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85th Giro d'Italia (GT)
Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002
Start time: 10:15 CEST
Complete Live Report
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 17 of the 85th Giro d'Italia. Today's stage is the second and last stage in the Dolomites, and will again be important in determining the final outcome. With the only other deciding stage being Saturday's time trial, the climbers will have to work hard today to put time into the time trialists. That said, all of the top 6 riders are pretty handy against the clock and on the climbs. The only exception is yesterday's stage winner Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Panaria) who lost a lot of time early on in the Giro and is not a real GC contender. He can certainly climb though.
On the menu today, which is considerably longer than yesterday at 222 km, we have five categorised climbs. The first two come very early on at km 9 and km 20. These are followed by a long gradual descent almost to sea level (from 2213m), with the climbing starting again at km 163 with the Santa Barbara (1165m) and Passo Bordala (1253m) in quick succession. The riders then descend to 180m before hitting the finishing climb to Folgaria (1614m).
The Intergiro sprint is located at km 126.7, shortly before the feed zone.
13:15 CEST - 87 km/135 km to go
The riders have covered nearly 90 km in three hours, after a fairly steady start. The first climb of the Gardena Pass was won by Lampre's Sergio Barbero followed by mountains leader Julio Perez Cuapio and Daniele De Paoli (Alessio) third. The pack stayed together for the next climb, Passo di Selle, won by Ruben Marin (Selle Italia) from De Paoli, Castelblanco and Perez Cuapio.
After that, the peloton regrouped for the long descent, and is currently still all together with 135 km to go.
Weather today is cloudy and cool (14 C) but not particularly cold.
13:30 CEST - 93 km/129 km to go
146 riders started the race today (although 143 were listed on GC yesterday...) and there has been one withdrawal so far: Daniele Contrini (Gerolsteiner) who was in 125th place overall. The pace hasn't been particularly high today, with most wanting to wait for the last two climbs before mounting any attacks. In the first hour, 18 km were covered, in the second hour 36.8 km were covered, and in the third hour 30.7 km were covered for an overall average speed of 28.5 km/h.
13:45 CEST - 110 km/112 km to go
The peloton pass through Cembra, still gruppo compatto. There's another 16 km to go until the Intergiro sprint, where we can expect to see Massimo Strazzer and Fabrizio Guidi fight it out.
A look at the GC before today's stage reveals that the top 6 riders are within 48 seconds of each other - that's very close so near the end of a grand tour, and it has made for some excellent racing despite the controversy and scandals. Not surprisingly, all of the top guys can time trial quite well, with Tyler Hamilton (3rd at 18 seconds) the obvious favourite for Saturday's 43 km test against the watch. In the first TT last Sunday, Cadel Evans was the best of the rest, but we know that Dario Frigo (2nd at 16 seconds) is a good time trialist, and he was hampered by a crash just before the start last Sunday.
Then there is Aitor Gonzalez and Paolo Savoldelli, again both good against the clock. Even Pietro Caucchioli (6th at 48 seconds) is no slouch, although he's got to be considered an outside chance at best at winning the Giro.
But things may change today.
14:00 CEST - 120 km/102 km to go
Still 7 km to go until the Intergiro, as the peloton reaches the base of this very long descent. After the Passo di Sella (2213m), it's been a gradual 2000m drop over the last 80 km.
Speaking of descenders, yesterday's stage showed that good descending skills can get you out of a lot of trouble. Firstly on the Passo di Fedaia, there was Tyler Hamilton and his CSC teammates Michael Rasmussen and Carlos Sastre, who bridged a 1'20 gap on the 14 km descent to get back to the leader's group by the bottom. Hamilton was then able to hang on over the next two climbs to put himself in a potentially winning position in this year's Giro. Also recall that Jens Heppner's group, which was another minute behind Hamilton on the Fedaia, also managed to get back to the leaders - that's some pretty impressive downhill work!
