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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

90th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 12-June 3, 2007

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Stage 18 - Thursday, May 31: Udine - Riese Pio X, 203 km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 14:20 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:05 CEST

14:22 CEST   
Hello and welcome to stage 18 live coverage of the 90th Giro d'Italia. Today it is a dead-flat run from Udine to Riese Pio X. It is a westerly parcours skirting Treviso, home of Pinarello bicycles, and finishing just north of Castelfranco Veneto, home of Ronde van Vlaanderen Champion Alessandro Ballan. The altimeters will never jump above 90 metres today, and certainly not to the 1730-metre heights of yesterday's finish on Monte Zoncolan.

This stage favours the sprinters (sorry Leo); it is only one of two stages left for the fast-men to spread their wings. Cyclingnews notes Alexandre Usov (Ag2r Prévoyance), Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), Maximiliano Richeze (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Nikolai Trusov (Tinkoff Credit Systems) and Matteo Tosatto (Quickstep-Innergetic).

14:26 CEST    86km/117km to go
At kilometre 86 we have an escape of seven with a gap of 1'48". The seven fugitives on the run are Addy Engels (Quickstep-Innergetic), Maxim Gourov (Astana), Patxi Vila (Lampre-Fondital), Franck Renier (Bouygues Telecom), Eric Berthou (Caisse d'Epargne), Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) and Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

14:39 CEST   
The riders started the push from Udine, just south of yesterday's mountain-top finish on Monte Zoncolan, at 12.23. All 142 riders that finished yesterday were present to start today. In the first 17.5 kilometres it was attack after attack. Chicken-man Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) opened up affairs with an attack in the first kilometre. Hungarian Champ Laszlo Bodrogi (Crédit Agricole) countered the Dane but by kilometre six, just short of S. Stefano Udinese, they were tacked back to the Gruppo Maglia Rosa (Di Luca's group).

To make up for a lack of Tinkoff representation in yesterday's mountainous romp, Pavel Brutt pulled the throttle back like he was Valentino Rossi. He resisted, from kilometre seven, for a few minutes but could not get any significant space.

14:41 CEST   
Now, at 14.40, we can report on the average speed. The first two hours of racing has been run off at 47.050 km/h. (The average on the first hour was 48.600 km/h)

14:52 CEST   
Recap: Brutt's brutish efforts made way for an attack by teammate Elio Aggiano and Josep Jufré (Predictor-Lotto) at kilometre 10. Bouygues Telecom nailed the two men back after four kilometres but it could not stop the counter-manoeuvre by Leonardo Scarselli (Quickstep-Innergetic), Marco Marzano (Lampre-Fondital), Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank) and YAT (Yet another Tinkoffer) Ricardo Serrano. The four held a 10" advantage for a couple of kilometres but then were nailed back at kilometre 20.

This capture set off a new round of artilleries. First by Giuseppe Palumbo (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo), at kilometres 25, then by Bouygues Telecom's Nicolas Crosbie (Stills, Nash and Young) at kilometre 30. Charles Wegelius (Liquigas) even had a slight moment of freedom, however, CSN&Y and then CW were captured before seven riders blasted away at kilometre 37.

The men, our current escape, Addy Engels (Quickstep-Innergetic), Maxim Gourov (Astana), Patxi Vila (Lampre-Fondital), Franck Renier (Bouygues Telecom), Eric Berthou (Caisse d'Epargne), Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) and Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems), built a gap of 20" in one kilometre and 1'18" by kilometre 46.

14:58 CEST   
We have pulled the Cyclingnews Ferrari over at a fuel station in Sacile, kilometre 99.1. I am going to go grab a gelato - I think I will go for a 'fragola.' It is around 22°C here, with partly cloudy skies.

15:07 CEST   
The fuga del giorno is bidding its time off the Gruppo Maglia Rosa. The sprinters' teams will be full of angst after yesterday mountain romp and will not take 'escape' for an answer. Lead-out men, like Aussie Brett Lancaster and Irishman Roche, are going to work like mad to ensure their captains are ready for the kill on the two 16.5-kilometre circuits that end this stage.

