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90th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 12-June 3, 2007

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Stage 7 - Saturday, May 19: Spoleto - Scarperia, 254 km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 16:45 CEST

14:32 CEST   
Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews' coverage of the Giro d'Italia, or the Corsa Rosa, as it is often referred to. Today the riders are riding from Spoleto to Scarperia for a total of 254 kilometres.

14:36 CEST   
Today is a long flat stage, the longest of the 2007 Giro d'Italia. It races due north through the fertile plains of Umbria, past Lago di Trasimeno near Perugia then into Tuscany to the finish in Scarperia.

14:38 CEST   
There is one climb with 55 kilometres to go, the Valico Croce a Mori, plenty of time for the sprinters' trains to pull back any escape. Petacchi will be looking for a win here, near Firenze, where the stage ends on the Mugello track, where there is the famous 15-turn racetrack used for F1 and MotoGP.

14:38 CEST   
The last time the Giro d'Italia finished at the Autodromo di Mugello, it was World Champion Freddy Maertens and perhaps World Champion Bettini will take the victory three decades later. Whomever the winner is, he will undoubtedly chomp down a delicious bistecca fiorentina and have a glass of Brunello di Montalcino to celebrate.

14:41 CEST   
Please write us an email with your stage favourites. commentator@cyclingnews.com

Merckx reads the paper
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

14:45 CEST   
This morning the riders were milling about in the village area before the start. Some enjoy a caffè and read the newspaper while many of the riders use it as a time to chat to one another.

187 riders rolled out of Spoleto this morning, which was the sight of yesterday's finish, where Marco Pinotti (T-Mobile) took the Maglia Rosa and Luis Felipe Laverde (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) the stage win.

14:51 CEST   
The attacks came early on in the race. The stage kicked off at 10.14 and 50 minutes later there was the first, and current, escape formed. At kilometre nine, just outside of Mercatello, a foursome was formed with Swiss Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Spaniard Beñat Albizuri (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Frenchman Fabien Patanchon (Française Des Jeux) and Italian Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

Of course there was a Tinkoff rider, the Russian-Italian team has had a rider in every significant escape so far in this Giro d'Italia!

14:54 CEST   
Two kilometres later the escape had 1'25". This gap rocketed up to 5'12" by kilometre 32.

The four are not a threat to Pinotti's Maglia Rosa. The highest place rider is Beñat Albizuri (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who sits at 22'00" in the overall classification.

14:57 CEST   
The average after the first out of racing was 38.5 kilometres per hour. The pace of the race dropped off a bit but the four continued to build its lead and by kilometre fifty, just after Marsciano, it had 8'40".

15:06 CEST   
After the second hour of racing the pace had dropped down, the average after two hours was 37 kilometres per hour. However, the gap continued to go upwards. The International escape, probably speaking in Italian/Spanish, enjoyed 10'05" over the gruppo by kilometre 78.

The gap dropped off somewhat as they skirted their way around the western shores of the Castiglione del Lago. The four were taking in the sun rays on the clear day, with temperatures around 25°C. The grabbed some lunch in Borghetto at the feed-zone.

As they passed the team helpers, or soigneurs, shouted out the gap. Elio Aggiano could hear his soigneur say, "sono a dieci e trentasei indietro. Vai Vai!" The four went through the feed-zone with 10'36" on the gruppo.

15:10 CEST   
It was at this point, kilometre 104, that the four left the region of Umbria and entered Toscana (or 'Tuscany'). Aggiano took the sprint at Camucia, kilometre 110.4, where the gap was at 10'48".

By Montecchio the gap probably reached it highest for the day, at 11'30".

Daniele Bennati
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

15:17 CEST   
The average after three hours of racing was 39 kilometres per hour. The four passed through the town of Castiglione Fiorentino and 10'15" later the peloton came rolling through..

A little further up the road it was again Aggiano collecting the sprinting prizes. He took the Garibaldi Sprint in Arezzo ahead of Bertogliati and Albizuri.

Surely if Daniele Bennati, a sprinter from Arezzo, was in this escape of four he would have nailed the points on offer. The Lampre sprinter is not racing the Giro and is, instead, focusing on the Tour de France. (Read Cyclingnews' interview with Benna: Sprinting with confidence.)

15:25 CEST   
After four hours of slugging it out across the Umbrian and Tuscan plains, the average was 39.9 kilometres per hour. The gap had dropped from its maximum of 11'30" and was now (kilometre 152) at 7'30".

Predictor-Lotto was whipping up the pace. In its ranks is multiple Tour and Giro stage winner Robbie McEwen. The Australian took the first sprint on offer in this year's Giro and is anxious to get another one.

"It will be a long and hard stage. At 50 or 55 kilometres to go the last climb comes," noted McEwen at the start. "It will be special to arrive on the auto track."

He noted the diverse winners of the Giro stages. "This year in the Giro, there has been three sprints and three different winners."

15:28 CEST   
The gap continued to drop. By kilometre 162 it was 6'08", 5'43" at kilometre 169, 5'12" at the town of Poppi and 3'52" at kilometre 190.

15:31 CEST    204km/50km to go
On the category three GPM of Valico di Croce a Mori, Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems) was weakening. He trailed by 30" over the top and the gruppo came over at 1'03".

