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88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

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Stage 2 - May 9: Catanzaro Lido - S.M. del Cedro, 182 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from John Trevorrow

Complete live report

14:23 CEST   
Welcome back to the Cyclingnews observation dirigible, the Hindenburg IV, which as you can tell from the commentary, is now being powered completely by hot air. It's a bit less flammable than hydrogen anyway.

Today we are hovering over the southern part of Italy again, between Catanzaro Lido and Santa Maria Del Cedro, where the second stage is unfolding beneath us. Today's stage is fairly flat, with just the small climb to Catanzaro to conquer in the first 15 km. When the riders reach Santa Maria Del Cedro, they will do a finishing circuit of 13.8 km, giving the sprinters a chance to view the approach to the line before they do it at 65-70 km/h.

14:33 CEST    66km/116km to go
The stage started at 12:36 with all 196 riders present. It was a fairly steady roll out from Catanzaro Lido until the first climb, where Rafaele Illiano (Colombia-Selle Italia) took the points ahead of mountains leader Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank) and Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile). As it's the only climb today, it means that Veneberg will keep the jersey.

Just 30.5 km were covered in the first hour, so we're back to standard Italian racing style. Then at km 34, Philippe Schnyder (Colombia-Selle Italia), Freddy Bichot (Francaise des Jeux), Roy Sentjens (Rabobank), and Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile) attacked. A few kilometres later, they were joined by Moreno Di Biase (Colombia-Selle Italia), and Intergiro leader Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner), and the break was formed.

After 41 km, the six leaders had 2'00 on the peloton, and increased that to 3'00.

14:38 CEST    68km/114km to go
As the six leaders pass through Falerna (km 65), they have extended their gap to 5'25 over the peloton, which will probably give them a bit more space. The Intergiro today is at Paola (km 112), so Sven Krauss will be gunning for that.

14:48 CEST    71km/111km to go
Well, obviously the sprinters' teams are nervous about letting a break get too much of a lead today, so the gap has not increased that much in the last 6 km. It now stands at 5'34 after 71 clicks. The riders are hugging the western coastline of Italy all day today, and it looks pretty nice out there.

14:58 CEST   
The weather today is once again fine and sunny, with a light wind blowing at the riders backs from the south. The temperature is around 23 degrees celsius, but warmer out in the sun of course.

15:02 CEST    85km/97km to go
The six leaders have averaged 34.35 km/h in the first two hours, and are now getting towards the halfway point of this stage.

15:07 CEST    87km/95km to go
The front sextet have lost about half a minute of their gap, and it's now down to 5'05. That's extremely manageable for the sprinters' teams, who don't want any surprises today.

15:11 CEST   
Race leader Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) has a pair of pink rimmed sunglasses on today, to match his pink jersey.

15:13 CEST    90km/92km to go
We're still with six leaders: Schnyder and Di Biase (Colombia-Selle Italia), Bichot (Francaise des Jeux), Sentjens (Rabobank), Schmitz (T-Mobile), and Krauss (Gerolsteiner). The peloton is now just 3'12 behind them, riding at a fairly solid tempo. The break is working well though, and should stay away until the Intergiro.

Fassa, Cofidis, Domina and Lotto all have men working in the peloton.

15:16 CEST    92km/90km to go
Race leader Bettini is riding towards the front of the peloton in the company of Moreni and Pozzato. He doesn't have pink shorts on, just the standard Quick.Step blue. He looks a bit like an inverted Lampre rider.

15:18 CEST    95km/87km to go
Cofidis' bunch worker is Thierry Marichal, who also did this job yesterday. Nick Gates is up there for Lotto, and it looks like Gustov for Fassa Bortolo. Then a host of Lampre-Caffita riders. They're forcing the break to work pretty hard, but the gap is being maintained at 3'10.

15:22 CEST   
The peloton is fairly stretched at the moment with five riders from five teams working in front. Belgian champion Tom Steels is in sixth wheel - he might be able to do something in today's sprint.

In the break, Di Biase and Schnyder have a chat to each other.

15:24 CEST   
The Quick.Step team car is also painted in pink and blue today. Very subtle.

15:27 CEST    97km/85km to go
Panaria's sprinter Paride Grillo is cruising at the back of the peloton in the company of Matt White. It's pretty easy at the back, as there's no crosswind.

The gap is three minutes and holding.

15:29 CEST    107km/75km to go
The leaders pass fans waving banners in memory of Marco Pantani, who died in February 2004 but is certainly not forgotten.

