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Photo ©: Schaaf

88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

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Stage 9 - May 16: Firenze - Ravenna, 139 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from John Trevorrow and Tim Maloney

Complete live report

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

14:28 CEST   
Welcome to the ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia, brought to you from various places on, above, and off the parcours by the Cyclingnews blimp, powered by hot air. After the weekend's mildly damaging stages, today's stage is one of the shortest road stages in this year's race: just 139 km between Firenze (Florence) and Ravenna, which is just north of Marco Pantani's former home town of Cesenatico. It's also famous for its ancient mosaics and tasty seafood.

There is only one climb today, the Passo di Muraglione (km 51.2), and we can expect a few attacks on it, especially from Venezuelan climber Jose Rujano, who wants the green mountains jersey that he lost to Koldo Gil on Saturday. But with 90 mostly downhill kilometres still to ride, the sprinters' squads should suck up any fugitives before the finish in Via Di Roma in Ravenna.

The other important point in today's stage is the Intergiro at Forli (km 104.8). Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) has worn the blue jersey since day 2 of the Giro, and will be seeking to defend it from Paolo Bettini and Stefano Zanini, who are in second and third, although it remains to be seen whether they are actually interested in the jersey. Why not? It's a nice colour, it's traditionally more prestigious than the points and mountains jerseys, and the winner of it gets a fair chunk of cash at the end.

14:40 CEST   
A weather update: It's 23 degrees and a a beautiful sunny day in Florence. There are a few clouds gathered over the mountains, and a bit of a headwind. It was a pretty relaxed atmosphere in the village this morning because this is a transition stage. The big question was whether Alessandro Petacchi will win it if it comes to a sprint finish. Nine stages without a win for Fassa Bortolo so far...

We talked to one of Petacchi's lead out men Fabio Baldato this morning. "We're going to try and put Ale in the best position to win. He's determined to win today," he said.

14:50 CEST   
The stage has been going for a bit over an hour now, and riders are on the Passo di Muraglione.

Maglia rosa Danilo di Luca got a lot of applause from the tifosi who were gathered in Florence at the start. A lot of people are asking how far can di Luca take the jersey? He's obviously in tremendous shape, and if he finishes on the podium in Milan, he'll take enough points to solidify his lead in the ProTour.

15:02 CEST    49km/90km to go
The stage at 13:42 from Florence, with all 186 riders still in the race signing on and rolling out. The first attack came in the first kilometre, with Intergiro leader Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) going away with Mads Christensen (Quick.Step) and Erik Baumann (T-Mobile). There was no interest from the peloton, and the three gained 1'15 in 11 km, which they increased to 3'25 at km 29.

On the climb of Muraglione, Baumann couldn't hang on to the other two, and dropped back a bit. The gap between the peloton and the two front breakaways is 3'10, and Krauss is obviously going for the Intergiro at km 105. That's the blue jersey, by the way. It's scored by a slightly odd system of bonus seconds (30, 24, 18, etc., unless it's a time trial). These bonus seconds are only valid for the Intergiro competition. But there are also real bonus seconds (6, 4, 2) for the top three across the Intergiro line, and there are points (8, 6, 4, 2) that contribute to the Points classification (purple jersey). There's also money.

It's simple, really.

15:06 CEST    54km/85km to go
Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) has abandoned the race at the 10 km mark. That's a shame for the young American, who won the Tour de Georgia last month. He was looking a little disappointed as he has been plagued by a knee injury, telling us, "My knee's been bothering me since the last day of the Tour of Georgia. I probably injured it on the climb to Brasstown Bald, because it was cold."

Christensen was first over the top of the climb ahead of Krauss, and Baumann follows at 2'00. The peloton is riding steadily, 3'30 back.

15:15 CEST    60km/79km to go
We spoke to Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) this morning and asked him whether he was worried about being 2'11 down on GC. "There has only been 6 kilometres of climbing in this Giro. I'm not worried," he told us.

