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Pearl Izumi

85th Giro d'Italia (GT)

Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002

Stage profile    Start list    Results

Prologue - May 11: Groningen ITT, 6.5 km

Estimated finish time: 17:30 CEST

Complete Live Report

Welcome to Cyclingnews.com's coverage of the 85th Giro d'Italia, the first of the season's three Grand Tours. To commemorate the introduction of the euro as the 'common' currency in Europe, the Giro will pass through five European countries before it enters Italy on May 17. Starting in Groningen (Netherlands), the riders travel to Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and France in the first five days, before a rest day/transfer to Fossano in Italy.

Groningen has been preparing for the prologue for over a year, and the Giro opener will no doubt be a huge spectacle. It may also give the Dutch people some non-political relief after the death of right wing radical Pim Fortuyn earlier this week. That news sent shockwaves all around the world, which are still reverberating in the Netherlands.

Hopefully the Giro will help to take that away, as the people come out in force to celebrate a great sporting event. Local hopes will rest on Michael Boogerd, who is the team leader for the Rabobank team. Although not a prologue specialist, Boogerd is a good climber and can be expected to do well on some of the mountain stages.

Slightly further from home is the Belgian favourite Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Adecco), who won this very stage last year and is ready to do it again. Then there's Kelme's Aitor Gonzalez, always a solid time trialist; Sergei Gontchar (Fassa Bortolo) who is a little off-form this year; Pavel Tonkov (Lampre), a former winner of the Giro; Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali), in his new role as team leader in a Grand Tour; Mapei's Robert Hunter, who is good against the clock; and last but not least Dario Frigo (Tacconi Sport), who hopes to redeem himself this year after last year's disgrace.

15:30 CEST

The situation on the road is that Rabobank's German rider Grischa Niermann has taken the early lead in the prologue, with a time of 8'22. He leads Belgian Marc Streel (Landbouwkrediet) by 4 seconds, and Oscar Pererio (Phonak) by 5 seconds. Cadel Evans (Mapei) is in fourth spot on the provisional standings at 6 seconds back.

15:45 CEST

Don't count out the Colombians in this year's Giro, with Carlos Contreras, 8th on GC last year, and leader of the Colombia-Selle Italia team. Contreras said to El Tiempo today, "If I don't finish in the top five, it will be a failure".

His teammate and lead out wheel of choice, José Castelblanco added "I'd prefer to win a stage than win the mountain title. If Contreras falters, I'll have my opportunity". Freddy González makes no apologies about going to defend his Mountain title, which he won in last year's Giro.

With the absence of Armstrong, Ullrich, Pantani in "crestfallen" form, the Colombians look to resist the initial flat stages and make their showing in the mountains. The Colombians look to place at least three in the top ten.

Gianni Savio, team director of Colombia-Selle Italia, said in Groningen "The objective of Colombia-Selle Italia is to defend the mountain title with Freddy González, already well known in Italy, win at least one stage and fight to place two in the top ten with Carlos Alberto Contreras and José Castelblanco, and to defend the second place team G.C. from last year."

Also look for Colombians Hector Orlando Mesa and Luis Felipe Laverde who are riding with Formaggi Trentino to be hungry for a good showing in the mountains. By the way, Colombia-Selle Italia is the only Latin American team in the Giro.

15:52 CEST

Phonak's Matthias Buxhofer comes through two seconds quicker than Niermann, and has the new best time at 8'20, around 47 km/h. There will be no speed records broken today!

Kelme's Juan Jose de Los Angeles comes in on a standard bike, and is over the 9 minute mark. Obviously he was not concerned with a high placing in the prologue. Alessandro Pettachi (Fassa Bortolo) is right behind him though, and finishes in 8'34.

16:04 CEST

The conditions today are quite good for time trialing - no rain, no wind and slightly overcast. However this parcours is very technical, with 19 corners in 6.5 kilometres. That's why the fastest time so far is 'only' 47 km/h. It will be interesting to see whether Mario Cipollini pulls out all stops to do a good time, in order to possibly take the pink jersey in the early part of the race.

16:14 CEST

Serguei Gontchar (Fassa Bortolo) is now on his way, taking the corners well as he speeds past the crowds lining the course - in some places six deep. Gontchar is normally good against the clock, so we'll see what sort of condition he's in for this year's Giro.

Paolo Bettini (Mapei) sets off on his ride.

