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91st Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008

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Stage 5 - Wednesday, May 14: Belvedere Marittimo - Contursi Terme, 203km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 16:50 CEST

14:29 CEST   
Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews' coverage of this year's Giro d'Italia. We have an intermediate stage today, not one for the sprinters, but certainly not one for the climbers. It's time to give everyone else a chance!

Today's stage takes us 203 kilometres north, from Belvedere Marittimo to Contursi Terme. It's a rolling course that won't give the peloton much time to enjoy the scenery. It also looks like a good chance for a long breakaway.

14:33 CEST    103km/100km to go
Things got off with a bang this morning, as Magnus Backstedt (Slipstream) followed Rik Verbrugghe's example from yesterday and took off at kilometre 0. The peloton refused to let the big Swede go, though, and quickly roped him back in. After various attempts, a group of five got away: Luis Laverde (CSF), Johannes Fröhlinger (Gerolsteiner), David Millar (Slipstream), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) and Francisco Pérez Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne).

This turned out to be the group of the day, and with 100 kilometres to go, they have built up a lead of just over eight minutes.

14:38 CEST   
Only one rider was missing at the start today, Nick Nuyens of Cofidis. He was in fact scheduled to fly home to Belgium for surgery later today on his broken collarbone.

Here is a list of the riders who are no longer in the Giro:
Stage 1 DNS: Maximiliano Richeze (CSF Group Navigare)
Stage 2 DNS: Igor Astarloa (Team Milram)
Stage 2 DNF: David Zabriskie (Slipstream Chipotle - H30)
Stage 3 DNF: Bradley McGee (Team CSC)
Stage 4 DNF: Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC)

14:42 CEST   
The first 42 kilometres or so of the day were on the Tyrrhenian coast, before the road heads inland and starts climbing. The only ranked climb of the day came at kilometre 88, the 783 metre high Fortino. It has an average gradient of 4.8% with an max of 8%.

From there they continue northwest, with luncheon being served today in Montesano Scalo, and an intermediate sprint at kilometre 142.6 in Polla.

14:47 CEST    116km/87km to go
Today's quintet is working quite well together and has now built their lead up to 9'10.

14:51 CEST   
We don't expect a mass sprint today for a very good reason – the last three kilometres of the day go straight up! Milram's Enrico Poitschke described the finish as "One for riders who can attack on a 9% gradient, like we will see in the last three kilometres. I think it will be a sprint with a few riders, rather than a mass sprint."

14:56 CEST   
Will today's stage finally be one for Paolo Bettini? "Il Grillo" doesn't have any wins at all yet this season, and in fact has finished on the podium only twice, with a third in the Tour of California's sixth stage and second- and third-place finishes in País Vasco stages. The 34 year old World Champ from Team Quick Step is certainly due for a win.

15:09 CEST   
Young Mark Cavendish took yesterday's sprint in dramatic style, becoming only the third British rider to win a Giro stage. The previous two were Robert Millar in 1987 and Vin Denson (1969). The 22 year-old has gotten his ProTour off to a phenomenal start, with 17 wins in the last 18 months. But as powerful as the Manxman is, he has a lot of trouble with climbing, so we would be very surprised to see him in front at the finish today.

15:10 CEST   

15:13 CEST    135km/68km to go
The lead has now dropped down again to eight minutes. Has the peloton finally decided to come to life?

15:18 CEST    142,6km/61km to go
The breakaway group just went through the day's intermediate sprint, and not surprisingly, it was won by David Millar, followed by Fröhlinger and Pérez.

15:20 CEST   
Gerolsteiner's Johannes Fröhlinger, who is in the escape group, is not real happy with the Giro organisers, saying they are not handling the riders with respect. The ferry ride from Sicily to the mainland earlier in the week was later than planned and took twice as long, so that the team didn't reach their hotel until 22:30, and were only then able to eat dinner.

15:22 CEST   
Now the peloton has passed under the banner for the intermediate sprint, with the time difference having fallen again. It is now down to 7'20.

15:25 CEST   
Whatever happened to sunny Italy? Once again today we see lots of dark clouds and the first raindrops have been reported.

15:28 CEST   
Fröhlinger, by the way, is a "real" Gerolsteiner, having been born in Gerolstein, Germany, some 23 years ago. He turned pro with the German team last year and doesn't have any wins to his account yet.

15:33 CEST    149km/54km to go
The lead is still dropping – now it is 6'25.

15:36 CEST   
Some of the top favourites for that nasty little climb at today's finish are Bettini, Di Luca, Riccò – all the big names. And the man in the maglia rosa, Franco Pellizotti, wouldn't mind winning today, either.

It's a 3-kilometre climb up to the finish line, with an average gradient of 5.9% but it is 9% at the end. Who will still have the legs after 200 kilometres for that? Let us know who you think will take it.

Or will the break come through?

15:40 CEST   
"In this week it is going very fast, I can't defend myself," said Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) to Rai TV. He will wait for the third week to start his Giro d'Italia.

15:41 CEST   
Paolo Bettini has dropped back for a chat at the team car. Or perhaps he wanted to pick up a rain jacket?

15:44 CEST    158km/45km to go
Of the finish Paolo Savoldelli (LPR Brakes) said, "It is an important climb at the end. ... We will see what we can do."

That finish is getting closer, too, as is the end for the escape group. The lead is down again, to 5'55.

15:47 CEST   
The riders were in a hurry to get going this morning. Our man on the spot, Shane Stokes, tells us that he race was due to start at 12:00, but started some 15 minutes early.

