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87th Giro d'Italia - Grand Tour

Italy, May 8-30, 2004

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Stage 15 - May 24: Porec/Parenzo - San Vendemiano, 234 Km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney

Complete live report

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

14:25 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the longest stage of the Giro d'Italia. Today's leg between Porec (Croatia) and San Vendemiano (not far from Treviso) measures a whopping 234 km, although it's pretty much dead flat the whole way. The Intergiro point comes quite early in the stage at Portoroz, and from then on it's a cruise along the coast, back through Trieste and then inland to San Vendemiano. Like yesterday, it should be another one for the sprinters - in fact their last chance for a stage win before Milan this Sunday. Thus, we can expect Fassa Bortolo and Lotto-Domo to do everything possible to ensure the breakaways are pulled in.

This stage should present no problems for Yaroslav Popovych and his Colnago-Landbouwkrediet team, although he will be hoping that his teammates stay upright today. Three of them crashed into each other yesterday! Tomorrow's mountain stage will be a lot tougher for the Colnago boys, and Popo will probably have to fend for himself at the end.

14:45 CEST    125km/109km to go
The stage story so far: 150 riders started this morning at 11:25am in Porec. There were no overnight withdrawals. Marlon Perez (Colombia-Selle Italia) made the first attack after 12 km and was quickly joined by Daniele Pietropolli (Tenax). But the peloton chased them down after 20 km, as Perez is a danger man for the Intergiro classification.

After 23 km, Martin Derganc (Domina Vacanze) countered an attack of Niki Aebersold, and was later joined by Slovenian rider Dean Podgornik (Tenax). This signalled a flurry of counter attacks and eventually after 35 km, a group of four riders got clear: Mario Scirea (Domina Vacanze), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Russell Van Hout (Colombia-Selle Italia) and Giancarlo Ginestri (Tenax).

This breakaway stuck, and has since then built a lead of more than 10 minutes when it passed through Trieste (km 83). Their gap is now down to 6'30 after 125 km of racing - still 110 km to go!

14:50 CEST    128km/106km to go
The Intergiro sprint in Portoroz was won by Daniele Righi from Van Hout, Scirea and Ginestri. More importantly, Crescenzo d'Amore (Acqua e Sapone) won the sprint for fifth place in the peloton, solidifying his lead in the Intergiro competition.

The weather is fine and sunny again today, although there is a stiff wind blowing from the southwest, which has slowed the riders down a bit. The average speed after 3 hours was 38.8 km/h.

14:58 CEST    138km/96km to go
Speaking of competitions, Daniele Righi was lying in second position behind Raffaele Illiano in the Trofeo Fuga Piaggio classification before the stage. The winner of this classification gets a Piaggio scooter, and Righi is obviously keen for it. The scoring is simple: points are awarded based on the number of kilometres spent in a break in front of the main peloton. Illiano has 329 points (or kilometres), which means he's spent roughly 15 percent of the race away in a breakaway. Righi has 278 points, but he will overtake Illiano today. Righi will also probably move himself up to fifth in the Intergiro competition.

15:09 CEST    143km/91km to go
The leading quarted have passed through the feed zone at Monfalcone still holding a 6 minute lead on the peloton. The most they got was 10'30 after 80 km - but not really enough to pull off a breakaway like this in a 234 km stage.

15:22 CEST    150km/84km to go
The four leaders, Righi, Van Hout, Ginestri and Scirea (the oldest rider in the race) are now inside the final 85 kilometres. The attack started after 35 km, and the quartet has been battling a head/crosswind all day. The average speed is still around the 39 km/h mark.

15:36 CEST    163km/71km to go
The gap to the four leaders has dropped to 4'50 now as the peloton starts to pick up pace, while the breakaways start to get tired. The average speed after 4 hours of racing is 39.1 km/h.

Magnus Backstedt and Piotr Wadecki abandoned the race at the feed zone, leaving 148 riders left.

15:40 CEST   
the peloton is starting to stretch out now as the pace increases. The Fassa Bortolo boys don't want to take any chances today.

The break is still working well together, with Australian Russell Van Hout the only non-Italian rider in the group. The wind is more across them now.

