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87th Giro d'Italia - Grand Tour

Italy, May 8-30, 2004

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Stage 20 - May 30: Clusone - Milano, 149 km

Commentary by Chris Henry

Complete live report

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

14:30 CEST   
Welcome back for the final stage of the Giro d'Italia. Today is a final sprinters' stage down from the mountain town of Clusone to the finish in Milan, finishign on ten laps of a 4.8km circuit.

After yesterday's dramatic mountain stage to Presolana, won by Stefano Garzelli, young Damiano Cunego clinched his first grand tour victory. His Saeco teammate Gilberto Simoni once more went on the attack (with Garzelli) in a bid to take back the Giro glory, or at least move up a place on the general classification. Gibo couldn't answer Garzelli's sprint, and in the end came up just three seconds short of Serguei Gonchar's second place on the podium. Despite the defending Giro champion's obvious disappoint at Cunego's runaway success, Saeco still proved itself to be the top team of the race with Cunego and Simoni in first and third.

Ok, it's not over til it's over, but super sprinter Alessandro Petacchi survived the mountains and will no doubt look for this Fassa Bortolo team to control today's finish and set him up for a ninth stage victory.

14:38 CEST    37km/112km to go
All 140 riders left after yesterday's stage took the start today for the final run to Milan. The peloton is ambling along for the moment. The main jersey winners of this year's race, besides Cunego in the maglia rosa, are Petacchi (points), Fabian Wegmann of Gerolsteiner (mountains), and Raffaele Illiano of Colombia-Selle Italia (Intergiro).

14:45 CEST    44km/105km to go
At the final Intergiro sprint of the Giro in Urgnano, Mariano Piccoli (Lampre) took the sprint ahead of Alessandro Vanotti (De Nardi) and Philippe Schnyder (Colombia-Selle Italia).

Shortly after the sprint, Marlon Perez Arango (Colombia-Sella Italia) crashed alone, but is back up without problems and will be back in the bunch.

15:03 CEST   
On the long steady drop from the mountains toward Milan, the peloton is staying together. No attacks yet, but once the attacks come, watch for the sprinters' teams- particularly Fassa Bortolo- to keep a tight leash on would be escapees.

15:22 CEST    65km/84km to go
The peloton has averaged around 32 km/h for the first two hours of racing, which given the steady drop in elevation shows that the riders are keen on enjoying a bask in the glow after three weeks of racing and the past few days in the mountains. The speed will surely pick up on the Milano circuit.

15:34 CEST    72km/77km to go
The race is passing through Cambiago, nearing the halfway point for the stage. Same story, the peloton is still together. There is about 30 kilometres of riding to go before the field hits the city of Milan and the finishing circuit.

15:45 CEST   
In the top ten of the general classification, there are two sets of riders separated by just three seconds. Second and third place Serguei Gonchar and Gilberto Simoni, and seventh and eighth place Wladimir Belli and Brad McGee.

Of these riders, McGee is the most likely to be within any sort of a chance of taking bonus seconds in a bunch sprint. Whether he will fight to the line to move back up to seventh place remains to be seen, but theoretically he could pass Belli before the day is done.

16:08 CEST    98km/51km to go
Gorik Gardeyn of Lotto-Domo was the first rider to try a short attack, but it didn't last long. As the peloton approaches Milan the Saeco and Fassa Bortolo teams are starting to think ahead to the big finale, moving to the front of the bunch.

With sixth place in the Intergiro sprint earlier, Raffaele Illiano clinched the blue jersey this year.

16:14 CEST    102km/47km to go
The race has entered Milan and things will now start to get serious as the peloton begins 10 laps of a 4.9km circuit. Fassa Bortolo will almost certainly take full responsibility for setting a fast tempo and trying to discourage any attacks. Petacchi's sprint may be blunted a bit by two tough days in the mountains, but his fellow sprinters will feel the same. Olaf Pollack and Fred Rodriguez are likely challengers today as well.

16:22 CEST   
The Giro is very much in race mode now on the circuit in Milan, with the peloton and the large crowd enjoying sunshine for the final day. The peloton is still intact for the moment.

16:25 CEST   
Saeco is for the moment the team leading the charge with the maglia rosa of Damiano Cunego tucked in nicely behind his teammates. Next in line is the Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo team.

