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88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

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Stage 1 - May 8: Reggio Calabria - Tropea, 208 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from John Trevorrow

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST

14:13 CEST   
Welcome back to sunny Reggio Calabria on the southern tip of Italy where we are bringing you the 88th Giro d'Italia live. After yesterday's 1.15 km aperitif, today we head out on the open roads between Reggio Calabria and Tropea for a longish stage of 208 km. The stage winds east around the Aspromonte National Park, cuts back west and after an easy climb (km 117), there's a tricky, nervous run-in to Tropea on the Gulf of St.Eufemia.

The day's Intergiro sprint is located at km 92 in Locri, while the categorised climb is at Jonadi (km 168).

Cyclingnews' weather girl John Trevorrow reports that the conditions are absolutely perfect for racing. It's 21 degrees and there's not a cloud in the sky. A 15 km/h wind is blowing that should be behind the riders for most of the day, but there might be some crosswinds in the final 20 km.

14:33 CEST   
Today's stage started in Reggio Calabria at the crack of midday with all 197 riders present. That didn't last for long as a sick Didier Rous (Bouygues Telecom) abandoned the race after just 20 km. A few kilometres previously, the first successful attack was launched with Leonardo Scarselli (Selle Italia-Colombia) getting away solo. He was joined by Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Stefano Zanini (Quick.Step) and Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank) after 38 km, and the break was formed.

That was enough for the peloton, which quickly settled down into its piano riding, and the break had 8'43 after the first hour of racing, where 41.2 km were covered. After 53 km, it was 10'35, and at 72 km, the four leaders had 9'40. Sven Krauss is the virtual maglia rosa, by a lot. He started the day in 10th position behind Brett Lancaster, with just a 2 second deficit.

14:45 CEST    91km/117km to go
After two hours, the average speed is 43.35 km/h! That's extremely fast for an Italian race, but is a testament to the more international flavour of the field this year. The peloton has been forced to pick up its tempo and is now riding along 8'01 behind the break.

At the Intergiro in Locri, Krauss took the bonus ahead of Zanini and Veneberg. The average speed there was still 43.09 km/h.

14:52 CEST   
Cyclingnews spoke with Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) this morning, and asked him what he thought about his sixth place last night on the single speed bike. "I felt good all the way; just the last 300-400m was a bit heavy," he said. "I'm very pleased with my ride. I had a week and a half off after Amstel, and I've only been on the bike for a week and a half. When the team realised it was a short TT, they got all excited and it put a bit of pressure on me. I'm really not peaking for this race, but will try to ride myself into some form for the Tour.

14:59 CEST    115km/93km to go
The chase has really started now, and the four leaders are down to 6'53 of their one time advantage of 9'40.

Intergiro winner Sven Krauss has picked up 6 actual bonus seconds (there are also Intergiro bonus seconds, but these don't count towards your GC time) so that means if he finishes with the bunch today, he has a chance of taking the maglia rosa. But there are also 20, 12 and 8 seconds bonus for the top 3 in the stage, so that will no doubt affect things. Petacchi is still the favourite to take pink today, but we'll see.

15:02 CEST   
Krauss also picked up a tidy €1000 for winning the Intergiro sprint. Not bad at all! In contrast, winning today's climb is only worth €260.

15:11 CEST    121km/87km to go
Like sands through the hourglass, the four breakaways are losing time to the hungry peloton. At the last check at km 115, it was 6'15.

In the lead: Leonardo Scarselli (Selle Italia-Colombia) Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Stefano Zanini (Quick.Step) and Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank). Krauss is the best placed on GC.

15:13 CEST   
While we're on the subject of prize money, the Intergiro has actually been scaled down a bit - it used to be worth more than all the other minor classifications, but it's now the same as the climbers and only half the maglia ciclamina. Presumably that accounts for some of the drop in prize money that the riders have been complaining about (thanks Roger!).

15:22 CEST    123km/85km to go
Fassa Bortolo has assumed the position in front of the peloton, riding down the break. Obviously Petacchi is not too concerned about the tricky finish today.

The average speed after three hours has fallen to 38.95 km/h, which means that they must have hit a headwind somewhere, or the time keeper is asleep. The gap has gone up to 6'47 again. No panic to chase.

15:24 CEST   
In front, Scarselli gets a talking to by his DS Gianni Savio in the car.

15:25 CEST   
Zanini does a strong turn in the break - he's a pretty handy rider to have up here. Very experienced and very strong. Krauss is no midget either.

15:28 CEST    129km/79km to go
The leaders are descending after climbing up to 610m. That probably accounts for some of the slowing down. The peloton is all together, moving well. Di Luca moseys on up to the front and chats to the Fassa guys.

