Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

87th Giro d'Italia - Grand Tour

Italy, May 8-30, 2004

Map    Stages    Stage profile    Start List    Results     Latest live report

Stage 2 - May 10: Novi Ligure - Pontremoli, 184 Km

Commentary by Chris Henry, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

14:31 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia. The peloton will tackle the first somewhat serious climbs of the race today, though the finish comes after a downhill plunge into Pontremoli. Germany's Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner) starts the day in the maglia rosa, having taken precious bonus seconds with an impressive second place in yesterday's bunch sprint, won by Alessandro Petacchi in convincing fashion. Pollack was also second in the prologue behind Brad McGee over whom he holds just two seconds in the general classification.

Today may be a day for a breakaway, with two notable climbs in store, the Passo del Bocco and the Passo del Brattello. The summit of the Brattello lies just 20 kilometres from the finish in Pontremoli. Today will provide a good warm up for Tuesday's first mountaintop finish in stage 3. The climbing comes early in this year's Giro, which should make for an exciting first week.

14:45 CEST    95km/89km to go
The peloton took off this morning with 169 starters; there were no overnight abandons.

A large early break of some 23 riders went clear after about two hours of racing and quickly established an advantage over the main field. The group currently has about 4'10 over the bunch.

14:58 CEST   
The leading group is holding its gap of just over four minutes as it begins to climb the Passo del Bocco. Brad McGee's FDJeux.com team has been keeping an eye on the peloton early in the stage. If he has his climbing legs, McGee could certainly find himself in a position to reclaim the leader's jersey he won after his storming prologue win.

It's been a fairly quick start to the day, with an average speed of 42 km/h in the second hour of racing.

15:06 CEST   
Stefano Garzelli, a former Giro winner, runner up last year, and favourite again this year, expects an important result in today's stage, even if it is only the second road stage of the three week race.

"I think there will probably be only 50-60 riders together," he said before the start. "I really like this kind of stage, with not such a big sprint. But tomorrow is really the important day (uphill finish to Corno Alle Scale)."

Garzelli, who did not have the best of rides in the prologue, will be looking for that 20 second time bonus in order to take back time on defending champion Gilberto Simoni and last year's third place Yaroslav Popovych.

15:10 CEST    100km/84km to go
FDJeux.com has received some help from Phonak and Tenax and the steady chase is starting to chip away at the break's lead. The gap is now down to 3'30, while up front Laverde has tried to go clear of the leaders. His advantage is modest for the moment.

15:17 CEST   
Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio-Bianchi) has attacked the breakaway group of 23. He's built a lead of about 20 seconds over the group, which still has 3 minutes on the main field.

15:22 CEST    107km/77km to go
The leaders still have four kilometres of climbing on the Passo del Bocco. After the summit there is a steady descent and drop in elevation for around 40 kilometres before the Passo del Bratello, which will almost certainly provide the critical point in the stage.

Bertolini is still ahead of the main break, the field continues to chase several minutes back.

15:27 CEST   
One candidate for a stage win today could be world champion Igor Astarloa (Lampre).

"This stage looks good for me on paper," he explained this morning. "There'll probably be a small group at the finish. But I'll have to see how my form is. I was good in Larciano before the Giro but I'm still taking it day by day. I hope to show my world champion's jersey at some point in this race."

15:29 CEST   
Bertolini has been pulled back by the main breakaway group, and immediately a counter attack has come from Steve Zampieri (Vini Caldirola). Chasing behind are Hambuerger, Stangelj, Baliani, and Laverde.

15:34 CEST    112km/72km to go
Over the summit of the Passo del Bocco, Zampieri took the mountain points ahead of Baliani and Laverde. The lead group will likely come back together on the long steady descent but for the moment Zampieri has a few seconds over the rest.

15:37 CEST   
The main field is closing in on the break and has also crossed the summit of the Passo del Bocco. The domestiques are fetching bottles at the back of the group as it winds its way downhill.

In the breakaway, several accelerations are disrupting the rhythm somewhat but the group is essentially together and Zampieri is back in the fold.

15:47 CEST    130km/54km to go
The break continues to descend after the first climb of the day, extending its advantage once more to over three minutes.

Phonak has moved to the front of the main field to help with the chase once more, as has the Lampre team of world champion Igor Astarloa.

15:48 CEST   
Jan Svorada (Lampre) and Giancarlo Ginestri (Tenax) have been dropped from the break and are already 2 minutes back on the descent.

