89th Giro d'Italia - GT
Italy, May 6-28, 2006
Results & report
Stage 1 - Saturday, May 6: Seraing - Seraing ITT, 6.2 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones with additional reporting from Anthony Tan,
Les Clarke and Brecht Decaluwé
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 18:00 CEST
PREVIEW: Today's 6.2 kilometre TT is just long enough not to be called a prologue
- even though that's what most people are calling it! It's fairly non-technical
with few hard corners apart from one hairpin bend. However, there's a two and
a half kilometre climb with a nasty kick at the beginning, so it should suit
the power riders who can turn a big-gear, but who can also pedal at a high cadence.
Starting at the Place Communale and following the Quai Sadoire on the banks
of the River Meuse for the first 1.2 kilometres, direction south, riders then
make a quick left, right, left before starting the climb (km 1.5), heading along
the Chaussée de la Troque (km 2.7) and Boulevard Pasteur (km 3.1).
After 600 metres of 'Pasteurising', it's time for a hairpin turn 100 metres
before the 4 kilometre checkpoint at the Place des Houilleurs, which marks the
highest point on the parcours.
After the hairpin, the course then takes the rider onto the Boulevard Galilée
(km 4.2), through the Place de la Bergerie (km 4.8) and an easy left onto the
Rue de Bas-Sarts (km 5.7), before a 500 metre finishing stretch on the Rue du
Val St. Lambert.
It's a nice day in Belgium. I should
repeat that just to make sure I'm not dreaming, as everyone agrees the winter
here was very long. But in the last couple of weeks, spring has sprung and there
are leaves on the trees again, with plenty of sunshine to make you think the
gloomiest February on record was just a hoax made up by the weather people.
But enough about the weather, suffice to say that it's above 20 degrees, sunny,
and there's very little wind for the start of the 89th Giro d'Italia. Today's
first stage is not being called a prologue, despite the fact that it's a 6.2
km individual time trial. You will forgive us (I hope) if we lapse occasionally
in the heat of the moment and call it a prologue.
The parcours is
situated in Seraing, on the outskirts of Liege, where just two weeks ago the
last spring classic (Liege-Bastogne-Liege) finished. And we'll stay in Belgium
until Tuesday, as the Giro celebrates the Italians living in this part of the
In 6.2 km, the riders have to climb and descend 100m, making
this a very tough start to the Giro d'Italia. It's not overly technical, although
there are a few corners after the descent where caution will have to be taken.
The first rider go today is the Czech neo-pro Frantisek Rabon (T-Mobile), who
leaves at 14:34. The last rider off is defending champion Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery
Channel) - who is no slouch over the shorter distances - and he will depart
at 17:51. In total, there are 198 riders starting today.
All of the favourites will be going
off later today, and there are plenty of candidates for the first maglia rosa.
Jan Ullrich is probably not one of them, but the T-Mobile rider's time will
be of interest anyway, to gauge his improvement since the Tour de Romandie.
He leaves at 16:24. His teammates Serguei Gonchar (17:08) and Michael Rogers
(17:30) will also be interesting to watch.
Glancing a little further down the
start list, we can see Bobby Julich (CSC) off at 16:46, Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
at 17:31, Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) at 17:33, Jose Rujano (Selle Italia)
at 17:34, Brad McGee (FDJ) at 17:36, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) at 17.39, and
Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) at 17:44. They're all here...
the moment, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) has just left the start ramp. He is
a good rider in his own right, finishing in the top 20 in the Giro three times.
We'll get some times of the early
riders soon, but there are a couple of other tidbits of info that are of interest.
Before the start, at 14:33, a minute's silence was held in memory of two Italian
Alpine troops that were killed in Kabul yesterday.
Also, we did have
a brief thunderstorm earlier, which made the roads wet for a time. But they
are drying out nicely now, and the favourites should all get good conditions
to ride in.
And we have our first intermediate
times posted, with Philippe Gilbert leading the way with an 8'29, 1 second better
than Evgeni Petrov (Lampre-Fondital) and seven better than Franco Pellizotti
The top 10 so far:
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
Française des Jeux 8.29
2 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Lampre-Fondital 0.01
3 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas 0.07
4 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Française
des Jeux 0.09
5 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.12
6 Emanuele Sella
(Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 0.13
7 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Team
8 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
9 Peter Mazur (Pol) Saunier Duval-Prodir 0.17
10 Nicolas Vogondy
(Fra) Credit Agricole 0.18
The average speed of Philippe Gilbert,
who still holds the fastest time, is 43.85 km/h. Organisers predict the quickest
time will be around 7'55, or 47 km/h. That's not going to be easy on this course,
which contains quite a serious climb, especially the start of it.