A Bouygues rider crashes on the descent. But it's not serious and he gets up and waits for a new bike. Christensen and Krauss are still 3'30 ahead of the Fassa led peloton, while Baumann trails them at 1'50.

15:17 CEST   
Baumann also crashed on a corner, but is back on the bike again and riding alone, in no-man's land.

15:19 CEST    62km/77km to go
Krauss leads Christensen on this long descent - it's essentially downhill all the way to the Intergiro (don't ask me to explain it in detail! Just imagine the bonus seconds are points, then it becomes easier).

Baumann didn't actually crash, he just missed a corner and rode into a driveway! He's back now, but he looks like he's sat up and waiting for the peloton.

Martias was the Bouygues rider who crashed on the descent.

15:22 CEST   
Fassa has four men in front of the peloton, with Gustov and Codol on the front, so it's fairly obvious what the plan is today. It's unlikely that anyone will challenge them until we hit the last 10-15 km. Then it gets tricky.

Baumann is just half a minute in front of the bunch, cruising along.

Danilo di Luca is well placed in about 6th wheel.

15:24 CEST    66km/73km to go
Although its downhill, it's not steep enough to stop pedalling for long.

Christensen now runs off the road! He runs straight into the back of a car, but fortunately he had almost stopped. He's now back with Krauss, who waited for him.

15:26 CEST   
Christensen asks for some mechanical assistance from the Quick.Step team car, but the descent is still too twisty, and he can't get it.

Krauss is working hard: 163 bpm of a max of 195.

Baumann is caught by the bunch. He was away from kilometre 1, together with the two leaders.

15:27 CEST    71km/68km to go
Sacchi, Baldato, Codol and Gustov are driving the peloton at a steady tempo.

Christensen looks OK now. He's a young Danish rider in his first year with Quick.Step.

15:30 CEST    74km/65km to go
A couple of CSC riders signal for their team car at the back, to the annoyance of a couple of FDJ riders who are in the way.

The peloton is moving fairly quickly, and is now 2'32 behind the two leaders.

15:36 CEST    77km/62km to go
The Quick.Step team car pulls up next to Christensen again, but he says "No, I'll be OK." Krauss is not getting much of a draft sitting behind the small Danish rider, while Christensen will benefit more from sitting behind the big German. That's how it goes.

15:38 CEST    79km/60km to go
Plenty of riders are dropping back through the team cars to grab bottles now. It's a warmish sort of a day, and the sun is out.

Krauss is still working at 85% of his max, on 165/195bpm. In the peloton, Marco Velo is doing it easy: 115/180. It's like a cocoon, riding inside a big bunch.

15:40 CEST    81km/58km to go
Di Luca looks pretty comfy in pink as he sits behind a a green clad teammate. Nick Gates has moved to the front for Lotto, with Brandt and Vogels coming up to give him a bidon. Gustov and Codol are still there for Fassa.

2'20 to the two leaders.

15:44 CEST    84km/55km to go
A lot of riders have said that the Giro has been really hard. Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) said to us that, "this year's Giro has been much harder than last year because even when there's been a flat stage, you have to work more."

15:46 CEST    86km/53km to go
Sven Krauss continues to motor in front of the race, with Christensen sitting in his draft. The blue jersey wearer looks certain to increase his lead in the Intergiro competition today, as he rides through Dovadola.

The average speed after two hours is 42.1 km/h.

15:48 CEST    87km/52km to go
Codol, Gates and Gustov continue to do their job on the front of the peloton, pegging the two leaders back to 2'14. Di Luca is sitting behind his teammate Milesi, it looks like. Smart man, because Milesi is big, and can give Di Luca a lot more shelter.

Lance Armstrong's team works on this principle too - most of his domestiques are really big guys.

