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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 7 - May 17: Avezzano-Terminillo, 146 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 13:14 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia. Today's stage is the first mountain stage, starting in Avezzano and finishing atop the 1675m climb of Terminillo, one of Italy's most popular ski resorts. It's not a super hard stage however, with only one other climb to be tackled during the 146 kilometres: Valico Fonte Capo la Maina at km 23. This is merely an aperitivo to the mountains to come, which will shape the general classification of this year's Giro.

That said, it's still obviously going to be an important day for the GC riders, such as Gilberto Simoni, Stefano Garzelli, Francesco Casagrande, Franco Pellizotti, Dario Frigo, Aitor Gonzalez, Julio Perez Cuapio and Marco Pantani. No doubt not all of these riders will survive the stage, and we will see the emergence of some of the others who have bided their time so far in the Giro. Many are predicting that Stefano Garzelli will take pink tonight. The Vini Caldirola climber is in second overall, at 1'09 behind Alessandro Petacchi. He has 18 seconds to his nearest rival Casagrande, and he is certainly a better sprinter.

Alessandro Petacchi's dream run in pink should finally come to an end on the Terminillo climb, although by the way the Fassa Bortolo sprinter has been climbing so far, he might surprise a few people. The climb itself is not easy though, starting in Lisciano at an altitude of 585m, and finishing 14 km later in Terminillo at 1675m. That's an average of 7.7 percent the whole way up, which is just a bit too steep for someone like Petacchi to hold wheels.

In other news this morning, the Formaggi Pinzolo-Fiave team (Bo Hamburger, Elio Aggiano) was the subject of a mini police blitz last night at their hotel. The offers of the NAS (Italian drug squad) did not find anything suspicious, and today's stage will start as normal.

14:40 CEST - 52 km
The first hour saw the riders cover 33.5 km, which is not that slow considering there was a climb after 23 km. That was won by Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) in front of Ruslan Gryschenko (Landbouwkrediet) and Fredy Gonzalez (Selle Italia). After that, Lotto-Domo's Ief Verbrugghe attacked at the bottom of descent but was recaptured by the group. There was a counter by Ruben Marin (Selle Italia) and Michele Gobbi (Formaggi), but the peloton did not let these riders go either. At the moment, the peloton is together.

14:55 CEST - 58 km/88 km to go
The peloton is still together, with Saeco riding a steady tempo on the front. The average speed at the moment is a fairly moderate 34.5 km/h. Race leader Alessandro Petacchi is now in a different role, dropping back to the team cars for bidons for his teammates. He hopes that Aitor Gonzalez and Dario Frigo take the responsibility on their shoulders today as team captains.

15:10 CEST - 67 km/79 km to go
Saeco's Dario Pieri is leading the peloton down a small descent, and he has two teammates behind him ready to take over. Pieri isn't going to be much good at the finish, so now is the best time for him to work. Also fakta's Julian Winn is up in about fifth wheel, his British champion's jersey quite distinctive.

The average speed after 2 hours is 36.7 km/h. Alessandro Petacchi has positioned himself just behind the Saeco train.

15:19 CEST - 78 km/68 km to go
Saeco has lifted the tempo a little as the bunch heads down towards Fiumata. Petacchi and Sunderland are sitting just behind them, and there is a general discussion going on at the front. Some riders are taking the opportunity to relieve themselves before it gets too quick.

15:33 CEST - 88 km/58 km to go
Giusseppe Palumbo (De Nardi), Elio Aggiano (Formaggi Pinzolo) and Cristiano Frattini (Tenax) decide to attack and shake up the race a bit. They get a gap, and are joined by Oscar Pozzi (Tenax) and Magnus Backstedt (fakta-Pata Chips), who was in the break all day yesterday. Cyclingnews interviewed Magnus on the rest day, and you can read that here.

15:39 CEST - 93 km/53 km to go
The five leaders, Palumbo, Pozzi, Aggiano, Frattini and Backstedt have 28 seconds lead over the Saeco-led peloton, which doesn't seem too concerned about catching them. The Intergiro sprint is at km 118, and these five could well stay away, with Aggiano looking to pick up some bonus seconds to move into the lead in this competition. Backstedt has his eyes set on the Piaggio scooter, which is awarded to the rider who spends the most time in breakaways.

15:50 CEST - 102 km/44 km to go
The breakaway is now up over the 1 minute mark, with a 1'12 advantage over the Saeco-driven peloton. Paolo Fornaciari, Dario Pieri and Fabio Sacchi are still doing the work. Marco Pantani's bald head appears momentarily, as he changes helmets. Riders will be allowed to remove them before the final climb today if they want, as it's more than 5 km.

