88th Giro d'Italia - PT
Italy, May 7-29, 2005
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Stage 4 - May 11: Giffoni Valle Piana - Frosinone, 220 km
Complete live report
Welcome back to the Cyclingnews special
observatory post - the Hindenburg IV blimp, or as we all emotionally
call it after being stuck up here the fourth night, "our little house on the
prairie". Today, we will hover up North along the Mediterranean coast, right
over the Bay of Naples, and see the riders of the Giro peloton head pretty straight
towards a very probable sprint finish at approx. 17.15 pm (that's calculated
using an average speed of 40 km/h).
45 riders were blood-tested this
morning, including big names such as Damiano Cunego and Paolo Bettini, and all
were declared fit to start. There were no abandons in Giffoni Valle Piana either:
all 193 remaining riders from yesterday's stage signed in and embarked on their
211 km journey to Frosinone.
Today's stage is as flat as a Neapolitan
pizza freshly baked in the local Trattoria's wood fired ovens. Some call them
Pompeii ovens, as they are traditionally round, dome shaped just like the famous
The first rider to get truly active today was Juan Jose
Cobo Acebo (Saunier), who attempted a very early break within the first kilometre
after the start. He was caught soon after by a very fast peloton. After several
other inconclusive jumps, Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis) and Marco Pinotti (Saunier)
gave it a go together at km 23 and succeeded. Saunier Duval was clearly told
to get some action going this morning...
10 kilometres later, the pair had
already made a gap of 1.10 in front. Gerolsteiner's Sven Krauss, who heads the
Intergiro classification and sits in third position for most combative rider,
also took his chances to get some more points and countered the attack at km
34. Another ten clicks later, Krauss was at 1.23 of the leading pair, which
in return had a 4.14 advantage over the bunch.
The Giro is again providing for some
very fast racing today: 48 km were covered in the first hour! The bunch drove
by just East of the Vesuvius on the outskirts of Napoli. For the sake of education,
the antique cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried by Vesuvius’ eruption
in 79 AD. From the vulcanologists' observatory at 608m, one has nevertheless
a beautiful view of the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia. The caldera's top
lies at 1,281 m (4,200 feet). It's 700 m wide (circumference is 12 km) and 200
But I guess that wasn't on the rider's minds right when
they passed it! Krauss' gap to the front pair actually increased instead of
diminishing. Poor guy - made his mind up just a little too late to bridge to
Vasseur and Pinotti, and it seemed that he was caught between the leaders and
the bunch. With 150 km to go, he was two minutes behind them, with the bunch
following at another 3.15 minutes (5.15 from the leaders).
Cyclingnews talked to Gerolsteiner
DS Christian Henn, who is following the race in his team car. He confirmed our
assumption, but was still happy about the move: "There were a lot of attacks
in the first half hour, and it just wasn't possible to jump with every one of
them - the tempo was so high, too. Sven did get away, but couldn't make it to
the other two in time. He's courageous, a very young rider who wants to give
every thing for his jersey. We're happy with the way the race has evolved for
us: Yesterday, Sven Montgomery and Markus Fothen were also very active. It all
looks very good."
As the leading riders Vasseur (Cofidis)
and Pinotti (Saunier) passed the Intergiro in Caserta at km 78, Sven Krauss
behind had already given up and was swallowed by the bunch, which was the 3.28
behind the front pair. Meanwhile, Nicolas Inaudi (Cofidis) crashed at km 76,
but got back on his bike.
Speaking of the town of Caserta:
The Pallazzo Reale La Reggia is often seen as an Italian Versailles. Built in
the 18th century, the Royal Palace has an especially beautiful garden with a
cascade of 78 metres - the water falling into a prodigious pond of marble, featuring
characters of the Roman myths of Ovid's 'Metamorphosis': One can see Diana bathing
with her nymphs and Acteon being torn to pieces by his hounds. OK, that imagery
doesn't really coincide with our situation here, I admit it...
I wonder what goes on the minds of
the Fassa Bortolo riders - their overwhelming dominance in the sprint finishes
hasn't been very successful lately, as the other teams decided to put some pressure
on. Instead of the usual silver train leading the bunch in the last kilometres,
there were actually two or even three trains happening... And supersprinter
Petacchi has had a hard time in that sort of finish being less protected by
15:18 CEST 130km/81km to go
We're at km 130 now,
and the bunch is still speeding as in the beginning of the stage: 42,6 km/h!
Meanwhile, Nicolas Inaudi (Cofidis) has abandoned, his injuries being too painful
to continue in that sort of pace. We'll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything
about him. The leaders still have a 5.36 minutes advantage over the speeding
And speeding it is, stretched out
like a snake winding through the flat but very beautiful countryside. Did I
mention the weather yet? I think I forgot, as it's always nice here in Southern
Italy: the sun is out with just a few clouds providing for an occasional shade,
with temperatures of about 25 degrees Celsius.