15:46 CEST    167km/67km to go
We're now under the 70 km to go mark and the four leaders have just 3'50 of their once large lead. Scirea, whose normal job is to set up Cipollini in the final 2 km, hasn't had much fun in the Giro so far after his captain crashed out of the race in the first week. But he gets to do something constructive for the team today.

15:54 CEST    168km/66km to go
When the stage passed through Croatia and in particular Slovenia earlier today, there were an impressive number of fans out to see the riders. The Giro does make the occasional foray into Slovenia, but it's good to see the popularity of cycling here.

In the peloiton it's three Fassas leading the Colnago-Landbouwkrediet team with Popovych a bit further back in the pink jersey. Bruseghin is on the front, doing his work as always.

15:57 CEST    170km/64km to go
The lead is now down to 3'18 between Righi and co. and the peloton. None of the riders in the break present the remotest threat to Popovych's pink jersey. Righi is the best placed rider in 120th at 1 hour 12 minutes down on GC!

16:02 CEST    178km/56km to go
The breakaway can be seen in the distance by the peloton which is riding along a long, straight, flat road at the moment. The leading four have just over 3 minutes, or about 2 km at the current average speed. If the gap keeps sinking at this rate, they'll be caught within 20 km. But then we could see more attacks, depending on how motivated the riders are in the peloton.

It is quite strung out at the moment with the leading 20 riders in an echelon followed by a very long tail on the right hand side of the road.

16:06 CEST    181km/53km to go
Interestingly there are no Lotto-Domo jerseys at the front of the peloton today. It's just Fassa Bortolo, Colnago-Landbouwkrediet and then the entire Saeco team. Today is Robbie McEwen's last chance to win a stage, as he'll probably quit the Giro and head back to Belgium tomorrow morning in order to rest up for the Tour.

"Robbie won't start in tomorrow's stage," his team director Hendrik Redant told Belgian TV. "He felt tired this morning because he didn't sleep that well last night. Because of the importance of this race to us, we will certainly talk a bit more about it this evening, but more than likely he'll go home."

Yaroslav Popovych is looking quite happy in the pink jersey as he talks to his Colnago team director.

16:10 CEST    181km/53km to go
The leaders (Righi, Van Hout, Ginestri, Scirea) have picked up their pace with just over 50 km to go. The gap is still around the three minute mark as the peloton maintains its momentum behind them. The breakaways in yesterday's stage managed to stay away until 8 km to go, increasing their speed towards the end of the stage to try and fool the sprinters' teams a little.

16:13 CEST    184km/50km to go
Lotto is now moving up the peloton, bringing McEwen to the front half of the bunch where it's all lined out. Bruseghin, Codol and Gustov are motoring away at the head of the peloton.

Scirea looks at his route map and sees that there are 50 km to go and no climbs. 2'35 is the gap.

16:20 CEST    185km/49km to go
Van Hout does a turn at the front of the break, which is still looking good but fighting a losing battle as usual. It's 2'00 now. Righi is munching on some highly nutritious (no doubt) snack.

The roads are fairly straight and flat here, as the racers ride through the verdant countryside through the north of Italy.

16:28 CEST    190km/44km to go
The leaders are working a little harder now as they enter the last 45 km. But it's going to be impossible to hold off the still lined out peloton which is less than 2 minutes behind them. Still the three Fassas, working hard on the front of the gruppo, followed by Popovych and his Colnago-Landbouwkrediet team.

16:30 CEST    192km/42km to go
It has been remarked that there have been a lot of sprinters stages in this Giro. In total there are 11 stages out of the 21 (inclung prologue) that are suited to the fast men. This is the 10th sprinters stage so far, as we've had most of them clumped together. The next four days are all in the mountains, however.

40 km to go and the gap is down to 1'38.

16:34 CEST    193km/41km to go
There's a fall at the back of the peloton! Giusseppe Muraglia (Formaggi), Alessandro Vanotti, Leonardi Giordani (De Nardi), Alberto Loddo (Saunier Duval), Gianluca Sironi (Tenax), Scott Davis (Panaria) and Gabriele Colombo (Domina Vacanze) are all on the ground. Giordani is the last to get up, but he's on his bike again.

That was a strange crash, as there was absolutely nothing dangerous on the road.

16:37 CEST    195km/39km to go
The riders who crashed are nearly all back in the peloton now after a short chase. Belli was also delayed, but he's ok now. Giordani has a longer chase, as he was the last to get up.

