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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for May 27, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Giro stage wrap up: Petacchi bounces back

Just one day after a high speed crash in the individual time trial, Alessandro Petacchi roared back to take his fifth win of this year's Giro d'Italia. In a long, uneventful stage, Petacchi summoned all of his strength and willpower to contest the sprint, heavily bandaged and sore from the day before.

The Italian not only profited from his Fassa Bortolo team's hard work, but also from the leadout efforts of Domina Vacanze, which had both Daniele Bennati and Giovanni Lombardi in position for the sprint. On Petacchi's heels was French sprinter Jimmy Casper, who for the first time in the Giro showed his true finishing speed in a bunch sprint.

A very fast start to the race set the tone, before two riders broke clear at the 53km mark. Piotr Chimielewski (CCC-Polsat) and Sergei Adyeyev (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) spent more than 100km out ahead of the field, but never gained much more than three minutes over the bunch. Eventually the race came back together, and despite a few late attacks, came down to the inevitable bunch sprint in Pavia.

Stage 16 full results and report
Live report

Petacchi digs deep

Credit where credit is due
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

"I have to thank to my teammates and Giancarlo (Ferretti) who got me psyched up today to race", said stage winner Alessandro Petacchi, visibly in agony from his injuries. "You suffer a lot in cycling and I think that yesterday was the unluckiest day of my life. With the great Giro I've had so far, to crash like that in a time trial... It was stupid. But today, with grinta (guts), my desire to win and with the points jersey, to win after (yesterday)... I've done something great."

Monday was the sixth stage win for Fassa Bortolo and Petacchi's 10th podium finish at this year's Giro (5 wins, 2 second places, and three third places).

Although Petacchi couldn't even walk Sunday night, he rode the 5km from his hotel to the start of stage 16, finding in the process that he was able to ride well at 30 km/h. Despite some pain in his left ankle, Petacchi decided to start. "During the stage I felt better. My teammates kept telling me that I could do it today and that encouragement helped me so much. Today was one of those days that happens one time in a thousand."

Giro stars think of Tour

This weekend it was revealed that Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) would change his plans in order to ride the Tour de France, most likely instead of the Vuelta a España later this year. Gonzalez has steadily ridden himself into form in the first two weeks of the Giro, and saw his efforts rewarded with a win in the individual time trial, even after having been slowed by mechanical difficulties.

Gonzalez's teammate and star sprinter of the Giro, Alessandro Petacchi, is also considering tackling the Tour. Petacchi has shown that he can climb better than the average sprinter, and could well be a threat to the green points jersey should he decide to make that a target.

Current race leader Gilberto Simoni is looking forward to a good Tour de France, and hopes to in some way challenge Lance Armstrong, the heavy favourite who this year shoots for his fifth consecutive win. I was at the Tour presentation last year and I've seen the course, Simoni told Le Monde's Guillame Prebois. "I'll be there. It's a good course for me, and if I'm lucky enough to have a teammate like Danilo Di Luca at the Tour, we'll light up the race."

Eisel's learning
Photo: © I. Ashworth
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Although the team has yet to come away with a stage win, can take comfort in its performances thus far. Team manager Marc Madiot sent a squad of primarily young riders to the Giro to gain experience, and they haven't disappointed. Sandy Casar has frequently animated breakaways and sits in 23rd overall, 23 minutes behind Simoni after stage 16. Casar rode his first Tour de France in 2002, and will be looking for more success on the roads of France this year. Sprinter Jimmy Casper found his legs in Monday's rush to the line, finishing second behind Petacchi, and Austrian Bernard Eisel has consistently been in the hunt for high places in the bunch sprints.

Bennati close again

Young Italian Daniele Bennati (Domina Vacanze-Elitron) showed himself once again today to be a promising sprinter in his own right. With team leader Mario Cipollini out of the race, Bennati is free to play his own card, along with fellow fast man Giovanni Lombardi. Any man capable of serving in Cipo's leadout train clearly has a fast finish, and Bennati has been knocking on the door, searching for a victory. Success hasn't come yet, but today's fourth place is another encouraging performance.

"The team worked perfectly today, we just missed the victory," Bennati told Datasport. "Unfortunately in the final turn with 300 metres to go, I wasn't fast enough. I tried to go again at 70 metres, but I had heavy legs and Petacchi came around me to win."

Kids meet riders at "Bimbingiro 2003"

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Photo: © Tim Maloney
Click for larger image

No it's not about the podium girls, who aren't bimbos anyway... "Bimbo" is Italian for kids, and the FCI (Federazione Ciclista Italiana) has developed a new public relations initiative to reach out to young children and give them the chance to meet their favorite pro cyclists before and after the stage.

Gilberto Simoni, Stefano Garzelli, Mario Cipollini, Alessandro Petacchi and Filippo Pozzato are among the top riders who have participated at Bimbingiro. Today in Pavia, it was Paola Pezzo, double gold medallist in women's mountain biking, who was the guest of honour at Bimbingiro. "Bimbingiro is a great project and we are having a very positive reaction to this all over Italy", said an FCI spokesman Luciana Rota.

Cyclingnews also noted the informative, 126 page brochure "BiciScuola" that RCS Sport developed in conjunction with La Gazzetta dello Sport. BiciScuola is a study guide for middle school age kids that explains the history and culture of the Giro d'Italia, as well as featuring a "Racconti" section, with literary selections about cycling from such Italian luminaries of letters as Dino Buzzati, Gianni Brera and Indro Montanelli. It was Montanelli that aptly captured the spirit of the Giro d'Italia for the Italian people when he wrote "The Giro d'Italia has a strange power: that to be able to turn any day of the week into Sunday."

