Jubilee year offers historic, tough Giro d'Italia
By Tim Maloney, cyclingnews.com correspondent
The 2000 Giro d'Italia will begin in Rome on 13 May in tribute to the Jubilee year of the Eternal City, and end in Milano on June 4, after 3,707 Km and 21 stages of racing. This year's Giro could be the toughest recent edition of the Corsa Rosa, with three mountain top stage finishes and a crucial 32km mountain time trial on the penultimate day from Briancon, France to Sestrieres.
" Bello! It's a Giro for climbers, a Giro I like," 1999's putative Giro winner Ivan Gotti of Team Polti told Pier Bergonzi of La Gazzetta Dello Sport when the route was announced last year. "I see Tonkov, Simoni, Frigo and Salvodelli, as contenders," said Gotti, ignoring Pantani. Although he was expected at the Giro 2000 presentation, Marco Pantani, who was leading the '99 Giro until he was excluded from the race due to high haemotocrit on the penultimate stage, was not present at Milano's Teatro Lirico due to influenza. He has since only raced a couple of times but at the last minute announced that he will participate in this year's edition.
Supersprinter Mario Cipollini was circumspect, saying "It looks like recent editions of the Giro; it's right that a climber should win...for sprinters, there are a few good stages too." Cipollini has been suffering from asthma in recent weeks, but it seems likely that he'll make the start.
After a dramatic 6k prologue in Rome, adjacent to the Colosseum and Imperial Forum, a nervous and rolling first week takes the Giro 2000 down the coast to Scalea, then east to Matera and north across Puglia, up the sunny beach-lined Adriatic coast. No major difficulties emerge until Sunday, 21 May on Stage 8 from Corinaldo to Prato. This is a brutal 255km slog across 3 Apennine climbs over 1000m. from the Marche region to Tuscany.
The next day is the first mountaintop finish, Stage 9 from Prato to Passo Abetone. After Prato and west to Lucca, the stage climbs up the rugged 1524m S.Pellegrino pass, then dips down and up to finish on the 1388m Abetone. 60 years prior in 1940, on the same pass, Fausto Coppi won his first of 58 stages in the Giro d'Italia.
From Tuscany, the Giro heads northeast across the Po valley to Veneto. Stage 11 is a 45km individual time trial between the beachfront resorts of Lignano Sabbidoro and Bibione. After this first decisive phase of the 2000 Giro, it'll be rest day at the beach in Bibione, with the Dolomiti climbs looming 50km to the north.
After a warm-up to Feltre on Stage 12, the Dolomiti are on the menu for Stages 13 and 14, with 6 major passes to cross in two tough days of racing. Stage 13, 195km from Feltre to Selva Gardena includes the Falzarego, Fedaia and steep Marmolada passes, with Sunday's Stage 14 over 205 decisive kilometers on offer from Selva Val Gardena to Bormio, including the legendary 2621m Passo di Gavia.
The next three stages of the 2000 Giro are transition stages which bring the race out of the Dolomiti mountains, and south across Lombardia to Genova. Stage 18 runs 176km from the port city to the ski station of Pratonevoso for a second mountaintop finish, a tough 11km. climb with an average grade of 8.8%! Friday June 2nd has yet another extreme Alpine stage. Stage 19 from Saluzzo to Briancon in France covers 177km over the steep Colle d'Agnello (at 2748m, this is the "Cima Coppi", highest point in the Giro) into France, then over the stark climb of the Izoard and down to the finish in Briancon.
Stage 20's 32km individual time trial from Briancon to Sestrieres covers the ancient trading road between France to Italy over the gentle Col de Montgenevre, with 21.5km of climbing total for the test. Last year's Tour De France featured the same final 32km in Stage 10 to Sestrieres. With this penultimate stage the race of truth over a difficult course, there should be no doubt who will win the 2000 Giro after Stage 20. Sunday's final Stage 21 will be a toddle from Torino to Milano.
Polti's Ivan Gotti, who defaulted into the '99 Giro title will have something to prove in the 2000 Giro: to show once and for all that he's for real, like his '97 Giro win. Gotti's Polti squad also includes their 2000 signing, sprinter Jeroen Blijlevens who will be looking for more stage wins. Gotti's '97 rival Pavel Tonkov will be back again with the Giro a major goal for 2000. The Mapei Russian has something to prove too, after his dismal ride at the '99 Tour De France.