14:15 CEST - 128 km/94 km to go
The passes through Trento - without Gilberto Simoni, who would have dearly liked to have been in pink at this stage, but is instead the subject of an investigation in Trento. Simoni tested non-negative to cocaine at the Giro del Trentino over a month ago, and was prevented from continuing in the Giro by his team.
Massimo Strazzer takes the Intergiro sprint in Trento, followed by Mario Cipollini and Mariano Piccoli.
Apologies for the technical difficulties - we're back now. The peloton has slowed down again after the Intergiro, with the Mapei boys in the front just cruising along. The average speed is still a very steady 30.23 km/h, with the peloton all together.
The sun is shining and all in all it's a good day for racing.
14:55 CEST - 147 km/75 km to go
The peloton is still compact, with no-one willing to try any moves before the Santa Barbara climb, which incidentally was the climb on which Wladimir Belli punched a cousin of Gilberto Simoni's last year, and was subsequently ejected from the race. Neither Belli or Simoni are in this Giro at the moment.
Cadel Evans, the first Australian ever to wear the pink jersey, is at the front of the pack accompanied by his teammates. Tyler Hamilton and Dario Frigo are also there. Mario Cipollini decides it's too hot for an undershirt and takes it off. There are muscles under that zebra top.
15:08 CEST - 155 km/67 km to go
The pace starts to pick up as the peloton nears the base of the Santa Barbara climb. The riders have already been on the road for 5 hours, with another 2 hours of tough climbs to come.
Lampre have got a train going on the left hand side, while Index-Alexia are right behind them. Lampre's best rider is Juan Manuel Garate, 7th on GC at 1'26.
15:16 CEST - 162 km/60 km to go
The race is on in earnest now as they ride towards the Santa Barbara. The peloton is in one long line, with all the favourites in front. Just a few more kilometres of flat before they go up. Michaelsen (Team Coast) does a turn, then Jonasson (CSC) and Marichal and Detilloux (Lotto-Adecco).
15:21 CEST - 165 km/57 km to go
They're on the Santa Barbara. Davide Bramati gives his teammate Cadel Evans a pat on the back at the base, having done his work for the day. I nfront it's Manuel Garate, Julio Perez Cuapio, Dario Cioni, Cadel Evans, Tyler Hamilton and Georg Totschnig.
Perez Cuapio doesn't wait long before attacking! Colombian Hector Mesa Mesa gotes with him. The pair immediately open up a small gap on a slightly disinterested peloton.
Hernan Dario Munoz (Selle Italia) accelerates and catches the leaders, who come back to the peloton. Mesa Mesa goes again, with the others on his wheel. Then Munoz goes and gets a gap.
15:27 CEST - 167 km/55 km to go
Castelblanco is already in problems, as the peloton strings out and starts to break. Frigo, Evans, Hamilton, Perez Cuapio, Savoldelli, Garate are all in front, as Mesa Mesa sets the tempo. Then Swiss climber Steve Zampieri (Tacconi) takes over for his teammate Frigo. Mesa Mesa tries to go again, and this time is more successful.
15:31 CEST - 170 km/52 km to go
Mesa Mesa has about a 10 second lead on the front group, which is now down to around 30 riders. Evans is still in second wheel on Cioni's wheel, next to Perez Cuapio.
Alessio riders are having problems today, with Moreni and Pellizzotti already off the back. Hamilton's teammate Rasmussen is with them.
15:35 CEST - 172 km/50 km to go
The Colombian rider from Formaggi Trentini, Hector Mesa Mesa, cannot sustain his tempo and as absorbed by the peloton, still led by David Dario Cioni (Mapei) and the green clad Julio Perez Cuapio (Panaria).
The steep grade (8%) and the numerous hairpin bends make this a tough climb. The peloton is still losing riders, although at least 25 men are in front. Also there are Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Adecco).
Hernan Dario Munoz (Selle Italia) decides to attack next.
