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88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

Main Page    Results & report      Stage Details      Previous Stage

Stage 20 - May 29: Albese con Cassano - Milano, 119 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from John Trevorrow

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST

14:30 CEST   
Welcome back to the Hindenburg IV for Cyclingnews' coverage of the final stage of the 88th Giro d'Italia. Today's stage is essentially a ceremonial finish, similar to the Tour's final leg into Paris. The riders start in Albese con Cassano, near Como, and head south to Milan, where they will finish off with 10 x 4.8 km circuits. It's a sprinters stage of course, and unless Alessandro Petacchi and his train falls off, he's the big favourite to take it out, giving him a nice total of four for the Giro. But, anything can happen...

There are no climbs today, and Jose 'Incredible Hulk' Rujano has more than comfortably wrapped up the green mountains jersey, with his Selle Italia teammate Ivan Parra taking second. But the Intergiro and Points jerseys are still undecided: Stefano Zanini holds an 18 second lead in the Intergiro over Sven Krauss and 21 over Paolo Bettini. So even though there are 30 seconds available for the winner of the sprint, which is located at km 49 today, it's unlikely that Krauss will shift Zanini.

Paolo Bettini leads the points competition with 151 points, compared to Di Luca's 136 and Petacchi's 129. There are 25 points available for a win, which means if Petacchi wins the stage and Bettini is out of the top 13, then Petacchi takes the jersey. Unless Di Luca decides to take a flyer and wins the stage.

14:43 CEST    19km/100km to go
Today's stage got under way at 14:03 with all 153 riders left in the race signing on and starting. As expected, it's been a very steady andante to start with, and the gruppo has remained compatto for the first 15 km. My Italian is almost fluent, as you can tell. I'm aiming to get my vocab up into double figures by next year.

14:53 CEST   
One of the more common reader questions is how do you score negative points in the Giro? It's actually very simple: just break the rules (holding onto cars while climbing mountains is a common one), without getting yourself disqualified from the race, and you'll end up with a fine and some points deducted from your score. You can also be penalised GC time: Danilo Di Luca was docked 10 seconds in stage 17 for getting a push from a spectator. This is one reason why the riders don't like fans running beside them for too long.

It also begs the question of whether the riders with negative points are theoretically eligible for prize money in the points classification, because they do actually have a placing, whereas riders with zero points do not. It's theoretical because the points classification doesn't pay down far enough to include the negative point getters.

15:11 CEST   
Not a huge amount is happening in the final stage as yet, with the riders ambling along at 30 km/h.

To answer another reader question: in yesterday's mountain top finish, and in fact in all mountain top finishes, the riders kept their helmets on. Although the UCI was permitting riders to remove their helmets if the finishing climb was more than 5 km long, that rule has now been scrapped. It's one less thing for the soigneurs to worry about, anyway.

15:31 CEST    42km/77km to go
The gruppo averaged 27.8 km/h for the first hour, which was downhill. That gives you an idea of how slow it was at the start!

Another question, relating to the tactics in yesterday's 19th stage. Why were Ardila and Van Huffel (Lotto) working in Savoldelli's group, when there seemingly wasn't a great deal at stake apart from Savoldelli's maglia rosa? The stage win was gone, and Van Huffel was only placed 14th on GC. Why bury himself to help the leader?

For the cynical, the answer is obvious: Lotto was asked by Discovery to help, as Savoldelli was in a spot of bother. Ardila actually helped pull Savoldelli back to Van Huffel and Gonchar on the Finestre. But it's worth pointing out that there were things for the Davitamon-Lotto boys to ride for: firstly, Van Huffel managed to move himself up from 14th to 11th place on GC, just outside of a top 10. That's worth more prize money and more ProTour points, even if the prestige might not be much difference. Also, Davitamon-Lotto were leading Liquigas-Bianchi in the Super Team Classification, so it made sense for both Van Huffel and Ardila to go for high placings.

OK, so it might not satisfy the cynics, but there are always two sides to a story.

15:34 CEST   
Wim Van Huffel was quoted by Sporza after yesterday's stage as saying that there wasn't much discussion in the group with Savoldelli. "No, not really. I did ask Ardila to give everything, so that I could maybe gain a few places. Am I 11th now? Nice."

15:38 CEST    46km/73km to go
It's still gruppo compatto after 45 km, although things should heat up a bit for the Intergiro at 49 km.

Today's final stage is not one for the GC riders. There is no way that Discovery Channel will let Gilberto Simoni sneak off the front and get 28 seconds, and Simoni will not even try to. The GC was decided yesterday, and all that remains is for everyone to finish intact. That's not a given, of course, but it's fairly rare to lose the leader's jersey in a grand tour when the final stage is one for the sprinters.