15:33 CEST    100km/82km to go
Danilo Di Luca, clad in his white ProTour leader's jersey, goes back to the team car for a drink and a chat.

The front six are rolling over quite well, but are slowly losing the battle against the peloton, which has 10 men in single file on the front. The gap is 2'40 now, as they start the climb up to the Intergiro.

15:35 CEST    110km/72km to go
They're 1 km from the Intergiro in Paola, descending a little now into the town.

15:35 CEST   
Di Biase crashes on a corner!

15:36 CEST   
That eliminates one competitor for Krauss. Di Biase is quickly back on his bike and chasing. He's got a big graze on his right forearm and right thigh.

15:38 CEST    112km/70km to go
Di Biase gets some "mechanical assistance" from the team car and finds the break again. Well, just Krauss, who is dropped. Not sure if he won the Intergiro.

15:40 CEST    114km/69km to go
It looked like the cause of Di Biase's crash was some oil or fuel on a corner. The peloton comes up to the Intergiro, with Zanini(?) taking seventh place ahead of Gates.

Krauss is definitively dropped, meaning that there are five leaders now: Philippe Schnyder and Moreno Di Biase (Colombia-Selle Italia), Freddy Bichot (Francaise des Jeux), Roy Sentjens (Rabobank) and Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile).

15:41 CEST   
T-Mobile's Bram Schmitz is the biggest rider in the break, well over six feet tall. He's doing a lot of work, so I guess we should call him "Stoker". Sorry.

The results of the Intergiro: 1. Krauss, 2. Schmitz, 3. Schnyder.

15:42 CEST   
Krauss is back with the break! Nice riding. 3'00 back to the peloton.

15:43 CEST   
Now it's Di Biase's turn to go off the back of the break, asking for the doctor's assistance for his injuries.

15:45 CEST    116km/66km to go
Di Biase gets some disinfectant and water for his wounds from the doctor. That's going to annoy him for a few days.

A heart rate update: Jaan Kirsipuu is doing it easy, sitting on 124 of a max of 190. That's how cruisy it can be in the peloton.

15:48 CEST   
Cristian Moreni (Quick.Step) does a few stretches in the bunch, or maybe he's practicing aerobics.

Kirsipuu's HR is now 115, same as Dario Cioni (whose max is 185). Gotta love the draft of the peloton. That's basically recovery pace.

15:49 CEST   
Somehow I don't think the riders in front are doing it quite so easy. They're more likely working at 75-80% of their maximums.

Gates, Gustov and Codol have the leaders pegged at 2'32.

15:51 CEST    119km/63km to go
The leaders pass through the feed at Marina di Fuscaldo. Both Colombia-Selle Italia riders grab musettes. Krauss is looking for one too. Schmitz doesn't seem to want one.

15:54 CEST    121km/61km to go
The peloton passes through the feed zone with plenty of riders grabbing bags in the chaos, going on both sides of the thin multicoloured line of soigneurs.

'Stoker' Schmitz is now chatting to the T-Mobile car.

15:56 CEST   
The pace has eased in the peloton as riders unpack their late lunch. The break still has 2'30, with the same six riders (Schnyder, Di Biase, Bichot, Sentjens, Schmitz and Krauss.

16:00 CEST    124km/58km to go
Freddy Bichot (Francaise Des Jeux) is the best placed rider on GC in the break, having started the day in 50th place at 39 seconds. But the leaders only have 2'18, so Bichot won't have long in the virtual pink.

Krauss suffers as they go uphill again. The big German is tired from his efforts yesterday.

16:02 CEST    127km/55km to go
The leaders navigate a fairly short climb up to Acquappesa, which has several hairpins as it ascends above the coastline for a while. Krauss is hanging on, to his credit.

16:07 CEST    134km/48km to go
The peloton is now snaking its way up the climb, led by Massimo Codol and Volodimir Gustov (Fassa Bortolo). Nick Gates is also there. The tempo is not savage, but it's solid. Kirsipuu (16bpm7/87%) and Cioni (151bpm/81%) are working a bit harder!

For those interested (and there are a lot), selected riders have transponders on their bikes to transmit the HR data to us here in the Hindenburg IV.

Bichot gets a bit of a gap, but sits up and the break reforms. Krauss is still there.

16:10 CEST   
Schmitz looks good as he rolls through for his turn in the break. The tall Dutchman has been one of the main motors today. Sentjens is also looking good.

Christophe Brandt is also helping the chase behind.

Crash! One of the Euskaltel riders is down and it looks like Alberto Lopez de Munain. He's not moving.

