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87th Giro d'Italia - Grand Tour

Italy, May 8-30, 2004

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Stage 8 - May 16: Giffoni Valle Piana - Policoro, 214 Km

Commentary by Chris Henry, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney

Complete live report

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

14:30 CEST   
It's Sunday, the Giro has completed its first week, and we're back for live coverage of stage 8. After the second mountaintop finish yesterday, won by Saeco's Damiano Cunego, the sprinters should once more be back in action today was the Giro continues to march southward. Another 214 kilometres of racing will take the riders from Giffoni Valle Piana to Policoro. One categorised climb and an Intergiro sprint in the first half will mix things up a bit, but a steady drop in elevation toward the finishing town will give Alessandro Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo team plenty of time to return order to the race and set up the fastest finisher of the bunch for a possible fourth win today.

With his stage win yesterday, Cunego took over the pink jersey from team leader Gilberto Simoni. The stage finished in a sprint from a select group of climbers, but the time bonus for the winner allowed Cunego to take his first ever maglia rosa, and in the process take the pressure off of Simoni until the next major mountains.

14:39 CEST   
Two more riders are out of the Giro, including the king of the spring classics, Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner). Saunier Duval's Juan Carlos Dominguez also opted not to start, leaving 159 riders left in today's stage.

14:45 CEST    115km/99km to go
After a number of early attacks, and another fast start (40 km/h average), a small break has managed to extract itself from the main field. Six riders are currently away with an advantage of over six minutes: Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio-Bianchi), Julio Perez Cuapio (Ceramiches Panaria-Margres), Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo), Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), Jacky Durand (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), and Marlon Perez Arango (Colombia-Selle Italia).

14:56 CEST   
The mountain points at Campostrino went to Perez Cuapio ahead of Bertolini and Piccoli, while at the Intergiro sprint it was Piccoli outsprinting Perez Arango and Durand.

The average speed is still around 40 kilometres per hour as the six leaders continue to slowly stretch their lead, topping the seven minute mark.

15:10 CEST    130km/84km to go
The maximum lead for the six man breakaway reached just over seven minutes, but the advantage is dropping now as the peloton begins to organise behind. It's going to be a fast finale as the last 100+ kilometres are essentially downhill.

15:28 CEST    150km/64km to go
With 64 kilometres to race, the break's future isn't looking too bright. The advantage has tumbled in the past 20 minutes, already down to five minutes. The peloton will only get faster as Petacchi and the other sprinters get serious for the finale.

Robbie McEwen's Lotto-Domo team is actually leading the chase for the moment, along with several members of Tenax. Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo team is most likely waiting to set up its train later on, content to let McEwen's helpers do the early work.

15:37 CEST    162km/52km to go
When you lose a minute in the span of 10 kilometres, the writing's on the wall. Such is the case for the six leaders, who now have just four minutes over the charging peloton.

Today's stage started quickly, as did yesterday's. The usual 'piano' start in the Giro d'Italia does get discarded sometimes for a full day of racing.

15:41 CEST   
Some readers have been asking about Jacky Durand and why he hasn't been figuring in any of his patented solo attacks in this year's Giro. Durand has said his condition is good and he's motivated, but riding for team leader Yaroslav Popovych (3rd in last year's Giro) is the top priority. Today "Dudu" worked himself into the break of six, and perhaps he'll be back at it in future stages.

15:52 CEST   
Tenax and Lotto-Domo continue to lead the chase, quickly closing in on the six man break. This means two things: first, Lotto's Robbie McEwen will certainly be looking for his second stage win, and second, if Fassa Bortolo has been able to sit behind these teams most of the day the team will be ready for an insanely fast finale to set up Petacchi.

McEwen has said (and shown) that he prefers tricky finishes, whereas Petacchi is more of a sprinter in the Mario Cipollini mold, simply the fastest man when the bunch arrives at the end of a long drag race.

Gerolsteiner's Olaf Pollack, who briefly held the maglia rosa and has been among the leaders in the bunch finishes, is still looking for his first stage win. He has a very fast finish and if he times his acceleration just right he has shown that he has the speed to beat Petacchi and McEwen.

16:00 CEST    179km/35km to go
The six leaders are down to just a minute and a half ahead of the main field with 35 kilometres left to race. For the chasers, timing will still be important as catching the break too early will just set up a series of counter attacks. This is where Fassa Bortolo will likely come in with the goal of setting a pace so fast that nobody can really break clear for more than a few seconds.