The slowest rider so far is Rabobank
sprinter Graeme Brown, who completed the course in 9'39. So far, 65 riders have
finished, of the 198 starters.
We have a new best time! Jose Luis
Rubiera (Discovery Channel), who has posted an 8'24.
Alex Kolobnev (Rabobank) comes in
with an 8'41, well outside the top 10.
Mirco Lorenzetto (Milram)
has just set off, as Spezialetti (Liquigas) comes down the final descent, over
the speed hump, and sprints to the line. Everyone is rating this as a very hard
time trial. Spezialetti finishes in 9'11.
Sergey Yakovlev (Liberty) follows
in 8'32, a pretty handy time that will give him seventh.
A Aranaga (Euskaltel) comes down
the hill but fails to negotiate the corner, and ends up almost sitting on the
top of the barrier. He's unhurt, and quickly regains his position and finishes
Luis Felipe Laverde (Panaria) is
on the climb, as Leonardo Piepoli comes down the hill, reaching the speed hump
at 500m to go, then the dangerous corner. He fares better than Aranaga, and
finishes in 8'58.
Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital)
has smashed the best time of Rubiera, clocking 8'10! That's 45.5 km/h, which
is not bad for this course.
Laverde exits the descent and sprints
to the line, finishing in a respectable 8'34 for 10th.
Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile Team)
comes home in about 8'45, well off the pace of Bruseghin, who has the best time
at the moment. The top five:
1 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
2 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
3 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux 0.19
4 Philippe Gilbert
(Bel) Française des Jeux
5 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Lampre-Fondital 0.20
Edalaine (Credit Agricole) comes
around the last corner, and gets it cranking again in the biggest gear, rocking
from side to side as he reaches top speed. His final time is 8'57, not good
enough to threaten Bruseghin.
Torsten Hiekmann (Gerolsteiner) is
a bit quicker in 8'39.
Robbie McEwen is next off. This is
definitely not his type of course, and he's basically using his road bike with
a pair of clip on TT bars.
McEwen reaches the start of the climb
at a fairly calm pace, and gets out of the saddle now as he hits the 10 percent
McEwen gets back on the bars as the
climb flattens a bit. Just behind him is Andy Flickinger (Bouygues Telecom),
riding a massive gear on the climb. He's a tall feller, and has a bike to match.
Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) ends with
a time of 8'39, which is quite decent without threatening the top 10.
McEwen is now at the top of the climb in 6'10. He gets out of the saddle and
prepares for the descent.
McEwen is well into the descent now,
but still fairly relaxed. He's not going to risk crashing for the sake of a
few more seconds. He hits the steep part on the narrow road, over the speed
hump, then around the last corner and up to the line. His final time is 8'46
for 40th so far.
Benoît Joachim is starting now, as Jan Ullrich prepares.
Der Kaiser is ready.
Der Jan is go!! Like a magenta streak
from the start house, Ullrich is on his way.
Meanwhile, there is
chaos at the other end of the parcours as Fran Perez (Caisse d'Epargne) nearly
catches Ruben Lobato. He clocks the best time of 8'06!!
Perez did well there, as he would
have been slowed by the cars in front of him on the descent.
is on the climb, pedaling a massive gear and staying on the bars.
Alberto Ongarato (Milram) finishes
Ullrich is a fair way up the climb now, and hasn't done
Rémi Pauriol (Credit Agricole) is
struggling up the climb.
Ullrich is sitting in 32nd place after 3km,
18 seconds off the pace. Let's see what he does on the descent.
Hubert Dupont (AG2R) finishes in
8'40, well off the pace of Fran Perez, who has an impressive time of 8'06.
Ullrich reaches 500m to go in 8'06,
then takes the corner and sprints for the line. His final time is 8'39 for 25th.
Relative to the Tour of Romandie prologue, that should be a better result. He
was 90th in the prologue there.
That final corner has seen a few
incidents so far. A couple of riders have crashed, and Française des Jeux even
lost a bike off the roof of its car into the crowd there. Three people were
lightly injured. Fortunately it wasn't worse.
The top five so far:
Francisco Perez Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 8.06
Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 0.04
3 Remmert Wielinga (Ned) Quick Step-Innergetic
4 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
5 Iñigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (Spa) Team CSC 0.23
Johann Tschopp (Phonak) finishes
in 8'45, as Sandy Casar comes in behind him with a time of 8'32. Not bad.
Beñat Albizuri (Euskaltel) is on the course now, riding in a very forward position.
