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88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

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Prologue - May 7 : Reggio Calabria ITT, 1,150 m

Commentary by Jeff Jones

Complete live report

12:09 EDT   
Welcome aboard the Cyclingnews live commentary blimp, the Hindenburg IV, which we have anchored, using a suitable mass, just off the shore of Reggio Calabria, where the 1.15 km prologue of the 88th Giro d'Italia is set to begin at 18:45. Unfortunately, we lost the Hindenburg II in a freak thunderstorm a couple of months ago, while the Hindenburg III, a.k.a. the Oxygen Transfer, suffered a stranger fate. Suffice it to say that it involved two bottles of gin, an amber rod, and a very surprised cat. It was all very humane and the cat wasn't surprised for long. Oh, the felinity. If anyone can come up with a better fuel than hydrogen to power a zeppelin, I'd be very glad to hear it.

There is not much to be said about the parcours of today's prologue. It's 1.15 km long, making it the second shortest grand tour prologue in history. It's pancake flat, straight, with not a single corner. There's also a 10 km/h wind blowing off the coast, which will be across the riders as they dash from the start house to the finishing line. Can anyone break 60 km/h? We'll see.

The complete bike
Photo ©: Wilier
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Cyclingnews spoke to Cofidis' Stuart O'Grady this morning to get his assessment on things. Like a true trackie, Stuey isn't bothering with gears today - his one-off Wilier fixed gear special is built with one thing in mind: aerodynamics. "It's a great chance to get a shot at the pink jersey," said O'Grady. "I reckon there will be about ten guys within about one second. So it'll be an all out effort. I rang up Shane Kelly to get some ideas on gears etc. This is his caper after all. I've got four gear ratios ready to go and I'll make my decision before the start."

We asked him whether he would put a 100 inch gear on. "Nah, bigger than that," was the response.

Looking beyond today's stage, Stuey said, "I'm very happy with my form and I'm going all out for a stage win." He still has his mind set on the Tour and will likely exit the Giro before the Dolomites.

12:42 EDT   
The first rider officially off today is Luca Mazzanti (Ceramica Panaria), who will exit the start ramp at 18:46. But before he goes, there will be a special guest appearance from Mario Cipollini, who has coloured plenty of prologues with his inimitable style. He'll set off at 18:40, and we'll try to get an update on his time and his skinsuit, not necessarily in that order...

12:50 EDT   
No sign of Cipo! Maybe he went half an hour early...

Luca Mazzanti sets off for his ride, slowly, battling the headwind. He finishes in 1'26 - not bad, given the wind. Next off is Fassa Bortolo's Volodymir Gustov, who ends in 1'28. Then Trent Wilson (Colombia-Selle Italia). Trent is a bit slower than the first two, and finishes in 1'37. It's not easy today!

12:52 EDT   
Cipollini will in fact set off last, we have confirmed.

12:58 EDT   
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) starts fifth, and rockets to the line in 1'24, setting the new best time. Mazzanti is second with CSC's Brian Vandborg on the same time (1'26).

13:03 EDT   
10 riders in now, with Di Luca still holding the best time of 1'24 for the 1.15 km course. His average speed is 49.285 km/h, which gives you an idea of how hard it is. Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) is in second place at 1 seconds, followed by the day's first starter, Luca Mazzanti (Panaria).

13:10 EDT   
Tom Steels now comes in with a time of 1:26, which puts him in third overall behind Di Luca and Fothen. 18 riders home now.

The weather is absolutely fantastic here in Reggio Calabria - it's about 20 degrees, with a moderate breeze blowing, and not a cloud in the sky. Except one above Mt Etna in the background. Hopefully it won't erupt in the next three hours.

13:13 EDT   
Russell Van Hout (Colombia-Selle Italia) is about to finish his ride. He'll probably be quicker than his teammate, Willo, who is occupying the last position in the intermediate standings with a time of 1'37.

13:22 EDT   
A new best time has been set by Mirco Lorenzetto (Domina Vacanze), who pushes Di Luca into second place. He's also on 1'24.

Van Hout finished in 1'31, and told Cyclingnews that he'd overgeared and blew up in the final section. Easy to do in a short event like this!

13:28 EDT   
Peter Luttenberger (CSC) has done a good ride with a 1'25, which will put him into fourth place overall. His initial time was 1'15, which would have been very impressive indeed for the Austrian climber. But then the judges realised the mistake.

13:36 EDT   
Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom) has become the first rider to go under 1'24, coming in with 1'23 to put him into the lead. Not bad work! Lorenzetto and Di Luca now occupy the second and third places, with 40 riders home.

