89th Giro d'Italia - GT
Italy, May 6-28, 2006
Results & report
Stage 4 - Tuesday, May 9: Wanze - Hotton, 193 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones with additional reporting from Anthony Tan
and Les Clarke
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Preview: A hilly stage south of Liege
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 the sprinters.
Welcome back to sunny Belgium for
the final Wallonian stage of this year's Giro d'Italia, a 193 km journey between
Wanze and Hotton. Both towns are not too far from Seraing, where the
race started on Saturday, but we won't be visiting it again. There are two climbs
(GPMs) today, the Cote de Wanne (km 83) and Haute Levee (km 94), and the 110
Gazzetta sprint is after 98.2 km in Francorchamps. There are normally some other
cash primes as well.
The sad news this morning was that Alessandro
Petacchi (Milram) and Christophe Brandt (Davitamon) will not start in today's
stage. Petacchi broke his kneecap in a crash yesterday, while Brandt broke his
elbow. Petacchi's absence deprives the Giro of one of its two star sprinters,
while Brandt will be missed among Robbie McEwen's Davitamon-Lotto train, as
well as by his local fans.
The stage started at 12:02 and it took
until 10 km before a breakaway was established: Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux),
Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step-Innergetic), Grischa
Niermann (Rabobank), and Alessandro Bertolini (Selle Italia) attacked and got
a gap. After riding 42.9 km in the first hour and averaging 40.8 km/h after
two hours, they have 6'11 on the peloton. They haven't managed much more than
At the Haute Levée climb, the lead
group is 6'20 ahead of the peloton.
I wasn't actually lying when I said
it was sunny in Belgium today. The weather is quite reasonable, with a south
easterly wind blowing and temperatures of about 17 degrees. Most importantly,
it's not raining.
14:55 CEST 100km/93km to go
The lead group reaches
the "110 Gazzetta" sprint point in Francorchamps, with Casar taking the points
ahead of Calcagni and Van de Walle. This competition is not simple, as points
are awarded for not only the 110 Gazzetta classification, but also the points
The "110 Gazzetta" honours the organising newspaper
Gazzetta dello Sport, which was founded 110 years ago. In the past this was
called the InterGiro.
15:00 CEST 110km/83km to go
The leaders increase
their gap to 6'45 over the bunch, where maglia rosa Stefan Schumacher's
Gerolsteiner team has been doing the job, along with Davitamon-Lotto, which
will fancy a win for McEwen today.
Graeme Brown (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
We spoke to Rabobank sprinter Graeme
Brown today, who must fancy himself a chance in the likely bunch sprint finish.
"Obviously today Robbie's the man, so if I can be on Robbie's wheel then that's
definitely the key," he told us. "That's half the battle - getting on his wheel.
If I can get on a good wheel then I'll have a good result; my finish line is
getting on the wheel first, then going from there. It looks like a tough day
- the first 110 kilometres looks pretty hard."
What about you Giro
aspirations? Preparation for later in the season, or a big target?
"I wouldn't say it's a big target; if I can win something then it's awesome,
but it's a lot of good experience and if I can get through the entire Giro it'd
be great. A bit unrealistic, but I'm going to try my best because it's really
for the future - if I can get through the Giro it's really good for my legs
next year. Basically I'm going to try and race it like a ten-day tour and then
hold on from there."
In the stage 2 finish, what happened there?
"It was a perfect finish for Robbie, really - and he made it look like a perfect
finish for Robbie. I just had a bad position and tried to move up and nearly
crashed myself and the bunch, but hopefully I can have a better position today."
15:06 CEST 115km/78km to go
train is working pretty well, with Matthias Russ on the front driving it through
the countryside that is familiar from Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Russ pulls off and
slots back into the train, and another blue-clad rider comes through. Preben
Van Hecke is up there for Davitamon-Lotto.
Hiekmann does a short turn, then
Van Hecke comes through on a short climb.
The results of the two
climbs today: The Cote de Wanne was won by Casar, from Van de Walle and Bertolini.
The Haute Levée saw Casar lead Bertolini and Niermann over the top. That should
give Casar the mountains jersey at the end of the day.
