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Photo ©: Bettini

89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 5 - Thursday, May 11: Piacenza - Cremona TTT, 35 km

Complete live report

Welcome back to Cyclingnews' Live coverage from the Giro d'Italia! On the menu today is the much-anticipated team time trial, which will certainly see a CSC-Discovery Channel battle on the dead-flat roads south of Milano, while climbers' teams will lose minutes to the powerhouse squads. On a distance of 38 kilometres, the Giro teams will be put to the ultimate test in the discipline against the clock, although big time differences are not expected. It's a matter of prestige - and precious seconds nevertheless - to win here, and German team Gerolsteiner will be on a mission to preserve its overall leadership with Stefan Schumacher against the high profile favourites' teams, especially CSC and Discovery.

13:33 CEST   

14:49 CEST   
Today's team time trial from Piacenza eastwards to Cremona - home of the famous violin maker Antonio Stradivari, by the way - is taking place in the pancake-flat region south of Milan. The roads of the parcours are straight, wide and as untechnical as they possibly could be: perfect for true power machines. Just a few kilometres from the finish line, the riders will be crossing the river Po on a long steel bridge.

14:51 CEST   
Let's take a look at that start list. A 5min-gap between the teams will be observed, with the last team to depart in Piacenza being Gerolsteiner around the pink-clad Stefan Schumacher. Team CSC will precede Discovery Channel by 15 minutes. Here are the starting times (CET of course) in detail:

14h45: Selle Italia, 14h50: Bouygues Telecom, 14h55: Euskaltel, 15h00: Panaria, 15h05: AG2R, 15h10: Cofidis, 15h15: Milram, 15h20: Davitamon, 15h25: Liberty, 15h30: Saunier Duval, 15h35: Rabobank, 15h40: Crédit Agricole, 15h45: Phonak, 15h50: Quick Step, 15h55: Française des Jeux, 16h00: Liquigas, 16h05: Lampre, 16h10: CSC, 16h15: T-Mobile, 16h20: Caisse d'Epargne, 16h25: Discovery Channel, 16h30: Gerolsteiner

14:56 CEST   
A word on the weather conditions, which are considerably better than the first few days the Giro spent in Belgium! It is about 25° Celsius and the sun is out, with puffy summer clouds hanging in the sky! That should make the riders cheer up after those unpleasant last few stages and especially the long transfer they had to Italy. All the teams were upset about the fact that the planes left Liège very late on Tuesday evening, and many riders only got to bed at 2am in the morning. Fortunately, there was that rest day yesterday.

There is also very little wind at the moment, but the light breeze of about 10 km/h is blowing from WSW, so it will be in favour of a fast race: It's a tailwind.

15:01 CEST   
The Discovery riders were really psyched this morning, and are looking for a good battle with CSC. We spoke with Discovery's Pavel Padrnos, who was really looking forward to today. "The CSC guys are going to be tough but we really want to win today."

Paolo Savoldelli, too, was smiling and relaxed when we asked him how he felt. "Great. I think we're going to have a good ride today."

15:05 CEST   
The first teams have thus already started, and we are waiting for the first time checks to see how they are coming along.

Bjarne Riis, too, is in a winning mode today. "I don't care how we win, all that counts is that we do," he told a German TV reporter. "Getting second would be disappointing." Guess the battle between CSC and Discovery is ON!!

15:16 CEST   
We can see AG2R on the road now - all nine riders are nicely aligned as they race through the green Italian flatlands. Panaria, on the other hand, only has 7 riders left as Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio already lost contact.

15:20 CEST   

15:21 CEST   
A word on the TTT rules: the time of the fifth incoming rider will be the team's time counted for GC, so each team needs to get at least five riders into the finish together. It's a good idea to leave behind those who are not strong enough - but not too soon, either.

15:24 CEST   
Panaria, who has 15 km left to go, have lost another rider to a mechanical, and are now down to six. Ouch!

Selle Italia is coming into the finish: 38.33! That's very fast for 38 kms!

15:28 CEST   
There is a new information on the course - it seems the total distance is only about 35 kms instead of 38, as Selle Italia's average speed was 54.4 km/h.

Liberty Seguros has left the start ramp, now, too. Bouygues clocks a new best with 38.19 with 55,8 km/h.

15:33 CEST   
The next team getting into the finish is Euskaltel, but they are losing time on Bouygues - 38.52, grinding teeth.

15:37 CEST   
Cofidis is on the course now. The French squad should be stronger than the previous teams. Liberty just passed the first intermediate time check at 10.1 kms after 11.02 mins - that's not a new best time at all... Maybe they can turn on the turbo later.

15:41 CEST   
Panaria powers to the finish line with five men left. They are third now behind Bouygues and Selle Italia.

