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98th Giro di Lombardia - CDM

Italy, October 16, 2004

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Commentary by Jeff Jones

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16:45 CEST

14:34 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the last World Cup race of the season, and very likely our last live coverage of the season. Today marks the 98th edition of the Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy), starting in Mendrisio (Switzerland) and finishing in Como after a fairly lumpy 246 km. The key climbs are San Fedele d'Intelvi (km 45.5), Premana (km 133.4), Madonna del Ghisallo (km 201.9), Civiglio (km 230.3) and the steep San Fermo della Battaglia (km 240.3).

For the overall classification of the World Cup, it will be a battle between Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), with World Champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) an outside chance if he wins and the other two fall off. Bettini currently leads by 13 points, which means that he will have to finish close to Rebellin in order to keep his lead.

This morning before the start, 31 riders had blood tests. Four teams were tested: Alessio-Bianchi, De Nardi, Gerolsteiner and Vini Caldirola, and no-one was declared inapt to start.

14:50 CEST    148.5km/98km to go
161 riders started from Mendrisio at 10:43am this morning in cool 10 degree temperatures, with Brett Lancaster (Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo) and Rene Andrle (Liberty Seguros) the only non-starters.

One of the first attacks was made after 6 km by last year's winner Michele Bartoli (CSC), who went with Roberto Petito (Fassa Bortolo) and Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros). But the trio was caught after only a couple of kilometres.

After 11 km, a group of 32 riders managed to take 16 seconds on the peloton, including Francesco Casagrande (Vini Caldirola) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa). At 25 km, the group had been caught save for Paolo Tiralongo (Ceramiche Panaria), Flecha, Manuel Quinziato (Lampre) and Gregory Rast (Phonak). They were caught by Illes Balears' Jose Ivan Gutierrez and by km 57, they had 4'25 lead on the peloton with Sella, Lopez Gil and Celestino chasing at 2 minutes.

The chasing trio was caught after 85 km, leaving just five leaders: Tiralongo, Flecha, Quinziato, Rast and Gutierrez. The peloton has not allowed them much freedom, and the gap is currently 3'30 with 99 km to go.

14:57 CEST    151km/95.5km to go
The temperatures have warmed up to a balmy 16 degrees celsius. Break out the sunscreen. Plenty of riders are feeling it already and have called it a day, including Sella and Lanfranchi (both Panaria - Sella tried to get himself into the break but failed).

Gerolsteiner is setting the tempo in the peloton, because they want to keep Rebellin in contention for the maximum number of points. T-Mobile is also helping pull the peloton, probably for Evans and also with an eye to the World Cup teams classification.

Paolo Bettini suffered a puncture near the Premana climb, but was quickly back in the group. Michele Bartoli was in difficulty on the climb. Meanwhile in front, Rast and Gutierrez suffered on the Premana and came back to the peloton at km 138 (just over the top), leaving just Tiralongo, Quinziato and Flecha in front.

15:04 CEST    157km/89.5km to go
After four hours of racing, the average speed is 38.1 km/h. The leading trio (Tiralongo, Flecha and Quinziato) have just 3'20 over the Gerolsteiner/T-Mobile led peloton.

15:14 CEST    164km/82.5km to go
The main bunch is still quite large - perhaps 120 of the 161 starters left as it passes through Lecco, 3'05 behind the three breakaways. It's likely that Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile will tighten the screws with enough time to catch the trio, unlike last week when Erik Dekker stayed away to win by about 10m.

Of the breakaways, Juan Antonio Flecha is the most accomplished, having already won the Championship of Zurich this year.

15:22 CEST    170km/76.5km to go
The next climb that the riders will face is the Madonna del Ghisallo (km 201.9), a tough 8.6 km ascent averaging 6.2% with a maximum gradient of 14%. The climbs is actually 11 km long from bottom to top, but there is a flat/slight downhill section after 6 km that will break things up a bit. It's expected that things will get interesting on this climb, with a preliminary selection made.

15:25 CEST   
The sun is shining now as the riders cruise north along Lake Como.

15:30 CEST    175km/71.5km to go
CSC is now lending a hand in the chase, along with Gerolsteiner. T-Mobile isn't at the front any more.

15:34 CEST    184km/62.5km to go
In the breakaway, Quinziato does a turn with Flecha and Tiralongo following through. There isn't too much wind along Lake Como as the peloton flies through the feed zone at Onno, with most of the front riders not taking anything on board. Gerolsteiner and CSC are setting a hard tempo, for Rebellin and Basso.

Rast has abandoned (he was in the break). So has Gianluca Bortolami (Lampre) and Wilfried Cretskens (Quick.Step-Davitamon).