15:30 CEST   
The gap has come down to 5'05 as the break continues to work hard out in front. Holding off Fassa Bortolo in a flat stage of the Giro d'Italia rates pretty highly on the impossible tasks list.

15:34 CEST    133km/75km to go
75 clicks to go and the bunch seems to be getting wound up quite early, even though the breakaways only have 5 minutes. Fassa could erase that in less than 30 km if it wanted.

Brett Lancaster's Panaria team is sitting behind the Fassa train, protecting him from the wind. Wonder if he'll try to lead out Grillo today? That's what he normally does.

15:41 CEST    138km/70km to go
Another minute has been carved out of the breakaway's lead by the Fassa silver train, and the four leaders have just 4'05 with just under 70 km to go. Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) is chatting to a teammate in the bunch.

15:43 CEST   
Matt White (Cofidis) and Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) are also working with Fassa, as is one of the Davitamon-Lotto boys. There is no way a break can resist that kind of firepower.

15:46 CEST    146km/62km to go
The peloton passes through the feed zone at Rosamo trailing the break by 3'54. There are plenty of teams in front chasing, as the Fassa boys have dropped back for a short spell.

15:49 CEST   
The leaders hit the main climb of the day up to Jonadi, and Krauss looks to be suffering a little. Or maybe he's just organising his food. The bunch is strung out in pursuit, throwing off musettes as it goes.

15:53 CEST    149km/59km to go
Wegelius is still doing a good job for his team on the front of the peloton, as two Fassa boys join him on the climb. It's not too steep yet, and everyone is still in the big ring.

15:57 CEST    151km/57km to go
Ivan Basso is sitting right behind Danilo Di Luca in the peloton, fairly close to the front. They don't want to be badly positioned on the climb, because the descent and run into Tropea is quite technical.

16:00 CEST   
The gap is coming down rapidly to 2'40 as the peloton continues to chase. Cunego and Simoni are sitting next to each other, looking quite comfy. Lancaster is well placed in the front bit of the peloton.

16:03 CEST    154km/54km to go
Alberto Lopez de Munain (Euskaltel) has a brief mechanical problem, but he's back on the bike again and chasing back on. Further up, Beloki has a chat to Euskaltel's Laiseka, who is looking at the route card. Just follow the guys in front. You'll be right.

The leaders have 2'25.

16:06 CEST    158km/50km to go
The climb is getting steeper as Krauss leads Zanini, Veneberg and Zanini. They still have 2'28. The average speed of the stage so far is 39.42 km/h.

16:07 CEST   
Veneberg attacks! Scarselli chases him. The other two are gone.

16:08 CEST   
Veneberg punches it up towards the top of the climb, looking back to see where Scarselli is. The Italian couldn't close the gap and Veneberg is solo.

16:11 CEST    159km/49km to go
Nick Gates is leading the peloton, chatting to Davitamon-Lotto teammate Christophe Brandt. Wegelius is still up there, as is Codol for Fassa.

Veneberg isn't particularly concerned about that - he just wants to get to the top of the climb and have a crack at getting to the finish alone. The Rabobank rider looks very good - 3 km to the summit.

16:13 CEST    160km/48km to go
The peloton is still at 2'30 as Veneberg hits the steep part of the climb. Scarselli is about 30 seconds behind him, with Zanini and Krauss at 45 seconds.

16:15 CEST    161km/47km to go
Veneberg rocks a little as he gives it full gas to get to the top of the climb. He's still in the big ring and he's not pedaling slowly, so that's a good sign. He hits a hairpin, and gets going again.

In the bunch, it's still Gates, Wegelius and Codol chasing.

16:16 CEST   
Veneberg gets out of the saddle for a bit as he nears the summit of the Jonadi climb. He will at least win the mountains jersey today. There are some very big crowds on the side of the road to cheer him on.

16:17 CEST   
Veneberg gets some encouragement from Rabobank's assistant DS Joop Zoetemelk.

Back in the bunch, still Gates and Wegelius. Not many riders are being dropped.

16:19 CEST    162km/46km to go
Veneberg is over the top and wins the €260 prize. Scarselli is next over 22 seconds, looking annoyed at his derailleur.

Marco Milesi (Liquigas) is in fourth wheel in the bunch and is sitting on a HR of 175 bpm. His max is 190, so he's working fairly hard.

16:21 CEST    164km/44km to go
Quaranta is being dropped. Now there's a surprise.

Zanini and Krauss cross at 1'42. They'll be caught soon. One of the Fassa boys comes up with bidons to give to Codol and co. Wegelius leads the bunch over at 2'24. Veneberg holds steady.