15:44 CEST   
Team Discovery is now also starting to warm up outside of their team bus. Tommy Danielson was his usual amiable relaxed self when we spoke to him this morning. "The team is great. I'm really looking forward to having a good Giro because last year things didn't go so well for me."

Meanwhile, AG2R clocked a new best, beating Bouygues by one second! Talk about short gaps!

15:47 CEST   
Saunier Duval are riding a 'Belgian circle' instead of lining up one behind the other. Every team has its own methods against the clock. They do look efficient on that straight, wide road, but not everyone's taking turns anymore.

15:48 CEST   
Cofidis power to the finish with six riders left, giving it full steam, but they won't beat AG2R's time - no, they are third at the moment.

15:55 CEST   
It's the first day of "grand caldo" in Italy today, as the temperatures now reach about 30° Celsius. Huge crowds have gathered in Cremona, the home of violin maestro Stradivari, awaiting the arrival of Team Milram... and the Italian-German squad puts up a new best time with 38.09!

15:58 CEST   
Saunier Duval is having trouble keeping up it's circle, but now they're keeping it going again.

Davitamon-Lotto arrives in Cremona, they're also having a good day: 38.05, as the last three riders broke off the back with only 200metres to go. Robbie McEwen led his team in the final sprint.

16:06 CEST   
Wow - Liberty Seguros might not even end up in Top Ten later on, clocking only 38.21. At the moment, the sprinter's teams clearly have an advantage over this course.

A few readers have asked about the Belgian circle: it is also referred to as a rotating pace line. Imagine a circle of riders pacing in clockwise direction - then narrow it down to two lines beside each other. That's what it looks like, and the efficiency is about the same as when the riders form one straight line, even if there are many different theories and opinions. Some think a single pace line is better, but it depends on the wind.

16:10 CEST   
Saunier Duval, the team rotating, is now getting into the finish: 38.22, currently sixth place. That's a decent time for Gibo Simoni, who looked at the great clock hanging on top of him as he raced over the finish line...

CSC is on the ramp! Now we will what happens! They're off, straight into a single line...

16:15 CEST   
Phonak also seems to have a good ride, clocking best times at the different intermediate checks. But at the moment, Rabobank comes into the finish, led out by Marc Wauters. 38.13 for the Dutch team, that's currently a third place.

T-Mobile sets off! They have excellent time triallists in their ranks like Serguei Gonchar and the reigning World Champion Michael Rogers.

16:19 CEST   
Team Lampre around Damiano Cunego is also on the course now, with the 'Little Prince' just taking a turn. They will be trying not to lose too much time...

Crédit Agricole sets up a new best by another tiny second, coming in just before Phonak.

Liquigas' Charles Wegelius' heart rate is at 183 bpm at 55 km/h.

16:22 CEST   
And CSC is 9 seconds faster than Liquigas at the first intermediate time check! They are really hammering, but smoothly like they should. Bobby Julich is leading.

16:24 CEST   
Phonak gets into the finish! They drop off their last riders within the last kilometre, and come in with five men after 38 minutes exactly. Gutierrez took the last turn before the line. That's a great performance!

16:26 CEST   
Discovery is out of the start ramp now, followed by Lance Armstrong in the team car. That will be a great motivation for the riders to know he's there behind them, possibly yelling, too...

16:32 CEST   
Quick Step - again, a sprinter's team! - beat Phonak by another second, clocking the first time under 38 minutes on this course. A very impressive performance by the Belgian team.

Liquigas is the next team for a new best, but they will still take some 15 mins before they get here. Meanwhile, the last team, Gerolsteiner, has left the start ramp.

Lance Armstrong sits on the passenger's seat in his team car behind the riders, window closed, focused and unmoved, it seems.

16:34 CEST   
Francaise des Jeux really powered during the last kilometres it seems, as they clock a new best time. But for how long will it last, since the best teams are yet to come?

16:38 CEST   
And Discovery seems to have trouble finding its rhythm in this first part of the race, as they are currently 24 seconds down after 10 kms of racing - only eighth behind CSC.

16:40 CEST   
Lampre is also riding a rotating pace line, while Liquigas showed a great performance with 37.38 in the finish - good thing for Danilo Di Luca, who also hopes for a podium placing at this Giro d'Italia.

16:43 CEST   
Gerolsteiner lost 20 seconds already at the first intermediate time check. Ivan Basso needs 43 seconds to take the pink jersey, while Savoldelli only needs 13.

Lampre came in after 38 minutes exactly - not too bad for Cunego.

16:45 CEST   
Discovery is now 6th, 33 seconds down on CSC after 16 km, so Basso is now ahead of Savoldelli on GC - Discovery have always been slow starters though.

