89th Giro d'Italia - GT
Italy, May 6-28, 2006
Results & report
Stage 3 - Monday, May 8: Perwez - Namur, 202 km
Complete live report
Welcome back to the first grand Tour of the 2006 pro cycling season - the
Giro d'Italia, starting in Belgium this year. On the menu for today is the third
stage from Perwez to Namur on a bit of a hilly classics terrain. The peloton
will take on the Côte d'Ahin with 57 kms to go before attacking the final cobbled
climb to the Citadel of Namur. Surely a stage for puncheurs, who might take
the opportunity to slip into the maglia rosa?
We certainly know that Quick.Step's
Paolo Bettini would like to do just that. He sits 34 seconds behind overall
leader Paolo Savoldelli and can't wait to grab the jersey to return to Italy
with. But there are other possibilities. What might be Gerolsteiner's plans?
With Stefan Schumacher just 13 seconds off, and Davide Rebellin 18 seconds behind,
the German team might consider attacking as well!
sits on a good spot, too, to take over the lead with Francisco Perez Sanchez
and José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios. Last but not least, the GC contenders like
Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Ivan Basso (CSC) and Gibo
Simoni (Saunier), all excellent climbers, will surely test their legs and those
of their rivals on that last wall up to the Citadel. But will they want the
jersey and its responsibility within their ranks so soon? Somehow, we have our
All the riders took the start this
midday in Perwez, so there are still 198 men on the road today. The bunch went
off at 12.17 for the 202-km long stage, and as usual in the Giro d'Italia, the
pace was rather gentle during the first two hours: 38,7km/h.
Nevertheless, an early attack tried
to get a gap after 30 mins of riding: Iban Mayoz (Euskaltel) took off, then
Moises Aldape Chavez (Panaria) and Santo Anza (Selle Italia) joined him. But
the peloton did not let them gain any ground. Minutes later, at km 18, Raffaele
Illiano (Selle Italia), Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Markel Irizar (Euskaltel) and
- again - Moises Aldape Chavez (Panaria) tried, and were given the Go.
The breakaway quartet then easily
gained a solid lead - after 45 kilometres into the stage, their advantage was
already over 4 minutes. Team Quick.Step, riding for Bettini today, is controlling
the pace of the peloton.
A word on the weather: Unfortunately, Belgium
is honouring its bad reputation. It's raining, with temperatures about 19° Celsius,
but only very little wind. Grey skies hover over the colourful bunch, who is
surely looking forward to getting to Italy tomorrow evening!
14:58 CEST 100km/102km to go
At the moment, the
breakaway's lead has been reduced just a bit to 3.40, and they're just hitting
the first GPM of today, the Côte de Evrehailles. It's a Cat 3 climb, so that
shouldn't be too much of a problem.
The Italians are unlucky today: Early
on in the stage, Paolo Savoldelli flattened but he got back onto the bunch with
the help of his teammates. Alessandro Petacchi also had a puncture about half
an hour ago - but he too, was quickly given a new wheel.
(Cofidis), who rides his first Giro d'Italia, took the GPM points ahead of Adalpe.
A question reaches us from Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, about the term "puncheur" - it designates riders who have the capacity
to take things into their own hands at race finishes, drive very hard on their
own initiative to bring home a spectacular win.
15:18 CEST 112km/90km to go
Nick Gates (Davitamon)
and William Bonnet (Crédit Agricole) just went down, but both were able to continue
Unfortunately, it's still raining in Namur, so the cobbles
of that final climb will be wet and slippery when the riders will get there.
The bunch will soon come to the feed zone.
15:32 CEST 120km/82km to go
The leaders' advantage
is now at 3.25, and the overall speed of the race has adapted to the poor weather
conditions: after three hours of racing, the tempo is still down at 38,05km/h,
so we expect the stage finish at about 17.25.
Chechu Rubiera (Discovery
Channel) is the next victim of the wet tarmac.
One of the four breakaways, Raffaele
Illiano (Selle Italia), might be on a quest again to win the Intergiro Classification,
as he did so in 2004. At km 132.5, the new 110 Gazzetta intermediate sprint
will come up again - we'll see how he does there.
There are still about 75 kilometres
to go, and our four-man breakaway has an advantage of 3.50 minutes. As a reminder,
Raffaele Illiano (Selle Italia), Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Markel Irizar (Euskaltel)
and Moises Aldape Chavez (Panaria) took off at km 18 and have been riding ahead
of the peloton since, reaching a maximum lead of 4.27 after 76 kilometres.
15:53 CEST 134km/68km to go
There have been reports
in the Belgian press that some members of the Walloon parliament were going
to skip political decision-making today to head to Namur and watch the finish
of this Giro's stage - a move severely criticized by their colleagues. We wonder
if they have changed their minds looking out of the parliament windows... rain
and fog is all there is to see...
At the intermediate sprint, Irizar
(Euskaltel) takes the points ahead of Illiano (Selle Italia) and Aldape (Panaria).
The leaders are able to maintain
their advantage at a stable 3.45, circling bravely. Behind, Quick.Step is still
driving the peloton, which is riding on a wide, straight road at the moment.
Most riders are wearing their rain jackets, understandably.
Oops! In a roundabout, Markel Irizar
(Euskaltel) slides away to the right and hits the ground... unhurt though. He's
able to catch up with his fellow breakmates right away.
16:07 CEST 147km/55km to go
The breakaway is
at the Côte d'Ahin. Irizar in front, watching Illiano. Moinard is in last position,
waiting to attack?
16:13 CEST 147km/55km to go
And Moinard attacks!
But Aldape, a Mexican, is able to pull in front of the Frenchman... Irizar got
third, while Illiano didn't sprint.
