91st Giro d'Italia - GT
Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008
Results & report
Stage 3 - Monday, May 12: Catania - Milazzo , 221km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' coverage of the Giro d'Italia 2008. Having done the north-to-south thing yesterday, today the riders are going to do the south-to-north thing, and the sprinters are hoping like heck that they will finally have a chance today. Today's 221 km feature a ride around the base of Mount Etna, one intermediate sprint and one Cat. III climb.
And, no, they are NOT climbing up Mount Etna!
Things got off to a quiet start this morning, with all 195 riders taking the start. It was such a quiet start in fact, that the whole bunch stayed together until about km 60. Then a group got away.
14:46 CEST 88km/133km to go
It is a six-man group: Riccardo Chiarini (LPR), Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis), Jeremy Roy (Française des Jeux), Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quick Step), Matej Jurco (Slovakia) and Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff).
By km 77, their lead was up to 4'05, but by km 84, it had dropped to barely two minutes. And by km 88, it was up to three minutes again!
A mass sprint finish is expected today, and the name that pops up most often is that of Liquigas' Daniele Bennati. But let us not forget Robbie McEwen, Erik Zabel, Mark Cavendish, Graeme Brown, and Robert Förster, just to name a few....
The stage sets out from Catania, makes a loop around Mt. Etna, and then heads to the coast. No beach time for our boys today, though, they will have to work on their tans while on their bikes. The course runs along the east and then the north coasts, before the exciting (we hope) finale in the seaside town of Milazzo.
The first landmark of the day is Mount Etna. As we said earlier, they are going around this mountain and don't climb it. Going all the way up to the top could be a very dangerous thing -- because this is a live volcano!
By the way, it is called Muncibeddu in Sicilian and Mongibello in Italian.
One of yesterday's crash victims is Mauricio Soler of Barloworld. He hurt his left hand in the crash, but it looked to be not too serious. This morning, the team reports, things look otherwise. He had a lot of pain overnight, and he took to the start with a bandage and a painkiller and will try his best to make it through the day. After the stage he will be taken to hospital for x-rays to see if he has a “micro-fracture.”
It looks like we have made it safely around Mt. Etna. We admit that we were not thrilled to learn that this is "one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of eruption. We -- and the peloton, no doubt -- hope that Etna decides to take a rest day today.
The many eruptions over the centuries have transformed the soil into an incredibly fertile ground, which supports the many vineyards, olive groves, citrus plantations, and orchards. It is also a major tourist attraction.
At km 53.3, we had our one-and-only mountain of the day, the Cat.III Maletto. The riders will go up 30.1 km worth of road to the top, but it doesn't look like the toughest climb in the race, with an average gradient of only 1.9%. Unfortunately we still don't know who got the mountain points.
The climb is followed by 40 km descent, and we expect an escape group to get away on this descent. Once they get down, they stay down, so to speak. There are a few bumps along the way, including one just 7 km before the finish, but by looking at the stage profile, they don't look like much more than bumps.
Taking a peek into the mail bag, we have a question from Natasha in Sydney, who wanted to know how many national champions we have in the Giro. A quick look gave us 13:
Australia road: Matthew Lloyd, Silence Lotto and Australian TT : Adam Hansen, High Road; Austria road: Christian Pfannberger, Barloworld; Canada TT: Ryder Hesjedal, Slipstream; Italy road: Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and Italy TT: Marco Pinotti (High Road); Kazakhstan road: maxim Iglinsky, Astana:New Zealand road, Julian Dean (Slipstream); Slovenia road: Tadej Valjavec; Spain road: Joaquin Rodriguez, Caisse d'Epargne; Sweden road: Magnus Backstedt, Slipstream; US road: Levi Leipheimer, Astana and US time trial: Dave Zabriskie, Slipstream (now out of the race, unfortunately).
15:10 CEST 108km/113km to go
The six riders' lead seems to have settled in at about 3'40 to 3'50.
We have two birthday boys today, and they literally share the same birthday, year and all! Happy 29th Birthday to Mauricio Ardilo of Rabobank and to Joaquin Rodriguez of Caisse d'Epargne. He, of course, was the one who looked like he was going to take yesterday's stage, but was passed by the winners only meters before the finish line.
Let's hope they have enough strength left over after today's stage to blow out all those candles......