15:38 CEST - 173 km/49 km to go
Ivan Gotti (Alessio) accelerates next, with Cuapio and Tonkov on his wheel. The peloton lets them get a small gap. Rik Verbrugghe catches them.
Pellizotti is getting back to the leading group, which is now 15 strong. All the favourites are there: Evans, Frigo, Savoldelli, Hamilton, Caucchioli...
15:44 CEST - 175 km/47 km to go
Cuapio and Tonkov have now left Gotti and Verbrugghe behind, and Cuapio looks to be putting a few more nails in his green jersey cabinet. But Gotti and Verbrugghe are not totally done, and they claw back the gap, before losing it again. Tonkov takes over in front. The peloton follows at 15 seconds, still led by Cioni - impressive riding from another mountain biker.
15:49 CEST - 177 km/45 km to go
The gap between Perez Cuapio, Tonkov and the peloton grows to 36 seconds as they near the summit of the Santa Barbara climb. Tonkov is over 6 minutes down on GC, and is no real threat to Evans and co. The chasing peloton with all the main riders still numbers 20, as they catch Verbrugghe with Gotti now in trouble, but still third on the road.
15:53 CEST - 178 km/44 km to go
2 km to go until the top of the Santa Barbara, and it's Pavel Tonkov (Lampre) and Julio Perez Cuapio (Panaria) with a 1 minute gap to the peloton, which is not too concerned about chasing them. Verbrugghe has now gone to the back of the group, which is led by David Dario Cioni.
15:57 CEST - 179 km/43 km to go
The leading pair hit the last steep part of the climb (past Wladimir Belli corner), with Cuapio getting the points uncontested. The favourites group follows, with no-one putting in an attack so far. Andrea Noe is there behind Evans, presumably to work on the finishing climb. Cioni (Mapei) gets the points for third place followed by Spezialetti (Saeco) and Evans. The gap is 1'23 and there are still around 25 riders in the front group.
16:02 CEST - 180 km/42 km to go
Vladimir Miholievic (Alessio) overcooks it on a corner on the descent and crashes. However, it's not serious and he gets back on the bike soon. He may be able to work with teammate Cristian Moreni who is around 30 seconds behind the peloton.
Perez Cuapio and Tonkov are now climbing the Passo Bordala (1253m), a fairly short climb.
16:06 CEST - 181 km/41 km to go
One favourite has not made the cut: Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Kelme), who looks to be in serious difficulties. He was fourth on GC at 24 seconds and a real threat, but his chances look to be gone now.
Popovych is in a bit of trouble at the back of the group too, as they ascend this 3 km climb. However, he gets a 'drink bottle' from the Shimano car and is on the back of the group again.
16:11 CEST - 182 km/40 km to go
Julio Perez Cuapio takes the points on the Passo Bordala, with Pavel Tonkov, the 1996 Giro winner, following closely. The David Cioni train comes up next, with the Mapei man taking third place at 1'57. Popovych makes it to the top at the back of the group - another rider we'll surely see more of in future. 23 men are in the gruppo maglia rosa.
Now there's 14 km of downhill, followed by 7 km of flat and 19 km of up.
16:22 CEST - 189 km/33 km to go
Aitor Gonzalez and Oscar Pereiro are chasing back on through the cars - they should get this group before the bottom, although how long they will last on the final climb remains to be seen. It worked for Hamilton yesterday!
16:25 CEST - 192 km/30 km to go
Cioni gets back on the front of the peloton on this long, twisty descent. Evans is right on his wheel, then Noe and Hamilton. Gonazlez and Pereiro Sio have made it back to the group, which now numbers 25. Pellizzotti looks to have cramps in his left leg, and has taken his foot out of the pedal. Impressive one legged descending! Matthias Kessler (Telekom) catches and passes the Alessio man.
The leaders, Perez Cuapio and Tonkov have 2'18 on the maglia rosa group.
16:31 CEST - 198 km/24 km to go
The leading pair are now on the last flat part before the finishing climb of Passo Coe (Folgaria). They have 2'33 on the Evans group, which is refuelling in preparation for the final burst. This is where it's all going to happen. Who's got the legs after such a long stage?