15:36 CEST    186km/60.5km to go
The gap has plummeted in the last 20 km, and the breakaway has nearly been caught by the Gerolsteiner/CSC led peloton. They were away from km 11, which equates to a 165 km effort in front.

15:36 CEST    187km/59.5km to go
Serpellini leads the charge on the narrow road along Lake Como and the break with Flecha, Tiralongo and Quinziato is caught. Now for the Madonna...

15:39 CEST    189km/57.5km to go
Basso is obviously feeling up for it today as there are six CSC riders at the front - including Bartoli - working hard with a couple of Gerolsteiners.

Bettini is well placed in about 10th wheel, and Freire and Dekker are also up there.

15:42 CEST    191km/55.5km to go
Kurt Asle Arvesen takes over now and has the peloton lined out on a small climb along the lake. Michael Boogerd is well placed too - next to Bettini and Rebellin. That's the place to be.

One of the Saeco riders attacks, but can't break the CSC shackles.

15:44 CEST    194km/52.5km to go
Evans, Casagrande, Rebellin, Basso, Bettini, Horner and Perdi(?) are all up the front as CSC drops off. Gerolsteiner has tow men up there now and the peloton is breaking up. The Madonna del Ghisallo has begun.

15:45 CEST    195km/51.5km to go
It's now Jörg Jaksche (CSC) driving at the foot of the Madonna with Casagrande and Rebellin on his wheel. This is really hurting the peloton, and Casagrande drops off the German's wheel. Bettini is right up there on Rebellin's wheel. Boogerd looks good at the moment. Cunego is there, as is Horner.

15:46 CEST   
As it steepens, Casagrande attacks in a huge gear but quickly changes down. Rebellin, Cunego and Boogerd are immediately there. Now Basso counters. Casagrande has to chase. The peloton is perhaps 20 riders.

Freire is dropped, but Bettini is hanging in there....

15:48 CEST    196km/50.5km to go
Basso continues to lead with Casagrande, Rebellin, Cunego and Boogerd on his wheel. There's a bit of looking around. This group numbers perhaps 20, with another 10 just off the back.

Bettini is being dropped - this could be the World Cup. Is that Horner with him?

15:49 CEST   
Bettini is now 20m off the back, riding his own tempo with Horner on his wheel. He must survive this climb.

In front, it's Basso and Casagrande doing the work. Rebellin should be doing it in order to put Bettini under pressure.

15:50 CEST   
Basso forces the pace and breaks the group up a little more - now 10 men left. Bettini is at 10 seconds.

15:52 CEST    197km/49.5km to go
Now Casagrande, riding that big gear, takes the front. Basso doesn't like the pace and assumes the position again. Evans is gritting his teeth in 5th wheel behind Boogerd and Rebellin.

Bettini is with Horner, who is not helping him.

15:55 CEST    198km/48.5km to go
Marco Fertonani (Phonak) puts in a little attack in the front group, but Basso pulls him back. In front we have: Fertonani, Basso, Casagrande, Caruso, Nozal, Rasmussen, Rodriguez, Boogerd, Cunego, Evans and Mazzoleni.

Bettini's group is getting bigger as Horner does a strong turn. The road has flattened out for a bit now.

15:56 CEST    199km/47.5km to go
Basso is annoyed that none of the others want to work. This is helping Bettini, who is 15 seconds off the back in a group with Nardello, Frigo, Serrano, Nose and Horner.

There is more cooperation now.

15:59 CEST   
In front we have: Fertonani (Phonak), Basso (CSC), Casagrande (Vini), Nozal, Caruso (Liberty), Rodriguez (Saunier), Boogerd (Rabobank), Cunego, Mazzoleni (Saeco), Evans (T-Mobile) who are just about on the last 2 km of the Madonna del Ghisallo.

Chasing at 15 seconds are Rasmussen, Bettini, Nocentini, Nardello, Frigo, Serrano, Nose and Horner, among others. They are bridging the gap.

16:00 CEST    201km/45.5km to go
Basso is continuing to work hard in front and is getting a little help, but not enough. Everyone else is looking back at Bettini's group. Basso now gets a gap, and the rest let him go. It's perhaps a little early, but you never know.

16:01 CEST    201km/45.5km to go
Basso has 10 seconds as he decides to ride hard to the top. He's in a very small gear and pedalling really well. Bettini's group is not far behind the chasers - perhaps 10 seconds now.

16:02 CEST    202km/44.5km to go
Basso gets a few little pushes from the crowd on the side of the road as he approaches the top. It's not enough to crack the chasing group, as Casagrande drives all the way. They will catch the CSC rider, who is now at the top.

16:04 CEST    203km/43.5km to go
Nozal is dropped from the chasing group as Bettini's group comes over at 20 seconds. Casagrande is asking for help in front, but isn't getting much.

