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86th Giro d'Italia - Grand Tour

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2003

Main Page     Stage Profile    Start List    Latest Live Report

Stage 6 - May 16: Maddaloni-Avezzano, 222 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 11:34 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

Live coverage from 14:30 CEST

Welcome back after the rest day to Cyclingnews' continued live coverage of the Giro d'Italia. Today's stage 6 will be a long stage for the sprinters, from the outskirts of Naples to Avezzano in l'Aquila province. Breakaways should be the order of the day after the Intergiro in Cassino, until the race reaches Avezzano for a final 38km around the dead flat piana di Fucino, where the sprinters' teams should be able to pull back any break.

The story remains the same: Alessandro Petacchi, by virtue of his stage 1 win and consistent sprinting ever since, remains the man to beat in the maglia rosa. Petacchi nipped world champion Mario Cipollini on the line in stage 5, denying the Super Mario once again the opportunity to tie Alfredo Binda's record number of Giro stage wins. Will Mario rediscover his winning ways today?

This morning before the race start, the Giro paid a short tribute to Rik Van Steenbergen, one of the greats of cycling, who passed away Thursday at the age of 78.

14:30 CEST
The race is moving at a good speed today, averaging 42 km/h in the first hour, and 44 km/h for the second. At the 49 kilometre mark, three riders broke clear, and they've developed a substantial advantage over the field. The three leaders on the road are Magnus Bäckstedt (Team fakta-Pata Chips), Cristian Moreni (Alessio), and Constantino Zaballa Gutierez (Kelme-Costa Blanca).

Bäckstedt took the first InterGiro sprint, ahead of Gutierez and Moreni, and the leaders now have 7'45" over the peloton.

14:35 CEST
The first casualty of the day has been Ruben Bongiorno (Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo), who has abandoned the race. Not clear just yet why.

The three leaders meanwhile have lost some of their lead, which is down to 7'15", as the peloton slowly begins to organise the chase.

14:50 CEST / 85 km to go
Piotr Przydzial of CCC-Polsat has also abandoned, pulling out in the feed zone. The three leaders are hitting the small climbs of the day, and losing time in the process. The gap is now below the seven minute mark.

15:05 CEST / 75 km to go
Fassa Bortolo (Kirchen) and Domina Vacanze (Secchiari) are leading the chase for the sprinters, and they're rapidly eating into the advantage of Bäckstedt, Moreni, and Gutierez. The lead of the first three men up the road is 5'50".

15:08 CEST
Mario Cipollini spoke of his thus far winless Giro during yesterday's rest day. "If I'm not winning a bunch sprint anymore," Cipollini said in the VUM newspapers,"what certainties are there left in life? C'mon guys, put on a brighter face. Or did you think I would be desolate because I haven't beaten Binda's record yet?"

15:18 CEST / 65 km to go
The break is moving towards the GPM at Canistro Superiore, with a lead of still just over five minutes. Behind, a four man group tried to launch a counter attack, including Elio Aggiano (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave), Dariusz Baranowski and Bogdan Bondariew (CCC-Polsat), and Vladimir Duma (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago).

15:28 CEST
The Fassa Bortolo team of race leader Petacchi is still driving the peloton, steadily reeling in the three man break which went clear after 49km of racing. The advantage now is down to 4'15".

Petacchi realised his dream Wednesday, not only of beating Mario Cipollini (again), but more importantly of winning a stage while wearing the maglia rosa of race leader. The Fassa Bortolo rider, who has always insisted that he is not merely a sprinter, is clearly in fine form. Will he repeat the feat again today?

15:32 CEST / 58 km to go
Zaballa took the GPM points ahead of Moreni and Bäckstedt, while Fassa Bortolo continues its chase behind.

15:38 CEST / 55 km to go
In a change from the hot, sunny days which marked the start of this year's Giro, today's stage is running under a slight rain. Despite the conditions, the pace has been high, as first Alessio started the charge today, but after the break went it's been Fassa Bortolo (with a little help from Domina Vacanze) setting the pace.

15:41 CEST / 51 km to go
In between the two climbs of the day, and through the town of Capistrello, the three leaders are hovering around four minutes advantage over the field. Gilberto Simoni's Saeco team has taken an interest in controlling the race, moving towards the front of the peloton to keep an eye on things.

15:47 CEST / 45 km to go
The break is about to crest the final summit of the day, while the peloton is on the climb further down, still around four minutes back and relatively bunched up. Tosatto has just returned to the front for Fassa Bortolo to keep the pace steady, after a bit of disruption in the Fassa train.

The leaders' advantage has gone up a bit, now 4'40".

At the next GPM, Zaballa once again takes the points, ahead of Moreni and Bäckstedt, just as last time.

15:56 CEST / 39 km to go
The three leaders have passed through the finish line in Avezzano, beginning the final finishing circuit. The finishing stretch included some tight turns, although for the final kilometre the race will make a different approach, with some 600 metres straight to the line.

16:05 CEST / 34 km to go
The break is maintaining around a 3'45" lead, as Fassa Bortolo is once again in charge in the peloton with Petacchi well placed up front. Some riders look anxious to try new attacks, however, so Fassa Bortolo will have to be attentive up front.