15:50 CEST    51km/68km to go
At the Intergiro on the outskirts of Milan, it's the maglia azzurra of Stefano Zanini (Quick.Step) who takes the sprint from his teammate Paolo Bettini and Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner). That means that Zanini has secured the blue jersey, and Bettini should move into second overall, and also build an almost unbeatable lead in the points classification. Di Luca is the only rider who can beat him for the purple jersey now, and that is very unlikely today.

The average speed at the Intergiro was 30.5 km/h.

16:03 CEST   
Cyclingnews spoke to the last rider on GC, Russell Van Hout (Selle Italia), this morning, and he was keen to defend his 'lead' in this classification. "I'm going to have the team working for me on the back of the bunch today to protect the maglia nera," he said. "It's going to be hard work but I've got a good lead. I should be able to hold it."

16:14 CEST    61km/58km to go
The peloton arrives in Milan, all grouped together, with the Discovery boys leading Paolo in pink.

16:17 CEST   
Fassa's Marzio Bruseghin is now leading as the pace lifts a bit.

16:20 CEST    66km/53km to go
Bruseghin leads the bunch through until 11 laps to go, with Joachim (Discovery) on his wheel. Most of the Discovery boys are still up there.

16:21 CEST   
Prologue winner Brett Lancaster (Panaria) told us this morning that the plan was, "Same old. Try and get Grillo up the front, try and step into line at some time. My standard role."

Are you happy with your Giro? "Yeah. Amazing what the difference just a tad over one kilometre can make. I've still got this damn bronchitis. It's been with me for weeks. At least we've got through it. I've also showed my stuff this year in getting the sprinters up there and going."

Are any of the big teams interested in you now? "I've got another year with these guys," he said with a smirk.

16:24 CEST    71km/48km to go
It's a beautiful sunny day as Joachim tows the bunch around the back half of the 4.8 km finishing circuit. His teammate Jason McCartney told Cyclingnews this morning, "That was an amazing day yesterday. I'm just glad it worked out OK for Paolo."

Is it a special feeling to ride into Milan with the winner today? "It should be good. Well, it'll be great! It's been unbelievable all year, it's been fantastic just to be part of this team."

Michael Barry echoed, "It's a fantastic feeling. and it's been a privilege just to be able to support [Paolo] through the three weeks. I really admire him, He's an awesome leader and a really good guy."

16:25 CEST   
Dave Zabriskie does a short turn on the front, hands on the tops of the bars, looking comfy. We spoke to him this morning, and he said, "I'm happy with the Giro. It's a tough race. It'll be good to catch up with loved ones, get a bit of rest."

Are you down for the Tour? "Maybe. We'll see. One race at a time."

16:29 CEST    72km/47km to go
The bunch comes through for 10 laps to go now, all together. Discovery and Fassa on the front, as usual, and Savoldelli in seventh wheel.

Matt Wilson (Francaise des Jeux) said to us, "It's a great day, the last day. We've got ice creams planned for 15 km down the road. Chocolates and champagne and everything. It's an enjoyable day, then you've gotta race for the final 60 km. I'm feeling good, I'd like to have another go if I can. Hopefully Mark [Renshaw] can get up in the sprint."

Mark Renshaw told us, "Actually, I'm feeling a bit sore in the legs, and a bit sore in the hip. We'll just see how it pans out. I'll have a go at the finish. I'm glad I got to Milan. I'm absolutely rapt just to be here."

What of the tactics yesterday, where you got in the first break. How was that saving your legs? "On the radio, I heard there was a bonus sprint with a bit of money, so I went for that, and next minute I was away. Then I thought I might as well stay away and get over the first climb. It didn't look like it but I was trying to save my legs."

16:30 CEST   
Trent Wilson (Selle Italia, no relation to Matt) is at the end of his Giro too. "I'm looking forward to the easy ride into Milan, a couple of drinks on the way, hanging on for the fast part, and then the big drink tonight," he said.

16:34 CEST    75km/44km to go
No changes in the bunch as it comes up to 9 laps to go, with the speed a fairly moderate 40 km/h.

16:41 CEST    79km/40km to go
We talked to Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto) this morning, who gave us his comments about getting to today. "Good...mate...beauty." [some words were deleted].

"I really plan to do my best to get on the podium today, get on that train somewhere, get right in the mix. Somewhere near Bettini and with a bit of luck, I'll be able to pay him back for the other day. But that's bikes. That'll happen in the sprint one way or another. It's going to be very hard to beat Petacchi...I've had quite a few top 10s in this tour, it would be a good finale to get on the podium."

Peloton getting strung out now with 8.5 laps to go.