16:07 CEST   
Evans has a chat to Rebellin as the pair lead on the descent. "Where are the corners?" asks Evans.

In front we have nine riders: Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Basso (CSC), Fertonani (Phonak), Casagrande (Vini), Caruso (Liberty), Boogerd (Rabobank), Cunego, Mazzoleni (Saeco), Evans (T-Mobile).

16:08 CEST    205km/41.5km to go
The break is not really cooperating as they watch Bettini's group come back on the descent. Now we have a good 20 riders in the lead.

16:10 CEST    207km/39.5km to go
As the groups come together, Tomas Nose (Acqua e Sapone) attacks. Rasmussen, Rodriguez, Nardello, Mazzoleni go with him, and gradually the group reforms. Mazzoleni counters and Rebellin chases him down with Bettini glued to his wheel.

Now Basso and Cunego attack! But they don't get far either.

16:14 CEST    211km/35.5km to go
We now have a group of six riders clear with Rasmussen (Rabobank), Nardello (T-Mobile), Sosenka (Acqua), Frigo (Fassa), Nozal (Liberty) and Rodriguez (Saunier), with 44 seconds on Rebellin's group. Interesting...

16:17 CEST    215km/31.5km to go
Nozal is not working in front, as he has both Caruso and Serrano behind. Nardello is not happy about it, but can't do much. Nozal explains to the rest that he isn't working.

Sosenka powers on the front, then Nardello and Rodriguez come through. Sosenka is now chatting to Nozal, who remains at the back.

16:19 CEST   
The six leaders have over a minute as the Rebellin/Bettini/Basso group refuses to work. But the cooperation in front isn't great either. A strange scenario!

16:21 CEST    217km/29.5km to go
Rodriguez and Rasmussen get a small gap, then Sosenka comes up to them. He's a powerful rider. Then Frigo comes up - definitely a danger man. Nozal is still there, annoying the rest.

Cunego is trying to bridge alone.

16:22 CEST   
Cunego is doing his best to bridge the one minute gap to the six leaders. It's possible, given the lack of cooperation in front.

16:23 CEST   
Sosenka powers along on a small descent and tries to keep the break going. Cunego is at 1'10. That's going to be tough to close.

16:24 CEST    220km/26.5km to go
Cunego sits up as Basso brings the Rebellin/Bettini group back. The gap is still 1'10, but no-one wants to work with Basso. Jaksche has rejoined the group - that will help Basso.

16:27 CEST    222km/24.5km to go
Jaksche has gone straight to the front of the chasing group and is driving it. Zampieri is also there, working flat out for Casagrande. Another CSC rider is on his wheel. There are perhaps 35 riders in the reformed peloton.

In front: Rasmussen (Rabobank), Nardello (T-Mobile), Sosenka (Acqua), Frigo (Fassa), Nozal (Liberty), J. Rodriguez (Saunier) with 55 seconds.

16:28 CEST   
The chasing group is riding hard now, but still not particularly coordinated. The leading six are doing a better job, even though Nozal is still sitting on.

16:30 CEST    225km/21.5km to go
Zampieri is giving it everything on the front of the peloton, bringing the gap back to 53 seconds. A Saeco rider takes over - is that Szmyd? The peloton of 35 is now strung out.

16:31 CEST   
The penultimate climb, the Civiglio is approaching fast. It's 2.8 km long at 6.9 percent. The chase is pretty fierce now, but the break is working.

16:32 CEST    227.5km/19km to go
Frigo drives the break at the foot of the Civiglio, then Rodriguez takes over. Rasmussen is next, looking a bit sore.

16:34 CEST    228.5km/18km to go
Zampieri hammers the peloton and destroys himself for the last time. Now other riders take over.

Sosenka drops his chain, and loses 5 seconds. He should get them, but the peloton is coming fast.

Casagrande(?) is driving now with Vasseur on his wheel.

16:35 CEST    229.5km/17km to go
It's now Vasseur who launches himself in pursuit of the break at the halfway point of the climb. The Cofidis rider closes the gap.

Nozal has attacked...the Others aren't going to like that.

Basso is now in pursuit of Vasseur, with Boogerd on his wheel. There is some regrouping. Bettini is still glued to Rebellin's wheel.

16:37 CEST   
We now have Basso (CSC), Cunego (Saeco), Boogerd, Rasmussen (Rabobank), Nardello (T-Mobile), Sosenka (Acqua), Frigo (Fassa) and J. Rodriguez (Saunier) chasing Nozal. Evans is bridging the gap to this group. Rebellin's group is a little further behind.

16:38 CEST   
Nozal has a nice little gap as he hammers towards the top of the climb. Cunego, Basso, Boogerd, Nardello, Frigo, Rodriguez, Sosenka and Evans are the survivors. Rasmussen has been dropped, just.

