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86th Giro d'Italia - Grand Tour

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2003

Main Page     Stage Profile    Start List    Latest Live Report

Stage 5 - May 14: Messina-Catania, 176 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 11:53 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16:15 CEST

Live coverage from 14:30 CEST

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage for stage 5 of the Giro d'Italia. Today the riders have crossed over to the island of Sicily, where they will face 176 kilometres between Messina and Catania, skirting the volcanic Mt. Etna. This should be a day for the sprinters, with only the long steady drag up to Portella Mandrazzi providing any notably difficulty. Will this finally give Mario Cipollini a chance to arrive at the finish in the lead group and take his first Giro win of 2003?

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) remains in the pink jersey after yet another top finish yesterday, when he was second behind Robbie McEwen. Following today's stage the peloton will get its first rest day Thursday, which comes after an air transfer tonight from Catania to Naples.

14:30 CEST / 100 km to go
After a tough day yesterday, the peloton has decided to start the day gently, and 'piano' is the word of the day thus far. The average speed for the first two hours of racing was a calm 30 km/h, and nobody has disrupted the easy spin with a breakaway.

14:50 CEST
Same situation after almost three hours of racing. Or riding, at least. The peloton is all together, carrying on at a moderate pace approaching the climb to Portella Mandrazzi. There should be some activity on the climb as riders start chasing GPM points. Efforts to spoil the sprinters' party today will be tough to pull off.

15:00 CEST
Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) will be looking for a second stage win today after his success in stage 3. "This is like last year," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I had to wait until the fourth stage to win. Last year I beat Cipo. Now I beat Maglia Rosa Petacchi."

Race leader Petacchi was surprised by the Aussie's finishing speed yesterday, but is just as eager to win a stage today in the maglia rosa.

As for the race, they're going even slower, if that's possible. In the last hour, the average speed was just under 29 km/h.

15:15 CEST
The race is on the lower slopes of the Portella Mandrazzi, which is a 25km climb, but is not steep. The climb takes the riders to an altitude of 1,120 metres before a long plunge back down the other side.

15:25 CEST / 70 km to go
The race has finally started, with the first challenge of the day: the GPM points at the summit of the otherwise uneventful climb of Portella Mandrazzi. Colombia-Selle Italia's tenacious climber Fredy Gonzalez took the points ahead of the Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave duo of Luis F. Laverde and Rinaldo Nocentini.

Kelme's Ignacio Gutierrez helped get an attack going with Gonzalez, and the two have pressed on to maintain their advantage, which is now 36".

15:35 CEST
A counter attack by Gabriele Balducci (Sidermec) and Cristian Moreni (Alessio) has not produced any great fireworks, but the advantage of Gonzalez and Gutierrez has gone up to 1'15".

15:43 CEST
Fabio Baldato (Alessio) has also tried a short move off the front of the main field, but it didn't last long. The peloton is all together, with the exception of the two leaders (Gonzalez and Gutierrez), who are up to 1'30" ahead of the field.

15:48 CEST / 49 km to go
The peloton has decided that with such a long distance to the finish, the two leaders are of no great concern. As a result, the gap between the lead duo and the field has jumped to nearly three minutes.

15:55 CEST / 46 km to go
Four hours of racing now and the pace is definitely going to steadily pick up as the finish draws near. Nobody suffered any great damage on the climb, so this is almost certainly going to be a sprinters' showdown at the end. The gap to the leaders is three minutes, but the peloton is becoming more stretched out as the chase slowly gets going.

16:00 CEST / 43 km to go
Fassa Bortolo, the team of race leader Alessandro Petacchi, is now winding up the chase. Other teams present at the front are FDJeux.com, thinking of either Jimmy Casper or Bernhard Eisel, and Domina Vacanze. Robbie McEwen's Lotto-Domo team is also ready to work.

The two leaders now have an advantage of 2'35".

16:08 CEST / 37 km to go
The gap to the two man break of Gonzalez and Gutierrez is falling, but not too dramatically. They still have around 2'30" on the field, which will should be driven until the end by the teams of the big sprinters. The rest of the course is not favourable to any new breakaway attempts, but that's not to say someone won't try...