The magic seven had 2'00" over the Milram-controlled peloton by kilometre 52. This gap was up to 2'30", the likely maximum today, by S. Vito Tagliamento, just after Wegelius pulled out of the Corsa Rosa. We will try to find out why Chuck had to buck this Giro.

Here is an update on our DNSs and DNFs:
DNS Stage 1: Carlos Da Cruz (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 2: Michael Barry (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 3: Adam Hansen (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 3: Andrea Tonti (Quickstep-Innergetic)
DNF Stage 3: Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner)
DNF Stage 3: Graeme Brown (Rabobank)
DNF Stage 4: Ian McLeod (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 5: Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNS Stage 6: Thomas Ziegler (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 6: Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole)
DNF Stage 6: Leon Van Bon (Rabobank)
DNF Stage 7: Timothy Gudsell (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 8: Julien Loubet (Ag2r Prévoyance)
DNS Stage 8: Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom)
DNF Stage 8: Cyrille Monnerais (Française Des Jeux)
DNF Stage 8: Michael Blaudzun (Team CSC)
DNS Stage 10: Alberto Ongarato (Milram)
DNF Stage 10: Gregory Henderson (T-Mobile)
DNF Stage 10: Juan José Haedo (Team CSC)
DNF Stage 10: José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNF Stage 10: Alexei Markov (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNF Stage 10: Paride Grillo (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare)
DNF Stage 10: Sergio Ghisalberti (Milram)
DNF Stage 10: Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom)
DNF Stage 10: Yohann Gène (Bouygues Telecom)
DNS Stage 11: Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
DNS Stage 12: George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)
DNS Stage 12: Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto)
DNS Stage 12: Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner)
DNS Stage 12: Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
DNF Stage 12: Simone Masciarelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
DNF Stage 12: Gabriele Balducci (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
DNF Stage 12: Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital)
DNF Stage 12: Tim Klinger (Gerolsteiner)
DNF Stage 12: Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole)
DNF Stage 12: Dionisio Galparsoro (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
DNF Stage 12: Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC)
DNF Stage 12: Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC)
DNS Stage 13: Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)
DNS Stage 14: Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
DNF Stage 14: Brian Vandborg (Discovery Channel)
DNF Stage 14: Fabio Sabatini (Milram)
DNF Stage 14: Jurgen Van de Walle (Quickstep-Innergetic)
DNF Stage 14: Oliver Zaugg (Gerolsteiner)
DNF Stage 14: Alexandr Arekeev (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
DNF Stage 14: Francesco Bellotti (Crédit Agricole)
DNF Stage 14: Mathieu Heijboer (Cofidis)
DNF Stage 14: Steve Zampieri (Cofidis)
DNF Stage 14: Max Van Heeswijk (Rabobank)
DNF Stage 14: Joseba Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
DNS Stage 15: Wim Van Huffel (Predictor-Lotto)
DNF Stage 15: Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
DNF Stage 15: Serguei Yakovlev (Astana)
DNF Stage 15: Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
DNS Stage 17: Aketza Peña (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
DNF Stage 18: Charles Wegelius (Liquigas)

Wegelius' departure brings the Liquigas green machine down to eight men and means that the race no longer has a squad with a full complement of soldiers.

15:19 CEST    128km/75km to go
The gap to our seven men is now 1'43". They are holding above 1'30" but that will likely get quashed in the next 20 kilometres.

15:24 CEST   
Misha leads this move of six. He pulls off to the right and drifts back on the single file pace line.

We are very near the location of the 2008 CX World Championships course.

15:28 CEST    136km/67km to go
"Hello everyone," said Alessandro Ballan, who is here at the race and lives in Castelfranco Veneto. "I am saving my form, after the Classics for the Tour de France." Ballan is one of the nicest guys in international peloton and we were very happy to see him take the Ronde van Vlaanderen this year (sorry Hoste).

