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87th Giro d'Italia - Grand Tour

Italy, May 8-30, 2004

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Stage 11 - May 20: Porto Sant’Elpidio - Cesena, 228 km

Commentary by Chris Henry

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

14:30 CEST   
Welcome once again to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Giro d'Italia. At 228 kilometres, today's stage is the second longest of the tour, and after a generally flat first half the afternoon will feature a continuous series of climbs and descents which could finally favour a breakaway. The race will be covering roads in the late Marco Pantani's backyard, where il Pirata used to train. Pantani's death in February remains a touchy subject at the Giro, where the Italian experienced both the highest and lowest points of his career.

Saeco's Damiano Cunego (Saeco) is still in the pink jersey after several sprinters' stages and the rest day on Tuesday. Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) has been the man of the bunch sprints, taking five stages thus far, but his Fassa Bortolo train may be foiled on today's hilly parcours.

14:43 CEST    140km/88km to go
A big early break is away at the moment, numbering 20 riders. This break followed a first attack by some 13 men in the opening kilometres. In the move right now are a number of the usual suspects, including Hamburger, Lancaster, Nocintini, Perez Arango, Vanotti, Colombo, Derganc, Tosatto, Mourey, Muraglia, Strauss, Wegmann, Svorada, Verstrepen, Gates, Fertonani, Bertogliati, Bosisio, Loda, and Podgornik.

14:50 CEST   
The pace has been quite high today, with an average speed of 48 km/h in the first three hours of racing. Tailwind, anyone? The advantage of the lead group is already falling, as the Alessio-Bianchi team leads the chase in the main field.

The result of the day's Intergiro sprint: Marcel Strauss (Gerolsteiner), Marlon Perez Arango (Colombia-Selle Italia), Bo Hamburger (Acqua & Sapone).

After the Intergiro Hamburger has had a puncture.

15:05 CEST   
As the peloton begins to close in on the rather large leading group, seven riders have decided to take a new initiative. Back form his puncture, Hamburger is on the attack along with Vanotti, Mourey, Tosatto, Wegmann, Fertonani, and Bertogliati. They have 15" over the remainder of the break and about 2'10 on the peloton.

15:08 CEST    160km/68km to go
As the leaders approach the first mountain points of the day, the seven new attackers have been joined by another seven, making 14 up front and 6 more chasing behind. The accelerations have taken back some time on the field and the gap is now 2'50.

Perhaps a bit too big for its own good, the break of 20 has never had much more than a three minute advantage over the field.

Vanotti punctured but has made it back into the lead group.

15:14 CEST   
The break is trying to work itself at the moment as it splits and comes back together, still moving quite quickly as the race has been all day.

A new counter attack from the main field has come from Bertagnolli, Sella, Vila Errandonea, Lobato, Mason, and Zampieri.

Saeco is one of the principal absentees in the break, and the red train is beginning to mount its own chase in the main field.

15:15 CEST   
Nicola Loda, one of three Tenax riders in the escape, has now attacked alone at the first major summit and he's flying down the descent.

15:24 CEST   
The chase is on by a group of about 8 riders, as Brett Lancaster has dropped back to help his Ceramiche Panaria teammate Emanuele Sella in the move, which also includes Leonardo Bertagnolli for Saeco.

At the summit of the day's first categorised climb, Gerolsteiner's Wegmann took the points ahead of Vanotti and Muraglia.

15:32 CEST    180km/48km to go
Up front the situation has been evolving constantly, with two new leaders ahead of a first break: Graziano Gasparre (De Nardi) and Massimo Iannetti (Domina Vacanze). Where these two came from is a bit of a mystery as they were not counted among the early break...

The remnants of that break are chasing about a minute behind these two leaders while the main field is 2'50 behind.

From the chase group, Emanuele Sella (Ceramiche Panaria) has attacked and is chasing the two leaders alone.

15:39 CEST   
Sella continues to charge ahead in search of the two leaders. He should be able to catch them as he looks very fresh and looks to be riding fairly comfortably. Nonetheless he's looking behind as well to make sure he's still clear of the rest of the break.

The main escape, which features Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), wearer of the moutnains jersey. Race leader Cunego is also leading the mountains classification but since he's in pink it's Wegmann in the jersey on the road. Having picked up more points today, however, Wegmann could find himself in the lead by the end of the stage.

The leaders are crossing one of the many climbs which feature in today's stage but are not classified in the mountains competition.

