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Giro di Lombardia
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2002 Lombardia


2003 World Cup


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97th Giro di Lombardia - CDM

Italy, October 18, 2003

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Complete Live Report

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting by Tim Maloney

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 10:46 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:00 CEST

13:40 CEST    
Weclome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the 97th Giro di Lombardia, the 10th and final round of the 2003 World Cup. The "race of the falling leaves" is the greatest of the autumn classics, and is run over a fairly mountainous parcours of 249 km. Key climbs include the Madonna del Ghisallo (754m, 64 km). Colle del Gallo (763m, 159 km), Selvino (962m, 185 km), Berbenno (665m, 221 km) and Colle Aperto (375m, km 245), and the race is usually quite selective.

There will be no World Cup showdown in today's race, as Paolo Bettini has already wrapped up that competition mainly due to his three World Cup wins this season. But he could certainly add a fourth win if things fall his way, and partly make up for his disappointment in last week's World Championships.

Bettini's challengers include last year's winner Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo), 1999 winner Mirko Celestino (Saeco), World Champion Igor Astarloa (Saeco), 1998 winner Oscar Camenzind (Phonak), 2002 runner up Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and several more. We will see soon enough who has the best legs at the finish in Bergamo.

Weather today: Cool and overcast, but no rain.

13:50 CEST    
An update on the race so far: 191 riders left Como this morning at 10:46 am. One rider, Charly Wegelius (De Nardi) was prevented from starting due to a high hematocrit. After 22 km, the first attack was made by Francesco Bellotti (Mercatone Uno) and Matteo Cappè (Formaggi). At the 55 km mark they had 6.55 to the peloton, with Daniele Pietropoli (Tenax) chasing in between.

On the climb of the Ghisallo (km 64), Bellotti dropped his companion Cappè and opened up a 1'43 gap on the descent. Pietropoli is at 6'00, while the peloton is nearly 10 minutes back. There's still a lot of climbing to come of course, but the next 100 km or so doesn't contain any big mountains.

13:58 CEST    100 km/149 km to go
After 100 kilometres of racing, Francesco Bellotti has extended his lead to nearly 15 minutes over the peloton! He also has 5'13 to Matteo Cappè, 10'50 to Daniele Pietropoli (Tenax) and 13 minutes to a group of six riders, who have set off in pursuit.

14:08 CEST    125 km/124 km to go
Pietropoli and the six chasing riders have now been caught, leaving just Francesco Bellotti and Matteo Cappe out in front. Bellotti now has over 10 minutes lead to Cappe, who is not too far in front of the peloton. The gap between the peloton and the lone Bellotti has fallen to 13'55, and it should continue to do so from now on.

The next main climb is the Colle del Gallo (763m) which comes after 159 km.

14:32 CEST    140 km/109 km to go
Francesco Bellotti has lost some more of his lead now, as the peloton picks up its pace heading towards the Colle del Gallo. The latest time check was 12'50 between him and the peloton. Cappe, who was involved in the early break with Bellotti, has been recaptured.

15:00 CEST    155 km/94 km to go
The leader Bellotti has now reached the foot of the Colle del Gallo, and his advantage over the main peloton is under 10 minutes now. Wladimir Belli (Lampre) is chasing solo at 8'15, with the big bunch at 9'00. Now the hard part of the race starts, with three fairly substantial climbs in the next 70 km.

15:07 CEST    
Several readers have written in about Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), the Danish climber who skipped the World's to concentrate on this race. Rasmussen finished a very fine 7th place in the Vuelta Espana, and proved himself to be an excellent climber. The Giro di Lombardia is the most mountainous of all the classics, and should suit the thin blond rider, but he also needs to have the necessary explosiveness to go with the attacks, and if he gets to the finish then he'll need a good sprint.

My own tip for Rasmussen today: Top 10 if he's on a reasonably good day, top 5 if he's on a great day.

