100th Giro di Lombardia - ProT
Italy, October 14, 2006
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones and Gregor Brown
Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST
Hello and welcome to the coverage
of the 100th Giro di Lombardia. This Italian classic is the final ProTour race
of the season The parcours takes the riders from Mendrisio to Como, via Lago
di Como and the famed Madonna del Ghisallo.
The temperature typical for a fall
day in northern Italy: Clouds, around 18°C, some chance of rain.
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes
Balears) decided to start the race. The rider and his Spanish team were involved
in a controversy with the race organizers over the ProTour jersey, and weather
or not it would be presented at the end of the race.
14:52 CEST 165km/80km to go
Riders are descending
Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), Andrea
Pagoto (Panaria), Diego Caccia and James Perry (Barloworld) had about 10 minutes
on the peloton, we are checking with race officials for an update on the current
situation. It is likely this gap will get gobbled up on the steep slopes of
The riders, after descending into
Lecco, will once again be along the shores of Lake Como (or Lago di Como). Lecco,
surrounded by mountains, is the home of famed writer Alessandro Mazzoni. He
wrote i Promossi Sposi, a book of to young lovers that have to escape their
families, floating away on a boat towards Monza.
Once along the lake, the riders will
travel up the western shores, passing Onno and onto Bellagio, and then it is
all uphill "fun." The addition of the Madonna del Ghisallo in the 1920s helped
the race rise to "classic" status. Ghisallo, then a dirt road is now paved but
the climb is still an epic. Rising 511 meters in 8.6 kilometres; the climb hits
percentages of 14% before reaching the Sanctuary at top, leaving 45km to go.
The descent from Ghisallo, through
Asso and on to Erba is thrilling. Every weekend this area is filled with cyclist,
and during the week you can find pros training here.
This morning Valverde and Bettini
rolled out in their white jerseys. Bettini in the World Champ jersey and The
White Bullet in the ProTour jersey.
There was no sign of Basso in the
peloton, the rider, who lives near by in Varese, will race tomorrow in an Italian
Andrea Peron (Team CSC) will also
be at the TT tomorrow, it will be his last race as a professional.
Thierry Marichal (Cofidis) attacked
early, the first to attack. After which the attacks started thick and fast.
15:09 CEST 170km/75km to go
The race lead was
up to 13 minutes, now it is down to 8.
The riders are passing Malgrate.
Plenty of gelaterias around this area! The four will not stop for a gelato.
They formed at 82km into the race, and since then have been down to the serious
business of gap building.
The gap, at 8', is under the control
of Rabobank and Milram.
15:12 CEST 175km/70km to go
A couple of big tunnels
face the riders. These are not the old-school, un-lit caves, but big and wide.
There is first a tunnel of 1600m, closely followed by a tunnel of 2400m.
Nearing Onno, it is Cofidis with
Milram and Rabobank. They are pounding hard on the front. It is likely that
Cofidis will want to setup Leonardo Bertagnolli. The gap is falling FAST; now
The peloton just pasted over the
old Roman bridge in Lecco. This bridged has been crossed many times in the previous
editions of Lombardia. Over the peloton's right is Lecco. The mountain tops
are not visible, clouds rest at the top. Even with the clouds, it is a great
day for a race. The roads are dry and it will be slightly "cooler" climbing
The roads for the 4 up front are
perfect for staying away. They twist and wind along the cliffs that sit at the
side of Lake Como. The roads are so tight, that when open to traffic, cars will
honk to indicate to the possible car around the corner that they are coming.
The clear waters are a great place for swimming and sun bathing in the summer.
Today, with the clouds, the riders will be spared of any distractions, or Italian
girls laying on the beach.
15:22 CEST 183km/62km to go
Hungry? Grab the
feed bags. The 4-some is in the feed zone. Italian Diego Caccia leads the four.
His silver chain hangs out of his jersey. Looks like a cross. Up on the top
of Ghisallo, he could pick up a medallion of Ghisallo, the saint of cyclists.
