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89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 8 - Sunday, May 14: Civitanova Marche - Maielletta Passo Lanciano, 171 km

Live Commentary by Jeff Jones with additional reporting from Tim Maloney

Live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST

08:47 CEST   
After a long cruise along the Adriatic coast, Stage 8 makes a sharp right and heads inland through the back country of the Province of Pescara to the first mountaintop finish to Passo Lanciano, called Maielletta. This is a tough climb in the mountains of Abruzzo with a steep final 12km to 1306m. These are the backyard training roads of homeboy Danilo Di Luca and the Liquigas-Bianchi man will surely be going for the win atop the Maielletta climb if he feels better. Otherwise it's Gibo Simoni who has to attack to pull back time from the other favourites.

14:26 CEST   
Today's stage profile is pretty straightforward: flat until about km 104, then a little hillier until the final climb starts at about km 160. The 110 La Gazzetta sprint is quite late in the piece, after 154 km in Manoppello.

14:41 CEST   
The stage started at 12:45pm in Citanova Marche, with 187 riders signing on, as there were quite a few abandons yesterday. Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) and Giovanni Lombardi (CSC) opened the attacking in the first few kilometres, and the race was definitely on, with Quick.Step and Française des Jeux riding hard at the front. After 34 km, Edalaine, Delage (110 Gazzetta leader), Scholz and Hayman tried, but they were recaptured.

50 km were covered in a very fast first hour, then a new attack went with Sylvain Calzati (AG2R), Francisco Perez Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) and Nicki Sorensen (CSC), joined by Lampre super strongman Marzio Bruseghin a short while later.

The group grew to 11 riders: Sylvain Calzati (AG2R Prevoyance), Francisco Perez Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Jan Kuyckx (Davitamon-Lotto), Iker Flores Galarza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital), Serge Baguet (Quick Step-Innergetic), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank), Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Nicki Sorensen (Team CSC), Alessandro Cortinovis (Team Milram). In pursuit were Christophe Edalaine and Benoît Poilvet (Credit Agricole) and Santo Anza' (Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni).

After 61 km, the front 11 had 0'50 on the three chasers, with the bunch at 1'40. 10 km later, the gaps were 30 seconds and 2'18, so it's been hard for these three to bridge up.

14:58 CEST    105km/66km to go
After 72 km, the three chasers did manage to make contact with the 11 leaders, and we now have a group of 14: Sylvain Calzati (AG2R Prevoyance), Francisco Perez Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Jan Kuyckx (Davitamon-Lotto), Iker Flores Galarza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital), Serge Baguet (Quick Step-Innergetic), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank), Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Nicki Sorensen (Team CSC), Alessandro Cortinovis (Team Milram), Christophe Edalaine and Benoît Poilvet (Credit Agricole) and Santo Anza' (Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni).

It's a pretty large group up front, and the peloton has kept the pace up, with the average speed after two hours an impressive 49.4 km/h. After the feed zone in Montesilvano (km 97), the time gap was 3'11.

15:01 CEST    107km/64km to go
Marzio Bruseghin is the best placed rider in the break, in 42nd overall at 3'46 down on Gonchar. So at the moment, he is not even in virtual pink. He did a great job for Cunego yesterday in the finale, but ultimately it didn't really pay off, as Verbrugghe stayed away to win the stage and Cunego actually lost time to Savoldelli and Basso on the finishing climb.

15:08 CEST    110km/61km to go
The leaders start to hit the hills now, and the high pace of the first two and a bit hours will begin to hurt the legs, not to mention the 460 km in the previous two days. The gap is a steady 3'00, with T-Mobile controlling things well.

15:19 CEST    116km/55km to go
The magenta riders look to be easing off a bit, and have allowed the break to reach 3'44. They'll need more than that to survive the last climb, even with riders like Francisco Perez, Bruseghin, Anza and Sorensen up there.

Yesterday was a bit different. At several points in the stage, the bunch and the break just sat up. It was almost like a game of chicken. But when the break began to ride, it didn't take long for a chase to start in the bunch. Giving a rider like Garate seven minutes could have been dangerous, as he does know how to climb. But Mori and Vila were not really working in the break, and that all but doomed it.