16:39 CEST    230.5km/16km to go
Basso leads the group up to Nozal. The Liberty rider is caught at the top. I think he has run out of excuses not to work now :-)

16:40 CEST    231km/15.5km to go
Bettini and Rebellin summit together about 10 seconds behind Basso's group. Rebellin now has to work hard. This is a really tricky descent - incredibly narrow roads and tight corners.

16:42 CEST    232km/14.5km to go
Rebellin's group is taking the descent fairly gingerly. Frigo is having all sorts of problems in the front group, but he's holding it up. These hairpins are tough!

16:43 CEST   
The two groups are separated by 11 seconds on the descent of the Civiglio. Cunego is trying attack on his own.

16:44 CEST    235km/11.5km to go
Riders' wheels are skipping all over the place on the bad road surface of this descent. They're finally at the foot and can see Como. Cunego is attacking the lead group on the descent.

16:47 CEST    236.5km/10km to go
Just one more climb to come, the San Fermo della Battaglia. In front we have: Cunego (Saeco) followed by Basso (CSC), Nozal (Liberty), Boogerd (Rabobank), Evans, Nardello (T-Mobile), Sosenka (Acqua) and Frigo (Fassa).

Cunego wasn't chasing - he was in front! (Dang)

16:48 CEST    237.5km/9km to go
Cunego is caught by Nozal (Liberty), Basso (CSC), Boogerd (Rabobank), Nardello, Evans (T-Mobile), Sosenka (Acqua) and Frigo (Fassa). The Bettini/Rebellin group is at 20 seconds, and Bettini is not letting Rebellin out of his sight. Good riding by the Quick.Step man.

16:50 CEST   
Basso attacks at the foot of the last climb, but everyone closes the gap. Frigo is in a spot of bother.

Vasseur is chasing at 15 seconds, then the Bettini/Rebellin group.

Boogerd drives hard. Then Basso again.

16:52 CEST    240 km/7km to go
Nozal and Sosenka are now starting to hurt as Basso puts the power down. Basso drives again, with Cunego there.

Behind, it's reported that Rebellin has been dropped. What the? Yep, he's gone.

Basso goes again, with Boogerd on his wheel. Evans is there.

16:53 CEST   
We have Boogerd (Rabobank), Evans (T-Mobile) and Basso (CSC) opening up a gap on the rest of the front group on the final climb.

Bettini has been dropped.

Evans attacks hard, but can't get away.

16:53 CEST   
Cunego is chasing the three leaders at about 50m. This is a tough climb.

16:54 CEST    240.5km/6km to go
The three leaders go past 6 km to go as Cunego slowly comes back to them, hurting a lot.

16:55 CEST   
Cunego is now within 5 seconds of Boogerd, Basso and Evans. He should be able to get them. Basso does a hard turn on the narrow, twisting roads. Boogerd looks very strong. Who's the best sprinter? Probably Cunego!

16:57 CEST    242.5km/4km to go
The three leaders are over the summit with Cunego in hot pursuit. He'll get them on the descent if he doesn't crash. He's there now. Four leaders.

Rebellin is well dropped. Bettini cracked him.

16:58 CEST   
The leaders: Boogerd (Rabobank), Evans (T-Mobile), Basso (CSC), Cunego (Saeco). Three of them won't be happy to see Cunego there as he can dust them all in a sprint. But now Nardello is coming back.... He's there!

16:59 CEST    243.5km/3km to go
Nardello almost catches them just at the bottom as Boogerd accelerates. Evans goes through but easy, allowing Nardello to close. Two T-Mobiles there.

17:00 CEST    244.5km/2km to go
2 km left and we have a group of five in contention. 37 seconds back is the next group of chasers - unsure of the names.

17:00 CEST    245.5km/1km to go
Nardello is saving himself on the back. What can T-Mobile do? Boogerd looks back. The pace slows. Cunego waits. Evans takes over with 1 km to go.

17:01 CEST   
Evans leads with Cunego on his wheel. Then Boogerd, Basso. ... and now Nardello attacks. But it's too early and Cunego is onto him. Then Evans counters but Basso is on him. There are others coming up behind.

17:02 CEST   
Basso leads out at 350m to go then Cunego comes round and wins from Boogerd, Basso, Evans and Nardello!!!!!

Bettini wins the World Cup!

Horner was about 12th in the next group.

That's all from us here in the Cyclingnews blimp, currently hovering above Lake Como. We hope you've enjoyed our live coverages this season. We'll be back. Probably in January, if not before.


1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco
2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) T-Mobile Team
5 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team
6 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
7 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco
8 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
9 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi
10 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres

World Cup standings (final)

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step
2 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner

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