16:11 CEST    185km/29km to go
Marco Velo has suffered an untimely puncture and dropped out of the lead group. He's had a change and is rolling but the group's fate is all but sealed at this point anyway. Within the final 30 kilometres the advantage is barely a minute.

16:14 CEST   
Velo is chasing 20" behind the five other leaders, and the main field is within 35" just behind.

16:17 CEST   
The breakaway is trying desperately to stay away but it's almost over as the field continues to nip at their heels. The capture will be made within mere moments.

Meanwhile, fans at the finish are holding signs for Marco Pantani. Il Pirate is still very much in the minds of the tifosi.

16:20 CEST    195km/19km to go
The peloton is practically single file as it flies to the finish. Fassa Bortolo has hit the front of the field as Marzio Bruzeghin one more begins to set an infernal pace to discourage any attacks.

The break is caught and unless somebody can pull off a big surprise... This stage could have Petacchi written all over it.

16:23 CEST   
Through a series if turns on a long, steady descent, Fassa Bortolo has the race firmly in hand as the field comes within 20 kilometres of the finish. Riders at the back of the strung out field are just hanging on for dear life at this point.

16:25 CEST   
The red Saeco train is tucked in safely within the first 15-20 positions, content to let Petacchi's team lead the way but hoping to keep maglia rosa Cunego and team leader Simoni up front and out of trouble.

There are a few lumps in the parcours as the big descent ends, but Fassa Bortolo is keeping the pace high and keeping Petacchi in perfect position.

16:29 CEST    204km/10km to go
Ten kilometres to go now as the field races to Policoro. For members of the day-long break, the damage has been done. Julio Perez Cuapio has found the pace just too high to hang on and he's been discarded out the back of the peloton.

16:33 CEST    209km/5km to go
5 km to go now and Fassa Bortolo's train is being challenged by Acqua e Sapone (for d'Amore) and Alessio (for Backstedt). But it's not easy.

16:34 CEST    210km/4km to go
4 km left and Fassa has five men with Petacchi in sixth. A mini De Nardi train is right next to them, and Nauduzs (Domina) is in about 3rd wheel. McEwen is up there on McGee's wheel.

16:35 CEST    211km/3km to go
They fly past the 3 km to go mark and there are four Fassas left with Petacchi in fifth. Plenty of riders are trying to challenge, and Nauduzs has lost places. Quaranta is up there(!)

16:36 CEST    212km/2km to go
Quaranta is next to Petacchi with 2km to go. Three Fassas left as a De Nardi rider attacks. Graziano Gasparre. It goes nowhere.

16:36 CEST   
Petacchi is in third wheel behind two teammates with 1.5 km to go. D'Amore is on his wheel, then Pollack.

16:37 CEST    213km/1km to go
McEwen has lost position as they hit the final kilometre. He's too far back. Velo is in front with Petacchi on his wheel with 1 km to go. Then Pollack and D'Amore. McEwen moves back up.

16:38 CEST    214km/0km to go
Velo goes from about 500m, focing Petacchi to go from 400m. McEwen challenges him all the way but can't get around him. Petacchi wins his fourth stage! Pollack crosses in fourth, arm in the air in protest. Not exactly sure about what yet...there was a lot of argy bargy going on there.

Pollack slightly anticipated Petacchi's sprint, but once Petacchi got going there was no stopping him. Pollack was passed by Petacchi, then McEwen, and he might have been complaining about McEwen, who went fairly close (and also received a push from a teammate in the preparation for the sprint). But we'll see what the jury says.

Thomas Vaitkus (Colnago) was third, ahead of Pollack. No changes to the GC. That's four wins for Petacchi and a bigger lead in the points GC. He had to do a very long sprint today, but he was still a bike length ahead of McEwen.


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                         4.52.49
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo                 
3 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago    
4 Olaf Pollack (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 
6 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre                              
7 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Phonak Hearing Systems      
8 Zoran Klemencic (Slo) Tenax                            
9 Alejandro Albert Borrajo (Arg) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 
10 Alberto Loddo (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir        

General classification after stage 8
1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco                                     37.54.37
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco                                        0.10
3 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                            0.28
4 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                    0.31
5 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres                  0.52
6 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi                                    1.08
7 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                              1.10
8 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie          1.15
9 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                                  1.17
10 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco                                        1.29

Mail the commentary team    Stage 8 results