15:41 CEST    189km/39km to go
Sella has in fact caught and dropped the two leaders, Iannetti and Gasparre, so the young Italian is on his own. He has 2'55 on the main field with various chasers still behind him.

15:46 CEST   
Sella is enjoying a brief moment as virtual maglia rosa as he tried to fend off a chase from four riders behind.

Well he's not enjoying himself now! Flying down a winding descent, Sella hit a turn too quickly and skidded off the road. He's up quickly and back on the road but his momentum took a hit.

Behind, in the chase, Vila pulled the same move though he managed to stay upright.

With around 40km to go, Sella's gap has still managed to go up to just over three minutes on the main field.

15:48 CEST   
Now Iannetti has gone down in the exact same turn as the two men before him! He's skidded into the grass as Gasparre just behind him went off the road but managed to keep going.

The peloton is just behind these two, who were away together earlier, and the field was clearly warned about the turn because the big bunch has slowed a bit and made it through without incident.

15:50 CEST   
Saeco is still in charge of the main field with race leader Cunego tucked behind four teammates and team leader Simoni on his wheel.

Massimo Iannetti is riding but holding his shoulder, a bad sign that he has likely fractured his claivicle in the crash. The race doctor is checking him out.

Sella still has a modest advantage over the four chasers, while Wegmann's group is further back but not yet absorbed by the main field.

15:55 CEST    195km/33km to go
Despite his crash, Sella is still riding very strongly alone and fully committed to his attack. The four chasers have lost a little ground to him as Fertonani (Phonak) leads his three companions in pursuit. Bertagnolii grabs a bottle from a soigneur at the side of the road.

Sella has now crossed the summit of the penultimate GPM climb of the day, Sogliano al Rubiconde.

As the chasers approach the line, Fabian Wegmann has come from nowhere to catch and pass them to get 2nd place on the climb! Lobato gets third. Incredible move by Wegmann who looked to be out of the running for any more mountain points today. That makes five chasers now behind Sella.

16:00 CEST    199km/29km to go
Along with Wegmann's return there has been a bigger regrouping behind Sella, who is still out front alone. After a short descent the race will hit a rolling section with short climbs with precentages up to 16%. There is hardly a metre of flat ground in the stage finale.

16:03 CEST   
There's been another crash, this time at the back of the main field. All riders seem to be up and riding, including Aart Vierhouten (Lotto-Domo) and Geert Verheyen (Chocolade Jacques).

16:05 CEST   
With the points he took on the last climb, Wegmann is now two points ahead of Damiano Cunego in the mountains competition.

Sella gets a visit from his team car now as he persists with his attack. He's still looking quite strong, with a high cadence and accelerating each time the road tips upward a bit.

16:07 CEST    203km/25km to go
Five-time stage winner Alessandro Petacchi is cruising in a gruppetto behind the main field, along with several of his Fassa Bortolo teammates. McEwen is there too.

Sella has 1'15 on the chase group! He's absolutely flying up the short, steep climbs.

16:11 CEST   
As Saeco continues to lead the chase in the main field, Bertagnolli has dropped off the pace in the first chase group to wait for his team and help with the pursuit for Cunego.

Sella is on a section of 14% but seems to be handling the steep grade just fine. He's still the virtual maglia rosa on the road. Saeco knows this, and the chase is looking more aggressive in the main field.

16:15 CEST    209km/19km to go
Sella is maintaining an impressive advantage over both the chase group and the main field with just under 20 kilometres to go.

The first chase group doesn't seem to be cooperating well enough.

Sella is blasting over the steepest climb of the day and now he's once more zipping down the descent.

16:17 CEST   
Saeco is not having the best day, as Bertagnolli (who dropped out of the main chase group) is the only helper left for Cunego and Simoni.

16:18 CEST   
Sella is looking to be within a real chance of holding on for the stage win. He has almost a minute and a half on the chase group, and still just over three minutes on the main field.

He's descending again, another twisting, fast plunge. Sella gets out of the saddle after every turn to maintain as much speed as possible.

16:22 CEST    212km/16km to go
Sella started the stage just 2'34 behind race leader Cunego. With 20" bonus on offer for the stage winner, he is still within a chance of not just taking the stage but also the pink jersey.

His team director is alongside him on another short climb, giving him as much encouragement as possible. He's passing through the village of Sorrivoli and hitting another gradient of 18%. He has 1'40 on the chasers, who just can't seem to muster the strength to pull him back.

