Giro d'Italia Cycling News for May 13, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Jean-François
Quénet in La Maddalena
Pink jersey apologises for "mistake"
Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas)
Enrico Gasparotto came to realise just a few hours after taking his first
pink jersey that he had done something the Italian media would love by creating
some useless polemics. Gasparotto did the unthinkable and crossed the line
ahead of his team captain, Danilo Di Luca, who was visibly angry at the
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Despite Di Luca later conceding that it was "a great team win"
and saying "I was not upset, it is important that we as a team win,"
the media continued to try to make a drama out of the issue, much to the
chagrin of the 25 year-old former Italian champion. "So, you have put
me on a cross, right?" Gasparotto asked.
Gasparotto confessed that he made a mistake, but insisted that it wasn't
an intentional grab for the leader's position. "I didn't hear Danilo asking
me to slow down," Gasparotto said. "I made a mistake to be there.
The great champion is him, not me. It's been him to want to take the last
turn in the hill, then it was up to me to be in the front of the team
in the downhill.
"I heard the speaker saying that it was very tight, that's why I
kept pedalling until the end. When you see the finishing line, you don't
brake. I never had in mind that the first rider to cross the line would
wear the pink jersey. My other mistake was to forget that the team's time
was taken on the fifth rider, not the first one anyway."
Di Luca shouts
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Gasparotto said that he is fully committed to the team. "I got excited
by the idea of winning," he continued. "The most important is
the team win. We've been doing great since the beginning of the year.
It was our goal to do well in the team time trial. Our second goal is
to bring our leaders, Danilo Di Luca and Franco Pellizotti, to the top
of the classification."
Gasparotto is also Liquigas' sprinter. "I'm not a pure sprinter but
I also heard that stage 2 isn't for pure sprinters", he said, aware that
he could even be a winner in Bosa with the pink jersey on his shoulders.
"I came to the Giro with a good condition, I was confident anyway and
I'll do my best to stay close to my team captains in the hills. I have
to repay what has happened today."
After saying that, he asked the crowd, "Can I come down from my cross?"
Popo loses time
By Shane Stokes in La Maddalena
Discovery Channel's Giro leader Yaroslav Popovych finds himself 49 seconds
off the lead at the end of the first day, losing time as a result of a
crash inside the final kilometre.
"After the corner I went to pedal but it was a bit too soon and I crashed,"
he told Cyclingnews at the finish. "I am okay, though, not badly
hurt. But I lost a bit of time because of that."
Team-mates Steve Cummings and Matthew White were, like many riders,
critical of the parcours for the team time trial. "It was pretty dangerous,"
said British rider Cummings, who said his goal in the race is to work
well for the team and to get to Milan. "It was too twisty to go fast.
We were trying not to take risks but that last descent was crazy. Popo
fell off. It felt like we blew up a bit, too, I don't know."
White was definitely not impressed. "Things were working out alright
[up to Popovych's crash] but that was a ridiculous f***ing team time trial,
that's what it was. Have you seen the course? There is no f***ing need
to have a course like that," he blasted.
The team finished 5th out of 22 squads, but would have taken fourth
from Lampre-Fondital without the mishap. They had to wait for Popovych
as he was the fifth rider.
Voeckler going for stages
By Shane Stokes in La Maddalena
Photo ©: Sirotti
Former French champion Thomas Voeckler got his 2007 Giro d'Italia underway
today with the team time trial held on the island of Sardinia. His Bouygues
Telecom team finished 19th, 2'07 back. He said that the conditions made
it harder for the riders.
"The time trial was difficult. I had good legs, but the problem
was that with the wind and the tough course, it was not easy to keep everyone
together," he told Cyclingnews. "There are some riders
in better shape than the others, especially in the first few days of the
race, yet we needed to keep five together in the time trial."
"It wasn't fantastic but we will hope to do better in other stages."
Many of the riders criticised the parcours for its severity. Voeckler
played that down, to an extent. "The course wasn't really dangerous
because we know how to ride our bikes, but the wind made it more so. It
was difficult to organise everyone to work because of that. If it was
an individual time trial there would not be a problem, but with a team
it is hard to organise so well with these conditions."
There is a plus to the location, though: "I think that when people
watch the Giro on television it will be very spectacular, what with the
countryside and the small islands surrounded by turquoise water, plus
strong teams. Cycling needs spectacular images now."
He concluded his brief chat by talking about his aims in the race. "I
think like every rider, I would like to win a stage. I don't have the
power to go for the general classification, but I would really like to
get a stage. That said, there are many other riders who would also like
the same thing."
Predictor-Lotto close, but not close enough
Photo ©: Sirotti
Australian climber Matthew Lloyd is one of the rookies at the Giro d'Italia.
Riding for Predictor-Lotto, Lloyd and his team-mates were mostly interested
in limiting the damages in order to keep Robbie McEwen close enough to
the lead to potentially take the pink jersey. They rode a little better
than their rivals from Milram who are built around Alessandro Petacchi
for the sprints, but the Belgian outfit finished 1'28 down on Liquigas.
Matthew Lloyd was one of the riders to stay together with the team all
the way to the finish, and said that it was a great experience. "Dario
Cioni was a great help for us to deliver a good ride," Lloyd commented.
