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83rd Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 13 - June 4, 2000

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Stage 16 - May 30: Brescia to Meda, 102 km

Shortest stage goes to Maglia Azzurra

By Gabriella Ekström, correspondent

Unfortunate timing for De Jongh
Photo: © AFP
Yesterday, Angel Vicioso from Kelme was disqualified one hour after crossing the line and instead Saeco's Sicilian rider Biagio Conte was awarded the victory. Many people, including some of the riders with Kelme in the lead were upset over this. The Spanish team organized a mini-demonstration at the start of today's stage. My own opinion in the matter however is that it was right to disqualify Vicioso. I love to see new young sprinters establish themselves, but not at the cost of other riders safety. Even if he didn't lean very hard on Silvio Martinello, he still forced himself out where there was no way. Silvio Martinello is an experienced sprinter, and I dont think anyone can describe how he must feel when this young Spaniard breaks out and bumps into him when going 75 kph. This time nothing happend, but we shouldn't have to wait until someone gets seriously injured. It could be your best friend.

This stage is just 102 kilometers, and the first half has been played very easy. Matthew Stephens from Linda McCartney didn't start today. It is hard to abandon the race with Milano almost in sight, but it was the best thing to do. Beeing too brave could also mean future or withdrawn injuries. A lot of riders passes through their home towns today, as is Ermanno Brignoli from Mercatone Uno right now. When a rider is getting close to his local streets and knows that his friends and family will be waiting for him, and if the peloton is still going easy, they will always let him go ahead up the road to meet them. The rider concerned, on the other hand, would never dream of attacking or taking advantage of the situation in any way. Also Ivan Gotti and Eddy Mazzoleni have their relatives along the streets, and guess what, they brought some bakery!

Small pastries with cream and strawberries are shared among the riders. Fabiano Fontanelli from Mercatone stole the whole plate away and is now eating right from it without using his hands. Fontanelli is a popular man in the peloton right now. When the plate is almost empty he hands it over to Erik Dekker, "Here you go pal, have some cake".

The first move of the day comes from Selle Italia's Furtunato Baliani. Maybe he never got to taste the cake. He is beeing joined by Linda McCartney's Maurizio De Pasquale, and then also Mariano Piccoli from Lampre. For some odd reason he choosed to attack just one kilometer from the Intergiro sprint, and thats probably why Piccoli followed them. Not to help them out, but to slow them down. Svorada is of course interested in the points awarded at the sprint. Since many teams have interest in the sprint, the break is brought back just ahead of the line, which is beeing passed by Svorada first.

A better tactic would had been to attack now, after the Intergiro. Oscar Pozzi from Amica Chips does exactly that, and gets Andrea Peron from Fassa Bortolo and Elio Aggiano from Vitalicio Seguros with him. A group with four riders tries to make contact with the first group. It is Max Sciandri from Linda McCartney, Francesco Secchiari from Saeco, Mario Manzoni from Mobilvetta and Ruben Marin from Selle Italia. With thirty kilometers to go they have got 31 seconds.

With twenty k's to go, it is still about 20 seconds, but the sprinter's teams will soon start to bring them back. A little hill rises in a village and Manzoni has to call it a day. Kelme moves to the front in the peloton. The morale in the team is still high, or are they going for revenge only? Polti and Lampre joins them in the chase, while Saeco waits for their turn a couple of wheels down. You think that twenty seconds should be brought back in a hurry, but in fact, most teams are taking advantage of Kelme right now. They surely look cute, and especially Saeco seem to think that if they wanna play, why should we waste any energy right now? Aggiano is the most active rider in the break, as he often is. The road is full of roundabouts which makes it harder for the peloton to catch them right now. The questions is, will there be a counter attack from someone in the break when they are about to be caught?

It is three kilometers to go, and Kelme still haven't bridged the final gap. Saeco decide it's time for them to move on, and they catch the break in, say two seconds. Secchiari in the break goes straight to the front of the train, meaning that Saeco has six riders at the front with two kilometers to go. With one kilometer to go, three of them are still there. Mario Scirea rides at the front, behind him follows Dario Pieri and Biagio Conte. Behind Conte sits Marco Zanotti from Liquigas, Fab Guidi from La Francaise de Jeux and Jan Svorada from Lampre. Alessandro Petacchi from Fassa Bortolo tries to put Dmitri Konyshev at the front, but is hampered by Scirea who slows down after finishing his work at the front.

Fabrizio Guidi moves out from his wheel at the same time Pieri leaves Conte on his own. For a couple of seconds Ciaran Power from Linda McCartney is riding alongside Conte, but the Saeco rider has to speed up. Guidi is coming at his right side, and he passes him. Guidi is just outstanding in this sprint, where he was taking care of himself all the way. Over the line he was only threatened a little by Rabobank's Steven De Jongh who pulled his foot just as he passed the line.

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