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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

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Stage 3 - May 10: Diamante - Giffoni Valle Piana, 210 km

Complete live report

Commentary by Anthony Tan, with additional reporting from John Trevorrow

14:43 CEST   
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another day inside the Cyclingnews blimp, as we bring to you live coverage of the third stage from the 2005 Giro d'Italia, a 205 kilometre leg from Diamante to Giffoni Valle Piana.

Looking at the parcours for today's stage, it's the bumpiest one yet, offering little respite for those hoping for an easy day at the back of the bus. But what makes it interesting is the sole GPM (mountain sprint/prime) is located just six kilometres from the finish, favouring a well-rounded Classics-type rider with a fast finish...

14:48 CEST   
Yes, I'm talking about Paolo Bettini. This is a perfect stage for Il Grillo, so expect to see him and the Quick.Step crew control the closing kilometres, as they attempt to set up the pocket rocket for his second stage win, and some more TV time in the maglia rosa.

And for the time being at least, talk of pocket rockets and the maglia rosa go hand-in-hand, because yesterday, for the second time in three days, an Australian found himself wearing that hot pink tunic. After an early season dogged by illness, Rockin' Robbie McEwen is just about back to top form, taking a splendid victory in Santa Maria del Cedro and doing enough to propel the 32 year-old Queenslander into the race lead - which brings us nicely to today.

14:51 CEST   
The official start was 12 noon, or 'mezzogiorno' in Italiano, and that's when the plotone rolled out of Diamante, a smallish seaside town on the Tirennean coast, still in the Regione Calabria.

No Cyclingnews report would be complete without talk of the weather, and we'll definitely be hitting some lovely jubbly sunshine for much - if not all - of today's route. The forecast is for a maximum 25░C, and Cyclingnews John Trevorrow reckons it's about 22░C right now with a gentle breeze blowing, so if you happen to be on your bike, heading up the coast of Tirreno, and in one of the world's biggest bike races, you're set for a good day!

14:55 CEST    110km/95km to go
Well, if you had enough of seeing Aussies in the headlines, close your eyes for the next two hours or so...

Not long after the start, Russell Van Hout (Colombia-Selle Italia) attacked on his own and has stayed on his own right up till now, his lead to the peloton around the 15 minute mark after 80 kilometres covered. The 28 year-old Adelaide boy passed the 110km mark a few minutes ago, so we'll have a time gap for you shortly.

15:06 CEST   
By the way, Russ is an excellent time triallist, having finished second to Nathan O'Neill at the Australian road time trial championships in January this year. His dual nationality (he has Dutch heritage) also allowed him to contest the Dutch TT championships in 2004, where he placed fourth behind young-gun Thomas Dekker. And he finished eighth in a 52 kilometre TT at last year's Giro d'Italia, so we could be witnessing a stage victory Ó la Dave Zabriskie [he won Stage 11 of the 2004 Vuelta in a solo breakaway].

15:12 CEST   
The official start was 12 noon, or 'mezzogiorno' in Italiano, and that's when the plotone rolled out of Diamante in glorious sunshine, a smallish seaside town on the Tirennean coast, still in the Regione Calabria.

No Cyclingnews report would be complete without talk of the weather, and we'll definitely be soaking up some lovely jubbly rays for much - if not all - of today's route. The forecast is for a maximum 25░C, and Cyclingnews John Trevorrow reckons it's about 22░C right now with a gentle breeze blowing, so if you happen to be on your bike, heading up the coast of Tirreno, and in one of the world's biggest bike races, you're set for a good day!

15:26 CEST   
Speaking of Dave Zabriskie, Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow said he was a little quiet at the start, but the 26 year-old Utah native told our man on the spot that Team CSC's objective yesterday and today is to keep their team leader Ivan Basso out of trouble. Basso lost five seconds to his rivals Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni and Stefano Garzelli on Stage 1, and indicated to his team he didn't want that happening again.

Overall, Zabriskie said he's enjoying himself at his first Giro d'Italia, and his job is to make sure no more splits occur without Basso being part of it, and that the Italian stays well in contention when the mountains come.

15:32 CEST    135km/70km to go
Russell Van Hout's directtore sportivo Gianni Savio is leaning out of the car and his charge plenty of encouragement - and water bottles! We're still waiting on that time split to the peloton, but we do know he's still got roughly 70k to go, and that we're now in the Provincia di Salerno.

15:33 CEST   
Working off an average speed on 39 kilometres per hour, the front runners should be at the boot's ankle in Giffoni Valle Piana at precisely 17:15 (that's 5:15pm or a quarter past five in the afternoon for those not used to 24 hour clocks), so we'll be with you for the next two hours or so. Thanks for tuning in, too, by the way!

15:34 CEST   
Will this stage have any impact on GC? Not really, but if McEwen wins again, the Davitamon-Lotto speedster could well hold onto the maglia rosa till Saturday, with Sunday being the first of two crucial chronos (time trials).

And whatever you think of Robbie, you have to give the guy credit for effort. Davitamon-Lotto directeur sportif Allan Peiper, himself a former pro for more than a decade, summed up the McEwen dynamic to a T after his win yesterday:

"Everything Robbie asks for, he gets. Marc [Sargeant, team manager] works from the standpoint that if the riders take initiative, we stand behind them. Robbie wanted [Nick] Gates and [Henk] Vogels here because they're his boys and he got them. Whatever Robbie wants, he gets, but he delivers. Whenever Robbie sprints, he sprints to win. Even if he's not good he goes until he crashes or finishes 25th. But he'll give it everything he's got. It's always like that with Robbie. You can put a team behind him and know he is going to do his best."

15:37 CEST   
Van Hout enjoys a 9 minutes and 12 second advantage to the peloton with around 70k to go.