Up front, Zaballa, Moreni, and Bäckstedt are still working well together and all pulling through. The big Swede Bäckstedt is providing plenty of horsepower to this move.

At the back of the race, Giovanni Lombardi is getting checked out by his team car, getting a radio replacement from the mechanic. Lombardi was involved in a minor crash, but should be back in the action when the time comes to begin Cipollini's leadout train. The mountains start tomorrow, so Petacchi, Cipollini, and the rest of the sprinters will be looking for a last big effort now before they go backwards once the road tilts up.

16:09 CEST / 30 km to go
Robbie McEwen is moving up in the field a bit, wearing the points jersey in place of the leader in that competition, Petacchi, who obviously wears the pink jersey of race leader instead. Petacchi is finally wearing some matching pink shorts (for better or for worse) to complete his leader's outfit.

The break is now 3'15" head of the field, passing under the 30km banner.

16:14 CEST / 27 km to go
The chase appears to be committed now, as the field has become stretched out and the pace has jumped dramatically. Fassa Bortolo is once more leading the charge, followed by Lotto-Domo and Domina Vacanze.

16:17 CEST / 24 km to go
The break is losing its grip, and the gap is down to 1'25". The field has just passed under the 25km to go banner. Domina Vacanze is starting to do more work at the head of the race, and Cipollini is not too far behind.

16:22 CEST / 20 km to go
Bäckstedt, Moreni, and Zaballa are 20km from the line, and working more urgently to hold off the field. However, with Fassa Bortolo and Lotto-Domo in control of the chase, the gap is really tumbling.

16:28 CEST / 16 km to go
Another small surprise for some of the riders after a small hill disrupted the pace of the chase. So much for a pan-flat finish. No major damage, but Fassa Bortolo and Lotto-Domo have had to work a bit to get their tempo back in gear.

The gap now is under a minute for the three leaders. Their time out front is steadily coming to an end, despite a valiant effort since the 49km mark of a very long stage.

16:32 CEST / 13 km to go
One of the members of the break, Magnus Bäckstedt, explained his take on the nature of Giro racing in an interview with Cyclingnews.

"I think I've got a bit of a routine in doing a three week tour," he said. "The Giro seems different though - it's a lot more Italian style racing. It's piano for the first 120 km then they turn it on at the end, and it's even faster than in the Tour. The first couple of days were hard, getting used to it mentally. If it's a 200km stage I prefer to race for 200km and get to the finish completely whacked."

He seems to be doing just that... but the gap is just 45" now, and unfortunately this isn't going to be Magnus' day.

16:37 CEST / 9 km to go
Inside the last 10km for the leaders, and they have precious little time in hand. The gap is just 25" now, which means the capture is coming soon. The lead trio has done well, though.

Bäckstedt has decided the time is now, and he's attacked! The fakta rider is hammering on his own, lugging his big body up a slight drag now. A valiant move, but...

16:39 CEST / 7km to go
Vini Caldirola and Saeco are moving up front, protecting Garzelli and Simoni in the fast and furious finish. There's great concern about crashes at the end of sprint stages, and Garzelli has spoken out, supporting an idea to extend the protection afforded to riders who crash in the final kilometre to the final 3 kms.

16:44 CEST / 3 km to go
Bäckstedt has sat up, having completely blown following his last ditch attack. So the race is all together now, and the sprinters' charge is winding up. Last chance for a while for the sprinters before the mountains change the tone of the Giro.

Cyclingnews diarist and Bäckstedt's teammate Scott Sunderland is keeping busy in the first few positions at the front of the race. Cipollini is a little farther back, trying to move up along with his team. Domina Vacanze is not organised at all, and Cipo needs to get on the wheels of his teammates pronto.

Bernhard Eisel (FDJeux.com) is up front, looking for another top sprint finish.

16:44 CEST / 2km to go
Finally Cipo's in position, back up with his train, and ahead of Petacchi. Petacchi is going to stick to Cipo's wheel at all costs, while Graeme Brown and McEwen are trying to get up there.

16:45 CEST / 1km to go
The infernal pace from Domina Vacanze has split a group off the front of the field! The major sprinters are all present.

16:45 CEST / Finish
Cipollini's team provided the absolute perfect leadout, one by one pulling off, but Petacchi has done it once again! Cipollini sat up almost immediately after starting his sprint, having nothing in his legs to offer. Lombardi might not have been so pleased to turn and find that his stellar leadout was all for nothing.

Galvez from Kelme provided the first jump, but Petacchi was able to power around the Spaniard and take yet another stage win.

1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                 5.11.52
2 Isaac Galvez (Spa) Kelme
3 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre
4 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
5 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI
6 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
7 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
8 Graziano Gasparre (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack                   0.03
9 Graeme Brown (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 
10 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron       

General classification after stage 6

1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                27.43.16
2 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI                1.09 
3 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre                          1.27
4 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio                            
5 Graziano Gasparre (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
6 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Team Saeco                           1.36
7 Denis Lunghi (Ita) Alessio                                 
8 Bo Hamburger (Den) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave                  1.39
9 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio
10 Marius Sabaliauskas (Ltu) Team Saeco

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