16:11 CEST   
Lopez de Munain was on the right hand side of the road when he clipped a Saunier rider's wheel and slammed into the barrier. He's lying face down, and his face is bleeding. Hopefully he'll be OK. He's definitely out of the race.

16:12 CEST   
Lopez de Munain is being looked after by the doctors and will get taken away in an ambulance soon. He hit the barrier with the right side of his face. Not good.

16:15 CEST   
The Euskaltel man is now on his back and is being prepared for the stretcher, gently.

16:17 CEST   
Lopez de Munain is conscious and can move a bit as he is finally placed into the ambulance. Let's hope his injuries aren't too serious.

16:19 CEST    142km/40km to go
Meanwhile, the situation in the race has not changed too much, and we still have six leaders: Philippe Schnyder and Moreno Di Biase (Colombia-Selle Italia), Freddy Bichot (Francaise des Jeux), Roy Sentjens (Rabobank), Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile), and Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner). The gap is still 2'00.

16:23 CEST    144km/38km to go
38 km left and the break is down to 1'45. They haven't given up of course, as it's good for their sponsors.

16:25 CEST    146km/36km to go
Schnyder passes a can of coke to his teammate Di Biase. He's going to need it with 36 km to go now.

16:28 CEST    148km/34km to go
It's down to 1'40 with 35 km to go, which means Bichot has 1 minute of his virtual maglia rosa left. All the time, it's Fassa's Gustov and Codol, Lotto's Nick Gates, and Domina's Alessandro Vanotti chasing. Steels is in fifth wheel. A good place to be for the Belgian sprinter, who has been suffering from a urinary tract inflammation in the past few days, so he's not at his best.

16:31 CEST    150km/32km to go
Vanotti does a strong turn in the peloton, as Di Biase does likewise in the break. Then Bichot attacks, with Schnyder on his wheel. Bichot thinks he's got a flat and sits up. The break reforms.

16:33 CEST   
Schmitz is 195cm tall, or nearly 6'5". Jeez. And only 77kg, according to T-Mobile's website. He towers over the rest of the break.

Looks like Krauss has been dropped again.

16:36 CEST    154km/28km to go
It's now down to 1'10 as the break approaches Santa Maria Del Cedro. They do have to do a 13.8 km circuit before finishing.

16:38 CEST    155km/27km to go
Kirsipuu and Cioni's heart rates are back to 130, as it's flat.

Cofidis has now got a couple of men in front working, including Matt White. The gap is under a minute.

16:40 CEST    156km/26km to go
The break won't survive for much longer. Krauss has been caught, and the rest have just half a minute. It started at km 34 and will finish with about 25 km to go.

Schnyder pulls out of the break first.

16:41 CEST    157km/25km to go
Bichot does the usual thing and attacks with 25 km to go. The others more or less let him go. He's only got 22 seconds.

Schnyder actually punctured, that's why he pulled off.

16:43 CEST    159km/23km to go
Bichot is now trying to hold off 194 riders behind him but is finding it hard. Schmitz, Di Biase and Sentjens are caught, leaving just Bichot in front.

Quick.Step is now working.

16:44 CEST    160km/22km to go
Bichot explodes and the peloton led by Nuyens and Garrido blasts by him. Bettini looks good in pink, next to Basso.

16:46 CEST    163km/19km to go
The pace has lifted now as the bunch races towards the finishing circuit.

16:47 CEST    164km/18km to go
It's still Quick.Step setting tempo, stretching out the peloton in a long line. Bettini is up in 10th wheel, sheltered by his teammates.

16:49 CEST    165km/17km to go
There are also a few CSC riders working, protecting Ivan Basso. Mads Christiansen (Quick.Step), Michael Blaudzun (CSC) to their turns. Steels is still near the front, very watchful. His teammate McEwen is moving up.

16:51 CEST    168km/14km to go
The bunch races up the finishing straight for the first time. It's a pretty straightforward sprint, with no nasty corners. 1 lap to go!

16:51 CEST    169km/13km to go
The speed is now up to 55 km/h as the sprinters teams start to wind it up. Well, it's still Quick.Step with three men riding hard. Francaise des Jeux is moving Baden Cooke up.

16:53 CEST   
Vasseur is up there for Cofidis. The bunch takes a right hander onto a narrower road, and it stretches out again. They go under 15 km to go (must be a discrepancy somewhere with the route map) at 58 km/h.