It was pretty scary seeing Slipstream's Dave Zabriskie being loaded into an ambulance yesterday, but apparently it wasn't as bad as it looked. Slipstream's "Official Medical Update" on Zabriskie says that he "sustained a compression fracture to the anterior aspect of his 1st lumbar vertebrae. He has no neurological damage and isn't expected to have any in the future." It sounds terrible but apparently isn't all that terribly serious. Of course, we wish him a very speedy recovery!
Astana's Steve Morabito hurt his shoulder in a crash yesterday. He was taken to the hospital after the stage for thorough evaluations, but was pronounced to be healthy enough to continue.
Liquigas is leading the peloton as the lead has dropped to 2'22. They aren't going to let these six get away.
Yesterday's stage winner Riccardo Riccò hit the pavement during the stage. "I also crashed when [David] Zabriskie went down. Luckily it was not too serious. In fact, maybe that helped, as it perhaps made me more hungry for the win."
Christian Vande Velde of Slipstream spent only one day being "Pretty in Pink". He said, "I know it sounds cliche, but we did everything in our power today, no regrets. From start to finish, the team rode above and beyond their limits. I, for one, was more than impressed by the boys and their efforts. And I was humbled that I was the one that they were working for."
New overall leader Franco Pellizotti is quite the family man. His first pro win in 2002 was on Father's Day, so he dedicated it to his Dad. Sunday's Mother's Day win was dedicated to the three women in his life, his mother, his wife and his unborn daughter.
The man with all those beautiful blonde curls is happy to have the Maglia Rose and quite naturally wants to hold on to it as long as possible. "This year I am captain of the team. They gave me this responsibility. I think I am ready. I feel good and I want to fight until Milan...my target is to have the pink jersey there."
The peloton is riding right along the water. We are traveling right up the eastern coast to the northeastern tip of the island. And what do we associate with the coast? That's right -- wind! What role will that play today?
Alberto Contador seams to be having trouble with one of his hands. He was involved in Zabriskie's crash yesterday, but apparently didn't go down. Did he crash today and we missed it? An insect bite? No problem at all?
Alberto Contador (Astana) got a last minute invite – and now has trouble with one of his hands
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
15:46 CEST 135km/86km to go
The peloton is keeping the escape group on a short rein: the lead is holding steady at between two and two and a half minutes. The peloton is led by Liquigas, with LPR Brakes right behind them-
A mass sprint finish has been expected today, but our spies tell us that the finish has lots of twists and turns and corners. It might just be too difficult for the mass sprint. We certainly hope that instead of that we won't see one of those mass crashes which we unfortunately associate with the Giro.
And now we see the first raindrops, not a welcome sight.
Gerolsteiner's Andrea Moletta is showing some leg today. He went down earlier in the race and so he has to finish the stage with torn shorts. He has a lot of experience with crashing, unfortunately, most recently in Rund um den Henninger Turm. And of course there was his dramatic crash last year in Milano-Sanremo, which cost him much of the season.
World Champion Paolo Bettini is eating lunch and chatting with a team-mate. Didn't his mother ever tell him not to talk with his mouth full?
15:57 CEST 147km/74km to go
Ricardo Riccò was happy with his stage win, but is not satisfied with just one. "I think I am fresher than last year," he stated. "I am more tranquil. I feel am not yet at one hundred percent but I believe I am going well. I think that's the case because I beat Di Luca and Rebellin today, and you have to be strong to do that. I think I will be at my best in the mountains, I will fight for the Giro there."
Reading our fan mail, we see that Pierre was kind enough to confirm that we were right in stating that Sicily is the largest island in the Med. Sea, an even provided us with the size of the top four:
1. Sicily area is 25708 sq km
2. Sardinia is 24090 sq km
3. Cyprus area is 9250 sq km
4. Corsica is 8720 sq km
Here we have the feared mass crash. A large number of riders and bikes are scattered over the road. Let's hope everyone gets up again.
No idea how the crash came about. Riccò is holding his left hand as it if it hurts, but he is continuing. A High Road rider is still not back on his back, and another rider has a lot of helpers around him.
Riccò won yesterday but just went down hard and is in pain
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
16:05 CEST 153,3km/68km to go
Milram's Jurco takes the intermediate sprint. It is in Messina, the island's third largest-city. It is unfortunately known for negative things: it is considered to be the port in which the "black death" arrived in Europe in 1347.