15:52 CEST    139km/45km to go
Niki Aebersold is leading the charge for Phonak as the field hits some rolling terrain between the two major climbs of the day. Ostensibly downhill until the Passo del Bratello, a number of small rises will still help make things difficult before the big test.

Rubens Bertogliati is setting the pace in the break.

15:57 CEST   
Ruggero Marzoli (Acqua & Sapone) has taken the Intergiro sprint at the head of the breakaway, which still has 3'45 on the main field. Svorada and Ginestri are still chasing in between but have yet to make contact with the leaders.

16:03 CEST   
Just prior to the Intergiro, Svorada and Ginestri have been swept up by the fast-moving peloton. The break is 21 men strong but the main field appears to be getting more serious about the chase prior to the Passo del Brattello.

The top three for the Intergiro sprint were Marzoli, Vanotti, and Borrajo.

16:10 CEST   
An update to signal that the breakaway has indeed lost a number of its original members and now numbers only 15 riders. Among those dropped on the climb were Dean Podgornik (Tenax), who started the move early in the day, as well as two of the three Gerolsteiner riders originally present, Ziegler and Forster.

The main field is around two and a half minutes back, pulling back time once more.

16:14 CEST   
The teams of the main GC favourites are still represented in the break. It was Brad McGee's FDJeux.com team that missed the move completely, hence the team's consistent chasing throughout the day.

Although Gerolsteiner still has Marcel Strauss in the break, the team has sent several riders to the head of the peloton to help with the chase.

The gap is falling rapidly now, down to 1'15.

16:17 CEST   
Gerolsteiner has several options to think about. First, it has Olaf Pollack in the maglia rosa, but don't forget that Davide Rebellin, the man of the Ardennes classics, is a definite contender for the stage win today as well.

The break is losing time in serious chunks now, just one minute ahead of the field.

In the break, Baliani (Ceramiche Panaria) has decided to attack, knowing that the main field is closing in quickly.

16:20 CEST    154km/30km to go
Baliani has hit the first slopes of the Passo del Brattello, as about 8 riders from the break come up to his wheel.

As the main field hits the first slopes, it's evident a number of riders will be dropped quickly on this climb.

In the break Zampieri and Baliani are still forcing the pace, but Luis Laverde of Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave' tries a break.

16:21 CEST   
It's a series of constant accelerations now in the dwindling break as the leaders try to cling to their slender advantage over the main field and keep the move alive. Six riders are left up front.

16:24 CEST   
Saeco's Gorazd Stangelj is the next to try to escape alone on the rolling portion of the climb. It's still fast at the moment, but the Brattello will get steeper and more difficult in due time.

Vanotti is chasing Stangelj.

16:26 CEST   
The main field has begun to blow apart completely on the early part of the climb. One of the early victims is Mario Cipollini, though he's working his way back after what might have been a minor mechanical issue.

Stangelj has a small but useful gap over the chasers, while his teammate (and defending Giro champion) Gilberto Simoni looks comfortable in the main field.

Phonak and Vini Caldirola are leading the chase.

16:27 CEST    159km/25km to go
The ascent is still fairly fast, good enough for the big chainring (for most), with 5 kilometres left to climb. The three final kilometres are the toughest of the climb.

16:29 CEST   
Rebellin and Astarloa are near the front of the field, pedalling comfortably. Garzelli is there, as is prologue winner Brad McGee. No major fireworks from the leaders yet, it's too early and the climb isn't tough enough.

Vini Caldirola and Saeco are both well represented at the head of the main field.

16:31 CEST   
Maglia rosa Olaf Pollack is not looking too comfortable, hanging onto the back of the main field.

Stangelj continues to hold off the chasers as he hits the steeper portion of the climb. The sun is shining and the road surface is good.

Garzelli is sitting calmly in fourth position right now as his team leads the chase.

16:35 CEST    160km/24km to go
Three kilometres to the summit for Stangelj, who's looking strong and holding off the Vini Caldirola charge behind. If he can hold off the field and maintain his advantage, he is in with a chance of taking the maglia rosa. Pollack is almost certain to lose time, the question will be where the other top-placed riders finish.

Tonkov takes over the chase for Vini Caldirola. Stangelj has 10" on Laverde, the only chaser remaining from the break, and 20" on the main field.

16:38 CEST    162km/22km to go
Pollack is getting a helping hand- literally- as one of his teammates attempts to give him a push from behind. The climb is not terribly steep, but the speed is making it difficult for many.

Stangelj has been hammering up in the big chainring this whole time. He's starting to show the strain but he's done well to maintain his advantage this long.