16:37 CEST - 202 km/20 km to go
Tonkov and Perez Cuapio hit the bottom of the last climb with 2'18 to the maglia rosa group, which is still towed by Cioni and Noe. Evans is in third wheel followed by Hamilton and his two teammates Sastre and Garcia Alonso. Then Frigo, who will have to try something on this climb if he wants to win the Giro.
16:41 CEST - 203 km/19 km to go
The two leaders lose a bit more time before the road starts to go up - the gap is down to 2'06. Is it enough for Perez Cuapio to win his third stage, will Tonkov hang on and outsprint the Mexican, or will the peloton swallow them?
16:43 CEST - 204 km/18 km to go
Tonkov is certainly having a good day - his best so far in the Giro. Anyone who can hang onto Perez Cuapio on a climb (and take turns) is better than good. But Tonkov has plenty of experience behind him, and has won the Giro before.
In the front group, Evans is still looking comfortable, waiting for the inevitable attacks. His two teammates Noe and Cioni are doing an impressive job in setting the tempo.
16:47 CEST - 106 km/16 km to go
Cioni does his last big turn at the front and leaves it to Noe. Cioni immediately drops off the back with Kessler. Popovych is also in a bit of trouble again.
Noe, Evans and Hamilton are the front three, followed by Gotti, Caucchioli, Frigo and Garate.
16:52 CEST - 108 km/14 km to go
Sastre and Garcia Alonso (CSC) are at the back of the group, so Hamilton will have to look after himself on this climb. He is looking very relaxed at the moment, right on Evans' wheel. Frigo looks to be in big trouble - he's off the back with Mazzoleni, his teammate.
The gap to Perez Cuapio and Tonkov is still 2'10.
16:54 CEST - 109 km/13 km to go
Tonkov gets some encouragement from his team director with 12 km to race. He and Perez Cuapio are looking good for the stage win at the moment. The Mexican will surely try something if he can, as he probably won't beat Tonkov in a sprint.
Frigo is really suffering, and the climb hasn't got really hard yet. He put in a great ride yesterday, but it was too much.
Aitor Gonzalez is still hanging onto the back of the pack- but now goes off the back. All the other favourites are there.
16:59 CEST - 111 km/11 km to go
Frigo is being nursed up the final climb by Mazzoleni, as Tonkov attacks Perez Cuapio! The Mexican looks fairly cooked, and can't close the gap. 2'20 back to the maglia rosa group.
Pavel Tonkov (Lampre) is riding very strongly in front of the race, having dropped Julio Perez Cuapio. Frigo is 1'20 behind the maglia rosa group, still being led by Andrea Noe'. Michael Boogerd is in trouble at the back, as is Addy Engels. Aitor Gonzalez is definitively gone.
17:06 CEST - 10 km to go
In the 20 or so strong front group, there are now just four of the top six left: Evans, Hamilton, Savoldelli and Caucchioli. At the moment, given his time trialling abilities, Hamilton is riding into a Giro winning position. Evans will have to take time out of him on this climb if he is to hold him off on Saturday.
17:09 CEST - 9 km to go
Frigo and Mazzoleni catch Pellizzotti and Kessler, who have also been dropped by the leader's group. Still steady as she goes there. Pavel Tonkov has 9 km to go until the finish with a 3'10 lead. Perez Cuapio is second on the road, 1'05 behind Tonkov. If the Russian can get 6'00, he will take the maglia rosa.
Hamilton attacks! Evans is in difficulty. Caucchioli and Munoz follow.
17:13 CEST - 8 km to go
Savoldelli counters Hamilton, and gets clear. Hamilton tries to chase but can't hang on - maybe Savoldelli will be in pink today?
Evans is in serious difficulty.
