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Pearl Izumi
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85th Giro d'Italia (GT)

Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002

Stage profile    Start list    Results

Stage 6 - May 18: Cuneo-Varazze, 190 km

Start time: 12:15 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

Complete Live Report

Welcome all to Cyclingnews.com's live coverage of the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia from Cuneo to Varazze, over 190 kilometres. If you haven't already caught up with today's news, the big story is that race leader Stefano Garzelli (Mapei) has tested "non-negative" for probenecid, a masking agent. The same substance that Pedro Delgado was found positive for in the 1988 Tour de France, which he won because it wasn't on the banned list.

Garzelli is allowed to continue in the Giro until the results of his counter-analysis are known, which could be as early as tomorrow (Sunday). For more news on Garzelli's positive and the reactions, click here and here.

The test was taken after stage 2 that finished in Liege/Ans, which Garzelli won. Interestingly, he did not return a positive result for probenecid after stage 3 in Luxembourg, where he was also tested.

There is talk of a plot against Mapei, which has always been very outspoken against drug use in the peloton. However, more evidence will have to be presented before this can be accepted.

14:52 CEST - 99 km/92 km to go

182 riders did end up starting the sixth stage, under overcast skies and a tense atmosphere. There were three non-starters, all from the Panaria team which has also been rocked by doping scandals this week: Faat Zakirov (who tested positive for NESP, an EPO like substance), Nicola Chesini (arrested by police in relation to a drug trafficking affair) and Filippo Perfetto, who may be involved in the whole affair also.

The riders are racing at least. The intergiro sprint at km 47.6 was won by the leader in that competition, Massimo Strazzer (Phonak), with Fabrizio Guidi (Team Coast) second and Mikhailo Kalilov (Selle Italia) third.

By 63 kilometres, a group of 12 riders had established itself in the lead, and now have a 6'24 gap on the peloton. They are: Giovanni Lombardi (A&S), Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio), Ruggero Marzoli (Formaggi), Bert Grabsch (Phonak), Jens Heppner (Telekom), Angel Vicioso and Francisco Leon Mane (Kelme), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet), Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) and Juan Ramirez (Colombia-Selle Italia).

15:09 CEST - 110 km/81 km to go

The gap has gone up to 7'20, making Jens Heppner (Telekom) the virtual maglia rosa.

It's been revealed that the second rider to test positive for NESP was Roberto Sgambelluri (Mercatone Uno) who is still racing today. Faat Zakirov (Panaria) also tested positive but did not start.

15:22 CEST - 119 km/72 km to go

The 12 leaders continue to enjoy a 7'30 lead over the main peloton, which has not begun its chase yet. Virtual race leader is Jens Heppner (Telekom) who only started 1'32 behind Garzelli. However there is the climb of Bric Berton coming up, and this will eat into the lead of the group. Depending on the motivation of the peloton, the leaders may stay away to give Heppner the pink.

15:30 CEST - 125 km/66 km to go

Ruggero Marzoli wins the intermediate sprint in Grognardo, adding to his win in Vesime a little earlier. The day's other two intermediate sprints have been won by Dimitri Konyshev (in Morozzo), and Thorwald Veneberg (in Farigliano).

15:48 CEST - 137 km/54 km to go

The Mapei team have now gathered on the front and are mounting some sort of a chase. They may be wanting just to control the gap but allow Heppner to hold onto his lead. Heppner himself is still powering the break up the Bric Berton as the rain continues to come down. No-one looks very enthusiastic today, unsurprisingly.

The 12 leaders are: Giovanni Lombardi (A&S), Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio), Ruggero Marzoli (Formaggi), Bert Grabsch (Phonak), Jens Heppner (Telekom), Angel Vicioso and Francisco Leon Mane (Kelme), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet), Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) and Juan Ramirez (Colombia-Selle Italia).

Robert Hunter (Mapei) has abandoned.

16:12 CEST - 149 km/42 km to go

The leaders are still together on this very long climb of the Bric Berton, and still with a six minute plus lead. In the peloton, Stefano Garzelli is perhaps looking the most miserable of all, as he waits for the results of the counter-analysis. Should he be forced to retire, the Mapei leadership will be taken over by Andrea Noe' and Cadel Evans, who are the next best climbers in the team.

16:17 CEST - 154.5 km/37 km to go

The category 2 climb of Bric Berton is won by Ruggero Marzoli from Yaroslav Popovych and Mariano Piccoli. Ramirez crossed in fourth place, followed by Heppner.

The gap has now come down under 6 minutes, but there doesn't seem to be enough kilometres to recapture the leaders.

16:22 CEST - 158 km/33 km to go

Marzoli has a mechanical problem on the descent and has to get a bike change. It's quite fast, but he will have to take some risks to regain the leaders.

The peloton cross the Bric Berton 5'52 behind the leading 12, with Pantani's Mercatone Uno team on the front.

16:30 CEST - 164 km/27 km to go

It's certain that one of the 12 leaders will win this wet stage to Varazze. The peloton has not closed the gap down at all, and it is still around 6'00. Saeco is setting the tempo at the moment.