And just like that... Garzelli's Vini Caldirola team has reeled him in. Breakaway finished.

16:41 CEST    163km/21km to go
There are several splits in the main field as it nears the summit of the Passo del Brattello. Saeco is sending several riders back to the front after slipping back a bit just before the summit.

Damiano Cunego now puts in a big acceleration at the front! This is the first sign of an offensive from the leaders as Simoni sticks to his wheel.

Phonak's Alexandre Moos pulls through and takes the mountain points, which should put him in the mountains jersey at the end of the day.

16:42 CEST   
Most of the leaders have passed through the summit together. Brad McGee was just a few seconds back but should rejoin on the descent without problem. The climb has knocked out the sprinters for the moment.

Saeco now leads the charge downhill with just about 20km to the finish.

16:43 CEST   
The order over the line on the climb was Moos followed by Cunego and Simoni.

While Garzelli had a strong team around him on the climb, it looks as though he's lost most or all of his help in the first split, which may help explain Saeco's continued effort as the speed picks up.

16:46 CEST   
The descent is a fast one, twisting somewhat but on a reasonably wide (and smooth) road. Saeco has three men at the front as Eddy Mazzolini has joined in to lend some legs to the effort started by Damiano Cunego.

16:51 CEST   
Saeco has managed a perfect move, as Stangelj's attacked was timed to place him with the leaders just after the summit. The team now has five riders forcing the pace at the front, though the front group has grown a bit as more riders rejoin on the long descent.

Garzelli is in this front group, but still with fewer teammates than Simoni.

Igor Astarloa is chasing in a group not far behind the leaders.

16:53 CEST   
The descent is getting trickier now, with some sharp corners and hairpins in the middle of a very fast plunge.

Astarloa's group is gaining on the leaders. Pollack's pink jersey group is now 1'18 behind, while McGee has made it into the lead group alongside Simoni and Garzelli.

16:56 CEST    175km/9km to go
Saeco is still in complete control, leading through the technical descent with several riders on the front. Short rises in the middle of the descent have helped break the rhythm. Simoni is tucked in nicely behind four teammates at the head of the field. Phonak's Moos is on his wheel.

16:57 CEST    177km/7km to go
Astarloa and a group of 12 chasers are 23" behind the leaders, trying to make contact before the end of the long descent.

Andrea Tonti takes over the pace-setting for Saeco.

16:59 CEST    179km/5km to go
Astarloa's group is pulling back the leaders, 15" behind now. The junction is set to happen just in time as the finish is approaching rapidly. One man who seems to have disappeared is Davide Rebellin.

Meanwhile, a group containing both maglia rosa Olaf Pollack and yesterday's winner Alessandro Petacchi is some 1'30 behind this leading group.

17:02 CEST    181km/3km to go
Astarloa's group is making contact with the leaders, still being driven along by Saeco and defending champion Gilberto Simoni.

The speed is very high heading into the final few kilometres. It's a big group arriving in the finale. If it comes to a sprint, young Belgian Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux.com) could have a good chance after a fine sixth place yesterday in the bunch finish.

Astarloa's group has made contact and the world champion immediately moves to the front.

17:03 CEST    183km/1km to go
Saeco continues to lead but the riders are getting restless behind. McGee is in with a good chance to retake his jersey and Gilbert could provide a lovely double for FDJeux.com. Astarloa also looks eager to test himself but it's a big group and wide open.

17:04 CEST   
Gilbert sets up the sprint for McGee in fact as FDJeux.com takes over for Saeco.

McGee takes off on a short rise, starting the sprint.

McGee looks to have the sprint in hand but it's Cunego who comes through and nips the Aussie at the line!

Saeco gets an enormous stage win but McGee gets back his maglia rosa.

17:06 CEST   
The main field is still working its way to the finish as Cunego and Saeco celebrate a perfect day of teamwork in stage 2. Fassa Bortolo leads the bunch toward the line but Petacchi has nothing to sprint for today.


1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco                           4.37.09
2 Bradley McGee (Aus) FDJeux.com                          
3 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi    
4 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Lampre  
5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco                              
6 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo 
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie
9 Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave'      
10 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago        
11 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir   
12 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems   
13 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner           
14 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo 
15 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres
17 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco      
General classification after stage 2
1 Bradley McGee (Aus) FDJeux.com                       8.27.22   
2 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago         0.32
3 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo    0.36
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco                        
5 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                      0.47
7 Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr) Acqua & Sapone
8 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco
9 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com                       0.48