The gap at the 40 km to go mark has grown to 2'12, because of the crash.

16:40 CEST    198km/36km to go
Giordani is back onto the tail of the peloton again, one of the last riders to make it back after the crash. Davis and Zaugg are still chasing. In a long stage like this where almost nothing happens for five hours, it's hard to concentrate the whole time. So these crashes can happen even when no-one's doing anything crazy in the bunch.

The leaders have profited from the crash, as they have a gap of 2'00 now with 35 km left.

16:45 CEST    200km/34km to go
Volodymir Gustov (Fassa Bortolo) comes through at the front of the peloton with 35 km to go, with the leaders still 2'00 clear. Righi, Van Hout, Ginestri and Scirea have been away for the past 165 km, and that will give Righi a nice lead in the scooter competition (Trofeo Fuga Piaggio).

16:46 CEST    201km/33km to go
Scott Davis is back in the peloton after the crash, as is Oliver Zaugg (Saunier Duval), who is getting treatment for his bloodied elbow.

16:48 CEST    202km/32km to go
Codol, Bruseghin and Gustov are towing the bunch at 45-50 km/h in the last 30-odd kilometres of this very long stage. The break has picked up the pace and is now 1'52 in front of the bunch.

Popovych is sitting in about 10th wheel at the moment, behind his teammates.

16:53 CEST    205km/29km to go
The breakaways are now just 1'37 ahead, but they can sense the finish. Van Hout flicks it up a gear and starts to lift the pace. They're all hurting after spending over four hours in front, but now is the crucial part of the stage.

In the peloton, Ale-Jet Petacchi is looking super calm. He's on track for an eighth stage win today, and who will bet against him? Can Rodriguez or McEwen beat him again? Or Pollack?

16:56 CEST    209km/25km to go
There's one finishing circuit today in San Vendemiano of seven kilometres. So the sprinters will have some idea of the finish.

The leaders are under 25 km to go, and have a bit of a tailwind now. Big crowds are lining the roads, cheering them on. The peloton is at 1'22 and closing.

16:57 CEST    211km/23km to go
Scirea's 40 year old legs are still working very well as he drives the break towards the finish. Russell Van Hout is really hurting, and is a bit annoyed at the TV moto.

16:59 CEST    214km/20km to go
The Domina Vacanze team car cruises up beside the break to discuss the situation with Scirea. That gap is 1'13 as the Fassa trio of Codol, Bruseghin and Gustov continues to make inroads. There should be a prize for the most kilometres spent on the front of the peloton too!

17:02 CEST    214km/20km to go
It's down to a minute with 20 km to go. The break doesn't really have enough time in hand to hold off the bunch, but it won't die wondering. All of them are gritting their teeth, trying to extract as much as possible out of their aching legs.

17:04 CEST    216km/18km to go
Van Hout comes through for his turn, followed by Scirea, Righi and then Ginestra. Righi wants that Piaggio scooter!

17:05 CEST    217km/17km to go
Van Hout has Scirea's wheel - probably the best one to have as Scirea is the biggest rider in the break. That means more protection from the wind!

Most of the Fassa train is on the front of the peloton now. Bruseghin, Codol and Gustov have nearly finished their work.

17:05 CEST    217km/17km to go
Van Hout has Scirea's wheel - probably the best one to have as Scirea is the biggest rider in the break. That means more protection from the wind!

Most of the Fassa train is on the front of the peloton now. Bruseghin, Codol and Gustov have nearly finished their work.

17:06 CEST    218km/16km to go
The peloton, now led by Sacchi, is hammering along at 60 km/h on the flat. The break won't survive long. It's 50 seconds.

17:08 CEST    219km/15km to go
Saeco has moved men in front next to Fassa Bortolo with 15 km to go. In the break, Van Hout looks behind to see where the peloton is. Don't worry, it's coming.

17:09 CEST    220km/14km to go
The leaders probably won't survive until the finish circuit, as they have only 35 seconds of their lead left as Gustov drives the pace now in the bunch. Bruseghin and Sacchi are on his wheel, ready to come through.

17:09 CEST   

17:09 CEST   
Angelo Furlan (Alessio) punctures and gets paced back by his teammate Bertolini. That's going to hurt his chances a little.