16:44 CEST    80km/39km to go
It's a long peloton now as it goes by the feed zone, where several riders get bottles. There's a rider off the front, although he's only got 50 metres. It's Thierry Marichal (Cofidis).

16:45 CEST    82km/37km to go
Marichal doesn't last too long as Padrnos leads the Discovery train up behind him. They're on the fifth of 12 laps now and the speed is up to 50 km/h.

16:49 CEST    84km/35km to go
Massimo Codol now gets on the front, before Di Luca takes over briefly and has a chat. Di Luca has had a great Giro and will finish fourth overall, definitely keeping his ProTour jersey.

Now McCartney gets on the front for Discovery. Di Luca gives a teammate a bit of a bump in a corner.

Heart rate watch: 112 (current)/185 (max) for Fabio Sacchi, and 124/195 for Juan Manuel Garate. It ain't too hard.

16:51 CEST    87km/32km to go
Discovery leads again with seven laps to go, still McCartney on the front before Michael Barry takes over. There are crowds lining most of the circuit, enjoying the spectacle of the final day.

16:53 CEST    89km/30km to go
Rory Sutherland (Rabobank) was relieved when we talked to him today. "Nearly over, nearly over," he said. "It was an amazing day yesterday. I admire anyone who finishes this Giro. It's been really tough. Yesterday's stage was a real challenge. It was so tough yesterday to stay in the gruppetto. It wasn't easy out there."

16:57 CEST    90.4km/29km to go
Six laps to go, and although the speed is high, there haven't been many attacks yet. Everyone is content to let Fassa and Discovery do the work and Petacchi and co. to fight out the stage win.

Christian Vandevelde (CSC) was looking forward to today's stage too. "It'll be a lot of fun," he told us. "It'll be flat out racing once we get on the circuit. I don't know the circuit. It'll be hard for the teams on the front. Thank God it's not us!"

17:00 CEST    93km/26km to go
It's McCartney and Barry back on the front as the riders get close to five laps to go. They're keeping the speed up and discouraging any attacks.

17:04 CEST    96km/23km to go
Sandy Casar has attacked and gets a mouthful of TV motorbike fumes. He yells at the driver. It comes back together.

17:05 CEST    97km/22km to go
Another rider who will be up for it today is Erik Zabel (T-Mobile), who is definitely past his best as a sprinter, but has the experience and most of the speed to get up there. Head to head, Petacchi will beat him. But it depends on how the sprint unfolds.

17:06 CEST   
The average speed of the 7th lap was 42.772 km/h, so not really quick yet.

17:07 CEST    100km/19km to go
Volodomir Gustov (Fassa) takes over at the front as the T-Mobile jerseys move up with Zabel in tow. They're going to have a good go of it today.

Heart rate updates: Lilian Jégou (110/175max), Dario Cioni (118/185max).

17:09 CEST   
Matt White (Cofidis) attacks, and this is the first really serious move of the day. He has four laps to go.

17:09 CEST    101km/18km to go
There is no immediate reaction from the peloton, and White gets a 10 second gap with under 20 km to go.

17:11 CEST   
White is flying around the corners, enjoying the criterium like nature of this circuit. He grew up in Sydney, Australia, and criteriums are the standard type of racing there, especially in summer at Heffron Park. He's won one or two of those in his time.

17:12 CEST    102km/17km to go
White has his hands on the hoods and is really motoring. He'll try to hold it for a lap. He looks good, but the peloton is stronger. It's starting to hurt now.

17:13 CEST   
White gets down on the drops and drives along the right hand barrier, gritting his teeth. 5 seconds behind him, the peloton is coming, still led by Fassa and Discovery. He takes a hairpin bend and gains a little time.

17:14 CEST    104km/15km to go
White still leads with 900 metres to the end of the 9th lap. But he's gradually losing time.

17:15 CEST    105km/14km to go
White crosses the line with 3 laps to go, chased by the peloton with Barry and Bruseghin in front. 5 seconds is the gap.

17:16 CEST    106km/13km to go
White hits the back straight and is now hurting a bit more. He takes a drink and tosses the bottle away. He still has four seconds. He rode the last lap in 6'03 at an average of 47.6 km/h. Not bad!

17:17 CEST    106.5km/12.5km to go
Two and a half laps to go for Matt White, who has been holding the peloton at bay for the last 7 km.

17:18 CEST   
Fassa and Discovery have a mix of riders in front, with Savoldelli and Petacchi in about 10th wheel.

17:19 CEST    108km/11km to go
White is still fairly solid but he's neither gaining nor losing time.

A counter attack goes from the peloton as a CSC rider - Zabriskie - flies past white and asks him to get on. They hit the hairpin and White gets the back wheel of DZ. But then the peloton is right there.