James Perry is the 2002 South African
TT Champion. Caccia and Pagoto both have no wins in their palmares. But Totschnig
has won tons of Austrian races (his home country), but the stage in the 2005
Tour de France was his biggest win.
15:28 CEST 190km/55km to go
The peloton races
through the feed zone in Onno, 5'15 behind the break, which is working hard
along the shores of Lake Como. The lake looks very inviting... It's a cool autumn
afternoon, but quite dry, and it's really a perfect day for the final classic
of the season.
15:29 CEST 191km/54km to go
And now, the leaders
are getting close to the foot of the Madonna del Ghisallo. Caccia does another
turn, looking somewhat stressed.
Rabobank has the control of the
peloton, while CSC also is doing a bit of work.
Flecha, Boogerd and Peron lead the
peloton now. The chase is getting very, very serious. Gas is poured on the fire
before the peloton reach the foot of Ghisallo.
Ghisallo is 5.9% average gradient.
At the beginning it touches 14%! That is steep. To try this out for yourself,
ride around here, any weekend and ask some local rider "Dov'è Ghisallo?". Where
is Ghisallo. Most riders will ride with you to the foot of the climb, maybe
even over the top.
15:35 CEST 192km/53km to go
The climb starts
for the four. Or three! Perry has gone out the back door. CSC is on the front,
with some Gerolsteiner presence, perhaps for Tin-Tin Rebellin!
The front trio just based a nasty
sign: 14%. The sign indicates the gradient. They are going to hit the 14% in
the slow, and painful right-hand bend. There are water spouts, with fresh mountain
water along this area, but they won't stop for that.
Barloworld loses Caccia. The non-ProTour
setup did well to have two riders in the early move.
Bettini is showing himself on the
front of the peloton. He has intentions to be at the front when the gruppo hits
the 14% section.
Bettini said this morning at the
start referring to Valverde: "There are rules us riders respect; it is good
that Alejandro is here at the start to take in the satisfaction of this race.
The political fighting should not be fought on the roads but at other, more
Bettini is 2'40" behind the duo.
He is on his own.
An amazing show of force by Il Grillo
Livornese. He is showing his cards quite early, and will need companions to
make this move stick. This Italian has lots of grit!
Bettini just picks up Perry, next
should be Perry's Barloworld teammate.
Rebellin, Schleck, Di Luca, Sanchez
and Ricco join Bettini.
Remember last year, it was the young
rider from Modena, Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir), who won his first
pro race by beating Bettini. Riccò is now in his 2nd year as a professional.
This climb is dragging ON! The rises
a total of 511 meters in 8.6 kilometres. There are easier sections after Guello,
but there is a nasty kick up to the top. T the top there is a little bar, that
will be packed today with tifosi, but there you can get a nice caffè.
Caccia is caught!
Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), Davide
Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Frank Schleck (CSC), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Samuel
Sanchez (Euskaltel), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) and Ricardo Ricco (Saunier Duval).
Bettini is flying! He is leading the charge. Lots of emotion here, he is sure
to be thinking of his brother Sauro.
Di Luca is sitting on the tail-end.
Tin-tin Rebellin is right on the wheel of Bettini, the rider from Verona looks
strong. (They pass a bus!)
39.5km ave after five hours of racing
15:50 CEST 200km/45km to go
Boogerd gives a hand
to Di Luca, encouraging him to work. They are on a slight descent.
Remember how we said that Bettini
would need some companions to make his move stick. Well he has it. This is a
dream group. .... Di Luca and Bettini are past winner. Boogerd (many times),
Rebellin and Schleck have finished on the podium.
Poor Di Luca is suffering. But he
is doing better than most, say Valverde, who is not in sight.
rides without glasses.
Sam Sanchez and Ricco are sort of the dark-horses.