A contender must be Francesco Casagrande of Vini Caldirola. The controversial climber won the '99 Tour of Switzerland after his drug suspension and was excluded from the Tour De France, then raged in the late season with a World Cup win in San Sebastian and 4th in the World Championships in Verona. So too is Saeco's Paolo Savoldelli heis in form after the recent Tour de Romandie, which he won.
The attacker from Abruzzo, Danilo Di Luca of Cantina Tollo will be back for his sophomore Giro. The powerful youngster will be looking for at least a stage victory or maybe the chance ot the Pink Jersey. Italian pro champ Salvatore Comesso of Saeco-Cannondale will also be looking to sport his maglia tricolore to a stage win or two. Sprinters Mario Cippollini of Saeco and Ivan Quarranta of Mobilvetta Design-Rossin could repeat their exciting head to head rivalry of '99, but no matter who wins the stages, whichever rider finally wins the 2000 Giro d'talia will be a worthy victor due to the extremely tough race route.
This is the 91st year for the race with the first edition being held on May 13, 1909.
This is the 83rd 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 20 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 stage 11 and 12 in Bibione The riders will cover 3707 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 8 is the longest stage and will cover 255 kms between : Corinalsoand Prato. 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 190.737. In 1999 it was 170.772, in 1998 it was 175.818, and in 1997 it was 176.910.
Of the 82 races to date, Italians have won it 57 times. Belgians have won it 7 times (Merckx 5), and the French have won it 6. Joining Merckx on 5 wins were 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 Maglia Rosa - the most times - a total of 78.
The rider who has competed in the most Giro's is Italian Wladimiro Panizza, who entered 18 times (finishing 16 times). Another Italian Pier Mattia Gavazzi entered 17 times (finishing 14).
Final list, Friday May 12 22:00 hrs Team Polti Amica Chips-Tacconi sport 1 Ivan Gotti (Ita) 11 Mauro Gerosa (Ita) 2 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) 12 Ivan Basso (Ita) 3 Enrico Cassani (Ita) 13 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) 4 Daniel Clavero Sebastian (Spa) 14 Diego Ferrari (Ita) 5 Silvio Martinello (Ita) 15 Vitali Kokorine Rus) 6 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) 16 Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) 7 Oscar Pelliccioli (Ita) 17 Filippo Simeoni (Ita) 8 Jose Manuel Uria Gonzalez (Spa) 18 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) 9 Bart Voskamp (Ned) 19 Oscar Pozzi (Ita) Banesto Cantina Tollo 21 Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) 31 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) 22 Candido Barbosa (Por) 32 Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) 23 Thomas Brozyna (Pol) 33 Moreno di Bease (Ita) 24 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) 34 Massimo Giunti (Ita) 25 Eladio Jimenez Sanchez (Spa) 35 Giampaolo Mondini (Ita) 26 Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 36 Roberto Sgambelluri (Ita) 27 Unai Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) 37 Andrea Tonti (Ita) 28 Orlando Gomes Rodrigues (Por) 38 Guido Trenti (USA) 29 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) 39 Marco Vergnani (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Gaerne Farm Frites 41 Niklas Axelsson (Swe) 51 Miquel Van Kessel (Ned) 42 Vladimir Douma (Ukr) 52 Servais Knaven (Ned) 43 Tom Leaper (Aus) 53 Michel Lafis (Swe) 44 Enrico Degano (Ita) 54 Robbie McEwen (Aus) 45 Domenico Romano (Ita) 55 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) 46 Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mex) 56 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) 47 Luca Cei (Ita) 57 Martin Van Steen (Ned) 48 Antonio Varriale (Ita) 58 Justin Spinelli (USA) 49 Yaugeni Seniuskin (Blr) 59 Pieter Vries (Ned) Fassa Bortolo Kelme-Costa Blanca 61 Fabio Baldato (Ita) 71 Jose Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) 62 Wladimir Belli (Ita) 72 Oscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa) 63 Andrea Ferrigato (Ita) 73 Jose Joaquim Castelblanco (Col) 64 Marco Fincato (Ita) 74 Felix Rafael Cardenas Ravalo (Col) 65 Dario Frigo (Ita) 75 Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) 66 Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) 76 Juan José De Los Angeles (Spa) 67 Andrea Peron (Ita) 77 Ricardo Ochoa (Spa) 68 Alessandro Petacchi (Ltu) 78 Jose Javier Gomez Gonzalo (Spa) 69 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) 79 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) La Francaise Des Jeux Lampre-Daikin 81 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) 91 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) 82 Grzegorz Gwiazdowski (Pol) 92 Sergio Barbero (Ita) 83 Yvon Ledanois (Fra) 93 Massimo Codol (Ita) 84 Bradley McGee (Aus) 94 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) 85 Franck Perque (Fra) 95 Simone Bertoletti (Ita) 86 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) 96 Marco Della Vedova (Ita) 87 Daniel Schnider (Swi) 97 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) 88 Jean Michel Tessier (Fra) 98 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) 89 Jimmy Casper (Fra) 99 Jan Svorada (Cze) Linda McCartney Racing Team Liquigas-Pata 101 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) 111 Stefano Cattai (Ita) 102 Pascal Richard (Swi) 112 Daniele Contrini (Ita) 103 Tayeb Braikia (Den) 113 Cristiano Frattini (Ita) 104 Bjornar Vestol (Nor) 114 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) 105 Ciaran Power (Irl) 115 Cristián Moreni (Ita) 106 Maurizio De Pasquale (Ita) 116 Davide Rebellin (Ita) 107 David McKenzie (Aus) 117 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) 108 Matthew Stephens (GBr) 118 Denis Zanette (Ita) 109 Benjamin Brooks (Aus) 119 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Mapei-Quick step Mercatone Uno-Albacom 121 Davide Bramati (Ita) 131 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) 122 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) 132 Daniele De Paoli (Ita) 123 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) 133 Marco Velo (Ita) 124 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) 134 Enrico Zaina (Ita) 125 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) 135 Ermanno Brignoli (Ita) 126 William Chann McRae (USA) 136 Simone Borgheresi (Ita) 127 Andrea Noe' (Ita) 137 Riccardo Forconi (Ita) 128 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) 138 Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita) 129 Axel Merckx (Bel) 139 Marco Pantani (Ita) Mobilvetta Design-Rossin Aguardiente Nectar-Selle Italia 141 Eugeni Berzin (Rus) 151 Jose "Chepe" Gonzalez (Col) 142 Filippo Baldo (Ita) 152 Hernan Buenahora Gutierrez (Col) 143 Ivan Quaranta (Ita) 153 Raul Alexander Montana (Col) 144 Mirko Gualdi (Ita) 154 Fredy Gonzalez Martinez (Col) 145 Mario Manzoni (Ita) 155 Ruben Marin (Col) 146 Milan Kadlec (Cze) 156 Andris Nauduzas (Lat) 147 Graziano Recinella (Ita) 157 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) 148 Paolo Valoti (Ita) 158 Alessio Girelli (Ita) 149 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) 159 Leonardo Scarselli (Ita) Rabobank Saeco-Valli & Valli 161 Niki Aebersold (Swi) 171 Mario Cipollini (Ita) 162 Erik Dekker (Ned) 172 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) 163 Coen Boerman (Ned) 173 Giuseppe Calcaterra (Ita) 164 Steven de Jongh (Ned) 174 Alessio Galletti (Ita) 165 Addy Engels (Ned) 175 Pavel Padrnos (Cze) 166 Karsten Kroon (Ned) 176 Dario Pieri (Ita) 167 Matthé Pronk (Ned) 177 Biagio Conte (Ita) 168 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) 178 Mario Scirea (Ita) 169 Marcel Duijn (Ned) 179 Francesco Secchiari (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec Vitalicio Seguros-Generali 181 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) 191 Elio Aggiano (Ita) 182 Massimo Donati (Ita) 192 Santiago Blanco Gil (Spa) 183 Roberto Conti (Ita) 193 Luis Oran Castaneda Ramos (Col) 184 Mauro Zanetti (Ita) 194 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) 185 Marco Milesi (Ita) 195 Jan Hruska (Cze) 186 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) 196 Alvaro Gonzalez Galdeano (Spa) 187 Matthew White (Aus) 197 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) 188 Filippo Casagrande (Ita) 198 Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Col) 189 Ruggero Borghi (Ita) 199 Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col)