13:41 EDT   
Erik Zabel is on his way. The T-Mobile rider should be suited to this sort of event. It will be interesting to see what the track riders do later: O'Grady, Renshaw, Escobar, Wiggins, Lombardi...Petacchi's time should be good too.

13:44 EDT   
Petacchi's teammate Alberto Ongarato tries but fails to knock off Martias. He slots into second place behind the Frenchman.

13:48 EDT   
Martias, who is currently in the lead, hails from Guadeloupe and is 24 years old. He turned pro in 2003 with Brioches La Boulangère. He doesn't have any results of note to date.

13:51 EDT   
Martias is doing well, still holding the lead as Gerolsteiner's Thomas Ziegler comes home in 1'24, which puts him into second place.

Top five so far:

1 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 1.23
2 Thomas Ziegler (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.01
3 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
4 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Domina Vacanze
5 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi

13:59 EDT   
60 riders home now, of the 197 down to start. They're mostly starting a 1 minute intervals, except for a few inexplicable 2 and 3 minute gaps now and again. Even the final riders go off at 1 minute gaps.

14:08 EDT   
Paride Grillo (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) and Fabio Baldato (Fassa Bortolo ) both record times of 1'25, which puts them in 6th and 7th for the time being. No-one has knocked off Rony Martias yet on 1'23.

14:17 EDT   
74 riders down, 123 to go in the prologue of the Giro d'Italia, where a huge crowd is enjoying the atmosphere on the coast in Reggio Calabria. At the moment, the fastest time is held by Guadeloupe-born Frenchman Rony Martias (Bouygues Telecom), which is an impressive start by this young rider. Naturally, all the big guns are yet to come.

14:28 EDT   
Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Discovery) comes home with a creditable 1'24, one second off the pace of Martias. That puts him in third behind Martias and Ziegler, with 80 riders home.

14:42 EDT   
We're halfway through the 197 starters in the prologue of the 88th Giro d'Italia, and the leaderboard is starting to take shape with Rony Martias (Bouygues) on top with a time of 1'23. He is followed by Thomas Ziegler (Gerolsteiner) and Ryder Hesjedal (Discovery Channel) at one second.

14:48 EDT   
A Cipo skinsuit update, because we know you want one. Apparently, according to radsport-news.com, he will wear a glow-in-the-dark skinsuit. That's why he wanted to wait until dark.

14:58 EDT   
Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty Seguros) rides in with a 1'25, which puts him in ninth place provisionally. There haven't been too many changes to the top 10 of late, with 108 riders now home. There are still 89 to come though. And Cipo...

15:03 EDT   
New best time!! Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo) has smashed Martias' 1'23 with a 1'21 - the first rider to average over 50 km/h in this very short prologue.

15:15 EDT   
Tosatto's 1'21 is well above the rest so far, as Jan Hruska (Liberty Seguros) comes in with a 1'24 for sixth.

15:19 EDT   
One rider to watch today is Australian Brett Lancaster (another trackie). He's a 4 km (team) pursuit specialist, but he has done a 1'04 kilo on the track, so he goes alright. That equates to a 1'13 on a 1.15 km course, assuming the same average speeds, not much wind, yada yada.

15:24 EDT   
By the way, Mark Renshaw's personal best in the kilo is 1'01(!) So he is definitely a favourite today. He's off at 22:06, in about 40 minutes from now.

15:26 EDT   
For the fans...Charly Wegelius' finishing time is 1'31, which puts him 10 seconds behind Tosatto, somewhere around 110th place at the moment.

21:29 CEST   
American Dave Zabriskie (CSC) finishes up in a decent time of 1'24, which puts him in 6th at the moment.

21:30 CEST   
Kirsipuu looks motivated, he goes all out.

21:31 CEST   
Kirsipuu comes flying home in 1'22.748 - second best time!

21:32 CEST   
Tony Tauler breaks his rear derailleur in the last 100 metres. Oops.

There are quite a lot of people on the course, crossing from one side of the other. That's crazy, as there is only a minute gap between the riders. Some close calls already!

21:34 CEST   
Brett Lancaster (Panaria) has the new best time!! He finishes in 1.20.958, just ahead of Tosatto!

21:35 CEST   
Cioni is next off... The Liquigas-Bianchi rider finished fourth overall in the Giro last year.

21:38 CEST   
As mentioned above, the parcours is flat, straight, cornerless...you get the idea. It's a drag strip. I won't go any further with that one.

Cioni comes in with a decent 1'23, for sixth place.

21:45 CEST   
Just 30 riders to come now, with Cristian Moreni up on the block. What can the Italian champion do?

21:46 CEST   
But just before he finishes, Baden Cooke (Francaise des Jeux) comes home in 1'24. Not bad, but well outside Lancaster's top time of 1'20.958.