We know the Spaniard is on form, but neither of them have ever podiumed in this
Boogerd in the Dutch national champ
jersey leads the front group, they are oh-so close to the duo. Perhaps Totschnig
will give any remaining power to the aid of Rebellin.
The tifosi are out in huge numbers.
This is great. Sanchez is drifting off the back with Pagoto. Di Luca is clinging
on. Bettini leads. This is amazing!
15:56 CEST 200.7km/44.3km to go
Di Luca hangs
on... Riccò off, as the riders head over the Cima, or summit
We THINK Riccò and Sanchez should
get back on easily. Well, maybe. There are five men pounding up front, followed
by the Italian-spanish duo.
The Killer is putting us in doubt.
He is at the back of the 5, shaking his legs, trying to get the blood flowing
and wake them up. He is pulling through, doing his turns as the five HAMMER
down the descent.
Bettini has his glasses back on,
rainbow coloured of course. He wears number 1, rides on a Time bike. The Belgian
team will switch to Specialized bikes next year. While Di Luca is on a Bianchi,
a classical Italian steed. But the team, will switch over to American-made Cannondales
for 2007. A big move, helped by their new Tech man, Mario Cipollini. The super
sprinter is in Como today, ready to watch the finish.
16:03 CEST 209km/36km to go
Before reaching Como,
any escape that forms on Ghisallo will face the final two smaller climbs: Civiglio
(15.7km to go) and San Fermo della Battaglia (5.7km). Note that San Fermo is
short and steep, close enough to Como for a solo bid.
Ricardo Ricco (Saunier Duval), Samuel
Sanchez (Euskaltel), Andrea Pagoto (Panaria) are close to being caught by five
chasers Fabian Wegmann, Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis),
Matteo Carrara (Lampre)
The front five are in Asso, or "Ass"
in the local dialect. No kidding! Bettini is shaking his legs, but he looks
fresh. He is pushing Schleck along on the descent. Bettini looks oh so smooth.
Likely that Bettini will but in the death-blow attack on San Fermo.
16:07 CEST 210km/35km to go
The leaders cooperate
well on the final part of the descent, but are only 16 seconds ahead of the
seven man chase group. Let's see what Rebellin does. He could sit up in front,
as he has two teammates behind.
16:08 CEST 212km/33km to go
and Schleck look the strongest in front. Di Luca is definitely the weakest (or
he looks to be). Rebellin is a bit of an unknown quantity. At the moment, it's
looking like a Bettini or Rebellin victory, but things can change. It's good
to see the world champ showing the colours at this end of the season.
Sella, Noè and Gustov are in a second chasing group at 30 seconds.
The leaders look nervous, as the
chasers are coming closer. 10 seconds to the Totschnig/Wegmann group.
16:11 CEST 215km/30km to go
At the moment, they
are close to Salvatore Commesso's home town of Erba, and not far from the late
Fabio Casartelli's home of Albavilla.
The two front groups are coming
16:12 CEST 217km/28km to go
They go through a
tunnel and come out with 12 leaders instead of five. Gerolsteiner is well represented
with three riders: Davide Rebellin, Fabian Wegmann, Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner),
then Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), Frank Schleck (CSC), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank),
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Ricardo Ricco (Saunier Duval), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel),
Andrea Pagoto (Panaria), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Matteo Carrara (Lampre).
Emanuele Sella (Panaria-Navigare), Andrea Noè (Liquigas) and Volodimyr Gustov
(Team CSC) are chasing at 15 seconds.
The leaders use this opportunity
to refuel, as Sella, Noè and Gustov are 35 seconds back, with the main peloton
16:16 CEST 221km/24km to go
signals for his team car. He wants food. Now!
The next climb is Civiglio.
16:17 CEST 222km/23km to go
The sun peeks out
behind the clouds as the breakaways work together for a bit. Gerolsteiner has
Totschnig and Wegmann working hard for Rebellin, while Bettini marks the dangerous
rider from Verona closely. This next climb will cause some splits.
Matteo Carrara born on 25.03.1979.