16:11 CEST / 35 km to go
The two leaders are a few kilometres from the InterGiro sprint, as the peloton chases some 2'20" behind.

16:13 CEST / 33 km to go
The CCC-Polsat team has sent several members to the front of the field, thinking perhaps of the InterGiro points, even if they'll only be sprinting for third place.

16:18 CEST / 26 km to go
Gonzalez has taken the InterGiro points ahead of Gutierrez. Behind, as the field approached the sprint, one of Moreno Di Biase's Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave teammates hit the breaks ahead of the bunch to make sure it was Di Biase who took the points and not himself.

Meanwhile, a poorly placed car on the right side of the road has caused a crash at the back of the field.

The gap between the field and the two leaders is down to 30".

16:22 CEST / 22 km to go
Di Biase is confirmed has having taken third in the InterGiro, which could give him the lead in that competition.

Mario Cipollini is riding near the front of the field, fueling up for the dash to the line. Fassa Bortolo and Domina Vacanze are still the two teams doing the most work to reel in the break and keep the tempo high.

16:27 CEST / 19 km to go
The lead duo of Gonzalez and Gutierrez are still hovering around 30" ahead of the field, which at this point is probably not too anxious to bring them back since a counter attack could go away and disrupt the tempo.

Daniele Pietropolli of Tenax has in fact tried a small attack, and he's quickly bridged the gap to the two leaders. Even as a trio, however, this break is pretty much doomed.

16:31 CEST / 16 km to go
Twenty seconds is the gap between the three leaders (Gonzalez, Gutierrez, Pietropolli) and the main field, which is still under the control of Fassa Bortolo and the pink jersey of Alessandro Petacchi.

16:33 CEST / 14 km to go
There are a few rolling hills in the next few kilometres before a flat run-in to the finish in Catania. The leaders are giving it their best, as the peloton just passed under the 15km to go banner. The gap is down to 10", so the end is near after a 60km break for Gonzalez and Gutierrez.

16:38 CEST / 10 km to go
The break has been caught, and the drag race to the line is truly on. Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland (Team fakta) is meanwhile smiling at the back of the field, staying out of trouble and letting the sprinters do their thing. Scott's providing a daily dose of Giro stories, which can be found here.

16:41 CEST / 8 km to go
The peloton is absolutely flying now, with a possible tailwind combined with the increasingly frantic pace before the sprint. Speeds have hit almost 90km/h at certain points. Lotto-Domo and FDJeux.com are mixing it at the front, while Cipollini's Domina Vacanze squad is preferring to wait until the final charge to get their train going.

16:43 CEST / 5 km to go
Inside the final 5km now, and this should be a bunch sprint at its finest, with all the big sprinters present and an infernal pace being set in the field.

16:46 CEST / 3 km to go
Domina Vacanze is now making its push at the front of the peloton. The last time the Giro finished in Catania, it was indeed Mario Cipollini who took the win.

In a rather abrupt change, Team fakta has sent two men to the front of the race, though they've been replaced once more by Domina Vacanze.

There's been a huge crash at the back of the field, and a number of riders are calling for bike changes. They'll be delayed considerably given the high speed.

16:47 CEST / 1 km to go
Elio Aggiano has tried to launch himself off the front, but the speed is so high, and Domina Vacanze was on his wheel. There's been another crash just before the red kite.

Cipo is in perfect position.

16:48 CEST / Finish
Petacchi has been forced to lead out Cipollini, and in a very close sprint it looks like the race leader Petacchi has managed to hold off Cipollini!

It looked like a perfect win for Cipo, but Lombardi provided a long leadout with Petacchi on his wheel, and not Cipollini. The world champion was not able to come around Petacchi on the right hand side of the road. It was down to the wire, but in a lunge for the line, Petacchi got it.

Unofficial results:

1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
2 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze
3 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com
4 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio
5 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
6 Graeme Brown (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo

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