Cunego looks very concentrated in the line, undoubtedly somewhat nervous as he must feel so close, yet so far from his first Giro win. His only job for the day is to stay up front and out of trouble.

16:32 CEST   
The average speed for the first lap of the circuit was 44 km/h, a notable increase from the earlier average of 30-33 km/h in the first two hours of the stage.

Emanuele Sella (Ceramiche Panaria) has had a puncture but with the help of a few teammates he's back in the bunch.

16:41 CEST    116km/33km to go
There are seven laps to go as the field begins to stretch out, still under the control of Saeco and Fassa Bortolo.

16:50 CEST    124km/25km to go
Now it's the turn of Fassa Bortolo to set the pace as Saeco's victory laps of sorts come to a close. The first fifteen or so riders in the field are in single file coming out of the turns but the long straights of the finishing circuit allow others to move up and improve their positions throughout the race.

There's a lot of discussion within the Fassa Bortolo camp as they start to get the train rolling. It's often a fine line for the sprinters' teams to walk, as they have to work hard enough to prevent riders from attacking, but not wear themselves out completely before the crucial closing kilometres.

16:55 CEST   
Dean Podgornik (Tenax) has put in a strong attack and is alone in front right now. He has a few seconds on the field but Fassa Bortolo won't let him get far.

17:00 CEST    130km/19km to go
Four laps to go now and Podgornik is hanging on rather well to his slim advantage over the field.

17:06 CEST    134km/15km to go
Trent Wilson (Colombia-Selle Italia) is trying to bridge the gap to Podgornik now, but at the same time the peloton is steadily reeling in the break. Three laps to go.

17:07 CEST   
Podgornik and Wilson are both back in bunch now. Fassa Bortolo is still in control with the peloton stretched out behind.

17:12 CEST    140km/9km to go
Massimo Codol is the man leading the train for Fassa Bortolo, with his team in perfect formation and Petacchi sitting at the end of the line. No major battle for Petacchi's wheel just yet, but soon the would-be sprinters will start jostling for position around Ale Jet.

Two laps to go.

17:15 CEST   
Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner) is moving up in the bunch now, just a few wheels behind Petacchi. Pollack has figured in many of the bunch sprinters but has been unable to top Petacchi thus far.

17:18 CEST    144km/5km to go
One lap to go now and Fassa Bortolo is really revving it up. The entire peloton is almost single file and the battle for position is going on behind Petacchi's team.

17:19 CEST   
Mario Manzoni (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave) tries to accelerate past Fassa Bortolo but he's caught right away.

17:20 CEST   
Dario Cioni gives his last big pull for Petacchi now as Petacchi is getting another perfect delivery to the stage finish.

17:20 CEST   
Alexandre Usov (Phonak) and Angelo Furlan (Alessio-Bianchi) are both trying to get onto Petacchi's wheel. Rodriguez is moving up too.

17:22 CEST   
Petacchi has three men left now on the front. Pollack, who was sitting a bit behind, is back in position now behind Petacchi.

17:22 CEST    148km/1km to go
Final kilometre now and the big leadout begins. There's a lot of pushing going on to get behind Petacchi.

17:23 CEST   
Down to two for Petacchi... Down to one as he gets ready to jump.

Petacchi starts the acceleration and it's all over. Ninth stage win for Ale Jet with virtually no contest!

17:24 CEST   
It's all smiles for Petacchi's teammates who have achieved an incredible result this Giro.

Cunego crosses the line and gets pats on the back from his teammates as winner of his first Giro d'Italia.

17:30 CEST   
Thanks to everyone who has tuned in for Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Giro during the past three weeks. The next major rendez-vous is, of course, the Tour de France in July.


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                          4.07.01
2 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie  
3 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo                            
4 Olaf Pollack (Ger) Gerolsteiner                  
5 Alejandro Albert Borrajo (Arg) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 
6 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Phonak Hearing Systems                
7 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                 
8 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) De Nardi                                      
9 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                                 0.03
10 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi           
11 Crescenzo d'Amore (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo 
12 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Lotto-Domo               
Final general classification
1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco                                      88.40.43
2 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) De Nardi                                      2.02
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco                                         2.05
4 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                               4.44
5 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                     5.05
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie           5.31
7 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Lampre                                         6.12
8 Bradley McGee (Aus) FDJeux.com                                      6.15
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                         6.34
10 Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Lampre                               7.47

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