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92nd Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 9-31, 2009

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Stage 7 - Friday, May 15: Innsbruck (Aut) - Chiavenna, 244km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

14:01 CEST   
Ciao! Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of stage seven of the centennial Giro d'Italia, Innsbruck, Austria, to Chiavenna, Italy.

Today's stage is 244 kilometres, but the difficulties could come from the decent to Chiavenna and the wet conditions. The weather turns dismal heading towards St Moritz, near the GPM (Gran Premio della Montagna) of Passo Maloja.

Fortunately there is not snow at the top (where it is around 5°C), but the mountainsides is covered with it. The light rain will make the descent off of Maloja dangerous. The first part is fast and quick, and it becomes gentler towards the bottom.

Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

14:02 CEST   
An escape of four – Bartosz Huzarski (ISD), Mauro Facci (Quick Step), Sergey Klimov (Katusha), Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) – formed immediately after the start. The four gained a gap of 9:14 by kilometre 24.

14:06 CEST    119km/125km to go
The four are working well, Sergey Klimov (Katusha) leads. Mauro Facci (Quick Step) is chewing on some food (smart man, keeping fuelled for the day).

14:08 CEST   
This day will make the classification men nervous, the wet roads could spell disaster for their hopes if they are inattentive.

14:09 CEST   
The Giro d'Italia has a historic field taking part in this year's event. We looked back at 50 facts you might not, but should, know about this fantastic event's rich history. Have a look.

Lance Armstrong (Astana) wearing the lightened jersey at the start of stage 7
Photo ©: Phil Maertens
(Click for larger image)

14:11 CEST   
Astana is riding in slightly modified kits today. The "sun" logo and most of the sponsor names have been dramatically lightened on the jerseys, but the colours have remained the same.

"The sponsors are still there, but much lighter, except for Trek, Nike and KazMunaiGaz, who paid," team spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews.

The team has experienced difficulties with payments from its sponsors, and riders and staff are behind in receiving payments. The UCI threatened to suspend the team if payments are not made by May 31.

14:11 CEST   
The four have 7:10 in hand.

14:15 CEST   
Team Garmin is working hard. Maybe they are thinking of Farrar for today's stage?

14:17 CEST   
Today's escape started from the gun, just outside of Innsbruck. Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) lit the fire and was followed by his new friends, Mauro Facci (Quick Step), Bartosz Huzarski (ISD) and Sergey Klimov (Katusha).

14:18 CEST    136km/108km to go
Facci leads the other three escapees with 108km remaining. They are on a light climb, which continues to St. Moritz.

14:21 CEST   
We see David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) at the front with Markus Fothen (Milram). They are racing under grey and dry skies, but closer to St. Moritz there will be a cold shower waiting.

14:25 CEST    137km/107km to go
The time gap of the front four seems to be near six minutes, though my Russian watch seems to be failing.

14:37 CEST    141km/103km to go
Lance Armstrong (Astana) had a hard time yesterday, losing around 38 seconds in the final four kilometres of the stage won by Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni).

"Uh...wow. That was the craziest last 30k I've ever seen. Long, fast decent at 80k (50pmh) plus then a tight circuit. At one point today, we reached 110kph. That's almost 70 mph. CRAZY!," he said yesterday on his Twitter.

"Tomorrow [today - ed.] is the same kind of finish. It's bike racing, not Moto GP."

14:38 CEST    141km/103km to go
Jesús Del Nero (Fuji-Servetto) abandons the race.

14:39 CEST   
Thanks to everyone for writing e-mails and sending messages on our forums!

14:41 CEST    144km/100km to go
There are 100km to go for the four escapees: Bartosz Huzarski (ISD), Mauro Facci (Quick Step), Sergey Klimov (Katusha), Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia). They are near Ardez. There are about 60km to go to the top of the mountain.

Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni - Androni) descends
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

14:43 CEST   
The stage is not so hard today, but the difficulties will come from the decent," said Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni).

"This is a very difficult giro and every stage has to be taken with attention," said Ivan Basso (Liquigas), 2006 winner. Basso has improved a lot on his descending skills, thankfully.

14:44 CEST   
The gap is under five minutes, 4:30.

14:50 CEST   
Ah, the rain starts to come down again.

