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88th Giro d'Italia - PT
Italy, May 7-29, 2005
Prologue - May 7 : Reggio Calabria ITT, 1,150 m
Big Bird Lancaster soars to Giro prologue win
By Tim Maloney, European Editor, with additional reporting from John Trevorrow
Italian poet, daredevil and WWI hero Gabriele D'Annunzio called the Lungomare Italo Falcomata' in Reggio Calabria "the most beautiful kilometre in Italy". For the thousands of spectators who came to see the evening's 1.15km prologue on the Lungomare along the Straits of Messina, with the looming profile of Monte Etna across the Straits in Sicily disappearing in the twilight, the bright lights and spectacle of the 88th Giro, the road along the front in Reggio Calabria offered a beautiful, festive atmosphere. But for the 197 riders who took the start at 18:45, the most beautiful kilometre was a difficult way to start the first ever Grand Tour of the ProTour. Planned for prime-time TV in Italy, the best riders went off after 21:30 under the floodlights and the palm trees along the seafront in Reggio Calabria.
For the second year in a row, an Australian kangaroo leaped into the Maglia Rosa at the Giro d'Italia prologue, as two-time world champion and reigning Olympic team pursuit champion Brett Lancaster (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) powered home to victory in the 1.15km drag race prologue for his third win as a professional cyclist. Nicknamed "Big Bird" and of course "Burt", Lancaster was the only rider to go under 1'21, and the superb ride by the 25 year-old speed merchant from Shepparton, Victoria, near Melbourne, was ridden at an average speed of 51.75 km/h. Lancaster finished just 29 hundredths of a second ahead of Fassa Bortolo rider Matteo Tosatto, with Alessandro Petacchi rounding out the Giro d'Italia prologue podium in third, only 72 hundredths behind Lancaster.
Cyclingnews spoke to Lancaster just after he had crossed the line with the new best time. "Yeah it was pretty good," he said in his dry, laconic drawl. "I might have to wait a while, there may be a few going a bit quicker." We asked him about his gear selection, and he explained, "I had the 15 from the start, then I clicked it down a bit. I don't really know what I went to. Felt good though."
Unlike his compatriot Stuart O'Grady, Lancaster didn't use a single speed bike. "I did give it a bit of thought, but it was a bit hard," he said. "This bike's pretty good. I started full on, made tempo in the middle, and brought it home."
Afterwards, Lancaster was blown away by what he'd done when we spoke to him. "It's pretty incredible," he said. "I don't think it's hit home yet. It was very nervous waiting for the last half a dozen riders to go. With those last few off, there were some really good riders, especially O'Grady. It just shows that now I'm full on road racing and left the track behind, I've had some good results this year. No wins, but this is a pretty good one to start with."
On his chances of retaining the jersey in tomorrow's stage, Lancaster replied, "I was just talking to a few of the guys and they reckon it might not even be a sprint finish. I'll just see what I can do."
Discovery Channel's GC main man Paolo Savoldelli was a surprising 4th in the Giro's Reggio Calabria prologue, finishing ahead of many top sprinters and prologue specialists like Pollack, O'Grady, Renshaw, Escobar and Wiggins on his 32nd birthday. "Il Falco" Savoldelli gained a few precious seconds on Giro favourites like defending champion Cunego and two time Giro winner Simoni (Lampre-Cafitta), Ivan Basso (CSC) and Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas-Bianchi). A smiling Savoldelli said after the finish that, "Today's result won't make the difference in the Giro, but it's good for the morale."
Giro 2005 winner Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Cafitta) was happy after his decent 22nd place today, just 0.04 behind Lancaster. Cunego knows that today wasn't really his kind of race, explaining afterwards that, "It won't be easy for me to win the Giro again. Today was a nice prologue but the short distance wasn't easy! Tomorrow will start the real Giro d'Italia."
Cunego's teammate and winner of the Giro d'Italia in 2001 and '03, Gilberto Simoni joked after the short race today, "The prologue seemed like it would never end!...but it's over anyway!" Simoni finished 0'04 slower than Cunego. Another major player in this year's Giro, Ivan Basso (CSC), had a respectable ride for 53rd; in his first Giro in five years, Basso has prepared meticulously for the Giro and is off to a good start. Another Giro challenger, Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas-Bianchi) was 51st, just 0'02 behind Cunego. The likeable rider from Varese was relieved to get the prologue over, saying afterwards, "This race was hard..a new experience for me!"