15:23 CEST    
World Cup leader Paolo Bettini and World Champion Igor Astarloa, both in largely white outfits today, were seen having a fairly lengthy chat at the start, possibly about what happened last weekend at the World's. Maybe these words will stay "on the road"...

15:25 CEST    175 km/74 km to go
At the top of the Colle del Gallo, Bellotti's lead had been cut to just 4'25 over Wladimir Belli (Lampre), who in turn led the peloton by 10". It's tough out there on your own!

Now at the 175 km mark, Bellotti still has 4'32 lead on the peloton, which has caught Belli.

15:31 CEST    181 km/68 km to go
Bellotti is now on the Selvino climb, and his lead is rapidly falling as the peloton picks up its pace. Simeoni (Domina Vacanze) and Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) have attacked in pursuit, but can't quite get clear of the peloton. Now Matthias Kessler (Telekom) accelerates.

The gap to the leader is just 2'30 now.

15:35 CEST    183 km/66 km to go
The attacks continue, with Masciarelli (Vini Caldirola) the next to try on the numerous hairpins of the Selvino. The peloton behind is down to around 60 riders, but Bettini and Astarloa are still there. Di Luca is quite attentive too.

Masciarelli is now only 1'45 behind the lone leader Bellotti.

15:37 CEST    184 km/65 km to go
Masciarelli is caught by the work of the Rabobank team, which is working hard for Rasmussen, Freire and Boogerd. The peloton is really thinning down now. Bettini is still very well placed. Rasmussen has taken over in front.

15:41 CEST    185 km/64 km to go
Bellotti is caught on the slopes of the Selvino, having been away for around 160 km. The peloton, around 50 riders strong, is being driven hard by Michael Rasmussen, who has his team captain Boogerd on his wheel. Camenzind (Phonak) is also well placed in fourth wheel.

15:46 CEST    
There is no respite as Rasmussen continues his fierce tempo on the front of the bunch. Some splits are starting to appear, but the favourites such as Boogerd, Freire, Bettini, Astarloa, Camenzind, and Bartoli are all in the top 20.

15:48 CEST    
Boogerd now takes over from Rasmussen and ups the tempo. A group of 10 riders, with Flecha (ibanesto), Moos (Phonak), Vicioso (ONCE), Bartoli (Fassa), Sastre (CSC), Sinkewitz and Bettini (Quick.Step) have a small gap over the peloton.

Boogerd continues riding hard, and only Moos, Sinkewitz, Flecha, Vicioso and Sastre can follow.

Astarloa is going backwards fast now, but they are nearly at the top.

As they reach the top, another eight or so riders tack onto the back, including Bettini, Bartoli, Frigo, Trentin, Martin Perdiguero, Rodriguez, Gutierrez and Piepoli.

15:56 CEST    190 km/59 km to go
The lead group of 14 now begins the descent of the Selvino, with a 22 second lead over the next part of the peloton.

16:03 CEST    195 km/54 km to go
The peloton is slowly catching the breakaway group, and it looks as though we'll end up with a group of 40 or so. Rodriguez is annoyed at the lack of cooperation, but it's too late now.

There is a short climb of Bracca that starts at the foot of the descent, then another 10 km before the Berbenno starts.

16:05 CEST    197 km/52 km to go
As the peloton regroups, attacks start again as Andrea Peron (CSC) takes over in front. Maarten den Bakker (Rabobank) is also up there, with a Banesto rider. The gaps are not big at the moment.

16:08 CEST    
Five leaders have about 5 seconds at the foot of the 2.3 km climb of Bracca. Flecha, Spezialetti, Peron, Den Bakker are four of the five.

Astarloa has gotten back onto the peloton, but is not looking too flash (in the legs at least). He quickly gets dropped when the road goes up again. Bettini is also near the back of the group, but looking more comfortable.

The leading group reforms with Beat Zberg (Rabobank) joining Den Bakker, Peron and Flecha in front.