14:53 CEST   
Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) has pink shorts and top, but black leg warmers. His shoe covers, helmet and sunglasses are also pink! None of it will change the greyness of this Friday in Switzerland.

14:55 CEST    148km/96km to go
We have passed 148 kilometres of racing, and the gap of the escape is 4:18.

14:56 CEST   
Lance Armstrong is set to put his ambitions aside for Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer following what the seven-time Tour de France winner thinks will be a maglia rosa ride in the Cinque Terre time trial next Thursday in the Giro d'Italia.

"A lot will depend on what happens with him [Leipheimer]," Armstrong told Cyclingnews prior to the start of the sixth day of racing. "If he is in pink after that time trial then my ambitions will have to be put aside. There is no point in me going for a stage win if he is in the lead, we have to support that." Have a read of our news.

15:02 CEST   
"Chiavenna continues the international flavour for the Giro. This Swiss stage is for sprinters, we are only in the seventh day and so it is too early for long escapes to succeed. We will see the leader's team work to protect the maglia rosa," Diquigiovanni team manager Gianni Savio told Cyclingnews before the centennial Giro d'Italia.

"We are in Valtellina area, known for its Bresaola meats and Pizzocheri pasta. Enjoy!"

There are three countries covered in this stage: 100km in Austria, 120km in Switzerland and then the final 15km back in Italy.

15:04 CEST   
Savio was pleased with his team's win yesterday. Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni) held back a charging peloton to win solo in Mayrhofen, Austria.

"Michele is a very nice guy, he really deserves this win on both human and sporting points of view."

15:05 CEST    162km/82km to go
The gap is now down to 3:10 four our four leaders after 4h04 of racing.

15:07 CEST   
Facci is the only Italian of the four. Bartosz Huzarski (ISD) is Polish, and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) and Sergey Klimov (Katusha) are Russians.

15:10 CEST    162.4km/81.6km to go
Danny Pate (Garmin-Slipstream) and David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) pull the peloton along in chase of our four escapees. There are 81.6km to race for the four.

15:11 CEST   
Garmin gets help from Columbia.

15:12 CEST   
Winner of stage seven last year, LPR's Gabriele Bosisio hometown of Lecco is just down at the other end of Lake Como/Lecco from the finish. His job is to keep Di Luca safe today.

15:18 CEST   
Bartosz Huzarski (ISD) takes some food from his team director at the car. He is 28 minutes down in the classification.

He and his three partners have just over two minutes, heading to the gates of St. Moritz. We believe Lance Armstrong (Astana) used to have a house here.

15:19 CEST   
David Millar, Christian Vande Velde and Ryder Hesjedal (and maybe Dan Pate) came here to train last year after the Giro d'Italia.

15:19 CEST    169km/75km to go
2:48 is the gap at 75km to race.

15:20 CEST   
The rain has turned off, for now.

15:26 CEST   
The sun shines, but the riders in the peloton are putting on their gloves and capes. They are preparing for what will be cold, wet and dangerous descent.

2:05 is the gap to the four men.

15:42 CEST   
Katusha is now near the front. It worked for Swift and Pozzato yesterday, Pozzato took fourth.

15:43 CEST   
Lance Armstrong (Astana) is in the heart of the gruppo with a black rain cap covering his mellow Astana jersey. The colours of the sponsor are lightened due to the payment problems the team is having.

15:46 CEST   
Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) is calm and collected. He will aim to get down the descent in the front group and sprint for his first stage win in this Giro d'Italia. Last year, he won two stages. His biggest rival is Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini), winner of two stages so far this year.

15:48 CEST   
It is cold at the top of this climb, but most of the escapees are without arm and leg warmers. Back in the pack, it is a different story: rain capes, arm warmers and full-fingered gloves are everywhere.

The front four will be working harder and producing more heat to keep them warm.

15:49 CEST   
We have a competition today on our forum. Have a look.

15:53 CEST    188km/56km to go
The four – Bartosz Huzarski (ISD), Mauro Facci (Quick Step), Sergey Klimov (Katusha), Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) – have 2:10 over the chase. They are near the top of the Passo Maloja.

They are near St. Moritz, a town of near 20,000 inhabitants.

15:53 CEST   
In fact, the escapees enter St. Moritz now. They approach the TV Sprint.

15:54 CEST   
The points go to the sprinters' maglia ciclamino.