15:14 CEST 123km/70km to go
(Rabobank) is the best placed rider in the break, sitting in 47th place at 1'11.
He is thus the virtual maglia rosa for now. The gap has come down from
a maximum of 6'55 to 5'57, thanks to the work of Gerolsteiner and Davitamon.
Music was afoot
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
The third hour has seen the average
drop to 39.7 km/h, as the climbs slow things down a bit.
band is back at the finish...
15:22 CEST 128km/65km to go
The gap has shrunk
to 5'20, with the light blue Gerolsteiner train being assisted by two Davitamon
Saunier Duval moseys on up to the front of the peloton,
presumably with Simoni in tow. Yes, he's there. There are a couple of Milram
riders up near the front, but they are leaderless today, alas.
In the breakaway, Niermann does a
strong turn, trying to keep the group's chances alive.
15:28 CEST 135km/58km to go
The sunshine will
be welcomed by the riders after a couple of wet days in the saddle. Nearly all
are in short sleeves. Yesterday's stage was incredible near the finish, with
the bunch racing along in the wet at 60-70 km/h towards the final climb.
Leonardo Bertagnolli (Cofidis) has abandoned.
Casar now rolls through for his turn,
with Calcagni on his wheel. The group's lead is just 4'30 now.
Savio in the Selle Italia team car is having another good day. This is the third
out of three stages that he's had a rider in the break. Missaglia, Illiano
and today, Bertolini.
15:38 CEST 141km/52km to go
There are now three
Davitamons interspersed among the Gerolsteiner blue. Schumacher sits in about
10th wheel, clad in his maglia rosa. Simoni is right up there next to him -
he lost 29 seconds to Schumacher yesterday after being caught behind a crash
near the finish.
Paolo Savoldelli, the first maglia
rosa of this year's Giro, is sporting a pink back number too.
difference between the front five and the bunch is now 3'45. It's pretty relaxed
in the middle of the peloton.
15:42 CEST 143km/50km to go
Jose Rujano is also
near the front of the bunch. He lost 55 seconds yesterday in that chaotic finish.
Cobbled climbs in the wet aren't really his thing. But a dirt road on a ski
slope might suit him better...
The lead rider in the peloton nearly
hits a race moto as he takes a corner somewhat faster than the moto. They do
ride close to the riders in Italian races.
The breakaways pass some cows, while
big bad Bert Roesems leads the bunch 3'30 behind.
15:44 CEST 145km/48km to go
The leaders again:
Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas), Jurgen Van De
Walle (Quick Step-Innergetic), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank), Alessandro Bertolini
(Selle Italia). Best placed is Niermann, who was 1'11 down on GC at the start
of the stage.
Matthias Russ rides up to the front
of the bunch with bidons for his teammates. The peloton scares the cows as it
15:47 CEST 148km/45km to go
Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
moves up to the front, clad in the purple points jersey. He was a favourite
to win yesterday, but could only manage fourth. It's harder than it looks to
sprint uphill on wet cobbles, snaking around corners. Actually it looks pretty
Henk Vogels is up the front for Davitamon, who are gradually
marshalling all its men in front. Another win for McEwen would be good going
into the team time trial.
Cyclingnews spoke with CSC's
Jens Voigt before today's fourth stage to Hotton, and the German was in a relaxed
mood, enjoying a quick short black coffee. "It's more or less hiding and saving
energy for the day, he said. "It's probably going to be a bunch kick today -
Petacchi's out, so McEwen's the only real super sprinter here - there are a
few other fast guys, but no one that can really match McEwen, I'd say," he added.
"He's got a really good chance to win - he's in Belgium and from a Belgian team,
so they're going to take charge of things," explained the experienced CSC rider,
before adding that, "Gerolsteiner wants to keep hold of the jersey, and the
other sprinters' teams are going to join in, so it wouldn't really make a lot
of sense to go [out alone]."