16:11 CEST    199 km/50 km to go
Gerrit Glomser (Saeco) is leading the peloton in pursuit of the four breakaways. There are a few Saeco jerseys in front now.

Bettini takes over with a quick acceleration, with Vicioso on his wheel. He closes the gap easily, but the peloton is right on his wheel.

16:15 CEST    202 km/47 km to go
Beat Zberg (Rabobank) is still leading by a few metres on the descent, but he's having a few problems with all the corners. The peloton is right on his wheel.

16:17 CEST    203 km/46 km to go
Zberg does manage to create a gap by the bottom, with Flecha and Peron coming back to form a group of three.

16:20 CEST    205 km/44 km to go
Zberg, Flecha and Peron work well together to increase their lead. 14 seconds behind them, Brandt, Masciarelli and Spezialetti are chasing, with the peloton another 10 seconds back.

16:24 CEST    208 km/41 km to go
The chase group has now grown to six, with Alessandro Spezialetti (Saeco), Carlos Sastre (CSC), Andrea Masciarelli (Vini Caldirola), Christophe Brandt (Lotto-Domo), Marcos Serrano (ONCE) and Dmitry Fofonov (Cofidis) following Zberg, Flecha and Peron at 20". The peloton is at 44".

The foot of the Berbenno approaches.

16:26 CEST    209 km/40 km to go
The chase group has grown to eight now, with Sinkewitz and Kessler making contact. We still have three leaders though, who are about to tackle the Berbenno (665m).

16:32 CEST    211 km/38 km to go
Zberg, Flecha and Peron ride through Brembilla and hit the 10 km Berbenno climb. They have 30" lead on the chase group of seven (they've lost one it seems). Kirchen, Righi, Merckx, Rodriguez, Freire and Fertonani are following at 1'10, and the peloton at 1'20.

16:37 CEST    213 km/36 km to go
The three leaders now have only three chasers: Serrano, Sastre and Sinkewitz. Masciarelli and Kessler are behind them. The peloton has regrouped somewhat, but the attacks will come on this climb.

Peron, Flecha and Zberg are working hard to stay clear of their pursuers.

16:41 CEST    218 km/31 km to go
Paolo Bettini has abandoned!

Boogerd and Bartoli have formed a little chase group behind the three plus three leaders.

Correction, now five leaders as Sinkewitz and Serrano have closed the gap to Flecha, Peron and Zberg. Sastre has been dropped.

16:45 CEST    221 km/28 km to go
The five leaders have reached the top of the Berbenno, with 20 seconds over a group of 13 riders with Bartoli, Frigo (Fassa), Boogerd (Rabobank) and Garcia Casas (Bianchi), who should catch them on the descent.

16:49 CEST    224 km/25 km to go
The chasing peloton contains the following riders: Bartoli, Frigo (Fassa), Boogerd (Rabobank), Lopeboseli, Trentin, Vasseur, Moncoutie (Cofifis), Kessler (Telekom), Gontchar (De Nardi, Perdiguero (Domina), Vicioso (ONCE), Schleck, Sastre (CSC), Garcia Casas, Garmendia (Bianchi). Cofidis is the best represented, with four in the group. They still haven't caught the five leaders, Flecha, Peron, Serrano, Sinkewitz and Zberg.

16:52 CEST    228 km/21 km to go
The peloton is essentially complete at the foot of the descent, although we only have 20 riders in it. Just one more climb to come: the Colle Aperto.

16:54 CEST    230 km/19 km to go
Bartoli has attacked on the flat, and creates a bit of a gap. One of the Cofidis riders sets off in pursuit. It's Lopeboselli, who bridges up very quickly.

The peloton is not particularly organised at the moment.

16:58 CEST    234 km/15 km to go
The Cofidis riders slow things down in the peloton, and no-one else wants to pursue Bartoli and Lopeboselli. It's rather a dangerous tactic, as Bartoli is not a rider you let go.