In addition, it was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in December 1908. About 60,000 lost their lives, and most of the ancient architecture was destroyed. It was rebuilt within a year. In 1943, American air bombardments did further damage and caused thousands of deaths.
Looks like a rider hit a water bottle on the road -- possibly David Millar? At any rate, the rider was about 15 th in the peloton, and everyone behind him just went right on down, too. Not the kind of picture we like to see!
And the raindrops have come back, too.
A group of 8 or nine riders is trying to catch up with the peloton. Mark Cavendish and Kanstantsin Siutsou of High Road are there, but so are Ricardo Riccò and three Saunier Duval helpers.
The Riccò group is working its way up through the cars. The leaders now have a 2'50 lead over the peloton, and the Riccò group is 24 seconds behind.
Milram spokesman Andrea Agostini tells Cyclingnews that he thinks “we can do a good finale, even it it's a little dangerous. I looked at the course for my team, and I told them about the difficulties. There are a lot of corners in the last 5 km, and it is downhill. The sprinters will have to be near the front early. Fortunately it is not raining at the finish now.”
He added that Milram's Alberto Ongarato was involved in the mass crash, but was uninjured.
Milram certainly must be happy that Ongarato was able to keep on going. He is an important part of the team's sprint train. He will be looking to prepare a sprint today for his captain. No matter that the captain is named Zabel instead of Petacchi. "There will surely be a mass sprint finish. Our team specializes in sprints and our Milram Express is one of the best in the peloton. We will work for Erik Zabel and hope for a podium place."
Today's finale may be something for Rabo sprinter Graeme Brown, who suffered in yesterday's ups-and-downs. According to DS Frans Maassen: "It was to his great advantage that the struggle began fairly late. Up till 25 kilometers, it was pretty quiet, after that it exploded." Brown spent much of the day with rivals Mark Cavendish and Luciano Paglarini.
Will those three fight it out for the sprint finish today? Maassen wasn't sure. "That climb is at the beginning, but it is very tough – from 200 to 1000 meters up – which makes another scenario possible. We will see. Apart from that, there are very little sprint stages included in the Giro d'Italia. The specialists will thus only have little prizes to divide amongst them."
16:25 CEST 166km/55km to go
Our six riders up front are still hanging in there, with a lead of 2'37.
Several Gerolsteiner riders went down in that big crash, but apparently Davide Rebellin wasn't among them. The Italian looked he had good chances to take Sunday's stage, but he ended up third. "Too bad that it didn't work out," said DS Christian Henn. "Davide told me that he wished it had been a little steeper in the finale. Riccò was simply faster. But Davide rode a great race and showed that his form is still there."
Davide Rebellin came close yesterday, but couldn't quite pull off a stage win
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
16:32 CEST 171km/50km to go
The lead is down to 1'40. It looks like the escape group is slowly running out of steam.
Liquigas is of course still leading the chase, helped by Barloworld now.
Richard from Montreal wants to know whether High Road's Mark Cavendish has a chance today. “If, big if, it does come down to a bunch gallop, how is young Mark looking??” We think the aggressive youngster is looking good. What he needs is more experience, especially in longer stage races, and he especially needs to work on being able to get over those climbs! But when he takes off in a mass sprint, then look out!
The Manxman has made it back to the peloton after being involved in that crash, and we hope that he wasn't injured or didn't use up too much strength getting back.
16:40 CEST 176km/45km to go
The lead is 1'30 now
Back in the pack, Paolo Bettini is riding near the end of the peloton and doing a few back stretching exercises.
Riccò is surrounded and protected by his teammates within the peloton. He definitely fell on that left hand -- one of the fingers is bleeding. He also has ripped his shorts. He does not look particularly happy at the moment, and who can blame him?
We are now charging along the north coast of the island, and the good news is that the sun is shining!
The finale today is in Milazzo, on the northern coast. This is only the Giro's second visit here. The first time was won by Nino Defillipis in 1961, long before any of today's rider was born.
Slipstream has so many national champs it's easy to lose track - David Millar won both the road race and time trial title
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
We got mail!
Adam Hansen's mum in Australia is sitting up in the early morning hours and wants to know if her son is ok. We sure hope so, but sorry, we don't know for sure.