15:50 CEST    89km/50km to go
Christensen grabs a bidon and a carton of Extran from the team car and tries to get it into his throat, rather than his lungs. He succeeds. Krauss' team director gives him some words of encouragement from the Gerolsteiner car. Just 15 km to the Intergiro, and then Krauss' job for the day is essentially done.

15:55 CEST    91km/48km to go
Christensen now does a strong turn, giving Krauss a bit of shelter. The Dane has less to gain from this break, as Krauss actually has a jersey to defend. Sorry to spoil the suspense, but there is only a microscopic chance that these two will stay away to the finish. The peloton hasn't even started working hard, and the gap is around 2 minutes.

15:56 CEST    94km/45km to go
Colombian Mauricio Ardila (Lotto) gets moved up to the front by his teammates. He's their GC rider, but lost a stack of time in the time trial yesterday and now sits in 25th overall.

15:59 CEST    96km/43km to go
The golden-helmed Paolo Bettini is at the back of the peloton, chatting to his team director. Today's not really a stage for Il Grillo, but you never know with him.

the two leaders are less than 10 km from the Intergiro. Krauss' jersey is safe today.

The situation at the front of the peloton is unchanged: Gustov, Codol and Gates working, followed by Milesi and Di Luca sheltering. Basso is a bit further back, surrounded by CSC teammates.

16:01 CEST    100km/39km to go
The two leaders go under 40 km to go and are now just 4 km from the Intergiro, on the outskirts of Forli.

16:02 CEST   
The peloton is getting closer, and at the 40 km to go banner it's 2'05.

16:05 CEST    102km/37km to go
Krauss gets a bidon from the team car and rejoins Christensen. Wonder if the Quick.Step rider will challenge for the Intergiro? Probably not, even though his teammates Bettini and Zanini are in second and third overall. It should be Krauss.

16:05 CEST   
The leaders are now in San Varano, a suburb of Forli. Less than three kilometres from the Intergiro.

16:07 CEST   
The leaders go under another 40 km to go banner (that previous one may have been 45 km to go). They are two km from the Intergiro, in any case.

16:08 CEST    104km/35km to go
Krauss keeps an eye on Christensen, and they continue to cooperate leading up to the sprint.

16:09 CEST    104km/35km to go
It's Krauss now in front as they are greeted by huge crowds in Forli.

16:10 CEST    105km/34km to go
The Gerolsteiner rider leads all the way, and Christensen remains in his wheel. Krauss takes the Intergiro and keeps the blue jersey. Christensen will pick up 24 Intergiro seconds and 4 actual bonus seconds. There could be a sprint in the peloton for third place, as there are still a couple of real bonus seconds up for grabs.

16:11 CEST    106km/33km to go
A Credit Agricole rider takes over in the leadup to the sprint in Forli. The peloton stretches out in anticipation of the sprint, and it's Zanini who takes it from Di Biase, it looks like.

16:12 CEST   
The gap is 1'40 at the Intergiro.

16:14 CEST   
The bunch is quite strung out now, and this means the end of the break is nigh. The two leaders haven't given up, as they go under 35 km to go. That's odd. The Intergiro was at 35 km to go, according to the route map. Maybe they're riding at the speed of light.

16:17 CEST    107km/32km to go
The lead pair, who have been away since kilometre 1, have not given up, although the pursuit is now in full flight, led by Credit Agricole with Brad Wiggins and Fassa Bortolo. And Gates and Van Huffel for Lotto.

Heart rate update: Jose Rujano is sitting on 132 of his max of 196 bpm, while Marco Velo is on 135/180.

16:19 CEST   
The gap is now 1'37, so the leaders are working well. Krauss has got a huge motor on him.

Christensen now swigs down a bottle of red liquid. He'll be shouting snatches of drunken doggerel next [thanks S. J. Perelman].

16:22 CEST    110km/29km to go
Credit Agricole, Lotto and Fassa lead the peloton past the 30 km to go banner, 1'17 behind the two leaders. Krauss blows a kiss as he does yet another big turn on the front of the break.