Bruylandts hungry for Division I

The winner of the last stage of the Tour of Belgium, Dave Bruylandts (Marlux) has ambitions to ride in Division I again, having taken a step down from Domo-Farm Frites where he rode for the last two years. The sinewy 5th year pro is a specialist in the hilly one day races, and the Liège-Bastogne-Liège-like finale on Sunday suited him down to the ground.

Bruylandts ready
Photo: © Elmar Krings
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In April, his Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf team missed out on a ride in La Doyenne, being overlooked by Jean-Marie Leblanc in favour of bigger squads. But Marlux showed yesterday that it could have been a factor, with Bruylandts being the only rider to really threaten Quick.Step's grip on the race. His attack on La Redoute with 35 km to go gained him a minute, but was pulled back after a determined chase from BankGiroLoterij and Rabobank. His subsequent attack at 2 km to go gained him the stage, and fifth overall in his national tour.

"To win the stage was what I really wanted to do," he was quoted in the VUM newspapers. "Let this be an answer to Jean-Marie Leblanc, because he didn't select us for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. All he will get from this is a little message, if you see how he made his selection for the Tour."

If Bruylandts is to ride L-B-L next year, then he would prefer to be a little more secure of his start. "I make no secret of it: I want to ride next year in a Division I team. That could still be Marlux, if we are promoted. If the team stays in second division - and I get the chance - I'll go to a Division I team. For next year I especially want certainty about my program."

Latest UCI women's rankings

After the 2.9.1 ranked Tour de l'Aude finished on Sunday, the UCI has updated its international women's rankings, which are calculated on a one year rolling basis, like the men's. There were no changes at the top, with World Champion Susanne Ljungksog (Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai) holding first place, just 6.5 points ahead of Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites Hartol). In third is Nicole Brändli (Prato Marathon Bike), followed by Tour de l'Aude winner Judith Arndt (Nürnberger).

Bik-Powerplate rider Sara Carrigan jumped a couple of places from 8th to 6th, while her teammate Anita Valen moved from 13th to 10th. Also Australian Champion Olivia Gollan is up to 12th from 18th, after a consistent performance in the Tour de l'Aude. Lyne Bessette (Saturn) jumped 16 places to 15th, and her teammate Manon Jutras went from 104th to 62nd.

In the teams rankings, Prato Marathon Bike continues to hold an edge over Equipe Nürnberger and Farm Frites-Hartol, while Germany, the Netherlands and Australia are the top three road cycling countries.

1 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Team Catalunya-Aliverti-Kookai     644.00 pts
2 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Farm Frites-Hartol Cycling Team      637.50
3 Nicole Brändli (Swi) Prato Marathon Bike                   540.50
4 Judith Arndt (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung          531.00
5 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) Prato Marathon Bike                 445.60
6 Sara Carrigan (Aus) Bik-Powerplate                         367.80
7 Regina Schleicher (Ger) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo           357.00
8 Zinaida Stahurskaya (Blr) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo         353.00
9 Petra Rossner (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung         294.00
10 Anita Valen (Nor) Bik-Powerplate                          292.00
11 Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spa)                              288.50
12 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Ausra Gruodis-Safi                     248.50
13 Olivia Gollan (Aus)                                       210.00
14 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox    209.00
15 Lyne Bessette (Can) Saturn Cycling Team                   206.00
16 Olga Slyusareva (Rus)                                     204.40
17 Alison Wright (Aus) Road Runner - Guerciotti Cycling Team 192.00
18 Debby Mansveld (Ned) Vlaanderen-T-Interim Ladies Team     185.00
19 Geneviève Jeanson (Can) Equipe Cycliste Rona-Esker        174.00
20 Svetlana Boubnenkova (Rus) Prato Marathon Bike            156.60


1 Prato Marathon Bike                                       1,188.80 pts
2 Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung                            1,010.00
3 Farm Frites-Hartol Cycling Team                             865.50
4 USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo                                    818.00
5 Bik-Powerplate                                              761.60


1 Germany                                                   1,360.00 pts
2 Netherlands                                               1,143.80
3 Australia                                                 1,021.80
4 Russia                                                      965.40
5 Sweden                                                      781.00

Full rankings

Virenque targeting Classique des Alpes

After a quiet spring, Richard Virenque will be making a more determined presence at the single day Classique des Alpes, a demanding race to be held June 7, on the eve of the Dauphiné Libéré. Virenque will lead the Quick.Step-Davitamon lineup in the Coupe de France event, which is also run by the Société du Tour de France.

Defending champion Santiago Botero, who won the 2002 edition in Kelme colours ahead of teammate Oscar Sevilla, will not return this year, as Telekom has decided not to send a team.

Galdeano still wants Tour

By João Cravo

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski) must know that he will not be able to ride this year's Tour de France, yet the Spaniard, fifth overall last year, has not given up all hope. Suspended by CLPD for a positive drug test from the 2002 Tour, Galdeano is prohibited from competing in France for a period of six months, which includes the Tour. The UCI did not consider Galdeano's test result from last year's Tour to qualify as a positive result, however it has no power to overrule the CPLD's decision.

"I hope that something could happen before July 4." Galdeano commented. "My training program is still set on the Tour. Everyday I mount my bike thinking that my efforts will be reward by my presence in the Tour. If I'm not allowed to ride the Tour, it will be bad for me, for my team and for cycling, but I will find a away to sleep every night."

Through it all, Galdeano maintains his innocence in the affair. "I don't cheat," he said firmly. "I never failed a drug test, actually. Unfortunately I've been an asthmatic since I was kid; I only take the medications that are demanded by my asthma."

Igor Galdeano de Gonzalez is strong and clever. His strength helps him to still believe in a way out of this labyrinth. His intelligence keeps him grounded. "I can't deny I'm affected by all of this," he confesses, "but I can assure you that no one could ever make my career fall apart."

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)