15:50 CEST   
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) noted to Rai, "the maglia rosa will give me an extra gear for the finish. It looks like a finish for Di Luca, who could take the jersey."

15:52 CEST   
The peloton is going u one of those climbs, and guess who is falling off the back –- yesterday's winner, Mark Cavendish. Quick Step and Liquigas are leading the charge.

15:53 CEST   
Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto) decided to check out the local flora and fauna, and took a short detour into the ditch.

15:56 CEST   
Now it is time for our gourmet tip of the day: If you are in the area try the local dish Gattò di Patate (mashed potato cake). It is a potato dish with mozzarella, ham and eggs that is oven baked.

15:57 CEST    163km/40km to go
No doubt the peloton is thinking of the mashed potato cake waiting for them at the finish, they have shrunk the lead again, to 5'20.

16:00 CEST   
Astana has the luxurious problem of which of its three stars will be the captain. German Andreas Klöden was the nominal captain going it, but don't count out Levi Leipheimer. The American has gotten off to a quiet start, but is only 40 seconds back in the 23rd spot. It's too early for him yet, he told Cyclingnews. "I definitely need some time to...well, I am a rider who usually does well in the third week, when everybody else gets tired."

16:04 CEST   
Team CSC had a tough time, losing its two Australians in one day to broken collarbones. Stuey O'Grady was philosophical about it. "It's just bad luck and there's nothing you can do about it," he said. "I keep coming back from these things – it's like a little challenge. Everything happens for a reason because each time I come back bigger and better."

His team-mate Brad McGee expects to be out for a month, but doesn't think it will affect his plans to ride the Tour de France and the Olympics. It's something he even has experience with – he broke his left collarbone only
weeks before winning a bronze medal in the individual pursuit in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The remaining CSC riders here in Italy can wish "buon compleanno" to Nicki Sørensen, who is turning 33 years old today.

16:05 CEST    173km/30km to go
The peloton is driving through light rain again, with the lead down to four minutes.

16:07 CEST   
The peloton seems to realize that it has a chance to pull the escapees back in before that final climb and is now tearing along. The road is very wet, so we hope that this doesn't cause any crashes.

16:14 CEST    178km/25km to go
The escapees are still hoping to stay away, under very dark skies. The rain is picking up, too, which could make the finale a bit difficult. They still have a bit over three minutes – it is possible that they will make it?

16:16 CEST   
Russia's Brutt took two wins in 2007, the stage nine of the Tour de Langkawi and the GP Chiasso. He has been a professional since 2001. He is also a member of the long-hair club.

16:18 CEST    183km/20km to go
The leading quintet passes under the 20-kilometre marker, and fortunately, the rain has let up.

16:19 CEST   
If the race ended now, we would have a new leader. Pérez started the day 1'57" down. He is in the "virtual" maglia rosa now.

16:21 CEST   
LPR Brakes, with their distinctive gray jerseys, has taken over the lead of the peloton. Their captain De Luca may not be in the lead, but they are doing their best to make sure he stands on top of the final podium in Milano.

16:25 CEST    189km/14km to go
With the lead down to just over two minutes, it is hard to guess whether the escapees will come through or not. Behind them, the peloton is speeding along. It will probably come down as how hard that final 3-kilometre climb really is.

16:29 CEST   
It looks as if the peloton has slowed down, the lead is up again to 2'30. Or they may be hoping that the leaders won't survive that final climb.

16:31 CEST    193km/10km to go
The five in front are still all together – but for how much longer?

16:33 CEST   
The peloton climbs up to the 10-kilometre mark, with Liquigas leading the way, but with Astana visible, as is World Champion Paolo Bettini. The time difference is 2'10.

16:37 CEST   
Rabobank's Theo Eltink just had a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with the road barrier, but came away successfully.

Rinaldo Nocentini of Ag2r and an LPR ride evidently had a small crash. Nocentini gets a wheel from a team-mate and is on his way again.

16:40 CEST    198km/5km to go
Liquigas probably won't actually be too sad to give up the lead and all the work involved. But it will be close – the lead is now under two minutes, at 1'46.

16:41 CEST    200km/3km to go
The five leaders are now starting up that final climb, and it is clear that they are going UP. And they haven't even gotten to the hard part, yet.

16:42 CEST   
Will one of the five break clear and take the win? Can one of them find the strength?

16:44 CEST   
Yes, Fröhlinger goes for it! But Brutt pulls the others up to him.

16:44 CEST   
Pérez is the next to try, but they won't let him go either.

Andrea Noè leads the peloton, one minute back.

16:45 CEST   
Millar slipped out of his pedals or had his chain drop off, just short of the 1-kilometre mark. He pulled over and threw his bike over the barrier in disgust

16:46 CEST   
Brutt took off and ground his way up the steep climb. Fröhlinger leads the chase. They have left the other two behind them.

16:47 CEST   
Brutt wil be able to hold his lead, as Laverde comes up close to Fröhlinger.

16:47 CEST   
And the Russian takes the win, 5 seconds ahead of Fröhlinger.

16:48 CEST   
The peloton comes over less than a minute later, so there should be no change in the overall.

Thanks for joining us, come back tomorrow as we take on the Giro's longest stage.

Provisional results

1 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff Credit Systems
2 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Gerolsteiner
3 Luis Felipe Laverde (Col) CSF Group Navigare
4 Francisco Pérez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
5 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step
General classification after stage 5
1 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas

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