16:27 CEST    114km/25km to go
Krauss is still working at 162 of a max of 195. That's comfortably hard tempo.

The two leaders are under 25 km to go now.

16:28 CEST    115km/24km to go
Cofidis now has a man in front of the peloton, looks like Marichal. Codol and Gates are still working, and Lampre has brought Gibo and Cunego up for a look.

The gap is 50 seconds at 25 km to go.

16:30 CEST   
Jose Garrido rides up the side of the peloton with his jersey stuffed with bidons to give to his teammates.

Krauss and Christensen ride over a small bridge, which is one of the few climbs in the run into Ravenna. Krauss is a good man to have in a break.

16:31 CEST   
The peloton rides over the same bridge, passing a "Pantani Vive" banner.

16:32 CEST    117km/22km to go
Paride Grillo (Panaria) has a heart rate transponder too, and he's sitting at 124 of a max of 200. Four riders per day have these, and it makes for interesting reading.

Krauss is still at 162/195, and he and Christensen are just about to be caught. Their gap is 28 seconds.

16:33 CEST    119km/20km to go
The two leaders know that resistance is futile, but they continue anyway. Gotta love that. They go under 20 km to go with 20 seconds.

16:34 CEST    120km/19km to go
Marichal tows the peloton through, and can see Krauss and Christensen just ahead. They are starting to realise it now, as Krauss looks back. They sit up at last, and Krauss thanks Christensen for doing so much of the work.

16:35 CEST    121km/18km to go
Now the CSC team takes over, to keep Basso out of danger. Peron and Blaudzun are there, also two Liberty riders.

16:36 CEST    122km/17km to go
Blaudzun lifts the pace, causing Peron to suffer a bit. Meanwhile, Michael Barry brings up Paolo Savoldelli for Discovery Channel. And Matt Wilson brings up Baden Cooke, who is hungry for a win today.

16:38 CEST   
The bunch races through Russi with Blaudzun in the lead in his red Danish champion's jersey. The nervousness is there now, with the GC riders battling with the sprinters for position.

16:39 CEST    123km/16km to go
Under a railway bridge, with Marichal taking over in front. Blaudzun is still there for Basso. Now Bellotti leads for Credit Agricole, so obviously Kirsipuu wants to have another go today.

16:39 CEST    124km/15km to go
Bichot is next up, with Renshaw and Matt Wilson on his wheel, Cooke in fourth. Francaise des Jeux is keen to challenge today. More FDJ riders move up.

16:40 CEST    125km/14km to go
Fassa is keeping quiet now as seven FDJ riders get on the front with less than 15 clicks to go.

16:41 CEST   
Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) is lurking in last wheel in the peloton. Dangerous, but there are worse places to be.

16:42 CEST    126km/13km to go
Discovery keeps working hard for Savoldelli, but it's still FDJ in front.

Rory Sutherland takes the scenic route via the median strip up the centre of the road.

Now Moreni, Bramati (Quick.Step) in front for a bit, then Blaudzun does a short turn. It's a bit of a headwind now.

16:43 CEST    127km/12km to go
The peloton slows and it's Willo - Trent Wilson - who attacks! A suicide move, for sure, but it'll get him some coverage.

16:44 CEST   
Wilson told us the other day that he wanted to get in the moves without hitting the wind. He's just realised that it's a headwind. He's caught.

16:45 CEST    129km/10km to go
Krauss is now down the back with Thomas Dekker. It's a very flat run into Ravenna. 10 km to go and no team has really taken control. O'Grady is up there in fifth, then Garzelli.

16:45 CEST    130km/9km to go
Now it's the FDJ boys bringing their white train up to the front, with Cooke in seventh .They're next to the Liquigas/CSC train.

16:46 CEST   
Andriotto leads for Liquigas, and Garzelli is well placed in third wheel. Now an FDJ ride, followed by Milesi.