15:26 CEST    121km/50km to go
The T-Mobile boys start to ride a bit harder now, and reduce the gap back to 3'11 inside the final 50 km.

15:34 CEST    127km/44km to go
Well, the break will be lucky to hit the last climb with much more than a minute at this rate. It's 2'48 now. We'll see how hard T-Mobile continues to chase.

15:37 CEST    130km/41km to go
Some details of the last climb, the Passo Lanciano. It's 12.3 km long, averaging a nasty 8.4% with a maximum of 13%. After 6 km, there's a 3.9% section, but there's really not much relief for the riders until they pass the finish line. The final kilometre averages 7.8%. We'll definitely see who's got their climbing legs on today...

15:42 CEST    131km/40km to go
Inside the last 40 km, and the 14 leaders go up the small climb of Nocciano.

It's raining at the finish, and there are a few drops on the riders now.

15:43 CEST    133km/38km to go
The chase is being led by CSC and Lampre at the moment, with T-Mobile stepping back . Also Liquigas and Saunier Duval are working pretty hard.

15:43 CEST    137km/34km to go
In front, Jan Kuyckx attacks. Pretty hard.

The peloton goes under 35 km to go at 2'06 behind the leaders.

15:45 CEST    139km/32km to go
Kuyckx puts his head down and goes for it, trying to get a bigger advantage before the last climb. They're chasing him.

It's all Liquigas and Saunier leading the peloton. The Lampres and CSCs are sitting back a bit. Phonak also.

15:47 CEST    140km/31km to go
Moletta leads the break back to Kuyckx, and he gets a few choice words.

The average speed after 3 hours is still high at 46.3 km/h, but remember the average after two hours was 49.4 km/h(!)

15:51 CEST    141km/30km to go
Sorensen does another turn in the break, trying to keep the pace up until the last climb. In the peloton, it's a yellow and green train with Liquigas and Saunier Duval leading. Manuel Mori himself is leading. He was in the break for most of the day yesterday.

Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) has dropped out of the lead group, and is back in the bunch.

15:52 CEST    143km/28km to go
Raffaele Illiano is sitting on 162/192, or 84% of his maximum heart rate. He's sitting at 49 km/h, in the peloton.

The rain is a little heavier now, but still not enough to really wet the roads.

15:53 CEST   
Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) has some mechanical problems after he crashed. It's a bit more slippery now. The Colombian sprinter is on his way again.

15:56 CEST    145km/26km to go
Another crash: A Lampre rider, Fornaciari, overcooks it behind a Credit Agricole rider, Talabardon, on a wet corner. That splits the peloton, but the second group will make contact with the first.

Fornaciari is going again, with dirt on his left side.

15:57 CEST   
The bunch is now in a very long line, 1'55 behind the 13 leaders. Fornaciari catches up with Talabardon, and grimaces as he rides along in the rain, blood oozing out of a wound in his left elbow.

16:01 CEST    151km/20km to go
Just 20 km to go for the 13 leaders, and they're on dry roads again. Bruseghin rolls through for another turn, then Flores.

16:02 CEST   
The Bouygues team is marshalling the back of the peloton, along with Torsten Hiekmann (Gerolsteiner).

16:03 CEST    153km/18km to go
The Saunier / Liquigas chase goes under 20 km to go with Angel Gomez leading, and the gap is down to 1'23. The break hasn't got much left.

16:05 CEST   
The road starts to go up again as we approach the 110 Gazzetta sprint point. Iker Flores attacks.

16:07 CEST    154km/17km to go
Flores is joined by Baguet, as the peloton gets within 47 seconds. Savoldelli is sitting just behind the Liquigas train, with Gonchar also there.

Baguet sprints away from the Euskaltel rider and easily gets the 110 Gazzetta points and cash.

16:08 CEST   
The peloton starts to sweep up the breakaways, as it passes the La Gazzetta point 52 seconds behind Baguet.

Niermann, Moletta, and Cortinovis took second through fourth in the prime.

16:10 CEST    156km/15km to go
Baguet continues to ride ahead of the peloton, and goes under 15 km to go. He is caught by the rest of the break, from which Bruseghin attacks.