16:20 CEST

Gontchar seems to struggle over the latter part of the course, losing too much time on the corners and the paved sections. He finishes way off the pace.

Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) has a respectable ride with 8'27, that's good enough for 6th place. He is followed by Bettini in 8'29, the ninth best time today.

16:32 CEST

Rabobank's Gert Verheyen gets a huge cheer as he finishes - not because he did a specatcular time (8'50) but because he rides for Rabobank. Colombian Freddy Gonzalez (Colombia-Selle Italia) is two seconds quicker, earning at least a round of applause.

16:39 CEST

Italian champion Daniele Nardello (Mapei) sets off on his ride, a few minutes behind Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo). We wonder if Nardello is fuelled by his favourite chocolate rolls and jam tarts today. (See the Cyclingnews interview with Nardello).

Bartoli finishes with a good time, but it's not the best: 8'32 - 13th so far.

16:47 CEST

Daniele Nardello finishes with 8'36, followed by Robbie McEwen (Lotto) who clocks 8'26 - a good time for the sprinter, and he is in fourth overall. He obviously has his eyes on pink early on.

CSC's Carlos Sastre also is quick - 8'25 which puts him in third.

16:57 CEST

Aitor Gonzalez (Kelme) is on his way, as is Dario Frigo (Tacconi), probably the favourite for this stage. Casagrande is just in front of Frigo, but he is not expected to do well on this parcours.

Frank Hoj (Team Coast) almost beats Buxhofer's time: He clocks 8'21 and is in second overall.

17:01 CEST

Stefano Garzelli (Mapei) sets off, followed by the last rider Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto). Can anyone beat Buxhofer?

Franco Pellizotti (Alessio) finishes in 9'02 - not bad considering he punctured on the start ramp and had to change bikes.

Tyler Hamilton (CSC) crashes into a Selle Italia barrier - ouch! He is quickly back on his bike again but loses valuable time.

Aitor Gonzalez clocks 8'32 for his ride.

17:05 CEST

Casagrande's time isn't bad at 8'33. It's not good enough for a top 10, but he didn't lose too much time.

Here comes Frigo, who is only 1 second quicker than Casagrande. He's not going to be in pink today, that's for certain.

Hamilton is back into his rhythm. Let's hope he didn't do any serious damage in that crash.

17:07 CEST

Correction: Rik Verbrugghe is not the last rider to leave.

Garzelli does a good time, finishing with 8'30. Quicker than both Frigo and Casagrande. But here comes Verbrugghe! He's going to smash the best time, and does in 8'13 - he should win.

17:11 CEST

Hamilton finishes in 8'46, a good time considering his crash.

Mario Cipollini prepares to start in his fairly distinctive tiger-striped skinsuit (well, it beats a zebra).

17:16 CEST

Michael Boogerd does a good time of 8'25, but it's not good enough to beat Verbrugghe. Surely the Belgian will get his second Giro prologue win.

Gilberto Simoni, last year's winner and riding for Saeco this year, starts his ride.

17:18 CEST

Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) clocks 8'58, 45 seconds slower than Verbrugghe. Will he finally come into form in this Giro?

Cipollini's Specialized bike is even striped...

Paolo Savoldelli, a specialist in these types of time trials, does a very good time of 8'16, which will put him into second overall.

And in a big surprise, it's Juan Carlos Dominguez (Phonak) who sprints home in 8'12. One second quicker than Verbrugghe. Phonak can almost start celebrating.

17:22 CEST

Cipollini's time isn't bad at 8'27, but he won't be in pink today. Now Simoni comes in in 8'46 - he loses some time to Garzelli, Casagrande and Frigo, but it's not too bad.

But the winner today is Spaniard Juan Carlos Dominguez (Phonak) with a time of 8'12 (47.5 km/h).


1 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Phonak)              8.12
2 Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Adecco)               0.01
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Index-Alexia)             0.04
4 Matthias Buxhofer (Phonak)                  0.08
5 Frank Hoj (Team Coast)                      0.09
6 Grischa Niermann (Rabobank)                 0.10
7 Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)              
8 Robbie McEwen (Lotto)                       0.13
9 Michael Boogerd (Rabobank)                 
10 Torsten Hiekmann (Telekom)                 0.14
11 Carlos Sastre (CSC-Tiscali)
12 Oscar Pereira Sio (Phonak)                 0.15 


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