Meanwhile, the bunch has engaged
in the chasing and reduced the gap to the breakaway to 1.20 minutes. The field
is strong out on the descent of the Côte d'Ahin, still with a Quick.Stepper
Danilo Di Luca has a mechanical,
we're told from radio corsa. Still waiting for confirmation... And Petacchi
crashed! He's back on his feet, but looking like he's hurting a bit. He's on
the bike now, four teammates are with him. A Liquigas rider was also involved.
They're riding off again.
The blue train of five is chasing
back onto the bunch. Petacchi gets a push, too - he looks shocked. The bunch
is now in Huy, where Alejandro Valverde recently won the Flèche Wallonne. Team
Milram will soon be reunited within the pack, but they're having trouble in
the streets of Huy as there are many in-race cars.
16:29 CEST 157km/45km to go
(Quick.Step) is leading the pack now, with Bettini in second position. The four
breakaways are still in front, about 1.40 ahead - they don't want to catch them
too soon neither. This should help Petacchi and his teammates, who are still
16:35 CEST 160km/42km to go
Illiano and Adalpe
look like they have trouble holding on to the other two now. In a windy descent
in Wanze, the two have lost contact of Irizar and Moinard but the four are now
back together - not riding very hard anymore, though.
Team Milram is back in the bunch
now. Petacchi takes a drink. Phew!
Scarselli is doing an excellent job
riding in front all the time. He gets out of the saddle in a short hill, dragging
on the strung-out peloton behind him. CSC and Lampre are also close to the front
In front, Moinard is getting angry
at Illiano - the Frenchman still wants to give it a go while the others seem
to have resigned. Chavez and Irizar are still working a bit. They still have
an advantage of 1.34, with 35 kms to go.
At the right side of the bunch, CSC
is keeping Ivan Basso out of harm's way, while it's still Quick.Step leading.
They're driving at 41 km/h now.
Petacchi still sits at the back of
the bunch, surrounded by his teammates. His left knee is bleeding a bit. That
doesn't look like he's going to sprint today...
16:51 CEST 172km/30km to go
Liquigas is driving
at the left, close to the front of the bunch now, while the lead of the breakaway
is still the same: 1.25.
Petacchi has stopped at the side
of the road now. The Giro doctor is with him and puts on some ointment on his
knee. They're off again.
Petacchi is now holding on to the
driving doc's car, getting more treatment. Unfortunately, it's still raining
which won't make this any easier for him. He's 50 seconds behind the bunch.
The lead of the escape group is now down to 1.01.
17:01 CEST 178km/24km to go
With 25 kms to go,
the bunch is under one minute behind the breakaway. We're headed towards the
exciting finish now! Petacchi et al. don't seem to be chasing - they'll lose
some time today it looks like.
Getting into Namur, the riders will
have to be very careful as the roads will be narrow and twisty before the final
climb. The riders are slowly starting to get into position as the breakaway
is now in sight on this long, straight road.
17:07 CEST 182km/20km to go
That's it for our
four breakaways - swallowed just before the 20-km-mark. Gruppo compatto.
Now they're taking up speed. Gerolsteiner
is there, Liquigas mingle, as the fight for position starts. The first riders
are having trouble at the back as the bunch is pacing at 61 km/h. Alessandro
Spezialetti (Liquigas) is in first position on a descent, while Di Luca sits
Petacchi is now over 2 minutes behind.
We're still outside of town, on a
flat straight road through some fields. CSC is now racing in front at over 70
km/h - it's Bobby Julich in the wind. Basso in third position. Now Voigt takes
over. Tom Danielson (Discovery) is right there as well.
17:21 CEST 193km/9km to go
The Quick.Step riders
are not in front of the bunch anymore, we're wondering. Robbie McEwen is up
front, and McGee with FdJeux. A Phonak rider drives up hard - they're really
giving it full gas now! Into Namur...
17:25 CEST 195km/7km to go
through the curves now, gently... still on large roads but not for long. Jens
Voigt is still in front, with Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner).
Kessler (T-Mobile) has crashed, with two Euskaltels just after crossing the
Meuse river. But the all look OK and are able to continue.
17:27 CEST 200km/2km to go
Now its' Quick.Step
in the front again. They're on the cobbles now. This is going to be interesting!!
Loddo is leading - he has attacked.
He's marked by Chechu Rubiera (Discovery).
The peloton is about 40 riders
strong, 5 seconds behind them. Rubiera is now leading! Schumacher drives up
to him under the 1000m-mark!
Schumacher now leads in front of
Rubiera. 800m to go. Bettini is a few secs behind with some others. The sprint
Schumacher is hammering in front,
pushing through... And he does it! Rubiera second, Rebellin third.
What a stunning finish! Schumacher
fully lived up to recent expectations - a new star is born! That was one impressive
ride, also be Chechu Rubiera, who just couldn't counter the German's massive
strength in the end.
That gives him the maglia rosa, with
Savoldelli second. It wasn't to be for Bettini...
That's it from
us in the CN blimp for now, join us again for another exciting Giro stage in
rainy Belgium tomorrow: Another hilly stage with two climbs from the Ardennes
classics, Cote de Wanne and Stavelot-La Haute Levee in the first half, but things
could come back together in the rolling last half for a bunch sprint finish.
We'll see if Petacchi has recuperated. Ciao for now!
1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 5.14.43
2 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.02
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 0.06
4 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC
7 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner
8 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
9 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
10 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas 0.09
General classification after stage 3
1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 10.14.04
2 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.13
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 0.23
4 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.29
5 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.31
6 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile Team
7 Bradley McGee (Aus) Française des Jeux
8 Francisco Perez Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.32
9 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 0.33
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile Team 0.37
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