16:11 CEST   
Bruseghin powers away, and nearly goes onto the grass on a corner. He's riding uphill, pretty quickly.

16:13 CEST    157km/14km to go
The breakaway now has 39 seconds on the bunch, but is now caught by Calzati. Two men in the lead, then the remnants of the break, and the bunch on their heels.

16:14 CEST    158km/13km to go
CSC starts to ride in the front of the bunch, together with Discovery. The lead duo have 36 seconds as they reach the final climb.

16:15 CEST    159km/12km to go
It's Saunier and Liquigas back on the front of the bunch, with a CSC man in fourth wheel.

Bruseghin is doing most of the work in the front break, with Calzati sitting on his wheel. 40 seconds. The rest of the break is caught.

16:16 CEST   
Di Luca moves up the bunch, and hopes to have better legs than yesterday. The peloton is perhaps 50 riders strong now.

16:17 CEST    160km/11km to go
The leaders hit the steeper part of the climb now, and Bruseghin gets rid of Calzati.

16:18 CEST   
Ullrich is dropped from the bunch, but that's not a great surprise, as he's not here to bury himself in the mountains.

Johan Tschopp (Phonak) attacks the peloton.

16:19 CEST    161km/10km to go
Bruseghin has just 25 seconds as Fran Perez is caught by the bunch. Only Calzati and Tschopp between Bruseghin and the bunch.

Perez Cuapio is riding at 20 km/h on the climb, with his heart rate on 170.

16:21 CEST    162km/9km to go
The peloton shrinks again, and pink jersey Gonchar has slipped back towards the back. CSC has two men in front.

Bruseghin has 25 seconds on the bunch still, with Tschopp at 18.

16:22 CEST    162km/9km to go
Di Luca and Sella sit in third and fourth wheel behind the two CSCs pacing the bunch. Bruseghin is finally caught. Danielson is dropped.

16:23 CEST   
Gonchar is dropped next. He's riding a little gear, chasing the bunch of some 15 riders.

16:24 CEST    163km/8km to go
Piepoli leads the bunch now, which his maybe 10 riders strong. Sastre and Basso in second and third wheel, then Di Luca, Simoni, Cunego...

16:26 CEST   
Basso puts Sastre on the front and takes his wheel. Jose E. Gutierrez is also there, and Mazzanti and Perez Cuapio. No, the Mexican is just dropped. Caruso and Savoldelli are there. Sav is looking a bit battered, in last wheel.

Perez Cuapio is now at 191/205 at 19 km/h, chasing back on.

16:28 CEST    164km/7km to go
Savoldelli (Discovery) is now being dropped, as Rujano makes a big move from behind to chase back onto the lead group. Perez Cuapio is yo-yoing off the back.

Gonchar is sitting 22 seconds behind these leaders.

16:29 CEST    164.5km/6.5km to go
Rujano passes Savoldelli, and gets up to Di Luca, who is also suffering. This is a better day for him, but not a great day.

16:31 CEST    165km/6km to go
In front, it's still Sastre for Basso. then Simoni, Cunego, Mazzanti, Jose E. Gutierrez and Caruso. Savoldelli is now passed by Perez Cuapio. But Di Luca can chase back on. Savoldelli looks to be suffering.

16:32 CEST    165.5km/5.5km to go
Gonchar is now at 40 seconds. His maglia rosa is definitely gone.

Sastre continues to lead on a steeper section, with Basso looking great on his wheel. Gibo and Cunego follow. Di Luca is last wheel in the group, but he's still there.

16:33 CEST    166km/5km to go
Basso is very focused, and will try to make the best of today. He's gotten rid of Savoldelli for the time being, and may well find himself in pink today.

16:34 CEST   
Di Luca is joined by Rujano on the back of the group. Savoldelli is at 42 seconds. That's not good. Perez Cuapio is just 10 seconds behind the leaders.

16:35 CEST    166.5km/4.5km to go
Di Luca cracks inside 5 km to go. But Rujano is still there, and attacks!

Savoldelli is now with Danielson, Sella and Noè.

16:36 CEST   
Rujano keeps looking back, and is getting reeled in by Sastre, who is tiring. Will Basso go soon?

