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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 9 - May 19: Arezzo-Montecatini, 160 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 13:14 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 9th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a relatively short jaunt of 160km from Arezzo to Montecatini. The stage features a bit of a lump in the early profile, but no GPM points are on offer and the long flat or slightly downhill run to the finish should set the stage for another bunch sprint.

Mario Cipollini finally realised his dream yesterday, winning a Giro stage in the world champion's jersey, and equalling the record of Alfredo Binda, putting his Giro win total at 41.

However, after yet another snub by the organisers of the Tour de France, Cipo may have a new motivation to prove himself again today. "This is completely absurd," he said in an interview with Bloomberg News. "This piece of news leaves us completely puzzled. I don't understand this unrelenting attack on my reputation, considering I am wearing an important jersey. They will be remembered for being the first ones not to invite the World Champion to their race. At this point, we're absolutely speechless."

14:30 CEST
The race has started at a fairly quick pace, covering 40 kilometres in the first hour. One brief attempt was made by ten riders to escape, but their efforts were not rewarded, and at the moment the peloton is all together.

14:50 CEST
A new move has formed off the front and is picking up steam. The following riders started the first notable break of the day: Cristian Moreni (Alessio), Piotr Chmielewski (CCC-Polsat), Marzio Bruseghin and Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo), Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com), Elio Aggiano (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave), Marcel Strauss (Gerolsteiner), and Julian Usano Martinez (Kelme-Costa Blanca).

This group quickly gained a 10" advantage over the field, before being joined by Vini Caldirola's Eddy Mazzoleni and several other riders. A counter attack was just launched by Vladimir Miholievic (Alessio), who's being chased by Thomas Brozyna (CCC-Polsat) and Bruseghin.

15:00 CEST, 85 km to go
There are now six riders out in front with a 1'50" gap over the first chase group. These six are Miholievic, Bruseghin, Brozyna, Casar, Gianni Faresin (Gerolsteiner), and Fabio Sacchi (Saeco).

For news and reactions concerning the Tour de France team selections,particularly Cipollini's reactions to his Domina Vacanze team's non-selection, be sure to click here.

15:18 CEST
The six leaders are maintaining an advantage of just under two minutes, with the only the long flat run to the finish on the horizon. The day's only InterGiro sprint will come at kilometre 97.5 in Certaldo.

15:30 CEST
Same story for the moment, as the race is keeping a strong pace, having averaged 42 km/h for the second hour of racing. The break's chances are slim, as the sprinters' teams will once again set the chase in motion when the time is right. No major difficulties occur in the second half of today's course, so a sprint is almost a certainty.

Miholievic, Bruseghin, Brozyna, Casar, Faresin, and Sacchi are still clear with about two minutes.

15:38 CEST, 72 km to go
At the InterGiro in Certaldo, Casar took the sprint, followed by Faresin and Brozyna. Moreno Di Biase will keep his lead in the competition since none of the members of this break threatened his lead.

The peloton has pulled back time already on the leaders, and the gap now stands at 1'35".

15:42 CEST, 66 km to go
Just to clarify, the remnants of the initial break was swept up by the field long ago, so there is nobody in between the break of six and the peloton. The break has just picked up supplies in the feed zone, but their advantage is steadily dwindling, down now to 1'25".

Marco Pantani and Dario Pieri are having a friendly chat in the field, with Pieri giving the Pirate a few hits on the head, perhaps acknowleding Pantani's compliance with the mandatory helmet rule...

In other news, Lotto-Domo's Aart Vierhouten has abandoned the race.

15:50 CEST, 60 km to go
Officials have confirmed the InterGiro results, which in fact place Miholievic in second rather than Faresin.

The peloton is moving quickly, and the front of the field is almost single file. Meanwhile Cipollini is doing a change of jersey behind the field, removing his under shirt and zipping up a new rainbow jersey and putting his helmet back on.

The break has picked up a few more seconds, back up to around 1'30" advantage over the main bunch.

15:56 CEST, 56 km to go
It's wardrobe changing time for more than just Cipollini... Baldato gets a new shoe (or pair of shoes) with a little help from his team car. There's no time to stop, so all changes are made on the run.

16:05 CEST, 44 km to go
The break is doing well to keep its advantage steady, but that is due as much to the peloton's reluctance to catch them too early as it is to the six leaders' strength. The peloton is rolling at a steady pace but is not yet in all out pursuit mode. The break is riding well, though, and all riders are taking short, strong pulls.

16:15 CEST, 38 km to go
The break continues to maintain, or even extend, its advantage. However, with fewer than 40km to race, the full on chase from the peloton will begin soon.