15:56 CEST - 107 km/39 km to go
The Intergiro is approaching in 11 km, and it looks as though these five riders will stay clear, as they have 1'39 to the peloton, which now has Colombia Selle Italia working with Saeco on the front. The five are: Giusseppe Palumbo (De Nardi), Elio Aggiano (Formaggi Pinzolo), Cristiano Frattini and Oscar Pozzi (Tenax), and Magnus Backstedt (fakta-Pata Chips). The best placed rider on GC is Oscar Pozzi, who is 53rd at 2'55, and is not really a threat.

16:04 CEST - 114 km/32 km to go
The five leaders are continuing to motor, with Backstedt obviously not feeling the effects of yesterday. His goal is the Intergiro and the breakaway prize (fuga Piaggio), while Elio Aggiano wants to get some Intergiro points too.

Behind them, the peloton is taking the opportunity for a last relax before the final climb, which starts at km 132.

16:09 CEST - 118 km/28 km to go
Frattini attacks for the Intergiro, marked by Backstedt. The big Swede wins easily, followed by Palumbo and Aggiano. The peloton comes through, now led by Casagrande's Lampre team, at 1'16, with Moreno Di Biase taking sixth place and keeping the Intergiro jersey.

16:13 CEST - 122 km/24 km to go
The peloton with Lampre in front pass under the 25 km to go banner 1'02 behind the break. Mario Cipollini is near the front, protecting his teammate Michele Scarponi. Scott Sunderland and Kurt Arvesen also move to the front.

Oscar Pozzi rides away from the break on a short climb, and he is joined by Aggiano. Backstedt just sets his own tempo, with Palumbo and Frattini following.

16:18 CEST - 125 km/21 km to go
Pozzi and Aggiano are 13 seconds in front of the peloton, which has caught Backstedt's group now, and will shortly catch the last two riders. The pace is high, and Cipo has dropped back. The average speed is now up to 40 km/h, which is quick when you consider the slow start.

In front now it's Stefano Garzelli's Vini Caldirola boys. Petacchi, in pink, is a long way down the peloton. He won't be in the Maglia Rosa tonight.

Petacchi is now off the back on this Cat. 3 climb of Castelfranco.

16:24 CEST - 128 km/18 km to go
At the top of the climb, there is a sprint between Fredy Gonzalez and Constantino Zaballa. The latter misses the last corner and nearly crashes, giving Gonzalez the maximum 3 points. Oscar Pozzi was second, and Zaballa third. Pozzi crashes on the descent and now has one leg left on his shorts.

In front, the Vini Caldirola boys are still leading the peloton, and Petacchi is at 30" behind the group.

16:31 CEST - 132 km/14 km to go
At the base of the Terminillo climb, some riders are removing their helmets, as Perez Cuapio throws his to a soigneur in the crowd. Garzelli and Pantani's bald heads can now be seen. Petacchi is cruising in a bunch at his own pace, a minute behind the leading peloton which is still 70 strong.

Dario Frigo and Aitor Gonzalez are dropped. Frigo is pedalling a massive gear too. The front of the peloton is shattering, with Saeco doing the damage. Pantani is suffering, but he bridges up to the leaders.

16:34 CEST - 134 km/12 km to go
The leading group is diminishing rapidly - it's about 20 riders, including Garzelli, Mazzoleni, Pantani, Cuapio, Sabalauskas, Belli, Rumsas, Casagrande, Popovych, Simoni, Tonkov, Noe, Totschnig, Scarponi, Figueras.

Mazzoleni is doing the work on the front for Garzelli, who is next to Perez Cuapio. Pantani and his teammate Szmyd are just off the back.

16:36 CEST - 135 km/11 km to go
Casagrande and Belli are now being dropped by the pace of Mazzoleni, leaving only Rumsas for Lampre in the leading group. There are 8-10 riders in front, including Simoni, Garzelli, Mazzoleni, Rumsas, Pellizotti, Noe, Tonkov, Popovych, and Sabaliauskas.

Casagrande and Belli are being caught by Pantani and Szmyd. Perez Cuapio, Scarponi and Figueras are also dropped.

16:40 CEST - 136 km/10 km to go
Casagrande's group closes the gap to another chasing group with Baranowski. Behind them is Pantani, who is with three others, including Scott Sunderland (fakta).

In front we have Gilberto Simoni and Marius Sabaliauskas (Saeco), Stefano Garzelli and Eddy Mazzoleni (Vini Caldirola), Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre), Franco Pellizotti and Andrea Noe (Alessio), Pavel Tonkov (CCC), and Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet).

Frigo is at 2 minutes.

16:43 CEST - 137 km/9 km to go
Sunderland and Pantani try close the gap, and catch Belli and Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo). Further in front is Casagrande and his group, with Perez Cuapio, Figueras, Wegelius, Bertagnolli, Baranowski, and Totschnig.