"We ran it smoothly. We took shorter turns because of the wind."
Despite the solid ride, the gap might be too much for McEwen, especially
if pink jersey holder Enrico Gasparotto remembers that he was an excellent
sprinter two years ago and takes any intermediate sprints before the first
uphill finish in stage 4.
Da Cruz out with broken toe
Française des Jeux
Photo ©: Sirotti
Française des Jeux was the only team to reach the finishing town of La
Maddalena with all their starters together. Tim Gudsell stopped pedalling
only at the very end, but they finished… last. "We missed a leader like
Bradley McGee," former junior world champion Arnaud Gérard admitted.
Last year with the Australian and Philippe Gilbert, FDJ was fifth in
the team time trial of the Giro d'Italia. However, today they came home
to La Maddalena with all their riders, but there were only eight. Carlos
Da Cruz was a non starter since he had an accident on the aircraft carrier
'Garibaldi' where he broke one of his toes. The break was discovered following
an X-ray on Saturday morning. "If he doesn't need an operation, the recovery
will take four to six weeks," team doctor Stéphane Bermond explained.
Da Cruz will likely miss the Tour de France, where today's stage winner
at the Four Days of Dunkirk, Matthieu Ladagnous, should make his debut.
Euskaltel has a bad day
The Euskaltel team didn't start off their Giro with an ideal performance
in the team time trial. The team was already down to five riders when
Anton Luengo crashed in the second to last corner. Because each team's
time is taken on the fifth rider, his team-mates were forced to wait for
him to rejoin.
"Fortunately Luengo isn't injured," directeur sportif Jon Odriozola
commented. "It was difficult enough for us before that. We had almost
another crash before when riders touched each other's wheels. We knew
we wouldn't be among the best today because we brought a very young team
to the Giro, but we are confident that we can create a surprise with a
stage win. It might be with Koldo Fernandez winning a bunch sprint just
the same way he did it at Tirreno-Adriatico."
Hushovd dropped as Crédit Agricole takes eighth
Crédit Agricole was quite happy to make the top ten, but they did it
without having sprinter Thor Hushovd with them. Hushovd came off on the
first climb, and rode in four minutes down. "My legs weren't good enough
for that speed," the Norwegian explained. "I'm just missing
the rhythm of the competition after one month without racing. I finished
the time trial with Christophe Kern but I'm not worried. It's only a restart.
I'll see how far I can go in the Giro and my hopes of winning a stage
Despite Hushovd's chances of gaining the pink jersey being dashed, the
team was happy with the overall result. "The guys rode well, especially
the climbers," team manager Roger Legeay said. "Patrice Halgand
stayed in the front almost all the time in the climbs."
Gilberto Simoni: a new rivalry with Riccardo Riccò?
Photo ©: Sirotti
Two-time Giro d'Italia champion Gilberto Simoni had a strange dialogue
with La Gazzetta dello Sport's Claudio Gregori the day before the
start. Goals? "None." The favourite? "Not me." Who? "You know." The stages
for attacking? "You know them." Later he gave a few more words, and there
was a bit of irony when he mentioned who he considered the favourites
"the young ones: Riccò, Cunego, Nibali."
More seriously, he stated that, although he hasn't won the Giro for the
past three years, "in May I always have my best form." Simoni has a history
of intra-team rivalries, having battled with Damiano Cunego in 2004 for
the team leadership, and now it appears that Riccardo Riccò might be a
threat for his leadership at Saunier Duval.
The 35 year-old Simoni confirmed that he wasn't at his best during the
25.6 km time trial, and his young team-mate was very strong. "I have suffered
a lot," Simoni said. "I even missed some of my turns at the
end. I was exhausted. On the other hand, Riccò was brilliant from start
to finish, we even asked him to slow down." Shall it happen again in the
mountains? "If Riccò goes better than me, I will not ask him to wait for
me", Simoni said.
"Pietro Algeri was right this morning when he emphasised that the
race would be quite tough, that instead of analysing it, we should attack
from the very beginning." Simoni continued. "Of course, I'm
not very happy today because I arrived at the finish line exhausted. In
the final stretch, I even missed a gear, and this meant an even greater
effort. In spite of this, I must say that overall, we can feel satisfied.
Tenth is no big deal but it's not that bad either if we take into account
that we are ahead of teams everybody expected to be among the top-10."
Riccò, for his part, said that he still considers Simoni the leader.
"I'm not worried about Cunego's advantage, because in time trials
you're talking about seconds, but in climbs you get minute gaps. I felt
good today, in the shape of my best days. If I could make the headlines
in the Giro? I'll give it a try, but our big name is Simoni."
Riders may face overnight blood tests
The UCI's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mario Zorzoli indicated that the
riders in the 90th Giro d'Italia may be subjected to doping controls at
any time - even at night. Riders have historically been visited early
in the morning for blood samples which are tested to ensure their hematocrit
is within acceptable values, and they are subjected to urine controls
after the race, however surprise mid-night visits are new. "Tests are
usually done early in the morning, but riders can now expect surprise
tests in the evening and even during the night," Zorzoli said according
The move comes after several riders were removed from their teams rosters
prior to the start of the Giro, the most famous being Ivan Basso, who
confessed to his involvement in the Operación Puerto doping affair.
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