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Giro d'Italia Cycling News for May 17, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Di Luca wants to give the pink jersey away

By Jean-François Quénet in Mercogliano

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
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A very humble Danilo Di Luca didn't want to be given too much credit for his win in Montevergine, which was the first uphill finish of the 2007 Giro d'Italia. "I've worked only for 200 meters!" he said.

"Everything else has been done by my team the same way a team works for a sprinter," said Di Luca. "Pellizotti was my last lead-out man. Nibali had done two kilometers before him, taking over from Noè. Mihojlevic, Spezialetti. Wegelius had ridden hard before as well. They deserve the stage win more than me." From Liquigas, only the pink jersey-wearing Enrico Gasparotto was unable to help because he was involved in a crash earlier.

So was Di Luca. "For more than half an hour, I wasn't feeling good after the crash," he commented. "I was suffering really. My arse was sore. I had to get pain killers. I hope I'll be all right after the massage. It happened when the rain started, the road was just like soap and there were cobblestones as well. I saw myself crashing. I was saying to myself 'it's useless to crash.' I didn't even use my brakes, I just went down."

Letting the bubbly flow.
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He wasn't suffering when he climbed the Montevergine, a place where he already won the stage of the Giro in 2001, the second one for his own account after starting his campaign in Peschici in 2000. "From 3km to go, Riccardo Riccò was on my wheel and I understood he was the man to beat. He's definitely going to be the surprise of this Tour of Italy. He's back at the level he had at Tirreno-Adriatico. It's unknown for him as well whether or not he can cope with the third week, although Gilberto Simoni, you guys say he's getting old but I'm sure he'll be up there in the third week. He's always up there in the third week."

Riccò congratulated Di Luca after the line. "We always do that," Di Luca said. "Us, the cyclists, we are very fair play. You can even say that we are kind of friends, all of us. We know what it means to do this job."

It's not exactly a surprise to see the winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège claiming the stage to Montevergine. "After the team time trial, this was our natural second goal," Di Luca continued. "But now, the race will change. The next hilly stage is in eight days. I'm prepared to give the pink jersey away to someone else because I'm not going to defend this stuff for eight days. I need strength for the third week. I wouldn't mind to leave the race, take a rest, and come back in eight days…"

"I feel very good, to say the truth. I feel better than ever at the Giro." At age 31, the playboy from Pescara who came fourth overall two years ago is now filling the shoes of a favorite.

Saunier Duval - Prodir happy with team's performance

By Antonio J. Salmerón

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Young Italian racer Ricardo Riccò was happy with his second place finish in the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia Wednesday. He finished behind Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), who took both the win and the lead. Di Luca and Riccò were part of the 20-man bunch of favourites that got split in the final metres. Teammates Leonardo Piepoli, who launched several attacks in the final climb, and Gilberto Simoni were only 15 seconds behind in a chase group while Iban Mayo belonged to a second bunch crossing the line, 34 seconds after the winner.

After Wednesday's stage, Riccò said, "I remained a little closed when Di Luca broke away and left me a little bit behind. I tried hard, but catching such a rider's wheel is no easy task. Overall, the climb went well for me. Second place is good for me and it shows what a good shape I'm in. From here, it will get better. I'm sure I'll be able to assist (Gilberto) Simoni on the mountains."

On the other hand, the veteran Simoni said, "I'm really tired. It was a tough day, but it was the first important stage and there's a long way to go. Riccò did well with second but Di Luca was just amazing today and his team did an excellent job."

Cancellara: They need to respect us as humans

By Shane Stokes in Monteverginie

Fabian Cancellara
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Tuesday's rest day turned out not to be a day of rest after all, with riders facing a flight from Sardinia to mainland Italy and then a drive to their team hotels. In addition to that, a delay in the ferry taking some of the bikes and team cars meant that several teams were unable to train, prompting a letter of protest from the AIGCP chairman Patrick Lefevere.

CSC rider Fabian Cancellara was certainly not impressed, and said as much to Cyclingnews prior to the start of stage four.

"What happened yesterday was not very nice," he stated. "The organisers showed again that they can do what they want and are not showing very much respect to the riders.

"We had our bikes in time but some other teams didn't. This is nothing to do with sport. People talk about the doping problems but then we have this kind of thing to deal with. They [the organisers] have hard stages, they have a transfer like this and then they want everything to seem good. But what happened yesterday is very, very bad for cycling. You should not be able to have things like this in this race.

"This is about respecting riders as humans. I personally had time [to train], I stayed relaxed, I didn't make myself crazy about this but yesterday was too much. That was really too much. For all of cycling it is not nice. We go full gas every day and then we need to be able to stay calm after that."

Riders visited the Amalfi Coast Wednesday.
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The Swiss rider made a valid point that riders need to be considered when organisers are designing routes for their races. He clearly feels strongly about the subject, as he spoke for a couple of minutes on the issue before finally moving on to his goals in the race.

"It is always like this," he continued. "It is the same as what happened last year with the big transfers. I spoke yesterday to the riders association about writing a letter. It is up to the teams to do something. We are on the bike racing hard, then we need good recovery after that.

"We were travelling from nine o'clock to almost four o'clock yesterday. I think a rest day should be a rest day, not like what happened. Okay, after three days racing maybe it is early for a recovery day, but if it is supposed to be a day off, then it should be a day off."