Beat Zberg (Rabobank) puts his head down and hammers on the front of the peloton.

17:00 CEST    236 km/13 km to go
Bartoli and Lopeboselli are working well together - the old hand and the young gun. They have 25 seconds on a peloton of some 18 riders, led by CSC and ONCE. There's just 13 km to go.

The next peloton is reported at 1'35. They're not coming back.

17:03 CEST    239 km/10 km to go
Two CSC and the two ONCE riders are working on the front of the peloton, 20 seconds behind Bartoli and Lopeboselli. Frank Schleck (CSC) looks a bit frustrated, as he can see the race slipping away. Serguei Gontchar (De Nardi) takes over, but has Frigo (Fassa) on his wheel. Frigo slows it down again.

Lopeboselli takes a turn now from Bartoli.

17:04 CEST    
Bartoli has his hands draped over the bars in his typical fashion. This will be tough to pull off with the next group so close, but he and Lopeboselli can do it.

The peloton slows right down until an ONCE rider attacks. He gets Frigo on his wheel. The attacks continue, but the gap is now up to 1'10! Could this be another Lombardy for Bartoli?

17:07 CEST    241 km/8 km to go
8 kilometres to go and Frank Schleck (CSC) does a hard turn on the front of the peloton. A Bianchi rider attacks, breaking the rhythm. It's very scattered riding at the moment, as is typical in the finale.

The race is still up the road though with Bartoli and Lopeboselli.

17:09 CEST    243 km/6 km to go
This has been a nice move by Bartoli, who didn't wait until the final climb to attack. It caught the bunch a little by surprise.

The Cofidis riders are still patrolling the peloton, keeping the tempo steady. The latest gap is 1'35 and the winner will come from one of these two leaders.

17:11 CEST    245 km/4 km to go
Lopeboselli leads Bartoli at the foot of the Colle Aperto with 5 km to go. The climb is cobbled, and is not easy.

17:13 CEST    246 km/3 km to go
Bartoli takes over as the cobbles stop, but Lopeboselli hangs with him. Then it gets steep and Bartoli puts the hammer down. He gets 5 m then 10 m as Lopeboselli cracks. But then he recovers and catches onto Bartoli. Nice riding by the young Italian.

Matthias Kessler is chasing them at 1'30, alone.

17:15 CEST    247 km/2 km to go
The pair survive to the top together. Behind them, Vasseur and Frigo are chasing (no sign of Kessler). So we have one Fassa + one Cofidis chasing one Fassa + one Cofidis. There's a certain symmetry to that.

Bartoli and Lopeboselli are now on the descent. But Frigo has broken the symmetry and dropped Vasseur.

17:15 CEST    248 km/1 km to go
Lopeboselli still looks strong as he leads Bartoli with 2 km to go. But can he beat the canny Tuscan in a two man sprint? We'll find out.

Last kilometre!

17:17 CEST    249 km/0 km to go
Lopeboselli looks around with 800m to go, but Bartoli won't go through. The Cofidis rider leads with 500m to go, and Bartoli stays glued to his wheel. Bartoli sprints with 250m to go and wins clearly! Two in a row for the Fassa rider!

Dario Frigo will take third, a nice result for Feretti's team. And the excellent Beat Zberg (Rabobank) leads a group of 10 or so home for fourth.

Paolo Bettini wins the World Cup, with Michael Boogerd moving up to second overall in front of Peter Van Petegem. And that wraps it up for the World Cup - and Cyclingnews.com's live coverage - this season. We'll be back live with the Tour Down Under next January, followed by the Cyclo-cross World's and the rest of the big races for 2004. We hope you've enjoyed our coverage this year!


1 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo       6.29.39
2 Angelo Lopeboselli (Ita) Cofidis             0.03
3 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo              1.35
4 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank                    1.40
5 Miguel Martin Perdigero (Spa) Domina Vacanze
6 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis

Final World Cup standings

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step                365 pts
2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
3 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo            219

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