The gap is now at an even two minutes.

15:33 CEST    140km/63km to go
Along with Alexandre Usov (Ag2r Prévoyance), Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), Maximiliano Richeze (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Nikolai Trusov (Tinkoff Credit Systems) and Matteo Tosatto (Quickstep-Innergetic), there is Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The Basque boys are lending a hand to the chase. It is blue and orange up front as Euskaltel joins in with Milram.

The gap is now 1'44".

Yes, Bettini confirmed that he is planning on working for Tosatto today. Remember, Tosatto had that kick to win the Tour stage to Macon last year?

15:37 CEST   
"Today will be an important stage for me. I hope that I can do something important, with Bettini working for me," said Matteo Tosatto (Quickstep-Innergetic) at the start.

"Today I won't go. We are in the home of Tosatto, he lives 300 metres from the finish. We hope to do something for him, it is just!" said Bettini.

15:41 CEST    147km/56km to go
"We have the men to work, along with Milram. We will see, there will be lots of attacks. It will truly be a difficult stage, even if is so flat," noted Angelo Furlan (Crédit Agricole) at the start.

Misha still leads the seven but the gap is now down to 1'14".

15:42 CEST   
Dave Z. is riding closely behind White Lightning Andy Schleck.

15:46 CEST   
The chase gruppo is slammed down the left side of the road, which means the winds must be blowing from the right.

Bettini is stretching his legs, getting ready to do his work for Tosatto.

15:50 CEST    154km/49km to go
"There still remains the crono of 43 kilometres, I have a good advantage but I will keep alert. The Maglia gives me force," said Maglia Rosa Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) at the start. He has practically had the leader's jersey since day one. Enrico Gasparotto took the first maglia and then it ping-ponged back and forth before 'The Killer' reigned.

"This Giro has interested me more than in years past because it has been more open and competitive," added Ballan.

The gap is now around 1'30".

15:53 CEST   
Misha has such a low-profile style on his bike. His form reminds me of 'Il Gatto' Bartoli, however, his elbows are way out there, like he is in the middle of a group sprint.

The seven boys are enjoying a snack but they continue to drive the tempo.

15:59 CEST    160km/43km to go
We have received word from our German colleague Susan Westemeyer that "EZ" Erik Zabel has won today in the Bayern Rundfahrt and this could provide the extra motivation for Ale-Jet to romp the sprint proceedings in Pio X.

The gap is now 2'10".

16:02 CEST   
Il Varese, Garzelli, is joking about with Il Livornese, Bettini.

On the Garibaldi sprint, at km 116.9, it was Misha Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Maxim Gourov (Astana) and Franck Renier (Bouygues Telecom).

16:03 CEST   
The race has now entered Castelfranco Veneto, hometown Ronde Champ Ballan. The gap to the seven is 2'03"

16:09 CEST    163km/40km to go
The riders go under the 40 kilometre banner with 1'36" in hand. Milram is on the front of the peloton and it is completely lined out.

Misha is back at the team car, car number 7, and getting advice and water. Will he blast away for a solo bid?

16:10 CEST   
The harmony on this tree-lined road is heading south. The boys have far-away looks in their eyes.

16:13 CEST    170km/33km to go
We are now in Riese Pio X, the gap is 1'15".

16:15 CEST   
Gourov fires at 1500 metres to go to the start of the 2 circuits. Eric Berthou (Caisse d'Epargne) chases with Franck Renier (Bouygues Telecom). They join.

16:16 CEST    170km/33km to go
Addy Engels (Quickstep-Innergetic) joins right before the finish line to make four; Engels, Gourov, Renier, Berthou

16:19 CEST   
The four men are working well together and should keep their freedom over the three but will likely get slammed by the peloton.

Crédit Agricole is moving up in the peloton.

16:23 CEST   
We have two Frenchmen, a Kazakh and a Dutchman in the lead. They pass the farmlands surrounding Pio X. Saunier had a man on the front with the Milrams and Orange Euskaltels.