Now, at 50 kilometres to race, the gap is 39" for the front three to Aggiano and 58" back to the peloton.

15:34 CEST   
Quickstep has two men in the front to close down this gap. We can expect to see some counter-attacks soon.

Pink Pinotti
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:43 CEST    215km/39km to go
The peloton is descending very fast, all strung out. Pink Pinotti is without teammates at the moment.

15:46 CEST   
The front three were just pulled back, at kilometre 215. It is now 'gruppo compatto.'

15:47 CEST   
Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) has some long hair these days.

"It will be a very long stage and hard to control," said Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) at the start. "Sure there will be some that go in an escape. I hope that we have help from other sprinters' teams."

Quickstep is doing a lot of the pace making now.

15:51 CEST   
On the descent there was a crash. Timothy Gudsell (Française Des Jeux) crashed and is taken to the hospital for examination.

Also, there has been a group that is gapped off, in that group are sprinters Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) and Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital). The group is now working its way to the back of the peloton.

15:53 CEST   
Quickstep is really cranking out the pace here.

An update on the DNFs and DNSs:
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)

15:55 CEST   
Reader Sergio Azkarate wrote in an predicted the top three:

16:01 CEST    229km/25km to go
Juan José Haedo (Team CSC), Max Van Heeswijk (Rabobank), Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) and Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) are part of that group that has been dropped.

16:05 CEST    234km/20km to go
Quickstep is hammering at the front of this peloton and the result is a long line of riders, in single-file. It is working for World Champion Paolo Bettini.

16:07 CEST   
There are three T-Mobile riders at the back, suffering and avoiding traffic furniture. The riders are passing through Borgo S. Lorenzo.

'Pino' has a the pink jersey but no matching shorts like Gasparotto and Di Luca had.

16:07 CEST   
American David Zabriskie (Team CSC) changes bikes.

16:10 CEST   
The front is green and blue with the colours of Liquigas and Quickstep but it is mostly the latter doing the work. T-Mobile is now back up front to help Pinotti.

16:10 CEST    239km/15km to go
Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) is stretching at the back of the peloton.

16:12 CEST   
Matthew White (Discovery Channel) has gone out on a solo attack!

16:14 CEST   
He is floating off the front and should be retaken at any moment.

16:15 CEST   
White is pulled back and we have 'gruppo compatto.'

16:15 CEST   
The riders have been racing for six hours now.

16:16 CEST   
Frédéric Bessy (Cofidis) is back in the line of team cars.

16:17 CEST    244km/10km to go
Cioni is on the front for McEwen.

16:18 CEST   
The peloton has hit the town of Scarperia and will soon enter on to the auto track.

Pinotti is up with World Champ Bettini.

16:20 CEST    246.5km/7.5km to go
Steve Cummings (Discovery Channel) is at the back of the peloton with Frantisek Rabon (T-Mobile).

Quickstep is really stringing this race out but can little Bettini come through with the win?

16:21 CEST   
A Tinkoff rider is surging up.

16:21 CEST    247.5km/6.5km to go
Behind Quickstep is lining up Milram.

16:22 CEST   
Marco Pinotti's heart rate is 145.

16:22 CEST   
The race has entered the track.

16:23 CEST   
There are two Quickstep men and then Bettini. But wait, he pulls off to move further back.

16:23 CEST   
Now there is one Quickstep man followed by five Milrams for Petacchi.

16:24 CEST    250km/4km to go
This race is lined out for about 500 metres. There is plenty of space and the sprinters will have their room to fight for victory.

16:25 CEST   
Volodimir Gustov (Team CSC) has some bike problems.

16:25 CEST   
Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) is in the Maglia Ciclamino in about fifth position.

16:26 CEST    251km/3km to go
Wait, he has six Milram riders in front of him.

Commesso attacks with 3km.

16:27 CEST   
Salvatore Commesso (Tinkoff Credit Systems) is followed by Jussi Veikkanen (Française Des Jeux).

16:28 CEST   
The two will be dragged back. Totò Commesso is a two-time Italian Champion. He is caught with one kilometre to go.

16:28 CEST   
Cancellara tries a move. Lancaster leads for Petacchi.

16:29 CEST   
Bettini is on the wheel of Petacchi.

16:29 CEST   
Bettini can't do it, Petacchi holds off the little pocket rocket.

16:30 CEST   
Milram got the best of Quickstep today. The Belgian squad really did some work in the second half of today's race.

16:43 CEST   
After Salvatore Commesso (Tinkoff Credit Systems) was caught at 1000 metres to go, Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) departed. The Swiss gave Milram a run for its money. Brett Lancaster (Milram) kept going for the next 400 metres and pulled off at -600m. Alberto Ongarato took over and caught Cancellara at -250m.

Ongarato then pulled off at -175m and then it was all Ale-Jet. Bettini came up on the right but he did not have the legs to close down Petacchi. Hushovd came up on the left of the day's winner to get second.

16:44 CEST   
Thanks for joining Cyclingnews on our live coverage today. Please return to read the complete report.

Provisional Results

1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep-Innergetic
4 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
5 José Joaquín Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
6 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r Prévoyance
7 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare

14 McEwen
General classification after stage 7
1 Marco Pinotti (Ita) T-Mobile 


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