16:54 CEST    169km/13km to go
Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel) moves up on the outside. Everyone is fighting for position as Quick.Step leads them with four riders and Vasseur. Grillo gets in the way of Peron, who gives him a mouthful.

Kirsipuu is up to 172/90%.

16:56 CEST   
They're going uphill now with Nuyens and Christiansen leading, then Blaudzun and Vasseur. The road twists a little, but it's not too technical.

16:57 CEST    171km/11km to go
Nuyens powers on the front of the peloton, then pulls off. Bettini is in 20th wheel. Blaudzun now in front, with another teammate on his wheel, then Vasseur and Basso. They're nearly at the top of the hill.

16:58 CEST   
It's all CSC now as they start the descent into Santa Maria Del Cedro. A few Liquigas jerseys are moving up. Blaudzun still leading.

16:59 CEST   
Blaudzun pulls off as Vasseur takes over on the twisty descent. Nice roads though.

17:00 CEST    173km/9km to go
It's very fast and strung out as the peloton crosses a bridge. The CSC boys are still on the front. Di Luca is up there, and Bettini. Fassa Bortolo is waiting...

17:01 CEST   
Under 10 km to go and some riders are being shelled. Steels is dropped. Three CSC riders in front, led by Frank Schleck.

17:02 CEST    175km/7km to go
Quaranta has been dropped. No surprises again. He needs a downhill stage to get to the finish with the bunch.

17:03 CEST   
It's not only Quaranta - about 30-40 riders are off the back after that short climb.

17:04 CEST    176km/6km to go
CSC continues to ride tempo with Schleck in front and Basso in third wheel.

17:04 CEST   
Behind CSC, Fassa has lined out its men with Petacchi ready. McEwen is up there in the purple points jersey, looking for Petacchi's wheel.

17:05 CEST    177km/5km to go
It looks like the chase peloton has bridged the gap.

Di Luca nearly squeezes himself into a barrier. He's on Bettini's wheel in 8th or 9th.

17:05 CEST   
Schleck pulls off and Peron takes over at 5 km to go.

17:06 CEST    178km/4km to go
The road is starting to flatten out a bit now as we approach 4 km to go. Petacchi is in about 12th or 13th.

17:07 CEST    179km/3km to go
Kirsipuu is on 179/190max, while Cioni is on 161/185max. Jaan is working harder :-)

Now Fassa gets to the front and really strings it out. Kirsipuu loses position.

17:08 CEST    180km/2km to go
It's 60 km/h as Bruseghin hammers until 2.5 km to go. Then the rest of the Fassa train takes over. Bettini is next to Petacchi. Then Zabel and O'Grady behind. T-Mobile also brings Pollack up.

17:09 CEST   
It's now Baldato leading with about 1.5 km. Another two Fassas, then Petacchi and Bettini. Vogels is up there as FDJ starts to lead out Cooke.

17:09 CEST   
Velo gives a Credit Agricole rider a push. And now here's Quaranta!!!!

17:10 CEST    181km/1km to go
1 km to go and it's Tosatto winding it up. Then two more Fassas, then PEtacchi. Kirsipuu comes up with McEwen on his wheel. Petacchi is blocked a bit.

17:11 CEST    182km/0km to go
Velo leads out for Petacchi. It's a messy sprint. All across the road....McEwen wins the stage!!!!!!! And takes the jersey. Incredible to beat Petacchi in that sort of finish. An Illes Balears rider was second, it looks like.

17:13 CEST   
McEwen got a great lead out from Kirsipuu and waited, waited. When he jumped, Galvez tried to get around him but he couldn't, and took second. Forster was third, then Petacchi, who was closed in.

17:21 CEST   
McEwen is now the leader in the general classification and the points classification. And probably a few of the other minor classifications.

Krauss will keep the Intergiro jersey, while Veneberg will hold onto the mountains jersey. That's all from us today - we'll be back with stage 3 tomorrow!


1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                         4.34.47
2 Isaac Galvez Lopez (Spa) Illes Balears                             
3 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner          
4 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                  
5 Baden Cooke (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux                                
6 Francisco J. Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir     
7 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis-Le Credit Par Telephone    
8 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank                                    
9 Paride Grillo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare               
10 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                      
11 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                
12 Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team          
13 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile Team                       
14 Ivan Quaranta (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                
15 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Credit Agricole                    
16 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                        

General classification after stage 2

1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                        9.45.14
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step                                0.18
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                       0.22 
4 Isaac Galvez Lopez (Spa) Illes Balears  27
5 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team     0.30
6 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                0.33
7 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                                 
8 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick.Step                          

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