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86th Giro d'Italia - Grand Tour
Italy, May 10-June 1, 2003
Stage 21 - June 1: Idsroscalo-Milan, ITT, 33 km
Start time: 13:15 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the finale stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 33 kilometre, pan-flat individual time trial in Milan. Today's stage will only be partially decisive for the general classification, as Gilberto Simoni is impregnable in the maglia rosa with an 8'04 lead on Stefano Garzelli, who has fought hard but has clearly suffered from a lack of racing leading into it. 2 seconds behind Garzelli is Yaroslav Popovych, the young and enormously talented Ukrainian from Colnago-Landbouwkrediet, who has his sights on second place overall today if he does a good ride. Popovych beat Garzelli by 43" in the first time trial, so he is the favourite to take over Garzelli's spot on GC.
Also the fourth, fifth and sixth GC positions might shuffle around a little, as both Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner, 5th at 10'35) and Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre, 6th at 11'01) could catch Andrea Noe (Alessio, 4th at 9'49) with strong rides.
The Intergiro point today is at km 20, and the main difficulties in the course are the corners, as there are no hills in this TT. As such, Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) is probably the favourite for the stage win, although Magnus Backstedt (fakta-Pata Chips) and Serguei Gontchar (De Nardi) could push him all the way.
At the Intergiro, Bernhard Eisel and Carlos Dacruz (FDJ) are second and third respectively now behind Backstedt.
Maglia Rosa: Gilberto Simoni, who has shown himself to be superior in every mountain stage, with three stage wins.
Points (ciclamino): Again Gilberto Simoni, who took over after Petacchi's untimely withdrawal. Petacchi was easily the best sprinter with six wins, but was eliminated in stage 18 after missing the time cut.
Mountains (green): Fredy Gonzalez (Selle Italia), who often went on the attack early in the mountain stages to pick up as many points as possible. He has been aggressive in the mountains, although Simoni is clearly the better climber.
Intergiro (blue): Magnus Backstedt, who battled with Moreno Di Biase and Jan Svorada for the second half of the Giro, taking the lead after a very strong performance in the time trial in stage 15. Backstedt is a good sprinter and time trialist, and certainly deserved the Intergiro.
Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo) and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Saeco) have come within 16 and 17 seconds of Backstedt's time at the first time check after 11 km. We'll see what they do at the Intergiro.
Unfortunately, although it didn't directly affect the race, a small plane crashed near the parcours, killing two people.
Bruseghin passes the 20 km point 12" faster than Backstedt, so he is on the way to setting the quickest time. Not far behind is Scott Sunderland, who was 18th at the Intergiro in 25'00. A good ride by Scott, who will be the first to admit that TT's are not his thing.
Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo) finishes in 39'43, good enough for third place behind Backstedt.
Leonardo Bertagnolli (Team Saeco) has a great finish to clock 39'22, the quickest so far.
At the finish, Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) takes the last corner a bit too wide, but saves himself from a crash.
Marzio Bruseghin (Fassa Bortolo) has smashed Bertagnolli's time, as he crosses in 38'23, nearly a minute quicker than the Saeco rider.
Scott Sunderland finishes behind Bruseghin, in a time of 41'49, a decent ride for the Australian.
Sandy Casar (FDJ) is also having a good ride, passing 20 km in fourth place.
Here comes Aitor Gonzalez - he finishes in 38'24, just one second slower than his teammate Bruseghin.
Fassa Bortolo have eight stage wins so far - can they make it nine?
After 11 km, Dario Frigo is just 1 second slower than Gontchar, the quickest so far.
Popovych looks strong and smooth as he propels his TT machine along at over 50 km/h.
Serguei Gontchar (De Nardi) has set a great time at the Intergiro: 22'51, which is 16" quicker than Bruseghin.
Simoni is riding a completely pink bike, with the exception perhaps of the tyres...He looks smooth on it though.
Pantani finishes in a time of 40'55, provisionally 16th.
Dario Frigo is second through the Intergiro, 10" behind Gontchar, who is mashing his big gear en route to a fast (fastest?) time.
Belli finishes in 39'42, which is 7th quickest so far.
Eddy Mazzoleni finishes in a time of 39'54, after a big sprint to the line. He is in 9th spot.
Pellizotti finishes in 40'23, meaning that he will lose his 8th place to Gontchar on GC.
Garzelli has lost 1 second to Popovych after 20 km. He can lose 2. This is the closest battle in this stage by far.
Simoni is looking good, but isn't riding as fast as he did in the first TT. He passes 20 km in 18th place, over a minute slower than Gontchar.
Noe has had a good ride, and finishes in 39'53 for 13th place. He'll keep fourth on GC, while Totschnig and Rumsas will be 5th and 6th.
Garzelli will be next, then Simoni.
He is very careful around the last corner, and sprints home to finish in 39'20. He is second on GC! He may even take the ciclamino points jersey from Simoni.
Speaking of Simoni, here comes the maglia rosa now, pedalling smoothly around the last corners to finish in a time of 40'18 (18th place). He blows a kiss to the crowd as he finishes. People are excited.
Garzelli rode well today to keep second, while Popovych certainly has more in front of him with a third place on the podium.
A postscript for Backstedt fans: The fakta rider had a puncture with 8 km to go, which is why he finished on his regular bike. His final place was 11th, behind winner Serguei Gontchar, who defeated the Fassa Bortolo three pronged attack.
Thanks everyone who followed our live coverage of the Giro d'Italia. We hope you enjoyed it, and we'll be back for the Tour de France, if not before then!
Finish - 33 km 1 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi-Colpack 38.04 2 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.19 3 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 0.20 4 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.26 5 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre 1.03 6 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJeux.com 1.05 7 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola 1.16 8 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Team Saeco 1.18 9 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Colnago-Landbouwkrediet 1.19 10 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 1.21 Intergiro - 20 km 1 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi-Colpack 22.51 2 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.10 3 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.16 4 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 0.23 5 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Team fakta-Pata Chips 0.28 6 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre 0.34 7 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnag 0.40 8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI 0.41 9 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJeux.com 0.43 10 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 0.48 Final general classification 1 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Team Saeco 89.32.09 2 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI 7.06 3 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 7.11 4 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio 9.24 5 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 9.42 6 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre 7 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 10.50 8 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi-Colpack 14.14 9 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio 14.26 10 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI 19.21