16:25 CEST    213km/15km to go
The crowds are huge on yet another brutal wall of a climb. Sella is slowing to a crawl, giving everything he has to drag himself over the hill. He's definitely feeling the strain now as this climb just keeps going.

Will there be fireworks in the main field? Cunego and Simoni are rather vulnerable now. Garzelli is on Simoni's wheel up front as Cunego begins to slip back!

Simoni takes things into his own hands. Garzelli, meanwhile, has two teammates ahead of him in the chase group.

Sella is about to crest the climb and he'll have 15km to race.

16:28 CEST   
Popovych begins to move up in the main field now and he's put in an acceleration! Simoni reacts and it looks like Cunego is able to come back a bit too.

Sella is over the summit and takes the points on this 2nd category climb.

The chase group is greatly reduced now, still with Zampieri and Mason for Vini Caldirola, Lobato (Saunier Duval), and Vila (Lampre).

McGee is accelerating in the main field!

16:30 CEST    116km/112km to go
The main field is closing in quickly now as McGee and others force the pace over the summit of the climb.

Zampieri is now alone chasing Sella as his teammate Oscar Mason dropped off the pace in the chase along with Lobato and Vila.

Sella has 12km to go but it's going to be tough.

Garzelli lost ground on the climb and is now rejoining the group of favourites including Simoni.

16:35 CEST    218km/10km to go
Cristian Moreni (Alessio-Bianchi) has attacked the Simoni group now. Behind Moreni is a group of about six riders trying to get on terms with the leaders, and Simoni's group following suit.

Ten kilometres to go for Sella.

Zampieri has been swept up by a number of chasers, several of whom have been in the moves all day. Bo Hamburger is there again, Perez, Verstrepen, etc. The race is completely spread out over the road.

16:37 CEST    220km/8km to go
Sella is hanging onto a substantial lead over the chasers and he still has two minutes on the main field. Moreni has just made contact with the chasers, and behind them is the group of favourites including Simoni, Cunego, Garzelli, McGee, etc.

Bertagnolli is once more doing the work for Saeco leading the chase.

16:40 CEST    223km/5km to go
The Simoni group is swelling a bit and Saeco has found reinforcements for its leader. Mazzoleni is back.

Sella is taking more time from the chasers, who are not working well enough together.

Lampre's Juan Garate has attacked the group of favourites in an effort to bridge to the chasers.

The chaser group has entered Cesena. Five kilometres to go for Sella.

16:42 CEST    225km/3km to go
Garate has made it up to the chase group, giving Lampre two riders. Vini Caldirola also has two.

Sella is on the final climb, out of the saddle and putting in an incredible effort. Once he makes it over the summit, he should be clear for a fantastic stage win.

16:44 CEST   
Moreni now attacks the chase group as it hits the climb. He's marked quickly and the eight man chase sticks together. They're 1'10 behind Sella.

It's Cunego, maglia rosa, leading the group of favourites now. McGee is on his wheel.

Simoni accelerates!

16:45 CEST    226km/2km to go
The main field is bearing down on the chase group now. Sella is hitting a short stretch of cobbles at the summit of the climb.

Lampre's Garate accelerates in the chase group.

Simoni leads the main group now.

16:46 CEST   
Garzelli is getting dropped! He's on the wheel of teammate Pavel Tonkov trying to maintain contact with Simoni's group.

Sella is descending to the finish.

16:47 CEST    227km/1km to go
The chase group is still ahead of Simoni's group in pursuit of Sella but it's unlikely they'll make the junction.

Last kilometre for Sella who should get it.

16:48 CEST   
Sella knows he's got it and he starts his celebrations early. More than five hours of racing, a good chunk of it on his own, and he is putting in the first successful break of this year's Giro.

16:48 CEST   
Sella comes across the line, arms in the air for a huge victory. His first professional win and what a way to start.

The chase group comes in now as Vila leads out the sprint.

In the end it's Moreni who gets 2nd ahead of Zampieri.

16:49 CEST   
Cunego helps lead in the main group but there may be a small split to Simoni, who doesn't look happy. Cunego will stay in the jersey though.


1 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres              5.19.08
2 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                          0.30
3 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie
4 Bo Hamburger (Den) Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo
5 Ruben Lobato Elvira (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Lampre
7 Francisco Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre
8 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                    0.49
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco
10 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
General classification after stage 11
1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco                                 50.43.29
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco                                    0.10
3 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                        0.28
4 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                0.40
5 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres              0.52
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie      1.15
7 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                              1.17
8 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi
9 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                          1.19
10 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres                1.25

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