21:51 CEST   
It's now fairly dark for the last riders. Lots of spectators though! No changes to the leaderboard.

21:51 CEST   
Brad Wiggins (Credit Agricole), the triple medalist from Athens, is starting now....

21:52 CEST   
Following Wiggins will be Gilberto Simoni. He's looking focused, and the crowd is cheering. Could this be the start of another Giro victory?

Wiggins: 1'22.945, for fifth place.

21:53 CEST   
The top five:

1 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 1.20
2 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.01
3 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Credit Agricole 0.02
4 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Brad Wiggins (GBr) Credit Agricole

21:54 CEST   
Simoni crosses the line in 1'28.221 for a rather modest 80th. But I think he's quicker than Lancaster in the mountains.

21:54 CEST   
Ale-Jet Petacchi is up next. This could be fast...

21:56 CEST   
Petacchi looks good as he gets up to speed...but he's not good enough. 1.21.681, which puts him in third behind Lancaster and Tosatto.

21:57 CEST   
Gonchar is next in line. He's good against the clock, but he has a tendency to ride a gigantic gear. That won't really help him today. Most riders have chosen a 53x14.

21:57 CEST   
Gonchar doesn't look as quick as Petacchi. He isn't: 1.28.

Garzelli is under way too.

21:58 CEST   
Garzelli's DS is honking his horn behind him. The Liquigas rider finishes with a creditable 1.26.121 for 40th.

21:59 CEST   
Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile) comes in next, just as Ivan Basso starts.

22:01 CEST   
1'26.334 for Basso, which puts him in 43rd. It's still Lancaster, Tosatto and Petacchi as the top three.

22:01 CEST   
Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) is a bit better than Basso in 1'24.748, for 17th.

22:02 CEST   
Pollack's time was 1'22.223, which puts the German sprinter in fourth. Nice riding!

22:03 CEST   
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) is next, and we can't expect a fast time from him. But the rider after him is Sergi Escobar (Illes Balears), a former world pursuit champion. He could upset Lancaster.

22:04 CEST   
Escobar has a fantastic start, rock solid like a true track rider.

He's followed by past Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel).

22:04 CEST   
Escobar finishes in 1'22.866 for sixth. Close, but no cigarillo.

22:06 CEST   
Savoldelli hugs the right hand side, unlike everyone else. He finishes with 1'21.923 for fourth - quite good!

22:06 CEST   
One of the top favourites is off now - Mark Renshaw (Francaise des Jeux).

22:08 CEST   
Renshaw sticks to the left hand barriers, getting a good start and winding it up. He crosses the line in a time of 1'22.853, after exploding a bit in the last 100 metres.

22:09 CEST   
Paolo Bettini rides a normal bike, on the right hand side of the road. 1'23.794 isn't bad!

22:12 CEST   
Robbie McEwen is next in with a time of 1'24.035, which will put him outside the top 10.

22:12 CEST   
O'Grady is under way, winding up his fixed gear special. Can he beat compatriot Lancaster? No-one else has so far.

22:12 CEST   
Nope: 1'22.613 for O'Grady.

22:13 CEST   
Just three riders to come: Didier Rous (Bouygues Telecom), Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) and Damiano Cunego (Caffita). Looks like Lancaster might be in pink...

22:14 CEST   
Cunego is wearing all pink, as befits the defending champ.

22:15 CEST   
Cunego doesn't look particularly quick as he sets off.

22:16 CEST   
He finishes in 1'24.507. Brett Lancaster takes the pink jersey!! The Aussies seem to like the Giro. Not bad going for a rider from one of only two non-ProTour teams.

22:17 CEST   
We can't forget Cipollini - he leaves in his pink (glowing?) skinsuit.

22:18 CEST   
Cipo is all in pink with glowing silver "veins" on his skinsuit, no helmet, completely pink bike, waving to the crowds for the last time. Obviously, a fast time is not on the cards. As one of our readers said, "It's all about the glamour."

22:24 CEST   
Cipo finishes his farewell ride, definitely looking the part, as he always has done. We'll miss him!

Pink jersey winner Brett Lancaster is on the podium, getting a big bottle of champagne. He looks a bit lost, but now he's opened the bottle and spills it everywhere. Lancaster gets given the pink jersey from Mario!...Who gets on top of the podium with him. Now Brett's up there alone, waving his flowers...nice in pink.

OK, that's all from us in the Hindenburg IV. It's survived Cyclone Lancaster (ho ho) so we should be back in it tomorrow for the first stage!

Provisional results

1 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                1.20
2 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                             0.01
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                            
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team          
5 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile Team                               0.02
6 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
7 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Credit Agricole                                
8 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Francaise des Jeux
9 Sergio Escobar Roure (Spa) Illes Balears                           
10 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                     

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