He last wins came in 2003, when he was racing for the Denardi-Colpack. Then
he went wild with 4 wins, including 2 point overalls in stage races. He started
with Polti as a stagiaire at the end of 2000, then a full time pro with Colpack
Noè and Gustov are with a Discovery
rider: Stijn Devolder, not Emanuele Sella. They are chasing the leading group
16:20 CEST 224km/21km to go
Frank Schleck has
his usual poker face on. He looks good today, but has to work to close a gap
to Bettini, Wegmann and Boogerd now.
Pagoto now does a turn with Wegmann
and Bettini, with the world champ definitely not shirking his duty. Samuel Sanchez
has to close a gap now. They're going very fast on the approach to Civiglio.
2'15 to the next chase group of three. It's over for them.
16:24 CEST 225km/20km to go
Di Luca rolls through
next, but will not be looking forward to this next climb. He was the weakest
of the five who made it to the top of Ghisallo together.
is now in discussion with Sanchez. And it's probably not to do with his multicoloured
The road starts to go uphill and
Di Luca leaves a gap. The Liquigas rider closes it slowly as Totschnig drives
it on the front. This group won't hang together for long.
16:26 CEST 226km/19km to go
Now the Civiglio
starts in earnest, with Carrara, Boogerd and Bettini in front. Sanchez and Di
Luca hang off the back, as Totschnig is dropped.
Totschnig has done his job for Rebellin,
and can take it easy now. Bettini is on the front with Rebellin marking him
closely, then Sanchez coming through for a turn.
And then there were 10. Riccardo
Ricco is dropped.
16:29 CEST 227km/18km to go
Pagoto is the next
rider in trouble as Bettini sets a hard tempo. Rebellin is good as he takes
over for a turn. Moreni also.
Pagoto claws his way back as the
pace slows around a hairpin, then Di Luca attacks! Moreni marks him.
Di Luca's attack is brutally countered
by Bettini. Moreni tries to go with him. Bettini nearly runs into a motorbike.
16:32 CEST 228km/17km to go
Bettini powers along,
just like he did last year. The Gerolsteiner rider is close as Bettini reaches
a flatter section on this narrow climb. Is it Rebellin or Wegmann?
16:33 CEST 230km/15km to go
It's Wegmann, not
Rebellin, who is almost on Bettini's wheel. But not quite as the descent starts.
Bettini nearly goes off the road...
16:34 CEST 231km/14km to go
This is a super technical
descent and Bettini is giving it full gas. He nearly hit a safety barrier with
his knee, then nearly went into the rocky wall on the other side of the road
after a bend. He reaches a hairpin and gets around it ok.
16:34 CEST 232km/13km to go
Bettini takes another
hairpin, keeping Wegmann at bay. And another.
Sanchez is leading
a chase group with Moreni, Carrara, Rebellin and Boogerd.
16:35 CEST 234km/11km to go
It's the world champion
on his own in front, but how much of a gap will he have at the bottom? Wegmann
is at five seconds. Moreni now takes over from Sanchez, 10 seconds back.
Bettini nears the bottom of the descent
of Civiglio. Still one more climb to come. And a few more hairpins.
16:37 CEST 235km/10km to go
Bettini rides down
into Como, as Schleck has joined the Boogerd/Rebellin chase group, which now
numbers six riders.
16:38 CEST 236km/9km to go
Paolo Bettini checks
back and Wegmann has caught him, with a lot of effort. Two leaders, with a chase
group of six: Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Samuel
Sanchez (Euskaltel), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Frank Schleck (CSC), Matteo
Carrara (Lampre). The gap is maybe 15 seconds.
Wegmann does a turn(!), allowing
Rebellin a chance to sit on the chasers. The gap is 22 seconds. Bettini takes
over on the flat, looking back at Rebellin.
The next climb is the
very steep San Fermo di Battaglia.