And we forgot some national champions, of course David Millar is both road and TT champ in Great Britain. And Ludvig reminds us of his little brother Gustav Larsson of CSC, who is Swedish TT champ.
16:55 CEST 187km/34km to go
The break still has about one and a half minutes. The peloton doesn't want to rope them in too early..
Frantisek Rabon of High Road is helping to lead the chase. We assume this means that Cavendish is back in the pack and will be looking to take the win in a mass sprint.
Douglas Cameron has posed an interesting question which we confess we are totally unable to answer. “Besides the two Bradleys (Wiggins and McGee), how many riders in this years Giro will be racing for their countries ON THE TRACK in Beijing?”
We are sure our knowledgeable readers will be able to help us out here.....
The peloton is zipping along at 52.36 km/h, while the escapees are plodding along at 44.88 km/h.
38 seconds, it won't be long now until the break is over. Will there be another escape group, or will the sprinter teams be able to hold things together until the end?
Andy of Moses Lake, Washington, USA, noted, “Seems like if there's a bunch sprint, it'll be McEwen to win. Or,did he get dropped or crash already?” No, the “Pocket Rocket” is still there and hungry for a win, since he only has one so far this season.
17:03 CEST 192km/29km to go
That was it, we have Gruppo Compatto.
17:08 CEST 197km/24km to go
Now that the peloton has caught the escapees, the speed has gone down. The peloton is now going through Spadafora, and there are lots of people out on the sidewalks, cheering them on.
CSC, Saunier Duval and Barloworld are the Leaders of the Pack at the moment. High Road is not far behind.
It is not Saunier Duval but the other team in yellow jerseys, Tinkoff.
Another crash! Five or six riders down, and one from CSC looks to be seriously injured.
It is Bradley McGee, who is now sitting up, at any rate.
Enrico Poitschke of Milram and Graeme Brown of Rabobank were also involved. A Tinkoff rider went down when his front wheel slipped away in some dirt, and caused it all.
It looks like McGee won't be continuing. This would be very bad news for him, if he is injured. Looks like a collarbone injury.....
That was it for McGee, he is being loaded onto a stretcher.
High Road has sent four riders up to the front, and Gerolsteiner is starting to put in an appearance. We deduce that Mark Cavendish and Robert Förster are getting ready to duke it out in a sprint.
17:24 CEST 207km/14km to go
It looks like the speed is picking up a bit, the peloton is spreading out in a thin line.
Paolo Bettini puts his hand on Franco Pellizotti's bottom and gives him a shove. Pellizotti is very distinctive with his pink outfit and blue-green helmet.
Andrea Tonti of Quick Step is grabbing his chance and going for it all. But so far he has only a few meters on the group.
17:28 CEST 211km/10km to go
Tonti has just been gathered in again. The road is going up a bit now.
The bad news has been confirmed: Bradley McGee has a broken right collarbone.
Three riders have shot out on this slight climb, Vincenzo Nibali is in the lead. He quickly leaves behind an Astana rider and the third, who we were unable to identify.
17:32 CEST 214km/7km to go
Nibali has built up a lead of about 10 seconds, but seven km can still be a loooong way...
Oops, that was it, He fights it off until the last second but now he has been gathered i again.
17:34 CEST 216km/5km to go
Liquigas and LPR are leading the peloton. Actually it is a group of 50 or so, with the rest dribbling along behind. Can't really say that the peloton has split, though.
The wake-up call arrived. The speed just picked up dramatically. Jurgen Van Den Broek of Silence-Lotto is the next to shoot away from the fast-moving group.
17:36 CEST 217km/4km to go
Hondo, Förster, Zabel, Cavendish -- the sprinters are moving up to the front.
17:38 CEST 219km/2km to go
Lilian Jegou of Française des Jeux wants to avoid a mass sprint but he is quickly gathered in again.
Danilo Hondo moves up and bumps a few riders along the way.
Bennati opens the sprint and despite having Erik Zabel right behind him, takes the win.
Tinkoff's Petrov hit the barrier and went down, taking Graeme Brown with him. Both finished, but Brown looks as if he may have been injured.
Congratulations to Daniele Bennati, who finished ahead of Erik Zabel and Danilo Hondo.
Join us again tomorrow after we transfer over to the mainland and start working our way up the boot of Italy.
1 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
3 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli
4 Thomas Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Alberto Loddo (Ita) Tinkoff Credit Systems
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