16:38 CEST   
Rujano keeps 10 metres through the pine trees, with Sastre still doing the chasing. Basso, Simoni, Cunego, Gutierrez, Piepoli, Mazzanti and Caruso next.

Rujano is caught and Cunego counters. Basso reacts, with Guti on his wheel.

16:39 CEST    167km/4km to go
The Cunego attack has had an effect. Basso is with him, but the rest can't follow. Basso starts to ride... Cunego is dropped.

16:40 CEST   
Basso is alone, heading towards the misty finish. He'll take the stage and pink today, but Cunego hasn't given up.

Savoldelli's group is already 1'00 down. Gonchar is at 1'15.

16:41 CEST   
The situation looks something like this:

Basso (CSC)
Cunego (Lampre)
Jose E. Gutierrez (Phonak)
Mazzanti (Panaria), Caruso (Liberty)
Piepoli, Simoni (Saunier)
Sastre (CSC)
Rujano (Selle Italia)
Di Luca (Liquigas)

16:42 CEST    168km/3km to go
Simoni is fighting hard now to limit the damage to Basso and Cunego. He's with Piepoli and Mazzanti.

16:43 CEST    169km/2km to go
Basso looks superb. This is what he came to Italy for, to win the Giro. But of course it's not over yet. That's what you can be sure with in the Giro. Cunego is just 10 seconds behind the CSC man.

Tommy D is leading Savoldelli and Noè at 1'25. Then Gonchar is at 1'45.

16:45 CEST    169.5km/1.5km to go
It's all Ivan Basso, all the time. He's out of the pine forest and into some lighter trees. OK, so I'm not an expert on trees... They're green :-)

16:46 CEST    170km/1km to go
Basso is pedaling at a nice rhythm and he's really fighting for every second as he's chased by a tifoso, who is nearly run over by the CSC car. Simoni and Piepoli are together, but not that close to the leader, who is inside the final kilometre.

16:46 CEST    170.5km/0.5km to go
Basso is nearly home, and has already opened up 23 seconds on Cunego. Caruso and Guti are at 30 seconds, then Mazzanti at 48 seconds. Rujano is at 1'10. Di Luca at 1'20. And the rest are further back...

16:47 CEST   
It gets slightly less steep in the final 500m. Guti catches Cunego, with Caruso just off the back of them.

16:48 CEST   
Basso will win the stage and take the maglia rosa. Cunego lifts the tempo and tries to get rid of Gutierrez.

16:48 CEST   
Basso up to 300m to go. This has been a tough climb, but it doesn't get easier. Di Luca is passing Rujano now.

16:49 CEST    171km/0km to go
Ivan Basso comes up to the finish line and wins the eighth stage in splendid style. He's ripped the favourites to shreds today.

Guti starts the sprint for second, but Cunego nips him for second at 30 seconds. Then Caruso at 45 seconds.

16:50 CEST   
Mazzanti is next across at 1'10, then Piepoli leads Simoni at 1'17. Serious damage today. Di Luca at 1'32. Then Rujano and Perez Cuapio at 1'50.

16:51 CEST   
Savoldelli comes across at 2'20, raising his eyebrows, then Gonchar at 2'35. The pink is gone.

16:58 CEST   
Well, that was an interesting stage, and the gaps were a bit bigger than expected. It was surprising to see Savoldelli lose that much, but Basso has clearly been marking this day as his. Cunego did well for second, but he's got a lot of work to do to overhaul Basso before the final week. Basso also has the 50km TT in his favour next Thursday.

The next two stages shouldn't be important for the general classification, and we'll have to wait until Thursday before things change up top again. But of course there's plenty more action to come, and we'll be online with all of it in the next two days. Until then!


1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                        4.04.19
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                0.30
3 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
4 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                   0.45
5 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                       1.09
6 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                         1.15
7 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                        
8 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                       1.32
9 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni     1.50
10 Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mex) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare         1.52

General classification after stage 8

1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                       31.41.17
2 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems             1.34
3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                1.48
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team           2.35
5 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile Team                                 2.43
6 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                       2.48
7 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                          3.20
8 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                   3.23
9 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team              3.33


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