Bettini looks much stronger than
Fabian Wegmann, but looks can be deceiving. Wegmann is probably just trying
to protect Rebellin behind. Maybe Rebellin can bridge up on the next climb.
Di Luca is trying to get back onto the first chase group.
16:41 CEST 236km/9km to go
Di Luca is already
48 seconds behind, so he ain't coming back. The two leaders have 28 seconds
and Bettini is extremely nervous. They both get rid of water from their bidons.
Like last year, Bettini looks to be the man.
16:42 CEST 237km/8km to go
Wegmann and Bettini
chat as they start the San Fermo climb. There's only one way this can go, really.
Boogerd leads the chase group onto
the climb. Let's see who's got legs.
16:44 CEST 238km/7km to go
Di Luca is now on
the climb, but he's fighting a losing battle. He can already see the group in
the next hairpin above him.
Bettini powers along in front, but is
16:44 CEST 238.5km/6.5km to go
And Bettini attacks!
No, he doesn't want to go with Wegmann to the finish. They pass a flag waving
Wegmann's eyes are popping out with the pain.
Wegmann is crying now, but he's holding
Bettini at less than 5 seconds. Good on him!
16:45 CEST 239km/6km to go
Bettini is in front,
and now Wegmann is feeling it a bit more, but is trying to keep the gap close.
He could return on the descent again.
Schleck tries to attack the chase
group, but is caught. Bettini goes past 6 km to go with a growing gap on the
poor Fabian Wegmann. The German could still come back though.
Bettini does look comfortable, but
he can't get rid of Fabian Wegmann.
The chase group is at 28 seconds.
It's not over yet. Schleck attacks again, but they all mark him.
16:48 CEST 240km/5km to go
The San Fermo climb
twists and turns as Bettini reaches the top with 15 seconds on Wegmann. Then
27 to the chasers.
Sanchez leads the chasers over the
top, trying to pick up Wegmann, who will at least get a descent now. Wegmann
must be having trouble concentrating though, after that effort.
16:50 CEST 241km/4km to go
Bettini is racing
down towards the finish with 12 seconds on Wegmann and 20 on the chase group
of six. He should be able to hold it, but anything can happen in the final kilometres.
16:51 CEST 242km/3km to go
Wegmann isn't coming
back - the gap is still 12 seconds between the front two riders. Can he hold
on for second? One rider is chasing alone in third position on the road. Sanchez.
Bettini takes a wide hairpin, then
Wegmann, then a rapidly approaching Sanchez.
16:52 CEST 243km/2km to go
Bettini nears the
bottom of the descent as Sanchez and a pained looking Wegmann get together and
start chasing. 9 seconds.
16:53 CEST 244km/1km to go
Final kilometre, and
Bettini has got it, surely. He is cheered by thousands of tifosi along the finish
Moreni tries to get up to Wegmann and Sanchez.
16:55 CEST 245km/0km to go
And Paolo Bettini
wins the Giro di Lombardia, very emotional at the finish!!!! Brilliant ride
again, and he has emulated Oscar Camenzind, who won this race in the rainbow
jersey in 1998.
Sanchez edges out Wegmann for second, then Moreni
comes in for fourth alone. Rebellin wins the sprint for fifth ahead of Carrara,
Schleck and Boogerd.
Paolo Bettini can't believe it as
he cries for his brother Sauro, who died in a car accident a week and a half
ago. He's with his wife Monica and Sauro's kids now, is both happy and sad.
And on that note, we will close our
live coverage of the Giro di Lombardia and all the major races this season.
For me (Jeff), it is also my last live coverage for Cyclingnews as I
have a new challenge awaiting me. So I'll put the Hindenburg V-1 into 'park',
turn off the mini-bar, which is strangely empty, and hand off to the next Cyclingnews
crew. Thank you for your support and criticism over the last seven years. You've
been a wonderful audience.
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick-Step
2 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
3 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner
4 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Cofidis
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
6 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
7 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
8 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
9 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
10 Andrea Pagoto (Panaria)