16:25 CEST    168km/40km to go
Veneberg has now assumed the customary Rabobank time trialists position, back nice and flat, hands on the hoods, elbows bent at 90 degrees. He has 2'28 with 40 km to go. That's hard to hold.

Scarselli has sat up for a bit, but he keeps going. Krauss and Zanini already have been caught.

Still Codol, Gates and Wegelius (eating) on the front of the bunch.

16:27 CEST    173km/35km to go
Veneberg motors under 35 km to go, rock solid in his aero position. He definitely has a chance. The descent hasn't really started yet, but he shouldn't lose too much there.

16:28 CEST   
Scarselli goes under 35 km at 2'00 behind Veneberg. He'll be swallowed by the bunch very soon.

16:30 CEST    175km/33km to go
Veneberg continues to work hard in front, wanting this descent to come soon. Aha - here it is. He has two minutes on the bunch, which has caught Scarselli.

16:30 CEST    176km/32km to go
The descent starts for Veneberg, and he still has to work fairly hard. There are plenty of bends, but the road surface is very good.

16:32 CEST   
Gates and Wegelius lead the bunch at the start of the descent. It twists and turns a lot now, but so far everyone is still upright.

16:34 CEST    178km/30km to go
Veneberg is making good use of the road, trying to maintain his two minute gap. He'll need more than that though, we think.

Gates adopts a Graham Obree style chest on the handlebars descending position. This is quite fast, I can attest. Vogels is also up there for Lotto now.

16:35 CEST   
The road narrows as Veneberg flies through the deserted streets (well it is Sunday) of Vibo Valentia.

16:36 CEST    181km/27km to go
Celestino is up front with Gates chasing, or perhaps getting ready for an attack?

Veneberg is losing the battle: 1'35.

16:37 CEST   
The bunch snakes down this descent, still intact, as Veneberg reaches the foot. But he's got more than 25 km to go with just a 1 km lead.

16:39 CEST   
Veneberg rides next to the railway for a bit, then over a bridge down into Vibo Valentia Marina. Behind him there are 196 riders in pursuit. No major ruptures in the peloton.

16:40 CEST   
Veneberg has got back up to 1'55 thanks to his descending skills. He chugs down a bidon and tosses it away.

Jason McCartney (Discovery) is chasing back onto the peloton after that descent.

16:41 CEST    185km/23km to go
The Fassa boys are starting to mass near the front of the bunch. Simoni is up there too.

Zoetemelk gives Veneberg some more encouragement.

16:42 CEST   
Lampre has quite a few men in front of the peloton too, protecting Simoni and Cunego. This is the nervous end of the race.

Veneberg is maintaining a nice tempo, and has 1'45. It's a big ask, but he's getting closer...

16:44 CEST    188km/20km to go
The road opens out a bit now, and that will help the chase. Some more Lottos are moving to the front, while Wegelius is still there for Liquigas. Marco Milesi now at 169 bpm (of a max of 190). It's not easy in there!

16:46 CEST   
Quick.Step is moving up too with Bettini and Moreni. It's very nervous - a lot of teams are fighting for position. Lancaster is about three quarters of the way back.

Veneberg is suffering and losing time, but his style is still good. He scores points for that.

16:47 CEST   
It's less than a minute as Veneberg goes under 20 km to go. Alas, he has no chance of holding the bunch off.

16:48 CEST    189km/19km to go
The bunch swarms under the 20km to go banner just 37 seconds behind the Dutchman, who is being passed by the neutral cars. One of the Saunier riders looks around and nearly causes a crash as he overcorrects.

16:50 CEST    190km/18km to go
Fassa has now got most of its men near the front, along with Lampre.

Veneberg has not given up yet, but he'll likely have to face reality soon.

16:51 CEST    191km/17km to go
Veneberg fights all the way, but it's not possible. If the bunch wants to catch you, it will. He looks back and has five seconds. It's over.

16:52 CEST   
Now its T-Mobile in front, getting Zabel in position. Schmitz does a big turn. Zabel in fifth.

Veneberg cuts through the bunch like a knife. He's now at the back.

16:54 CEST    193km/15km to go
It's a nervous fight for position, but Lancaster is looking good in 20th wheel. T-Mobile is still on the front with Baumann and Schmitz working against the wind.

16:56 CEST    194km/14km to go
They go under 15 km to go and various teams are working to get to the front. Lancaster uses his height to good advantage as he can spot where the gaps are opening up and move into them. Fassa has dropped back a bit, but they'll be back. It's T-Mobile at the moment.

16:57 CEST   
Vasseur rides to the front for O'Grady, who is a chance today. They go up a small climb along the coast. Looks nice out there!