Albizuri reaches the top of the climb
as Marc de Maar (Rabobank) finishes his ride in 9'05. Not a brilliant time,
but he definitely looked like he was going for it.
Koen de Kort (Liberty Seguros) ends
his ride in 9'03.
Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-Fondital)
motors up the climb as a young rider tries to keep pace with him on a side road,
lasting about 30 metres before dropping off.
Bobby Julich (CSC) is under way.
He could be the first to break Perez's time of 8'06.
Tiralongo finishes off in 8'54 for
71st. Julich is compact on the climb, staying on the TT bars. He's fifth fastest
after 3 km, 6 seconds slower than Bruseghin.
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
Cyclingnews spoke to Jon McCarty
at the depart in Liege and Phonak's other American was pleased to be at his
first grand tour. "It's my first grand tour and I'm just happy to be here,"
he said. "I think in a few days we'll be able to go for stage win."
With names such as Axel Merckx and Victor Hugo Pena in the Phonak lineup, McCarty
added, "We've got a good experienced team here and the teamwork is good." The
American competed on home turf at the Tour of California in February, where
compatriot Floyd Landis won the overall title, and he believes that the foundations
laid during that race will serve the team well in terms of team work at the
Julich takes the final corner and
he hasn't got a great time. He was probably going hard to the first time check.
He finishes in 8'35, nearly half a minute slower than Perez.
Padrnos (Discovery) powers to the
line in 8'34, a good time for the tall Czech rider.
Axel Merckx (Phonak)
is on the climb.
Juan Manuel Garate (Quick.Step) ends
his ride in a very good time of 8'26, which will give him sixth place behind
Wim Van Huffel (Davitamon-Lotto)
is next off. He was 11th last year, but is a bit behind in form this year.
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
Cyclingnews also caught up
with Australian Mat Hayman, who is currently recovering from injuries sustained
in last Monday's Rund um den Henninger Turm but he didn't seem to be suffering
the effects of that crash before today's prologue.
"I'm a little
worried about my knee," he said. "But hopefully in a couple of days I'll feel
good and have a go." With the climbers set to dominate this year's Giro, Hayman
knows the chances for a stage win are limited and said, "It's an increasingly
thing that a lot of the stages are controlled by the leading teams, so we have
limited stages to have a go..."
In terms of favourites for the three
weeks, Hayman said, "CSC and Discovery are pretty big favourites - Discovery
ave brought a different team and it looks pretty strong." The 'Aussie diesel'
added that, "I think you'll see a few surprises."
Axel Merckx (Phonak) comes home with
a nice ride of 8'34 for 21st.
Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) is on track
for a good time too. He's a local boy, and knows the course very well. After
the first time check, he's 9 seconds down.
Verbrugghe's time is 8'18, not bad
at all, even if he does hold the Giro prologue record.
Andrea Noè (Liquigas) is home in
8'29, just inside the top 10.
Jens Voigt (CSC) is next off. Let's
see what he can do today.
Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) rides
up the climb at 31 km/h, averaging 95% of his maximum heart rate. Ouch.
Van Huffel's final time is 8'48.
Pinotti flies down the descent and finishes in 8'27 for 8th. Not bad going for
the Italian TT champ.
Voigt is riding a good tempo on the
climb, and is near the top. Meanwhile, Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) is motoring
up behind him.
Voigt is only five seconds off the
pace after halfway, and now takes the descent at a good speed. He won't do the
quickest time though. He powers to the line in 8'15 for third. That's decent.
Gonchar is riding well, and has set
the quickest time at halfway.
Jason McCartney comes to the finish
first, in 8'21 for 6th. Excellent time by the American.
Gonchar. The Ukrainian finishes in a fantastic time of 8'05! New best time!
Serge Baguet (Quick.Step) is next
over in 8'26: quite good for 12th place.
Gonchar's time doesn't last long
though. Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) smashes it home in 8'03. Great ride
by the German.
Dario Cioni finishes his 6.2 km in
8'20, which puts him in the top 10 for the time being.
Perez Cuapio (Panaria) is on the start ramp.
Gorazd Stangelj (Lampre-Fondital)
is on the climb now, really working at it. Meanwhile, Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues)
finishes in 8'25 ish.
Christophe Brandt (Davitamon) does
a very decent 8'19, which puts him in the top 10.
Bettini has saddled up in his gold and blue kit. He's riding a fairly normal
road bike with a disc wheel and small TT bars.
World TT Champion Michael Rogers
is on his way too, hitting the climb now.
Tom Danielson (Discovery) is on the
climb too, and after 3.1 km he's 8 seconds slower than Stefan Schumacher.