15:26 CEST 132km/79km to go
The pedalling of
the two leaders still looks alright, but one can tell it's hard work. Pinotti
and Vasseur take pretty short turns... as they pass by an Italian family watching
at the roadside, all dressed in Pink!
The bunch is led by Fassa Bortolo
- of course - as well as Qzuick.Step. Bettini is sitting comfortably in it,
as well as Robbie McEwen, surrounded by fellow sprinter Zabel and some teammates
There's been a crash! Some Francaise
des Jeux riders, Rabobank, and one Davitamon rider is getting help to get out
of grassy ditch - it's Nick Gates. He's alright though, getting back on his
bike and continues.
Now there are some groups chasing
to get back to the front line... Nothing too bad happened back there, everybody
The bunch is back together now, getting
over this little shock. These things happen so quickly, fortunately they're
all wearing helmets now! Illes Balears is doing the work now, with Basso chatting
and laughing with his CSC teammate Blaudzun close behind.
It's time for some fun! Marco Pinotti
up front squirts his bidon as his DS in the car beside him through the open
window, as Erik Zabel and Paolo Bettini seem to get along fine too, joking around...
Walter Beneteau (Bouygues), Cyrille
Monnerais (Francaise Des Jeux), Thomas Dekker (Rabobank), Andrea Peron (CSC)
and Nick Gates were the ones who crashed 15 minutes ago. But all seem to be
fine, at least we haven't heard anything that could indicate the contrary. The
bunch is riding easily now, some take the time to get some fresh water bottles
from the team cars behind. Temperatures have risen to 29 degrees, so it's crucial
to drink a lot.
The leading pair attacks a small
climb now, and Pinotti gets out of the saddle. Behind, the chase is getting
organised again, but I'm sorry to say we haven't got any heartrate information
for you today. We might later on. Fassa's Gustov is now heading the peloton.
16:03 CEST 153km/58km to go
It's always a merry
mingling in those European professional pelotons in these sort of races - the
riders take the time to exchange latest news about ... we don't know, but Rory
Sutherland (Rabobank) and Russell van Hout (Selle Italia) are happily chatting
along while they're riding through Cassino.
The gap is stable around four minutes
for the leaders, which have 50 km yet to master. The bunch will surely not ride
in on them too soon to prevent further attacks. It must be one of these stages
where the guys have agreed to proceed 'piano, piano' - there are still a lot
of kilometres to go in this Giro!
Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) is keeping
himself at the back of the bunch. Looks like he got a scare at that crash earlier
Correction as to the stage finish: I was wrong in calling it
untechnical. In fact, finale today is pretty difficult with a downhill section,
curve after curve, and an uphill part before the line. Sorry about that.
Gates, Gustov and Codol are doing
the chasing in the back. So Gates mustn't have been hurt too badly by the crash...
Good on him!
We also have an update on Nicolas
Inaudi who crashed at km 76: he has a big bruise on his thigh, but nothing broken
after being taken to hospital.
Here we go: finally some heartrate
info! Fabio Sacchi, for example, is at 126 / 185 bpm (68% of his max).
16:16 CEST 167km/44km to go
And the chase is
paying off: the bunch is slowly but steadily moving in on the leaders. Only
2.40 minutes left for them.
The big bunch is taking up all the
width of the two-lane road, with about ten riders forming a thread in the front.
Erik Zabel has moved to the back and is calling for his team car. Rasmussen
is also getting full bidons at his Rabobank team car.
Up front, Vasseur
is still keeping it up, but does he really hope to make it?
16:22 CEST 171km/40km to go
Vasseur and Pinotti
are driving through Roccasecca now. Gap: 1.18... getting tight, isn't it?
The lead is decreasing rapidly -
the break is not exactly sitting up, but they certainly ain't trying anymore...
Pinotti shakes his head to Vasseur: he's done. Everybody is getting ready for
16:30 CEST 176km/35km to go
The riders seem to
slow down a little at this point, as it would be risky to catch the break too
soon. Wim Van Huffel (Davitamon) in front of the bunch with his teammates as
well as some Fassa riders.
Meanwhile, the weather has turned
a little cloudy with forecasts of thunderstorms. It doesn't look like rain at
the moment, though. Let's hope the riders make it to the finish dry. Massimo
Codol leads the bunch in front of Nick Gates, who looks alright. His jersey
is a little dirty, but that's all.
With 30 km to go, the pace is reasonable,
and here comes a counter-attack! It's Trent Wilson (Selle Italia), who has already
passed the former break which is just getting caught.
And 'Willo' is speeding, looking
Stuart O'Grady is at 75 percent of
his maximum heart rate of 188 bpm. Fabio Sacchi is doing 149/185 bpm. The bunch
is barely reacting to the attack.