16:47 CEST   
But now CSC gets into the finish straight, with Blaudzun in the lead before Voigt. They're hammering: 36.56! Incredible! That time is going to be very hard to beat...

16:49 CEST   
Gerolsteiner has already lost 43 seconds at time check # 2. So Schumacher has already lost the pink jersey to Basso now.

T-Mobile is on the bridge crossing the river Po, with Ullrich taking a turn now. Only a few kilometres to go for the magenta team.

16:50 CEST   
Basso is interviewed in the finish by Italian TV - he looks like he wants to sit down!

16:53 CEST   
Rogers leads T-Mobile into the finish. Kessler has to let go, but he is the fifth man! He gets in two seconds behind his teammates: 36.57, just one second behind CSC - that's an impressive performance for the German team - Jan Ullrich will be happy.

Basso is still the virtual leader.

16:55 CEST   
Erratum - it's Gonchar in Pink right now, as he is only 31 seconds down on GC, and Basso was 43 seconds.

16:59 CEST   
Gerolsteiner is now 52 secs slower after 22 km - that jersey is definitely gone. But will Discovery Channel be able to make up the time they've already lost to CSC and T-Mobile? They're on that steel bridge now, we will know in a few minutes.

17:01 CEST   
Discovery is still hammering with nine riders together as they come into Cremona.

Gerolsteiner is 58 seconds back at the last time check.

17:03 CEST   
Now they're on the last straight... but they won't make it: 37.35, 39 seconds slower than CSC. Gonchar is now definitely in pink!

17:06 CEST   
So the new GC will be Gonchar (T-Mobile) before Voigt (CSC), Rogers (T-Mobile), Pollack (T-Mobile, and Basso (CSC), if we're not mistaken.

17:08 CEST   
Rebellin is powering for Gerolsteiner, but it won't help. They have fought bravley, but CSC and T-Mobile were outstanding today. Discovery couldn't live up to the expectations - we will surely collect some explanations for their performance later on.

17:14 CEST   
Hadn't it been for poor "Matze" Kessler, T-Mobile would have won today! But still they take the maglia rosa, so they will be happy. Discovery's Savoldelli is now 6th at 20 seconds, Cunego 25th at about 1'20. Basso and Savoldelli are only 9 seconds apart.

The CSC guys are on the podium now, grinning. They've made it come true again after that disappointment last year at the Tour de France, where they lost only by a few seconds. Basso shakes the bottle!

17:19 CEST   
That's all from us for today - Gonchar takes a good sip of champagne on the podium! We will be back tomorrow for stage 6 from Busetto to Forli, another flat stage made for the sprinters. See you then!

Intermediate timing

Time check 1 - km 9.7
1 Team CSC                                 10.32
2 T-Mobile                                  0.08
3 Liquigas                                  0.09
4 Francaise des Jeux                        0.16
5 Phonak                                    0.18
Time check 2 - km 16
1 Team CSC            
2 T-Mobile                                  0.10
3 Liquigas                                  0.22
4 Francaise des Jeux                        0.29
5 Lampre-Fondital                           0.31
Time check 3 - km 22.4
1 Team CSC                                 24.09
2 T-Mobile                                  0.15
3 Liquigas                                  0.31
4 Discovery Channel                         0.37
5 Lampre-Fondital                           0.44
Time check 4 - km 27
1 Team CSC                            
2 Liquigas                                  0.36
3 Discovery Channel                         0.40
4 Lampre-Fondital                           0.55
5 Phonak                                    1.00
Finish - 35 km
1 Team CSC                                 36.56 (56.859 km/h)
2 T-Mobile                                  0.01
3 Discovery Channel                         0.39
4 Liquigas                                  0.42
5 Francaise des Jeux                        1.00
6 Gerolsteiner                              1.03
7 Quick.Step-Innergetic                         
8 Lampre-Fondital                           1.04
9 Phonak                                        
10 Credit Agricole                          1.07
11 Davitamon-Lotto                          1.08
12 Milram                                   1.13
13 Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears           1.14
14 Rabobank                                 1.17
15 AG2R-Prevoyance                          1.22
16 Bouygues Telecom                         1.23
17 Liberty Seguros-Wurth                    1.25
18 Saunier Duval-Prodir                     1.26
19 Cofidis                                  1.34
20 Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni    1.37
21 Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                1.41
22 Euskaltel-Euskadi                        1.56

General classification after stage 5

1 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile Team                    15.30.23
2 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                  0.06
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile Team                  
4 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile Team                           0.10
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                  0.11
6 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro               0.20
7 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC                              0.29
8 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner                       0.31
9 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                0.33
10 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel           0.38
11 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team    0.44
12 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                             0.49
13 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                        0.54     

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