The current top five at the finish:
1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
2 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile 0.02
3 Francisco Perez Sanchez
(Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.03
4 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 0.12
Carlos Sastre (CSC) finishes in 8'17
- not bad at all. Not quite top five, but certainly top 10.
Danielson flies down the descent,
and hammers to the finish in 8'11 for 5th place provisionally.
Rogers is slightly better than Danielson
with an 8'07. 4th fastest for the world champ.
Now, Danilo Di Luca
assumes the position in the starting gate.
Bettini finishes in 8'32, nearly
half a minute off the pace. Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is in too, ending
in 8'08 for fifth. Good time.
Aaron Olson is another American who
is riding his first grand tour, and the Saunier Duval Pro Tour rookie was genuinely
excited to be starting the Giro in Liege. "It's definitely great to be here,"
he said. "It's a big organisation; being at the Giro is amazing - it's a dream
Riding on the team of pre-race favourite Gilberto Simoni
puts Olson in the special position of riding for one the Giro's strongest riders,
and he said that, "Everyone is very motivated. We checked out the team time
trial course the other day and it looks good. Gilberto's looking fit and we're
sure he'll do well."
Jose Rujano's final time is quite
good: 8'29. Not bad.
Here comes Jose E. Gutierrez (Phonak), with
another 8'03 for the new best time! Just quicker than Schumacher.
Brad McGee is next in, and has done
a good ride too. In fact, it's a great ride: 8'01! Another best time.
Di Luca is even quicker than McGee
at the first time check. This is a great finish to the
stage of the Giro d'Italia in sunny Seraing.
Di Luca is level with McGee at the
top of the climb, and now takes the descent at full speed. This will be very
close. But there are still more riders to come.
Damiano Cunego is
next to go. What can he do? Against the clock is not his specialty.
Di Luca comes up short though. He
ends in 8'09 for 8th. Not a great descent.
Cunego is onto the climb now, really
giving it some gas. Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) is ahead of him, getting
towards the top of the hill.
Ivan Basso, probably the favourite today,
is looking his usual serene self in the starting gate.
Basso is waved off, and starts powerfully.
Simoni is already 11 seconds down on Di Luca at the first time check. Bert Roesems
(Davitamon) rides to the finish in a time of 8'26.
(Discovery), the last rider, is about to leave.
Ivan Gutierrez is off the pace, surprisingly.
He's 9 seconds slower than McGee at time check 2.
Gilberto Simoni brings it home in
8'16, for 12th. That's about normal for Gibo.
Here comes Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse
d'Epargne). No maglia rosa for him: he finishes in 8'06 for 6th. Still quite
McGee keeps the top spot.
Cunego is at the foot of the descent
now, and takes the last corner, sprinting to the line in a time of 8'15. Not
so much difference between him and Simoni.
Alessandro Petacchi is
also getting near the end of his ride.
Petacchi's time is 8'25 for 28th
position. He'll have to work pretty hard to lift the maglia rosa in the first
Savoldelli has smashed McGee's first time check by 5 seconds!
Basso was 10 seconds slower than Savoldelli too. So the Discovery man is on
track for a great start to the Giro.
Basso takes the last corner gently,
and drives to the line in a time of 8'13. That's out of the top 10, but a bit
quicker than Simoni and Cunego. Slower than Di Luca though.
There's just one rider who can beat
McGee now, and it's Paolo Savoldelli. He was 10 seconds(!!) quicker than the
Australian at the top of the climb, and given his descending skills, there can
only be one result...
Savoldelli does it!! Great ride by
the Discovery Channel lead and defending champion. He finishes in 7'50, 11 seconds(!)
better than Brad McGee, and nearly 48 km/h average. That was a fantastic time
Well, there you go. Paolo Savoldelli
has clearly recovered from his dodgy tummy during the Tour de Romandie to post
a great time in the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia in beauteous Seraing.
He was fastest at the first time check, even faster at the second time check,
and brought it home to finish 11 seconds clear of his nearest challenger, Bradley
McGee (FDJ). Third place went to José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak), who put
in a surprisingly good ride.
Ullrich's final position was 80th.
That's a bit better than Romandie.
That's all from us today. Please
check back at 14:30 local time tomorrow for the first stage of the Giro, between
Mons and Charleroi Marcinelle.
1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 7.50
2 Bradley Mcgee (Aus) Française des Jeux 0.11
3 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 0.13
4 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile Team 0.15
6 Francisco Perez Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.16
7 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile Team 0.17
9 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 0.18
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas 0.19
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