Ruggero Marzoli (Formaggi Trentini) rejoins the break after a short chase due to a bike change. They are on the climb of the Colle del Giovo, after which there is just one small hill before the finish in Varazze.

16:41 CEST - 171 km/20 km to go

Saeco and Mercatone Uno are trying to limit the damage to the break, as Mapei isn't interested in chasing. Saeco has a legitimate reason with Simoni up there, while Mercatone Uno is setting the pace for Pantani who is at least riding at the front today. Perhaps he is enjoying the irony of it all - Pantani was thrown out of the Giro in 1999 due to a high hematocrit. He then rode the 2000 Giro with Garzelli in his team, and Garzelli won it. Two days ago, Pantani was quite critical of Mapei, saying that "A few years ago they (Mapei) said the first five in the overall standings in major stage races were on dope. Now they have a rider who is in the lead."

Meanwhile in the breakaway, virtual maglia rosa Jens Heppner is pushing the pace on the descent, opening up a small gap on the rest of the leaders. He really wants that jersey!

16:51 CEST - 180 km/11 km to go

Angel Vicioso (Kelme) attacks on a small climb, and only Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) chases him. The two get together and start to work for the stage win. No-one seems to want to chase them.

Mazzoleni counter attacks, but Vicioso is right on his wheel.

Wrolich has come back to the peloton, which is still 5'20 behind the leaders.

16:46 CEST - 182 km/9 km to go

Mazzoleni and Vicioso are about 20 seconds in front of the leading group, which is attempting to chase them now on the final descent.

In the peloton there is some action as Simoni accelerates on this small climb, with Savoldelli, Pantani, Casagrande and Garzelli right on his wheel. Further back, Tyler Hamilton has bike problems and is at the rear of the peloton.

Heppner, Popovych, Grabsch and Marzoli close the gap to Mazzoleni and Vicioso on the descent.

15:02 CEST - 186 km/5 km to go

Garzelli is riding well, despite what happened this morning. However, he has to let Savoldelli go on this final descent - Savoldelli is a demon when it comes to going downhill, and has opened up a handy gap.

There are 8 riders in the leading group now with 5 km to go. Lombardi is there in third wheel. The group is: Vicioso, Piccoli, Heppner, Lombardi, Mazzoleni, Marzoli, Popovych, Grabsch.

15:06 CEST - 189 km/2 km to go

As they ride along the Via Aurelia, Milan-San Remo style, there are plenty of attacks in the leading group. Lombardi is looking like the favourite for the stage win if it comes to a sprint, while Heppner will take the Maglia Rosa for certain. He is the one driving this break in the last 3 km.

Veneberg, Caucchioli, Ramirez, Leon are chasing at 20 seconds.

15:07 CEST - 190 km/1 km to go

Savoldelli is making good ground on this final descent, as he leads the peloton by some 30 seconds.

The leading group go under the 1 km to go banner, which is followed by a tunnel of 200m in length.

15:08 CEST - 191 km/0 km to go

No-one wants to take the lead, but Lombardi just waits till the right moment. He starts on Piccoli's wheel and sprints to the win ahead of Marzoli and Grabsch.

Savoldelli successfully holds off the peleton for 13th, gaining 44 seconds in that final descent and moving himself up to 8th on GC. The rest of the peloton finishes at 5'05, meaning that Garzelli slips down to second on GC. He has to wait until next Tuesday before the results of his counter analysis are known. Then we will know if he can still be considered a contender in this year's Giro.

Results

Provisional
1 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Acqua e Sapone         4.56.45
2 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Formaggi Tret
3 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak
4 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Tacconi Sport
5 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Kelme
6 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 
7 Jens Heppner (Ger) Team Telekom
8 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre-Daikin
9 Francisco Leon Mane (Spa) Kelme                   0.18
10 Thorwald Veneberg (Ned) Rabobank 
11 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio 
12 Juan D. Ramirez (Col) Colombia-Selle Italia      0.22
13 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Tacconi Sport             4.21
14 Mykhaylo Khalilov (Ukr) Colombia-Selle Italia    5.05
15 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner
...
17 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank
18 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Gerolsteiner    
19 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
20 Daniele Righi (Ita) Index Alexia  
21 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 
22 Kurt Van De Wouwer (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 

General classification after stage 6

1 Jens Heppner (Ger) Team Telekom               31.19.45
2 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step           3.33
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago   3.43
4 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio                   3.45
5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Tacconi Sport                3.57
6 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Kelme                         4.09
7 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo          4.16
8 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Tacconi Sport              4.27
9 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport         4.30
10 Santiago Perez Fernandez (Spa) Kelme             4.36
11 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo               4.39
12 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) Phonak               4.43
13 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Team Coast               4.44
14 Tyler Hamilton (USA) CSC-Tiscali                 4.46
15 Cadel Evans (Aus) Mapei-Quick Step               4.47

Results

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