16:25 CEST    178km/25km to go
Oscar Gatto lives nearby, maybe the Gerolsteiner rider my have his chance today.

"He is very motivated, I heard from him the other night. I hope he is up there today with the front-runners," said Ballan.

The gap is 1'08".

16:30 CEST   
Franck Renier (Bouygues Telecom) is dedicated to this move. The Frenchman hammers as the four pass a sign for Oscar Gatto. They have 53".

16:32 CEST    182km/21km to go
Misha Ignatiev, Horrillo and Vila have now been caught (at km 176)! Their day ends after 139 kilometres of freedom.

16:35 CEST   
The four are coming up to the start of the final circuit.

16:37 CEST    186.5km/16.5km to go
Berthou leads the four up to the line. The bell rings. They are losing time to the Milram-Euskaltel chase. The four only have 36" at 16.5 km to go.

16:40 CEST   
Expect to see some counter-attacks coming at any moment!

16:42 CEST   
We have a Time, Specialized, Pinarello and BMC bikes on the front. Look out! Crédit Agricole is adding coals to the chase fire. Big Laszlo Bodrogi (Crédit Agricole) is on the front.

16:42 CEST    190km/13km to go
The chase has this gap down to 18".

16:44 CEST    193km/10km to go
The clouds are above and there is no sunshine on the front four, now with 14".

Misha is now at the back of the peloton; he is riding the wave in.

16:45 CEST   
Watch out, there is a 90° turn to the right at 550 metres to go. Look for someone to launch earlier out of that corner. McEwen? No, he is no longer with the race.

16:47 CEST   
Ale-Jet is about 10 bikes back. The race goes through a light right-hander.

16:47 CEST   
Two Milrams and two Crédit Agricoles are on the front. CA is working for Furlan.

16:48 CEST   
NO! Don't look back. Renier looks over his left shoulder.

Tinkoff is moving up.

16:49 CEST    196km/7km to go
There are rays of sunlight coming down.

16:51 CEST    198km/5km to go
There are four Tinkoffers up front. Expect to see a launch by one of these yellow-men.

The four are caught at five kilometres to go, after 161 kilometres of freedom.

16:51 CEST   
Tinkoff is adding more men to the battle.

16:51 CEST   
Serrano is there, and so is Contrini.

Dean is there for CA's Furlan.

16:52 CEST    199.2km/3.8km to go
Furlan is on the right, on the wheel of Petacchi. A good place to be.

16:52 CEST   
Tinkoff is leading affairs.

16:52 CEST    199.5km/3.5km to go
Bettini puts a hand on Furlan's back. Trusov is in fourth wheel.

16:53 CEST   
Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems) is now leading. Furlan's heart rate is 150.

16:54 CEST   
Mirco Lorenzetto and Brett Lancaster (Milram) are ready for Petacchi.

16:54 CEST   
We are coming up to the final km.

16:55 CEST   
Look out for Petacchi, in the Maglia Ciclamino.

Nibali fires on the left at -1500m but he is caught.

16:55 CEST    202km/1km to go
Ag2r moves up to the front.

16:55 CEST   
Big crash at the curve at -800m!

16:55 CEST   
An Ag2r rider went down. Gerolsteiner leads.

16:55 CEST   
Petacchi goes long!

16:56 CEST   
Max R is in second.

16:56 CEST   
Petacchi flies to the win, then Max R, then Kurt AR.

16:57 CEST   
There was another crash at -500m.

Tiralongo's bike is destroyed!

16:59 CEST   
That was Matti Breschel in third, not Kurt.

16:59 CEST   
It was Ale-Jet's 23rd win. Bravo Ale-Jet!

17:03 CEST   
Thanks for joining Cyclingnews on another day in Italy for the 90th Giro d'Italia. Complements to the sprinters today for handling the rough run-in. We hope those Ag2r riders are ok.

Please check back later for a full report and quotes from the riders.

Provisional Results

1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram
2 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
3 Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC
General classification after stage 18
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir

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