They are about 20 seconds behind the leading nine, which are being towed by an impressive Eddy Mazzoleni.

16:47 CEST - 138 km/8 km to go
Mazzoleni is still doing the work in front, with Garzelli, Simoni and Sabaliauskas on his wheel. No attacks yet.

25 seconds behind are Perez Cuapio and Totschnig, who are trying to close the gap. Then Casagrande's group is at 38 seconds.

Aitor Gonzalez is in the company of Dario Cioni and Marzio Bruseghin, 1'58 back.

16:50 CEST - 139 km/7 km to go
The leaders have 7 km to go until the top of the Terminillo, and now things are hotting up. Simoni and Sabaliauskas take over from Mazzoleni, who drops back. The acceleration really hurts Pellizotti, who is gapped.

In front we now have Marius Sabaliauskas and Gilberto Simoni (Saeco), Stefano Garzelli and Eddy Mazzoleni (Vini Caldirola), Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre), Andrea Noe (Alessio), Pavel Tonkov (CCC), and Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet).

Pellizotti is just off the back, then Perez Cuapio and Totschnig (23"), Baranowski (51") then Figueras, Casagrande, Bertagnolli and Scarponi, then Pantani, Sunderland and Carlos Quesada.

Simoni attacks with 6 km to go, with Garzelli and Tonkov only able to hold him.

16:55 CEST - 141 km/5 km to go
Garzelli can hold Simoni, but Tonkov can't, leaving the two Italians in front alone. Tonkov and Noe will try and limit the damage, but it looks as though we're seeing the two best riders in the race. Simoni is doing all the work, but Garzelli is the better sprinter.

Noe and Tonkov are at 15", then Mazzoleni, Popovych, Rumsas and Sabaliauskas further behind.

16:57 CEST - 142 km/4 km to go
Three more kilometres of climbing to come, plus one more on the flat, and it's Gilberto Simoni and Stefano Garzelli leading the stage by some 10". Garzelli should be in pink tonight.

Tonkov has been dropped by Noe, and he undoes his rear brake just to make sure. It's probably more to do with the 8 percent grade...

Noe is steadily closing the gap to Garzelli and Simoni - nice riding.

17:00 CEST - 143 km/3 km to go
The Terminillo gets steeper, and Garzelli and Simoni are riding side by side. Both are very strong, but will they get caught by Noe? He can see them just in front of him, with a few motorbikes in the way.

Pantani is at 2'35, Casagrande is at 2'00.

17:02 CEST - 144 km/2 km to go
Noe closes the gap to the two leaders with 2.5 km to go. And now there are three. Simoni and Garzelli haven't been killing themselves, with Simoni looking at Garzelli to see if he's suffering.

They pass under 2km to go and are cheered on by plenty of mad Italian fans.

Simoni attacks again, and Noe is dropped again. Garzelli looks to be suffering, but he's holding Simoni's wheel. Tonkov is further back, chasing Noe. Then the group of four with Rumsas, Popovych, Mazzoleni and Sabaliauskas, who are being caught by Pellizotti.

17:06 CEST - 145 km/1 km to go
Noe catches back on again because Garzelli doesn't want to do much tempo making. He doesn't have to, because he can win the sprint. Now there are three leaders with one km to go.

Garzelli and Simoni are side by side under the 1 km to go, with Noe suffering and clinging onto their back wheels.

17:09 CEST - 146 km/0 km to go
Simoni leads at 600m, followed by Garzelli and Noe. Simoni leads out, and Garzelli cruises by him to take his second stage win. Simoni takes second, then Noe. Garzelli will be in pink, and looked very comfortable today, although Simoni seemed to be the stronger climber. It was a great ride by Noe as well, who never gave up and was there with them at the end.

Tonkov only loses 14 seconds to take 4th. Then Mazzoleni leads Sabaliauskas and Rumsas home for 5th. Casagrande's group loses 2'35. Scott Sunderland comes in with Marco Velo at 3'19. Then Pantani's group with Caucchioli at 3'50.


1 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI            3.55.19
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Team Saeco     
3 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio                                 0.02
4 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) CCC-Atlas-Polsat                       0.14
5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI                 0.38
6 Marius Sabaliauskas (Ltu) Team Saeco
7 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre                            
8 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio                           0.52
9 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
10 Julio A. Perez Cuapio (Mex) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo     1.20

General classification after stage 7

1 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI           31.39.24
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Team Saeco                          0.31
3 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio 
4 Marius Sabaliauskas (Ltu) Team Saeco
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio                      
6 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) CCC-Atlas-Polsat                       1.40
7 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre                             1.54
8 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago           1.56

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