16:43 CEST 186km/25km to go
The bunch has passed
the 25 km mark. Wilson should have 15 seconds or so, but will he make it?
16:46 CEST 189km/22km to go
And Wilson has been
caught. Good move to shake things up a bit before the finale! Speaking of which,
the last hairpin corner of seven is at 750 m to go. There's Renshaw, Wilson
and Da Cruz leading Baden Cooke up. Perez Cuapio sits in last wheel. FDJ is
taking over now for Cooke; Quick.Step also up there, and Cofidis.
16:47 CEST 191km/20km to go
The bunch is nicely
stretched now of course. They're hammering again! Thomas Dekker and Michael
Rasmussen are also well back inside the peloton.
Oh - Bettini and Di Luca are talking.
What are they up to?
Lampre is moving Cunego and Simoni
up too for protection. FDJ is still doing the job, and the high pace is showing:
Calcagni (Liquigas) is at 77 percent of his max. heartrate of 198, whereas Ventoso
(Saunier) is at 136 of 188 bpm.
Calcagni is now at 181/198 bpm, meaning
91 percent of his capacities, as he's riding in front, where Freddy Bichot is
These are large, straight roads here,
no need to worry right now. A Phonak train has formed chasing the bunch at its
tail. Valjavec had a flat it appears.
16:55 CEST 196km/15km to go
15 km to go. Rast
got dropped from the Phonak chase. They will need another 10 seconds. FDJ still
driving for Cooke, with Lilian Jégou in front. Valjavec is back in the bunch.
Crash! Daniel Schnider from Phonak
seems a little hurt, but he's standing. Two CSC riders are also waiting for
The bunch was stopped, as a Phonak
rider slammed right into its back. Lorenzetto from Domina down too, and a Liquigas.
Schleck and Zabriskie (CSC) too.
17:00 CEST 201km/10km to go
Now the peloton is
a thread of pearls... A saddle break maybe caused the crash! Calcagni seems
to be out of the race.
Liquigas ' Miholjevic is leading
a pretty big group, with Fassa now taking its turn. The crash was caused by
a touch of wheels between Lorenzetto and a CSC rider, then the bunch stopped.
CSC is driving the train now to get
Basso safely into the finish.
17:04 CEST 204km/7km to go
Il Grillo and Lancaster
were also in the fall. The bunch is hammering along, while some dropped riders
get 'assistance' from the FDJ car.
17:06 CEST 205km/6km to go
There are three groups
now, but we don't exactly know where the sprinters are. They've hit the last
little hill. McEwen is up there, it seems.
17:07 CEST 206km/5km to go
Sabaliauskas is leading.
Tom Danielson is in the second group. Di Luca, Cunego, Bettini are all in the
Leukemans is driving for McEwen now.
Moreni is there, so is Petacchi as they arrive in Frosinone. Euskaltel attacks!
It's Aitor Gonzalez! And Bettini
jumps too, as does Emanuele Sella.
Now they're caught again, the group
is intact. Cioni is moving up and further increasing the pace.
Celestino is up there for Domina
Vacanze, and the road do twist.
Celestino, Bettini, Cioni are leading,
Cooke is also there.
Celestino still leading at 500 metres...
Oh, no, a crash! But Bettini won!
It's Cooke, but he's standing up,
walking. Everything OK.
He slammed right into a barrier,
he might have won this hadn't he crashed....
That was a tight finish! I wonder
what my heart rate is at the moment... I'll measure it for you next time! What
about yours? Hope you enjoyed the coverage! Stay tuned for more information
as well as tomorrow's stage from Celano to L'Aquila, which will include just
a little more climbs... Ciao from Italy!
Cyclingnews has just been
informed that Paolo Bettini has been disqualified! This sprint was very irregular,
as Bettini knew that Cooke was right behind him, and when he moved to the left,
Bettini did the same, effectively cutting him off. The podium is still empty.
We have to wait for a decision here.
Bettini is arguing with some officials,
looking very annoyed. But I bet Cooke was annoyed, too!
Luca Mazzanti is honoured on the
podium for this stage win! So Bettini is at least relegated.
That would mean Cioni second, Scarponi
third, and Bettini has just been confirmed fourth!
This of course doesn't give Baden
Cooke his stage win or even second place back... bummer.
OK that's it for now. Have a great
day and thanks for reading!
1 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria 5.10.09
2 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi
3 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team
4 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze 0.02
5 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick.Step 0.04
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team
7 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
8 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
9 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Quick.Step
10 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
11 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone
12 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
13 Julian Dean (NZl) Credit Agricole
14 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
15 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team
General classification after stage 4
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.13
3 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria
4 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 0.21
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.27
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 0.32
8 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto 0.36
9 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze 0.37
10 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
the commentary team
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