17:16CEST - 7 km to go
In front, Tonkov now leads Perez Cuapio by 2'10. Then there is Savoldelli, 2'32 behind Tonkov. Then a small group with Caucchioli,Garate, Hamilton, Munoz, Escartin, Totschnig, Lunghi.
Savoldelli passes Perez Cuapio and is now second on the road. The group is at 3'05 to Tonkov. Evans is at 4'05.
17:19 CEST - 5 km to go
Lunghi leads the Hamilton group in pursuit of Tonkov and Savoldelli, but they've already lost a minute to 'Falco'. Cuapio is in between the Hamilton group and Savoldelli.
17:21CEST - 4 km to go
Tonkov is struggling up the final 4 km, but Savoldelli is flying. The Hamilton group is trying but failing to close the gap to Savoldelli. Totschnig leads it, with Caucchioli, Munoz, Hamilton, Escartin, Cuapio and Lunghi following.
Savoldelli is now 2'00 behind Tonkov, but probably won't close the gap to the Russian who will win the stage. But Savoldelli could well end up in pink.
17:24 CEST - 3 km to go
Popovych is in the Hamilton group, which is losing time to Savoldelli. Engels is just off the back of it. Hamilton tries to accelerate, but it costs too much and he drops back. He needs to limit the damage to Savoldelli, which is now 1'10.
Tonkov is looking good still in front.
17:26 CEST - 2 km to go
Evans is reported at 6'10 to Tonkov with 5km to go. There are a lot of attacks in the Hamilton group now, which is spreading out. Totschnig, Caucchioli, Munoz, Hamilton, Garate, Lunghi, Escartin are all there.
Savoldelli still is in a good rhythm, trying to close to Tonkov. He is now just 1'44 behind the Russian.
Cuapio is now off the back of Hamilton's group.
17:29 CEST - 2 km to go
Tonkov is 3'14 in front of Hamilton's group, and 1'40 in front of Savoldelli, who is in pursuit of the maglia rosa. Totschnig still leads the Hamilton group.
17:32 CEST - 1 km to go
Garate attacks the group, but the others react. Hamilton has problems when he has to get out of the saddle, but is hanging in there.
Tonkov now has 1 km to go, with Il Falco, Paolo Savoldelli starting to really close in on him, although he won't be able to to get him in time.
Hamilton is dropped from the Hamilton group, which is now five riders (Garate, Caucchioli, Totschnig, Escartin and Munoz).
17:33 CEST - 222 km/0 km to go
Garate goes again in the closing kilometres, but the stage win is Tonkov's. Very strong ride from the former Giro winner. Savoldelli takes second at and will be the new wearer of the Maglia Rosa. Garate takes third, at 3'. Hamilton comes across in 9th spot at 4'00, and will have a tough battle to beat Savoldelli for the Giro win on Saturday. But he took more time out of him in the first 30.3 km TT, so anything's possible.
Evans was passed by Frigo at the end, having completely blown up. A brave performance by the young Australian, who we will surely see more of in future. And speaking of young talent, look out for Yaroslav Popovych, who also had a great ride today to finish 11th.
1 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Lampre-Daikin 7.24.57 2 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Index Alexia 2.11 3 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre-Daikin 3.08 4 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 3.14 5 Denis Lunghi (Ita) Team Colpack-Astro 6 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio 7 Hernan Dario Munoz (Col) Colombia-Selle Italia 3.20 8 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Team Coast 4.00 9 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC Tiscali 10 Addy Engels (Ned) Rabobank 4.13 11 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 4.33 12 Julio Perez Cuapio (Mex) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 13 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 14 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank 6.29 15 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 7.01 ... Dario Frigo (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi 12.09 Cadel Evans (Aus) Mapei-Quick Step 17.11 General classification after stage 17 1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Index Alexia 80.37.11 2 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio 0.55 3 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC Tiscali 1.28 4 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre-Daikin 1.39 5 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Lampre-Daikin 3.08 6 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Team Coast 3.19 7 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 5.32 8 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 7.54