This could be the day for Cipollini to firmly plant his name among the greats by beating the record of Giro stage wins. Having matched Binda's record yesterday, Cipo broke his string of bad luck and near misses in the first week, and could be primed for another big win.

16:21 CEST, 30 km to go
The race has passed under the 30km to go banner, and the gap between the break and the field is suddenly under a minute. The chase is on, and it'll be tough to hold off the charging field now. Team fakta, which missed out on this move, is helping with the chase up front, thinking of Magnus Bäckstedt, who has had a great start to the Giro thus far.

16:27 CEST, 25 km to go
The field is flying now, the gap is tumbling, and another big bunch sprint appears to be in the making. The teams in charge of the chase know their work is essentially done, and in fact they have eased up just a bit to once again delay the actual capture. The race has averaged over 42 km/h for the stage so far.

As usual, Domina Vacanze and Fassa Bortolo are the two main teams doing the work at the head of the peloton.

16:31 CEST, 22 km to go
The race has just passed a banner held by some Cipollini suppoters which read, "Leblanc is crazy," referring to Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc.

16:39 CEST, 15 km to go
Today's finish is apparently somewhat technical, which might not be ideal for Super Mario and his Domina Vacanze leadout train. However, don't discount the world champion's motivation today.

Luca De Angeli from Colombia-Selle Italia is trying a move off the front but he's not getting very far. The six leaders appear to have been reeled in somewhat quietly.

Domina Vacanze and Fassa Bortolo have for the moment relinquished their control at the head of the race, replaced by some Lotto-Domo and Alessio riders, but no great organised tempo for the moment. Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave has several riders up near the front as well.

16:42 CEST, 12 km to go
In continued efforts to keep the GC contenders out of trouble, race leader Stefano Garzelli's Vini Caldirola team has also moved to the front of the field.

Spectators beware: a number of water bottles are being ejected from the field as riders look to lighten the load in the final fast kilometres.

16:46 CEST, 9 km to go
The race is nearing the finish, into the narrow roads of Montecatini Terme, before taking in one finishing circuit and then the final sprint.

A small crash has delayed Kelme's sprinter Galvez after a few riders went down in a left hand corner. It's too close to the finish, and Galvez may have seen his chances dashed.

Elio Aggiano has tried a new escape within the last 10km, but there's no way he can get too far ahead of the field.

16:49 CEST, 6 km to go
The crash has also taken Cipollini's leadout man Ongarato, who is up and riding but won't be able to help set up Cipo for victory. Saeco is now at the front, protecting Simoni and driving the pace.

The field comes through a very narrow right hand bend, at a reasonable pace, but they'll repeat this turn once more before a 300m finishing straight to the line.

Team fakta's Arvesen, Norwegian champion, has tried a move off the front on the extremely technical finishing circuit.

16:51 CEST, 4 km to go
Arvesen is already back in the fold, while Denis Lunghi (Alessio) tries his own counter attack. Clearly a number of riders are hoping to foil the sprinters on the narrow roads and tight corners of today's finale.

16:53 CEST, 3 km to go
Domina Vacanze is not letting anyone go, and Lunghi is already back in the pack. Fassa Bortolo now has two riders at the front as well. Cipollini is about 10 riders back from the font, while Petacchi is elbowing his way (literally) to the front. CCC Polsat's Nauduzs just gave Petacchi a hit to the head, and things are getting ugly as these two fight to get on Cipo's wheel.

16:55 CEST, 1km to go
Robbie McEwen and Alessio's Angelo Furlan are also trying to get in on the action behind Cipo's wheel, and this is a real battle to get into position for the final sprint. Cipo so far is doing his own thing as the rest of the favourites try to do anything they can to get on the Italian's wheel.

FDJeux.com's Carlos Da Cruz has tried to profit from the sprinters' confusion, and he's launched a powerful attack and has a gap with 1km to go!

16:56 CEST, Finish
Da Cruz is back as Cipo is in position and the finale begins.

There's a crash in the final corner, as expected!

McEwen gets in good position and comes through the corner. He gets some advantage on Cipollini, but it looks like Cipo has just managed to hold off the Aussie. Cipo's raised his hands after the line, thinking he has the victory. If so, he's got the Giro stage win record.

It was Nauduzs who slid out in the final bend, taking down some riders behind him and slowing up the bunch. The big sprinters were already through, however, so it didn't impede Cipo and company.


1 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron          3.41.58 (43.249 km/h)
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
4 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron

General classification after stage 9

1 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-SO.DI          40.51.16
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Team Saeco                         0.40
3 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio                                0.54
4 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio                          1.36
5 Marius Sabaliauskas (Ltu) Team Saeco                     1.38


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