15:55 CEST    190.7km/53.3km to go
Mauro Facci (Quick Step) takes the points over Bartosz Huzarski (ISD) and Sergey Klimov (Katusha).

15:57 CEST   
The peloton comes through the sprint at 1:50.

15:57 CEST   
We got a look at Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream). The Brit believes his improvement on the climbs is thanks to specific training and weight loss.

"I am enjoying it," Wiggins told Cyclingnews of his Giro d'Italia ride, despite losing team leader Christian Vande Velde in a crash on day three.

"I was really looking forward to riding with him and being with him as long as possible on the climbs so I could give him confidence heading towards the Tour de France. However, I can do my own thing and race for myself, so it has been enjoyable in that sense."

16:08 CEST   
Due to weather conditions, the time for the general classification will be taken at three kilometres remaining. This will allow the overall favourites to sit back and relax while the sprinters rev it up for a sprint win.

We get a look at Robert Hunter (Barloworld), he has the skills to pull off a fast descent and a superb sprint. A win for him today? Keep those e-mails coming.

16:09 CEST   
We are over five hours of racing now. The escapees are near the top of the passo. The last four km of uphill are 'light'.

16:10 CEST   
18 seconds near the top of the passo.

16:14 CEST   
Lance Armstrong (Astana) is at the front of the group for the descent of Maloja.

16:16 CEST   
Yaroslav Popovych (Astana) leads Armstrong near the top of the Passo Maloja GPM (Gran Premio della Montagna).

16:17 CEST   
The four are still free, but barely. They have about 15 seconds.

16:17 CEST   
Mauro Facci (Quick Step) keeps kicking while the other three wave the white flag of surrender. Facci is just a few metre away from the GPM (Gran Premio della Montagna).

16:18 CEST   
Facci is caught, it is now gruppo compatto ('all together').

16:19 CEST   
Michael Rogers (Columbia-Highroad), Gilberto Simoni (Diquigiovanni) and many of the favourites move to the front.

16:19 CEST   
We are ready for a crazy descent!

16:20 CEST    207.7km/36.3km to go
David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream), we think, leads the gruppo over the top of Maloja.

16:21 CEST   
Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni), the oldest Giro d'Italia rider here, attacks on the very wet descent.

16:22 CEST   
A lot of riders are light-footing it down this pass.

16:24 CEST   
Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) looks good and will draw encouragement from Scarponi's win yesterday. If anything, he has a safer ride on his own than with the gruppo. We think he has a 30 seconds' advantage.

16:25 CEST    212km/32km to go
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) led the group over the pass, not Zabriskie. Behind him were Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) and Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas).

32km to ride.

16:26 CEST   
Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) keeps the hammer down. He is well covered with blue arm and leg warmers.

The Italian is near the town of Casaccia.

16:27 CEST   
The rain keeps coming down. The good news is that everyone seems safe, and we haven't seen any crashes (yet).

16:28 CEST   
Marco Pinotti (Columbia-Highroad) suffers a front puncture.

53 seconds for Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) after six km of descent.

16:29 CEST   
Liquigas is riding smart. The Italian team is up front for its captain, Ivan Basso.

Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) is traveling at 65km/h... MotoGP?

16:31 CEST   
Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) is doing well, he has 40" but he will need more to hold off the hungry sprinters. The sprinters have hungry eyes.

16:33 CEST    218km/26km to go
Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) is racking himself on the bike's top tube in an attempt to get a more aerodynamic position.

16:33 CEST    219km/25km to go
With 25km to go, Bertolini has 1:03.

16:35 CEST   
The 37-year-old from Trentino lightens his load by handing his rain cape to the camera motor bike. He now has his forearms on the tops of the bars, hands (in full black gloves) relaxed.

16:36 CEST   
Remember, it was Bertolini who gave Diquigiovanni its win in last year's Giro. It was on a day of similar conditions, if I recall correctly.

16:36 CEST   
A Katusha rider jams out of the front of the peloton.

16:37 CEST   
It is Pavel Brutt (Katusha). He has gained a few seconds over the gruppo.

16:37 CEST   
The descent lightens up now, not so steep.

16:38 CEST    224km/20km to go
Bertolini is sitting on his top tube again.

16:39 CEST    224km/20km to go
The group of Di Luca passes under the 20km barrier 48" behind Bertolini.