16:59 CEST    196km/12km to go
The Giro plotone is approaching the last 10 km, riding along the coast towards Tropea in the afternoon sun.

Gerolsteiner's Robert Forster gets a puncture and a very fast wheel change. That's going to be hard to get back on. He's the team sprinter.

16:59 CEST   
Mike Barry (Discovery Channel) moves to the front for a bit as one of the Bouygues riders attacks. It's Walter Beneteau. Very enterprising.

17:00 CEST    197km/11km to go
The coast is fairly barren here.

Forster is almost back on - nice work. And fast!

Beneteau has 5 seconds but is now feeling his legs a bit.

17:01 CEST    198km/10km to go
Forster joins Veneberg at the back of the bunch, just as Beneteau is caught. Domina has a few men in front. They go under 10 km to go (hmm...what was that banner before then?)

17:03 CEST   
Milesi is now sitting on 177bpm - 93% of his max. It's still hard.

17:04 CEST    200km/8km to go
Milesi is out in the wind, that's why.

Bramati is now on the front with a CSC rider. Baldato is in third wheel. It's not a typical Giro sprint at all yet. But that's not to say that Petacchi won't win.

Lancaster is very well placed, in about 5th wheel.

17:05 CEST    201km/7km to go
McEwen has got himself to the front too, thanks to Nick Gates who has done a very good job today.

17:06 CEST    202km/6km to go
Two Credit Agricole riders are up there now, looking a bit lost. A Fassa rider - Bruseghin - fixes that and does a big turn with two T-Mobiles behind him.,

Sacchi's HR is 171/194, so he's not working quite as hard as Milesi.

17:07 CEST    203km/5km to go
Bruseghin lifts the tempo before the two T-Mobiles relay behind him. Then a whole lotta Fassas. But Francaise des Jeux (for Cooke) and Liquigas (for Di Luca?) are also challenging.

17:08 CEST    204km/4km to go
Fassa hasn't taken over yet as the riders prepare to exit the main road. Aha, here they are. Di Luca in fifth wheel followed by Bettini, then McEwen slots in next to PEtacchi.

17:08 CEST    204km/4km to go
4 km to go and Fassa leads the bunch off the main road onto a very narrow, dangerous road under a bridge. Jeez.

17:09 CEST    205km/3km to go
It's basically a 270 degree turn! That took some doing. Puncture for Casar. End of his chances today.

McEwen is right on Petacchi's wheel, with Vogels and Bettini following. Lancaster in 10th.

17:10 CEST   
Bettini sneaks in front of McEwen and Petacchi, nearly crashing. Fassa has five men, then McEwen and Bettini, who has dropped back.

17:10 CEST    206km/2km to go
Fassa lines it out along the coast with 2.5 km to go. It looks good for Ale-Jet.

17:11 CEST    206.5km/1.5km to go
A Francaise des Jeux rider is up there fighting for position. Is that Cooke?

Fassa nudges him back into line. Three silver riders in front.

17:11 CEST    207km/1km to go
Four Fassas with 1 km to go including Petacchi, then Zabel. McEwen is back in 10th, but he's behind Vogels.

17:12 CEST   
Petacchi's train loses one, then Tosatto leads it up a steep hill inside 800m. Bettini attacks!!

17:12 CEST   
Petacchi chases Bettini but Bettini has a good gap.

17:13 CEST   
This uphill finish has really killed the sprinters. Bettini has got the stage won as he reaches the top. Right hander, then towards the finish.

17:13 CEST    208km/0km to go
Paolo Bettini wins the stage!!!! Superb attack at the end. He'll take the pink. McEwen second, then Petacchi.

17:17 CEST   
It has to be said that that finish wasn't kind to the sprinters at all. The uphill was pretty savage with 1 km to go and Bettini timed it perfectly as he rode the Fassa train off his wheel. It's his first Giro stage win, incredibly. And of course he also gets the pink jersey.

That's all folks from us up in the blimp and on the ground. We'll be back at the same time tomorrow for the second stage, between Catanzaro Lido and S.M. del Cedro, which should have no surprises for the sprinters. Until then!


1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step                    5.09.32
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                  0.03
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo              0.04 
4 Baden Cooke (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux                 
5 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                     
7 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi     
8 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze                      
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                       
10 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto       
11 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel
12 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                     
13 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick.Step                         
14 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                  
15 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                     
16 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                           
17 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir            
18 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                 

General classification after stage 1

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step                    5.10.35
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                  0.12
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo              0.14
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel             0.22
5 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                       0.25
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
7 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick.Step  
8 Baden Cooke (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux     


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