17:20 CEST   
The speed has lifted in the peloton, which is just a couple of seconds off the two leaders as they get close to 2 laps to go.

17:21 CEST    109.6km/9.4km to go
Zabriskie powers along with White on his wheel, but the pair are only metres ahead of Padrnos and the Discovery boys as they hit 2 to go.

17:22 CEST    110km/9km to go
It's all together, that attack from White having lasted 10 km. Now Bruseghin and Codol are in front.

17:23 CEST    111km/8km to go
The average speed of the stage so far is 33.6 km/h. Not that quick, but it's going now! Three Fassas in front, then three Discoverys. Looks like Renshaw has got himself behind Petacchi in 6th wheel. No, it's Matt Wilson, who attacks!

17:25 CEST    112km/7km to go
Wilson, the second Matt to attack today, has about 50m over the peloton. He has a different style to White, and is quite smooth. But he's not strong enough to hold them off, and he's caught with about 7 km to go.

17:26 CEST    113km/6km to go
The bunch hits the hairpin again. It's not too savage.

The 10th lap was ridden at 6'06, an average of 47.213 km/h. They are nearly at the end of lap 11 now.

Heart rate update: Jégou on 132/175max, Sacchi on 149/185max.

17:27 CEST    114km/5km to go
The peloton gets the bell for the last lap and it's all Discovery and Fassa, all the way. Petacchi is up in 10th wheel still, a good place to be now. The fight for position begins.

17:28 CEST   
Savoldelli is looking great near the front of the bunch, near Petacchi.

Baldato now lifts the speed another notch with Sacchi on his wheel, then Ongarato, Zanini (Quick.Step).

17:28 CEST    115km/4km to go
Bettini's purple jersey moves up, as do Zabel and Grillo.

17:29 CEST   
Baldato leads with 4 km to go, ready for Sacchi to take over. Zabel has Petacchi's wheel, then Grillo and Vogels and Bettini fighting for it behind.

17:29 CEST    116km/3km to go
The front of the bunch is a long line as Baldato continues on the front. The maglia rosa is back in 25th wheel, next to Di Luca.

Sacchi takes over at 158/185max heart rate with 3 km to go.

17:30 CEST    117km/2km to go
Sacchi now drives it - doesn't take long for him to get the heart rate up now. Ongarato and Zanini follow, then Tosatto and Velo and Petacchi.

Da Cruz brings up Renshaw - nice move.

17:31 CEST   
Da Cruz leads into the hairpin with Ongarato taking over straight away. Renshaw is in second wheel, a bit far up at this stage.

17:31 CEST    118km/1km to go
Zanini follows Renshaw, then Petacchi's two men, then the man himself. 1 km to go.

17:31 CEST   
Zanini leads at 1 km, then three Fassas, Zabel and Renshaw.

17:32 CEST   
Zanini hammers to 800m. Then Petacchi's two men Tosatto and Velo. Forster has moved up too.

17:33 CEST    119km/0km to go
Velo leads out with 300m then Petacchi goes, Zabel follows him and Petacchi wins it comfortably from Zabel, who congratulates him after the finish. Forster looked like he got third.

17:39 CEST   
Petacchi started his sprint with about 200m to go, on the left hand side, then gradually moved towards the centre. Zabel could follow, but couldn't get closer than a bike length. Forster was a bit further back in third.

And of course, Paolo Savoldelli finished 24th in the peloton and keeps the maglia rosa - a very impressive performance for the winner of the 2002 edition of this race. Bettini will get the points jersey, Zanini the Intergiro, and Rujano the mountains and most combative. Sven Krauss will win the scooter for the most kilometres spent in a breakaway, Petacchi the Azzurri d'Italia, Liquigas-Bianchi wins the timed team classification, and Davitamon-Lotto the team points classification, and Fassa or T-Mobile the fair play classification.

17:43 CEST   
That's all from us in the Hindenburg IV commentary blimp. It's been a fun three weeks and thanks for following the Giro d'Italia with us. We'll be back, after an overhaul, with more live coverage in June (possibly a stage of the Dauphine + the Tour de Suisse), before the Tour de France in July.

Until then, arrivederci!


1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                         3.24.08
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                 
3 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner                             
4 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Domina Vacanze                         
5 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                              
6 Paride Grillo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare               
7 Isaac Galvez Lopez (Spa) Illes Balears                      
8 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux                       
9 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                     
10 Henk Vogels (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto          
24 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team     
Final general classification

1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team      91.25.51
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                               0.28
3 Jose' Rujano Guillen (Ven) Selle Italia-Colombia                   0.45
4 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                              2.42
5 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                      3.11
6 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                               4.22
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears                              11.15
8 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole                           11.38
9 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                              11.40
10 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                   12.33


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