Although he wasn't an official competitor tonight, last man off in the 88th Giro d'Italia Prologue in Reggio Calabria was Mario Cipollini, who rode the 1150m on the Lungomare Falcomata' not for time, but for heart. He was clad in a pink and silver glow-in-the-dark bodysuit with his record 42 Giro stage wins printed on the side and the slogan "Sweet Years" on the shoulders. Cipo rode the prologue today not as a competitor but as a symbol of Italian cycling and to provide an addio (goodbye) to his fans worldwide. An emotional yet eloquent Cipollini explained, "Behind these last thousand meters of a career is my whole life. It's difficult to end my career, but everything comes to an end. The affection of the fans is my last victory."
How it unfolded
The 1150m Lungomare Italo Falcomata' is flat as a billiard table, so the only real difficulty Saturday night besides combating the lactic acid build-up that makes the riders legs feel like lead after 800m at full gas, was the 10 km/h crosswind blowing in from the Straits of Messina. Little known French pro Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom) from Guadeloupe, who went off 41st at 19:28 had the best early fast time of 1'23" (49.879 km/h avg), and maintained the lead as virtual Maglia Rosa until 20:48 when Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo), nicknamed "il muratore di Castefranco", blasted past Martias into the lead with a 1'21.247 to become virtual Maglia Rosa. Tosatto, the first rider to beat 50 km/h average, kept his lead until race favourite Brett Lancaster (Ceramiche Panaria-Panaria) came through with 1'20.958, just three hundredths of a second ahead of Tosatto to become the new virtual Maglia Rosa.
Next up was 2004 Olympic pursuit champ Brad Wiggins (Credit Agricole), but the Brit couldn't touch Lancaster's time. Touted as the world's fastest sprinter, Alessandro Petacchi got within a second of Lancaster, but despite failing to take the Maglia Rosa Saturday, the practically unbeatable Petacchi looks good to take over the precious pink tunic Sunday with time bonuses.
Five years ago, Mark Renshaw (Francaise des Jeux) was Junior World Kilo champ in Italy and despite recent saddle sores, the young Aussie kicked well to post a 1'22.853, which was good for 8th. Next threat to Lancaster was Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), who was riding a track bike with a 53x14 fixed gear, but Stuey came up a little short and only had enough for sixth. Once the final three riders started, it was clear that Australian Brett Lancaster would come up the winner of the first Maglia Rosa at the 88th Giro d'Italia.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
1 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 1.20.958 (51.75 km/h) 2 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.01 3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 5 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile Team 0.02 6 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 7 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Credit Agricole 8 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux 9 Sergio Escobar Roure (Spa) Illes Balears 10 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner 11 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Credit Agricole 12 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 0.03 13 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step 14 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 15 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 16 Thomas Ziegler (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.04 17 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 18 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 19 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 20 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 21 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 22 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 23 Jan Hruska (Cze) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 24 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 25 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick.Step 26 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Domina Vacanze 27 Baden Cooke (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux 28 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 29 Paride Grillo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 0.05 30 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing System 31 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Domina Vacanze 32 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 33 Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 34 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 35 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Quick.Step 36 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 37 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 38 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Davitamon-Lotto 39 David Navas Chica (Spa) Illes Balears 40 Isaac Galvez Lopez (Spa) Illes Balears 41 Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 42 Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 43 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 44 Peter Luttenberger (Aut) Team CSC 45 Pavel Padrnos (Cze) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 46 Frank Hoj (Den) Gerolsteiner 47 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 0.06 48 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears 49 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Quick.Step 50 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick.Step 51 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 52 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 53 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 54 Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Col) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 55 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 56 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Team CSC 57 Andre' Korff (Ger) T-Mobile Team 58 Sandy Casar (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 59 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole 60 Didier Rous (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 61 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC 62 Francisco J. Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 63 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 64 Bram Schmitz (Ned) T-Mobile Team 65 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 66 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 67 Brian Vandborg (Den) Team CSC 68 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 69 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole 70 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 71 Marco Milesi (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 72 Gregory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing System 0.07 73 Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Illes Balears 74 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto 75 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 76 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Domina Vacanze 77 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Credit Agricole 78 Cedric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 79 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 80 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 81 Cyrille Monnerais (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 82 Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC 83 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 84 Eric Baumann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 85 Julian Dean (NZl) Credit Agricole 86 Matthew White (Aus) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 87 Javier Ramirez Abeja (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 88 Marcel Strauss (Swi) Gerolsteiner 89 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 90 Davide Bramati (Ita) Quick.Step 91 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Credit Agricole 92 Franck Renier (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 0.08 93 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Fassa Bortolo 94 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Rabobank 95 Thorwald Veneberg (Ned) Rabobank 96 Johann Tschopp (Swi) Phonak Hearing System 97 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 98 Antonio Cruz (USA) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 99 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze 100 Sven Montgomery (Swi) Gerolsteiner 101 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Illes Balears 102 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing System 103 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 104 Christophe Kern (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 105 Sascha Urweider (Swi) Phonak Hearing System 106 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team 107 Freddy Bichot (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 108 Bjoern Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 109 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 110 Ignacio Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing System 111 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 112 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 113 Jason McCartney (USA) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 114 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 115 Carlos Dacruz (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 0.09 116 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Rabobank 117 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 118 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Liquigas-Bianchi 119 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 120 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Rabobank 121 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 122 Ivan Quaranta (Ita) Domina Vacanze 123 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Phonak Hearing System 124 Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Credit Agricole 125 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Credit Agricole 126 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 127 Volker Ordowski (Ger) Gerolsteiner 128 Benoit Joachim (Lux) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 129 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 130 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner 131 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank 132 Massimo Codol (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 133 Marius Sabaliauskas (Ltu) Lampre-Caffita 134 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 135 Andrea Tonti (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 136 Lilian Jegou (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux 0.10 137 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 138 Henk Vogels (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 139 Mathieu Claude (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 140 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze 141 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 142 Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 143 Jose Luis Carrasco Gamiz (Spa) Illes Balears 144 Theo Eltink (Ned) Rabobank 145 Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mex) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 146 Marlon Alirio Perez Arango (Col) Selle Italia-Colombia 147 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak Hearing System 148 Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 149 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 150 Mads Christensen (Den) Quick.Step 151 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre-Caffita 152 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC 153 Marco Fertonani (Ita) Domina Vacanze 0.11 154 Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Domina Vacanze 155 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Lampre-Caffita 156 Raffaele Illiano (Ita) Selle Italia-Colombia 157 Daniel Schnider (Swi) Phonak Hearing System 158 Rene' Andrle (Cze) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 159 Koldo Gil Perez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 160 Roberto Laiseka Jaio (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 161 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Domina Vacanze 162 Dario Andriotto (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 163 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) T-Mobile Team 164 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 165 Nicolas Inaudi (Fra) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 166 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Lampre-Caffita 167 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas-Bianchi 168 Philippe Schnyder (Swi) Selle Italia-Colombia 169 Moreno Di Biase (Ita) Selle Italia-Colombia 0.12 170 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Liquigas-Bianchi 171 Antonio Tauler Llull (Spa) Illes Balears 172 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 173 Jose' Antonio Garrido Lima (Spa) Quick.Step 174 Jose' Rujano Guillen (Ven) Selle Italia-Colombia 175 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 176 Francisco J Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Caffita 177 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 178 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux 179 Russel Van Hout (Aus) Selle Italia-Colombia 180 Christian Werner (Ger) T-Mobile Team 181 Unai Etxebarria Arana (Ven) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.13 182 Addy Engels (Ned) Quick.Step 183 Unai Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) Illes Balears 184 Ivan Parra (Col) Selle Italia-Colombia 185 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir 186 Leonardo Scarselli (Ita) Selle Italia-Colombia 0.14 187 Christophe Detilloux (Bel) Francaise Des Jeux 188 Angel Gomez Gomez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 189 Freddy Gonzalez Martinez (Col) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 190 Ruben Lobato Elvira (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 191 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 192 Alberto Lopez De Munain (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.16 193 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 194 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 195 Nick Gates (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 196 Daniel Atienza Urendez (Spa) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone 197 Trent Wilson (Aus) Selle Italia-Colombia 0.17