15:52 CEST   
It's a tough, undulating parcours, and Russell Van Hout is really labouring up some of the day's smaller climbs. Meanwhile, back in the peloton, Quick.Step have five men on the front, and there's been a noticeable increase in the speed of the bunch.

15:57 CEST    165km/40km to go
With the gap now down to 6'13, poor ol' Russ pedalling squares, and a regrouping more than likely, super sprinter and maglia rosa Robbie McEwen was playing down his chances before the start of today's stage: "It's going to be difficult; it's a complicated final," he said.

However, when in form, the Queenslander can get over climbs around four kilometres long - but today's one is six...

16:10 CEST   
Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow also spoke with La Franšaise des Jeux's Mark Renshaw this morning in Diamante. The 22 year-old New South Welshman, who finished eighth in the prologue last Saturday, said his virtual Kilo effort really, really hurt him, and he'd been feeling rather ordinary as a result the last few days.

However, Mark's feeling much improved today, and hopes to help his team-mate Baden Cooke score a stage win or two in the not-too-distant future, with Cooke beginning to show glimpses of his 2003 form, which saw him take out the points competition at the Centenary Tour de France.

Russell Van Hout (Colombia-Selle Italia) is soldiering on, but the plotone is edging ever closer, now a tad over four minutes behind...

16:13 CEST   
2001 and 2003 Giro champion Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Cafitta) is answering the call of nature... whilst on his bike. Not easy to do (speaking from someone who's tried and failed).

16:21 CEST   
Colombia-Selle Italia DS Gianni Savio once again attends to his charge Van Hout, passing him a Coke, which Russ downs in no time.

16:24 CEST    163.3km/41.7km to go
Sorry about that last kilometre check (slightly overestimated): exactly 41.7km to go.

16:28 CEST   
Team CSC's Bjarne Riis had a bit to say after yesterday's stage to Santa Maria del Cedro. The team was leading the peloton as it hit the final lap, and the narrow roads in and around Santa Maria del Cedro included a few dangerous turns before the finishing sprint.

"We were up front as we didn't want to take any risks. We're talking a whole peloton with fresh legs and big ambitions, which means a lot of riders taking chances. A crash would result in loss of time, and possibly worse, so this is why we decided on leading the peloton. Yesterday [Stage 1], we didn't quite manage to do so, but today the riders showed excellent form. The idea is for Ivan [Basso] to go through the flat stages with as few problems as possible, and in order to achieve this it's important to have a well organized team," he said.

16:34 CEST   
We've had two abandons reported so far today, and two Belgians: Christophe Detilloux (Francaise Des Jeux) pulled the pin at km 48, and sprinter Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) called it quits 17 kilometres later at km 65. Steels has been sick since the start of the Giro with a urinary tract inflammation, and it's not easy to recover from something like that - let alone in the first week of a Grand Tour.

16:41 CEST    170km/35km to go
The peloton just passed the 35 kilometre to go mark, on the outskirts of Eboli; in around five kilometres or so, they'll approach the day's sole mountain prime, the GPM of Santa Tecla coming after 191.4 km covered.

16:46 CEST   
The average speed after three hours was 36.9 km/h, which is the 'slow' timetable, and means an arrival time of approximately 5.30pm this afternoon.

16:51 CEST    181km/24km to go
Quick.Step and Lampre-Cafitta had virtually all their men on the front. Everyone's worried about potential splits up the climb to Santa Tecla, as CSC GM Bjarne Riis forewarned. We're still waiting, waiting, waiting for that updated time check.

16:59 CEST   
This ProTour thing has really had an impact on the nerve of the peloton. I've never seen so many GC contenders mixing it at the head of the peloton with sprinters in the first week of the Giro before.

I spoke too soon. Ivan Parra (Colombia-Selle Italia) has just gone down. Not too badly hurt though, and he was back on his bici in no time.

17:03 CEST    190km/15km to go
Bettini attacks on the crest of the climb!

He brings Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Cafitta) and Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) with him, plus a handful of others.

17:11 CEST   
The bunch has split to bits. And unless a miracle happens, Robbie McEwen won't be contesting the sprint today.

After his long solo attack, Van Hout was caught shortly before the climb.

17:15 CEST   
With a slight reforming, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) hit out again. There's no more than 15 riders in the first group.

It was Liquigas 1-2-3 over the GPM, with Dario Cioni first, followed by Stefano Garzelli and Di Luca.

17:18 CEST    199km/6km to go
The downhill run into the finish is certainly favouring the sprinters, but the gruppo maglia rosa is still some way behind a Liquigas-led front group.

17:20 CEST    200km/5km to go
The green team of Cioni, Di Luca and Garzelli is charging, with the now 40-50 strong front group strung out single file. Still no sign of the maglia rosa.

17:22 CEST    202km/3km to go
Liquigas-Bianchi have strength in numbers; surely one of these riders will win, but will it be enough to take pink?

Bettini is in fourth wheel...

17:23 CEST   
Cunego is also there...

17:25 CEST    205km/0km to go
And it's Danilo Di Luca who takes out the third stage from Damiano Cunego

The gruppo maglia rosa comes in 1'03 in arrears.

We have a new leader of the 88th Giro d'Italia: Paolo Bettini.

17:36 CEST   
Seriously, thanks very much for tuning in, all your comments (both good and bad), and taking some time out of your busy day to visit Cyclingnews.com.

nb: We'll have full results, a stage report and photos coming in over the next few hours.

Results - Provisional

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
3 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
4 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze 
5 Francisco J. Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step
7 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
8 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Quick.Step                
 
General classification after stage 3
 
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
4 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
5 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team
6 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
7 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
8 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto                     

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