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83rd Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 13 - June 4, 2000

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Rest Day - May 25: Bibione

Summary and recap

Victor Hugo Peña
Photo: © AFP

The 83rd Giro d'Italia rolled into Bibione after the finish of the stage 11 time trial, won by Colombian Victor Hugo Peña of Vitalicio Seguros. In doing so, the Colombian became the first rider from his country to win a flat time trial in a Grande Tour, and he was more than happy with himself. With this result, he moved into 14th overall, but he is still over three minutes behind the leader in the pink, Francesco Casagrande (Vini Caldirola).

Casagrande only just hung onto his lead though, and he now has a 4 second advantage to Fassa Bortolo's Wladimir Belli, 7 seconds to Pavel Tonkov (Mapei) and 10 to Danilo Di Luca (Cantina Tollo). Peña's teammate, Jan Hruska, has done quite well in the time trials so far (1st in the prologue, and second in stage 11), and he lies in 5th position at 17 seconds.

The others in the top 10 are: Stefano Garzelli (Mercatone Uno, 22 seconds), Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo, 44 seconds), Andrea Noe' (Mapei, 49 seconds), Ivan Gotti (Polti, 1.19) and Serhiy Honchar (Liquigas, 1.22). Lampre's Gilberto Simoni is 1.44 down and he will be hoping to ride into 3rd (or better) overall as he did last year, with a good performance in the climbs to come.

There are plenty of those, as a quick glance at the profiles of stage 13, stage 14, stage 18, stage 19, and stage 20 will show. It's hard to name the toughest day, but it is likely that stage 14 from Selva Val Gardena to Bormio, containing the Gavia pass will be quite challenging. In addition stage 19 from Saluzzo to Briancon involves climbing the 2750 m Colle dell' Agnello - the highest point in the race, named the "Cima Coppi". There's also the 2,361 m Col d'Izoard mountain to be tackled before the stage finishes in Briancon.

Following this, the penultimate stage from Briancon to Sestrieres is 32 kilometres of uphill pain, and may well decide the winner of the Giro 2000. Starting at 1335 m in Briancon, the riders will tackle a 500 m ascent to the top of the Col de Montegenevre, descending again to 1350 m, before the final climb up to Sestrieres (2035 m). All this in 32 kilometres. Ouch.

Recap: the Giro so far

Jan Hruska
Photo: © AFP

There has been no shortage of action and entertainment in this year's Giro, starting with the prologue, symbolically held in the Vatican City in Rome. With the news of Marco Pantani's last minute entry into the Giro, all eyes were on the Pirate who quietly rode to 174th position, 40 seconds behind the winner Jan Hruska. The latter only just beat Paolo Savoldelli (Saeco) but there was more bad news to come for "Falco", as he suffered flats and falls in the early stages, eventually losing a chunk of time in stage 9 and bowing out of contention. The prologue was also good for Australia's Brad McGee (FdJ), who finished in third place, his biggest result in a European road race.

It was bad for Mobilvetta's Evgeni Berzin though. The former winner of the Giro was excluded before the start due to a high hematocrit, and was temporarily fired by his team boss. However, director Stefano Giuliani welcomed him back a few days later.

Then began a series of flattish stages that ended in bunch sprints. Ivan Quaranta (Mobilvetta) won stage 1 and stage 10, but he couldn't celebrate after the last stage due to a protest between the Assogruppi (association of Italian teams) and the organisers, RCS Sport. No Italian team riders showed themselves on the podium that day after their demands for more money from TV rights weren't immediately met by RCS Sport. However, the dispute has now been put on hold until the Giro finishes.
Mario Cipollini
Photo: © AFP

Stage 2 saw Mario Cipollini wearing the pink jersey, but he was unable to hold it as Liqugas' Cristiano Moreni won the very wet and muddy stage into Maddaloni. Moreni held onto his jersey and Cipo had to simmer on Stage 3 after he won the stage, but was DQ'd by the race jury for moving into Jan Svorada's path.

Stage 4 saw the Lion King finally get his 30th Giro d'Italia stage win, but it was not without controversy, as the TV cameras clearly showed him holding onto a teammate's shorts on the final climb. Cipo claimed he was trying to eat a ham sandwich... Moreni was still in the pink though.

Moreni lost the jersey though in the next stage, number 5 from Matera to Peschici. The 232 kilometre ramble was won by Cantina Tollo's Danilo Di Luca, who was part of a small group who attacked near the end. Fassa Bortolo's Mateo Tossatto took over the pink jersey by the end - just, by virtue of his time bonuses in the intergiro. Meanwhile, his teammate Dmitri Konyshev had been threatening in the sprints, and making predictions that he would win a stage. He did so on stage 6 into Vasto beating Polti's Jeroen Blijlevens, who is having a tough time winning stages this year, despite his good form.
Photo: © AFP

Linda McCartney had been threatening as well, although they were having some bad luck with riders suffering from crashes and food related illness. On stage 7, Australian David McKenzie rode to victory after a 164 kilometre solo breakaway. An outstanding effort from this rider who is normally known for his sprinting. Their luck continued in stage 8, won by Axel Merckx (Mapei), with Max Sciandri in second. This mountainous stage was a significant victory for Merckx, who has not had many victories in the last year. His win was dedicated to father Eddy, who watched and advised his son during the stage. Kelme's José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna took over the pink jersey, but it was to be for one day only.

The next mountainous stage 9, from Prato to Abetone, was 'only' 140 kilometres, but it was enough to put an end to Paolo Savoldelli and Marco Pantani, who lost too many minutes on the winner Francesco Casagrande (Vini Caldirola). The latter won the stage solo by 1.39 from Stefano Garzelli and eight of the other top favourites in the race. Casagrande took the pink, and had no trouble holding onto it on stage 10, won by Quaranta. As previously mentioned, Quaranta had to forego the podium celebrations and associated perks due to the Italian teams dispute.

The time trial on Stage 11 served to consolidate the race again, as all the top 10 are now roughly within a minute of the lead. Casagrande will have a battle on his hands, especially as his form in a three week race is uncertain, and there are plenty of others breathing down his neck. An exciting finale is in store, and you can catch all the action here on with complete results and reports, as well as live coverage of the critical stages.

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