17:10 CEST    221km/13km to go
Ginestri, Van Hout, Righi and Scirea are less than 30 seconds in front of the bunch, where Lotto-Domo has suddenly come to the fore. The Gerolsteiners are there too, while Alessio is moving up from the back.

17:12 CEST    222km/12km to go
The leaders have eased up although Ginestri attacks for a little bit longer. He'll blow himself up, but get one or two more points in the Piaggio competition. The quartet spent nearly 190 km in front.

Ginestri is caught after about 500m. Gerolsteiner and Lotto-Domo are hammering in front.

17:13 CEST    224km/10km to go
The only way that Petacchi can be beaten is by another train, and it looks like Lotto and Gerolsteiner are trying to create one to rival Fassa, which has dropped off the front now. 10 km left.

17:14 CEST    225km/9km to go
The peloton is now on track to finish the stage in the 10th bunch sprint of this Giro. Lotto-Domo and Gerolsteiner are still on the front, but Fassa Bortolo is moving back up.

17:15 CEST    226km/8km to go
There are about 15 Lotto/Gerolsteiner riders on the front as they approach the finishing circuit. The roads are good here, and it should be a problem free finish, but we'll see...

17:17 CEST    227km/7km to go
Fassa is now moving up on the left hand side, bringing Petacchi up. Lampre too, for Svorada. But it's Lotto and Gerolsteiner leading them with one 7 km lap to go. Even Fabian Wegmann (mountains leader) is doing a hard turn on the front.

Petacchi in about 20th position.

17:18 CEST    228km/6km to go
The pace is really high now in this last lap but Fassa is coming back to the front to challenge Gerolsteiner. Scirea, Van Hout and Ginstri have been dropped.

Three Fassas in the front four now, with a couple of Lottos behind them. Dario Cioni is doing his job on the front.

17:19 CEST    229km/5km to go
The peloton navigates a roundabout with 6 km to go, as Cioni strings out the bunch at 50 km/h into the headwind. Petacchi is now in 10th wheel, next to Wegmann and Lombardi.

17:20 CEST    230km/4km to go
Gerolstiner and Lotto are still challenging Fassa with 5 km to go. This is a different tactic indeed, and it could work against Petacchi.

17:20 CEST    230km/4km to go
Petacchi is well placed on his leadout men Ongarato and Velo, as Wegmann does a huge turn on the front, through another roundabout with 4km left.

17:21 CEST    231km/3km to go
Wegmann pulls off and a Lotto and Formaggi rider take over. d'Amore and Borrajo are moving up too. But still Petacchi is behind his teammates. Where's McEwen? Vierhouten is on Petacchi's wheel

17:22 CEST   
Three kilometres and we have four Fassas followed by Ale-Jet. McEwen is next to Rodriguez and Pollack, fighting again for Petacchi's wheel. Vierhouten still has Petacchi's wheel.

17:23 CEST    232km/2km to go
Furlan has moved up too as four Fassas lead out Petacchi with 2km to go. Ferrigato tries to make another train for Acqua and they're duelling parallel to each other. Incredible. Acqua is winning, just...

17:24 CEST    233km/1km to go
Ferrigato leads D'Amore with about 1.5 km to go. But Fassa takes over with Petacchi in third. Pollack and Rodriguez are fighting. 1 km left.

17:24 CEST   
Lombardi is in second while Petacchi is in fifth with 800m to go. Velo leads out with Naudusz and Petacchi on his wheel.

17:25 CEST    234km/0km to go
Loddo goes very early then Petacchi comes up the middle and wins from McEwen on the right!!! Pollack third in between them. What a sprint - very tough one to control for Fassa. 68.4 km/h on the line.

Petacchi beats the post-war record with 8 stage wins in a single Giro. Wow!


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                        
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo                                
3 Olaf Pollack (Ger) Gerolsteiner                           
4 Andris Nauduzs (Lat) Domina Vacanze                  
5 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Phonak Hearing Systems          
6 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo 
7 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi               
8 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) De Nardi                      

General classification after stage 15

1 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                 66.48.30
2 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi                                     0.03
3 Bradley McGee (Aus) FDJeux.com                                      1.02
4 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco                                         1.27
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                             1.32
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco                                          1.48
7 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres                   2.30
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie           2.31
9 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                               2.36
10 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Lampre                                        3.09

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