15:50 CEST 153km/40km to go
The leaders have
just gone under the 40 km to go banner, but their advantage is continuously
shrinking. Bert Roesems is on the front of the bunch again, and has it pegged
15:54 CEST 157km/36km to go
The leaders aren't
going to last long at this rate. The chasing tempo is quite hard, thanks to
Gerolsteiner and Davitamon. Sven Krauss does a turn then drops back, hurting
The breakaways ride past another bunch of cows. There is a
big bovine presence in today's stage.
15:57 CEST 159km/34km to go
Through Malmedy now,
and it's a beautiful afternoon in Wallonia. The countryside is very green in
this part of the world, and there are many cows. They probably outnumber the
The bunch descends, paced as always
by Davitamon and Gerolsteiner. Schumacher looks good in his pink helmet and
jersey, but has opted for the team issue light blue shorts today. It wouldn't
surprise us to see him in an all pink skinsuit in Thursday's team time trial.
16:02 CEST 160km/33km to go
It's down to 1'40
as the bunch flies past 35 km to go. This break will be lucky to last until
20 km left.
Roesems, Van Hecke and Kuyckx the riders for Davitamon
in front of the bunch, while Moletta leads the Gerolsteiner train.
16:02 CEST 161km/32km to go
In the front group,
Niermann does another turn, then Casar and Van de Walle roll through, not lasting
long on the front. Bertolini is hurting, sitting in fifth wheel and not rolling
16:05 CEST 162km/31km to go
The average speed
after four hours has nudged above the 40 km/h mark: 40.378 km/h, to be precise.
16:08 CEST 163km/30km to go
At 30 km to go, the
gap has fallen to 1'18. The leaders aren't working so well together.
But now the bunch has sat up a bit, with Gerolsteiner taking a drinks break.
It's never good to catch the break too early, because that opens it up for counter
attacks from fresh riders, which can be hard to control. With riders already
in front, there is less incentive for others to attack unless they can be sure
they can catch and drop the leaders. That's easier on a mountain stage, rather
than a flat one.
Hopefully this explains why flat stages are pretty
boring formulaic. And why we need cows and marching bands.
16:10 CEST 167km/26km to go
It's time for a stretch
in the peloton, as the road heads down again towards the finish in Hotton. 1'16
is the gap.
Bertolini is now doing a bit more
work in the break. Meanwhile, Sven Krauss has come up to give bidons to his
teammates in the peloton. The battle for position hasn't really started yet.
16:13 CEST 169km/24km to go
It's exactly a minute
as the bunch files under 25 km to go banner, in pursuit of the five man break
that has been clear since km 10.
16:16 CEST 171km/22km to go
Stef Clement (Bouygues)
moves up to the front, and maybe asks for the pace to be lifted a bit. Easy
to say when you're in the slipstream :-) Saunier Duval is prominent near the
front, still smarting from yesterday. There are a few Credit Agricole riders
near the front too.
Krauss and Roesems swap off in the front of the
peloton, and now the gap is under a minute.
Lombardi and Gustov protect Ivan
Basso, keeping him out of harm's way at the front. He lost a little bit of time
yesterday, but not really to the other GC riders.
16:19 CEST 174km/19km to go
Now T-Mobile gets
to the front for a bit, with Jörg Ludewig. With Korff and Pollack, they have
two good sprinters.
16:20 CEST 175km/18km to go
Alberto Loddo (Selle
Italia) can sprint too, but he's at the front a bit too early.
Rabon is another T-Mobile jersey in front, while Lombardi continues to nurse
16:22 CEST 176km/17km to go
And there are a few
Milram jerseys up there. Some cows take note of those.
Mirco Lorenzetto and Alberto Ongarato as substitute sprinters for Petacchi.
16:22 CEST 177km/16km to go
Rabon does a pull,
then Roesems again, keeping the tempo quite high as the peloton bears down on
The bunch can see the break now,
and it's only half a minute.
16:24 CEST 178km/15km to go
The break goes under
15 km to go and is still working pretty well. They've been in front for nearly
Clement (Bouygues) takes a turn in front of the peloton.
16:26 CEST 179km/14km to go
It's down to 10 seconds
and falling fast. The break is caught. Well, Niermann and Van de Walle keep
it going for a bit longer, but it's wasted effort. A magenta train passes them.