16:39 CEST   
He will enter Italia soon.

16:40 CEST    224km/20km to go
Sorry, He has 48" on Brutt and 55" on the gruppo.

16:40 CEST   
Cavendish pops out of the gruppo, he has a few metres advantage.

We see Hunter too.

16:41 CEST   
Hunter joins Brutt in the chase of Bertolini.

16:42 CEST   
Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) leads.

Robert Hunter (Barloworld) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha) chase at near 40".

Alberto Fernández De La Puebla (Fuji-Servetto) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad), we think, are off on their own.

16:42 CEST    229km/15km to go
27" at 15km to go.

16:42 CEST   
Bertolini is not going to make it to the finish with that advantage.

16:43 CEST   
He enters Italy. The Giro is back in its homeland.

16:43 CEST   
Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) leads.

Robert Hunter (Barloworld), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Alberto Fernández De La Puebla (Fuji-Servetto) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad) have joined forces.

16:45 CEST    232km/12km to go
Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni), Davide Viganò (Fuji-Servetto), Robert Hunter (Barloworld), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha) make five.

The five have 26" at 12km.

This move could make it.

16:46 CEST   
An ISD rider flies the coop.

16:47 CEST   
It is not Visconti, but Andriy Grivko (ISD).

16:47 CEST    234km/10km to go
10km to go for the five riders.

16:47 CEST   
Bertolini will be too tired to sprint, he has to try to counter this escape.

16:48 CEST    234km/10km to go
The group passes 10km 32" later.

Andriy Grivko (ISD) is 21" back from the five.

16:50 CEST   
There are there sprinters in this move of five, one is Viganò, who lives an hour away from the finish. The others are Hunter and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad).

16:50 CEST   
The riders are travelling at 71km/h.

16:50 CEST   
Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini), in the maglia ciclamino, prepares for the sprint.

16:51 CEST   
The riders pass the city of Borgonuovo.

16:51 CEST    238km/6km to go
Six kilometres to go for the five riders. Who will win?

16:52 CEST   
They are working in a counter-clockwise motion, taking pulls and flying towards the finish.

16:52 CEST    239km/5km to go
Andriy Grivko (ISD) is 30 seconds back at 5km to go.

16:53 CEST    240km/4km to go
4km to go for the five: Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni), Davide Viganò (Fuji-Servetto), Robert Hunter (Barloworld), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha).

Will Boasson Hagen pull off another win, like Gent-Wevelgem?

16:54 CEST   
32" for Andriy Grivko (ISD) and 43" for the gruppo maglia rosa at 4km to go.

The front five pass 3km to go.

16:54 CEST   
Who is going to attack out of the five?

16:55 CEST    242km/2km to go
2km to go for the men.

16:55 CEST   
Davide Viganò (Fuji-Servetto) and Hunter sit on the back of the move.

16:55 CEST    242.5km/1.5km to go
Vigano is on the front now

16:56 CEST   
The have 40" on the peloton.

16:56 CEST   
Hunter is on the front, he looks back.

16:56 CEST   
Andriy Grivko (ISD) nears the five.

16:56 CEST    243km/1km to go
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad) leads onto the last km.

16:57 CEST   
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad), Vigano, Bertolini...

16:57 CEST   
Bertolini fires at 800m to go.

16:57 CEST   
He has a good gap.

16:57 CEST   
They nail him back.

16:57 CEST   
Brutt did the chase.

16:57 CEST   
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad) leads it out, he gets a gap.

16:58 CEST   
He wins over Robert Hunter (Barloworld)!

16:58 CEST   
Goss wins the bunch sprint.

16:59 CEST   
Vigano did the chase of the Norwegian, but he could not pull him back.

17:03 CEST   
Remember, the classification was taken at 3km to go.

17:05 CEST   
Grivko closed at 31", in sixth.

17:05 CEST   
Thanks for joining us on our live coverage today! Please come back tomorrow for the stage to Bergamo. Ciao!


1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia-Highroad
2 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
3 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha
4 Davide Viganò (Ita) Fuji-Servetto
5 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli
6 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD                                                                                      0.31
7 Matthew Goss (Aus) Saxo Bank                                                                                 0.40
8 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step 
General classification after stage 7
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini

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