16:47 CEST    131km/8km to go
Here come the Fassa boys, but they're just getting ready. Now CSC take over with three riders. It's constantly changing up in front, like a Tour stage.

16:49 CEST    132km/7km to go
T-Mobile comes up for Zabel, with CSC still up there protecting Basso. Now Nick Gates gets back to the front. McEwen is up there in about 10th wheel. The peloton is all across the road, which is very wide here.

Lampre moving up Gibo and Cunego again.

16:49 CEST   
Grillo is sitting on 157/200, while Velo is on 159/180. It's hard work!

16:50 CEST    133km/6km to go
The road narrows again as another Selle Italia rider attacks - Rafaele Illiano. Less than 7 km to go.

16:50 CEST    133.5km/5.5km to go
Illiano goes under 6 km to go and looks back, he is caught.

Kessler at the front for T-Mobile, and Gustov for Fassa.

16:51 CEST   
Two Lampres lead the bunch into Ravenna. Where is the Fassa train?

16:51 CEST    134km/5km to go
Krauss and Zabriskie are sitting in last wheel in the peloton, where it's a bit easier.

16:52 CEST   
Lampre continues to lead with three riders, including Tonti and Stangelj. Petacchi's train is coming, massing behind them.

16:52 CEST    135km/4km to go
Lampre stretches the bunch out as FDJ and Rabobank move up to challenge them with 4 km to go.

16:53 CEST   
Now Phonak brings up Rast, Murn and Clerc. Kessler in fourth wheel. Sentjens also up there. Fassa is ready though.

16:54 CEST    136km/3km to go
It's important not to go too early. Velo is now at 174/180, which might be too much. There could be a few bpm error.

Four Fassas in front, then Petacchi and O'Grady.

16:54 CEST   
T-Mobile and Fassa are battling for the lead, with Zabel next to Petacchi.

16:55 CEST    137km/2km to go
Sacchi now leads ahead of Ongarato, Tosatto, Velo and Petacchi. Zabel is behind Pollack, next to Petacchi. Where is McEwen?

16:56 CEST   
Petacchi is ready, he has Cooke on his wheel. Zabel fighting Cooke for the position. McEwen is well back.

16:56 CEST    138km/1km to go
1 km to go and Fassa is still being challenged by T-MObile. Four riders with 1 km.

16:56 CEST   
McEwen moves up to 10th as three Fassas lead out PEtacchi, who finally has the rails run.

16:58 CEST    139km/0km to go
Petacchi gets a perfect leadout from Velo, as Ongarato pulls off. Zabel on his wheel, then O'Grady. Velo pulls off with 250m to go. McEwen from nowhere but it's Petacchi who finally wins!!!! Bettini second, Clerc third, McEwen fourth.

17:12 CEST   
Petacchi sprinted up the centre of the road, drifted right then finished it off in the centre at 67 km/h. McEwen came at him, but was never going to get him. Bettini came up the right hand side to nip in for second, and Clerc came on Petacchi's left for third, just ahead of McEwen. Zabel finished fifth.

Di Luca holds the maglia rosa (but can't open the Spumante), and there's no changes to the major classifications. Krauss keeps the Intergiro and Gil has the mountains jersey. The points jersey also belongs to Di Luca, but both McEwen and Bettini are very close - within 1 point - now.

Thanks for following the ninth stage with us. That marks the end of the first half of the Giro with tomorrow being a rest day. We'll be back on Wednesday though.


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                       3.15.32   
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step                          
3 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems            
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                  
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                          
6 Paride Grillo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare          
7 Isaac Galvez Lopez (Spa) Illes Balears                      
8 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner                         

General classification after stage 9

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                        39.22.19     
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                        0.09
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team        0.35
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                              1.15
5 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                         1.27
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                          1.35
7 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                             1.38
8 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                             1.39
9 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                 2.10
10 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                            2.11

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