Bertolini's heart rate was 149 of a max of 180 just then.
16:28 CEST 181km/12km to go
T-Mobile has three
riders leading now, with Ludewig, Kessler and Davis up there.
on the wildlife: we haven't spotted any three-headed chickens today, nor any
nuclear power stations.
16:30 CEST 183km/10km to go
Rabon powers away
in front as Di Luca positions himself next to some Liberty riders near the front.
Now Milram and Quick.Step challenge for the lead. Davitamon hasn't formed its
train yet. Bettini is in about 10th wheel.
Ludewig leads through
Barvaux at 10 km to go.
16:31 CEST 184.5km/8.5km to go
Masses of people
are here to watch the Giro come through, and that's always heartening. Ludewig
and Rabon pour on the pace, and the bunch lines out behind.
is well placed on the left of the bunch, towards the front.
16:32 CEST 185km/8km to go
It's a long, thin
line at the back of the peloton, but in front it's still bunched.
Milram has got its train happening for probably Lorenzetto. Schumacher is relatively
isolated from his teammates.
16:32 CEST 186km/7km to go
moves up with Ekimov on his wheel, then Savoldelli. Schumacher has dropped back
a bit. Bettini looks good as he sits next to Savoldelli and Baguet.
16:33 CEST 187km/6km to go
Milram is definitely
trying to lead out Lorenzetto, now Christian Knees does his turn on the front.
Where is Davitamon? Not here yet.
Wielinga (Quick.Step) takes a turn
and has teammate Scarselli on his wheel. Bettini could take the maglia rosa
today with a very good sprint.
16:35 CEST 187.5km/5.5km to go
Jens Voigt (CSC)
attacks! Nice move, but it's going to be hard...
16:36 CEST 188km/5km to go
Voigt gets a small
gap under 5 km to go as the road goes uphill slightly. Less than five seconds,
with Quick.Step still on the front.
Voigt works hard to increase his
lead, but the bunch isn't going to give him anything. Now Milram ups the tempo.
16:37 CEST 189km/4km to go
Jens Voigt is hanging
AG2R moves Vaitkus up next to Bettini.
Voigt is caught before 4 km to go.
16:38 CEST 189.5km/3.5km to go
McEwen is looking
comfy towards the front. He knows how to time his sprint.
and T-Mobile are leading it out, with mostly Milram on the front. Schumacher
is up there, sitting in the wind.
16:38 CEST 190km/3km to go
Philippe Gilbert (FDJ)
is moved up by his team, then Baguet (Quick.Step) pumps on the pedals at 3 km
to go. That's a good turn.
16:39 CEST 190.5km/2.5km to go
Baguet has even
split the Milram train, and gets a little gap as the others find it hard to
fold his wheel. Now Rik Verbrugghe attacks, but gets nowhere.
16:40 CEST 191km/2km to go
Milram takes over
in front, passing Verbrugghe. McEwen has chosen the T-Mobile riders to sit behind
though. But he has Vogels protecting him. Graeme Brown is up on his wheel, next
16:40 CEST 192km/1km to go
Sacchi leads the bunch
up to 1 km to go.
Sacchi pulls off, leaving more blue
jersey. But it's not the same without Petacchi. Two Milrams left. Bettini is
behind McEwen, who is on the Milram train. Then T-Mobile winds it up on the
16:41 CEST 193km/0km to go
McEwen waits, is boxed
in a little bit, but then finds a gap and wins the stage!!! Bettini second,
then Loddo. Schumacher keeps the pink jersey.
Pollack was very frustrated with
his fifth place. He went too early today, way too early. But McEwen rode a great
sprint to win again. Bettini gained more time, but it wasn't enough to take
the pink jersey, as he needed 47 seconds.
And so ends the Giro d'Italia in
Belgium. Tomorrow, the riders will transfer to Italy for Thursday's team time
trial between Piacenza and Cremona. Until then, farewell!
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 4.38.51
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic
3 Alberto Loddo (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni
4 Axel Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
5 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile Team
6 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Team Milram
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux
8 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) AG2R Prevoyance
General classification after stage 4
1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 14.52.25
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 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 0.35
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