As regards his targets in the Giro, he said that he will be carrying out team duties and perhaps go on the attack if the right circumstances arrive. "I don't really have a goal in the Giro. I will finish the race early, perhaps after the first mountain stages, then go to the Tour of Switzerland afterwards. My plan is to what I can here, helping the young riders and working for the team, then we will see what happens.

"Andy Schleck and Dave [Zabriskie] are the guys for the overall, they will do what they can. I am sure that they are going to do a good Giro. As for me, I have no special ambition. If I see a chance perhaps I will try, but I can't say for sure that I will attack today or tomorrow."

Schleck coming of age

By Shane Stokes in Monteverginie

Andy Schleck (Team CSC)
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CSC rider Andy Schleck had a very good day in the saddle on stage four of the Tour of Italy, placing fourth on the stage and moving to fifth overall, 53 seconds behind race leader Danilo Di Luca.

The 21 year-old Luxembourger is riding his first Grand Tour and making a very good impression so far.

Prior to the stage, he talked a little about his goals and expectations. "My goal is to finish the race and anything more is a bonus for me," he told Cyclingnews in the start village in Salerno. "I feel good right now and hope I can stay that way for as long as possible.

"I think that Montevergine is one of the most important finishes of the race. We will see how it goes."

As it turned out, it went very well. CSC's Alain Gallopin was very pleased with the showing by Schleck, who despite his youth is in his third year as a professional. "It was a great start to the toughest part of the race for us," he said on the team website www.team-csc.com. "The entire team impressed and worked really hard to get Andy, Dave, and Volodymir in position for a good finish."

"I'd said to Andy that he should try and stick close to Di Luca, Riccò (Saunier Duval) and Cunego (Lampre) and they were exactly the riders, who finished before him, so it was very well done. But before we get ahead of ourselves here, we have to keep in mind that this is a long race, and Andy needs to be given the space to grow and slowly get to know how things work in a race like this.

"He's never done a three-week race before and it does require a lot. Anyway it's far from decided after one single mountain."

Teammate Dave Zabriskie also rode strongly, placing tenth on the stage and moving to seventh overall.

Lancaster pleased with Petacchi's return to form

By Shane Stokes in Monteverginie

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
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With a mainly flat profile awaiting the riders for Thursday's fifth stage of the Giro d'Italia, the third bunch sprint of the 2007 race looks likely to be in store. So far the score is 1-1 between Robbie McEwen and Alessandro Petacchi. Milram's Brett Lancaster was part of the latter's success on Monday and said that he was happy that his team captain is back to full speed.

"It was a nice win," he told Cyclingnews on Wednesday morning. "It was good to see Petacchi get up. I don't think being beaten on stage two affected his confidence; it was more a case that he wanted to win even more then. He was strong on stage two, but the finish probably suited McEwen a bit more as they had to jump out of a corner. But the straight line sprint [stage three] suited him very well."

He said that Milram had a tough job to set things up for a bunch sprint. "The team rode on the front for a long time. The break was going so hard that we had to put the whole team on the front and even with that, only just about got them back. Then Alessandro went out and won the sprint on his own, so that shows he has got it and should have a good Giro."

Lancaster stated that Petacchi's leadout train will hold back on the hillier stages. "I am just here to ride for Alessandro. On a stage like today we will just roll our legs over as much as we can, but tomorrow [stage five] will be different as it is a day for a sprint."

He moved to Milram this season and is content with the Italian-German squad. "I am loving the team. It is truly professional. I can't say a thing wrong about it."

McLeod out with broken collarbone and rib

By Jean-François Quénet in Mercogliano

Française des Jeux had already lost their captain Carlos Da Cruz who broke a foot on the aircraft carrier where the presentation of the Tour of Italy teams took place the day prior to the start. Now the French team is left without their South African sprinter who told Cyclingnews before the start of stage 4 that he was feeling very good and not suffering anymore from his finger injured in a first crash that happened in stage 2.

He crashed twice on the way to Montevergine. "The road was slippery," he explained. "I was just coming back in the bunch after going down two or three kilometers before. It wasn't a bad crash, there were something like 30 riders involved, but I landed on my shoulder."

The 26 year-old from Vereeniging in Gauteng was taken to hospital where a broken collarbone and a broken rib were reported. As no operation is needed, he rejoined his team hotel a few hours later. He'll now have to take a break before returning to competition after the Tour de France.

Unlucky Roche loses time due to crash

By Shane Stokes in Monteverginie

Stage four was characterised by several crashes, with riders such as world champion Paolo Bettini ending up on the floor. One of the most unlucky was young Irishman Nicolas Roche, who fell not once, but twice during the stage. He came down with Axel Merckx and several others with some 25 kilometres remaining, then tumbled again very soon afterwards. After a fruitless chase towards the final climb, he ended up finishing in a large group 14 minutes and two seconds behind stage winner Danilo Di Luca, placing 167th.

"I actually crashed twice in 500 metres," he told Cyclingnews after the stage. "A few riders fell with 25 kilometres to go. I came down then, got up and sprinted off [in pursuit of the bunch] after the mechanic changed my wheel. I was looking down at my bike to make sure it was okay and the guy in front of me slammed his brakes and I went straight up on the back of him. I did a somersault. My elbow is a bit sore but nothing is broken, just swollen. I should be okay to start tomorrow.

"It was impossible to get back to the bunch after two crashes. It took ages for me to catch up with the gruppetto on the climb."

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