sastre (Spa)
24 Alexandre Gontchenkov (Rus)	34 Alex Zülle (Swi)
25 Loda - failed blood test	35 David Navas Chica (Spa)
26 Alberto Ongarato (Ita)	36 Aitor Osaeiz Aguirre (Spa)
27 Gilberto Simoni (Ita)	37 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita)
28 Matteo Tosatto (Ita)		38 Miguel Angel Pena (Spa)
29 Piotre Ugrumov (Rus)		39 Orlando Sergio Gomes Rodrigues (Spa)

Cantina Tollo-Alexia		Kelme-Costa Blanca

41 Nicola Minali (Ita)		51 José Luis Rubiera (Spa)
42 Andrea Brognara (Ita)	52 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa)
43 Marco A. Di Renzo (Ita)	53 Angel Edo (Spa)
44 Roberto Sgambelluri (Ita)	54 José Jaime Gonzalez Pico (Spa)
45 Massimiliano Gentili (Ita)	55 Francisco Cabello (Spa)
46 Cristian Gasperoni (Ita)	56 Oscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa)
47 Marco Magnani (Ita)		57 Eduardo Hernandez Bailo (Spa)
48 Danilo Diluca (Ita)		58 Ochoa -  - failed blood test
49 Bo Hamburger (Den)		59 Jose Manuel Uria Gonzalez (Spa)

Lampre-Daikin			Liquigas

61 Oskar Camenzind (Swi)	71 Nicola Miceli (Ita)
62 Simone Bertoletti (Ita)	72 Andrei Teteriouk (Ita)
63 Massimo Codol (Ita)		73 Cristiano Frattini (Ita)
64 Marco Della Vedova (Ita)	74 Endrio Leoni (Ita)
65 Matteo Frutti (Ita)		75 Biagio Conte (Ita)
66 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita)	76 Oscar Mason (Ita)
67 Pavel Padrnos (Cze)		77 Rodolfo Ongarato (Ita)
68 Mariano Piccoli (Ita)	78 Fausto Dotti (Ita)
69 Jan Svorada (Cze)		79 Ruslan Ivanov (Rus)

Mapei-Quick Step		Mobilvetta-Northwave

81 Paolo Bettini (Ita)		91 Pascal Richard (Swi)
82 Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita)	92 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita)
83 Giuliano Figueras (Ita)	93 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo)
84 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita)	94 Paolo Valoti (Ita)
85 Dirk Müller (Ger)		95 Ivan Quaranta (Ita)
86 William Chann McRae (USA)	96 Massimo Strazzer (Ita)
87 Andrea Noe' (Ita)		97 Stefano Faustini (Ita)
88 Andrea Tafi (Ita)		98 Mirko Gualdi (Ita)
89 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned)	99 Guido Trombetta (Ita)

Navigare-Gaerne			ONCE-Deutsch Bank

101 Nicklas Axelsson (Swe)	111 Laurent Jalabert (Fra)
102 Gabriele Balducci (Ita)	112 Inigo Cuesta Lopez de Castro (Spa)
103 Dario Pieri (Ita)		113 Santos Gonzalez (Spa)
104 Vladimir Duma (Ukr)		114 David Canada Garcia (Spa)
105 Luca Cei (Ita)		115 Peter Luttenberger (Aut)
106 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)	116 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa)
107 Gerrit Glomser (Aut)	117 Andrea Peron (Ita)
108 Stefano Panetta (Ita)	118 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa)
109 Luca Belluomini (Ita)	119 Mikei Zarrabeitia Uranga (Spa)

Riso Scotti-Vinavil		Saeco-Cannondale

121 Carlo Marino Bianchi (Ita)	131 Mario Cipollini (Ita)
122 Diego Ferrari (Ita)		132 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita)
123 Ivan Basso (Rus)		133 Giuseppe Calcaterra (Ita)
124 Samuele Schiavina (Ita)	134 Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita)
125 Alexandre Shefer (Kaz)	135 Dario Frigo (Ita)
126 Oscar Pozzi (Ita)		136 Alessio Galletti (Ita)
127 Filippo Simeoni (Ita)	137 Roberto Petito (Ita)
128 Alain Turicchia (Ita)	138 Mario Scirea (Ita)
129 Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita)	139 Francesco Secchiari (Ita)

Team Polti			TVM-Farm Frites

141 Enrico Cassani (Ita)	151 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned)
142 Mirko Celestino (Ita)	152 Davide Casarotto (Ita)
143 Ivan Gotti (Ita)		153 Hendrik Van Dyck (Bel)
144 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita)	154 Serguei Ivanov (Rus)
145 Stephan Goubert (Fra)	155 Andreas Klier (Ger)
146 Oscar Pellicioli (Ita)	156 Michel Lafis (Swe)
147 Davide Rebellin (Ita)	157 Martin Van Steen (Ned)
148 Richard Virenque (Fra)	158 Pieter Vries (Ned)
149 Denis Zanette (Ita)		159 Miiquel Van Kessel (Ned)

Vini Caldirola-Sidermec		Vitalicio Seguros-Generali

161 Massimo Apollonio (Ita)	171 Daniel Clavero (Spa)
162 Andrej Hauptman (Slo)	172 Santiago Blanco Gil (Spa)
163 Filippo Casagrande (Ita)	173 Herman Buenahora (Col)
164 Massimo Donati (Ita)	174 Andrei Zintchenko (Rus)
165 Sergej Gontchar (Ukr)	175 Serguei Smetanine (Rus)
166 Gianluca Sironi (Ita)	176 Prudencio Indurain (Spa)
167 Mauro Radaelli (Ita)	177 Francisco J. Cerezo Perales (Spa)
168 Romans Vainsteins (Lat)	178 Victor Pena (Col)
169 Mauro Zanetti (Ita)		179 Gines Salmeron Martinez (Spa)