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88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

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Stage 7 - May 14: Grosseto - Pistoia, 211 km

Complete live report

14:26 CEST   
Welcome to our coverage of Stage 7 of Giro d'Italia. This morning we started a little inland from where the stage finished yesterday in the town of Grosetto and we head directly north for 211km to finish in the beautiful Tuscan town of Pistoia. With 50km remaining in the race we hit the first of two GPM's for the stage at San Baronto and head straight to the category one climb of Sammomme'. This steep narrow ascent gains 491m. in just 4.5km, then plunges back down to Pistoia to finish in the Piazza S.Francesco d'Assisi. A dangerous finale for riders who have ambitions to win the Giro, for a bad position before the Sammomme' could lose valuable seconds.

14:32 CEST   
So far today the riders have completed 90km of racing. There is a break of 21 riders up the road, who have a huge gap on the field. Their advantage reached just over 30 minutes at the 80 kilometre mark but has dropped slightly and now sits at 11'08".

14:36 CEST   
It has been a pretty fast race so far, the average speed 44km/h at this point. Back in the bunch Quickstep has been manning the front.

14:46 CEST   
In the break are Evgeni Petrov (Lampre), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), T. Thierry Marichal (Cofidis), Ivan Parra (Selle Italia), Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole), Christophe Brandt (Davitamon), Michael Barry (Discovery), Mirko Celestino (Domina), Marco Fertonani (Domina), Sandy Casar (Francaise Des Jeux),Marcel Strauss (Gerolsteiner), Jose Luis Carrasco Gamiz (Illes Balears), Dariusz Baranowski and Koldo Gil Perez (Liberty Seguros), Charles Wegelius (Liquigas), Steve Zampieri (Phonak), Cristian Moreni (Quick Step), Theo Eltink (Rabobank), Angel Gomez Gomez and Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Saunier Duval), and finally Matthias Kessler (Telekom).

14:47 CEST    115km/96km to go
Riders have just completed the Intergiro, which was in Certaldo today. It was won by Gomez, followed by Strauss and Baranowski.

14:49 CEST   
We have an update for you on Cadel Evans, who we reported yesterday fell during training and had a suspected broken collarbone. We heard today that he has a hairline fracture in his collarbone, but it's not broken. An operation isn't necessary but he will undergo a special healing procedure whereby some of his white cells are inserted into the bone marrow. He'll be off the bike for three days, then can ride the rollers. He should be back in full training within a week, so his Tour is not in doubt.

14:50 CEST   
The gap is now down to 10'10". In the break Strauss has a puncture as is now getting a wheel change.

14:53 CEST   
We talked to a few of the riders at the start today. First are Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vandevelde (CSC), who did a fair bit of work on the front towards the end of yesterday's stage. "That was just to keep out Ivan out of trouble," he explained. "That's what it's all about now. Today we'll be doing the same, keeping him up the front towards the finish with that steep hill. It's all going well so far."

14:56 CEST   
The gap is still slowly coming down with Quick Step doing the work at the front. They are flying, the pace has been high all day today. Strauss is back in the break after his puncture.

14:58 CEST   
And its down again with the latest time check at 9'35".

15:00 CEST   
Cyclingnews caught up with Henk Vogels this morning, who made that very timely move with 1km to go in yesterday's stage, not quite making it to the line, but taking fifth place behind his teammate Robbie McEwen. After looking at the replay and reflecting on the finish he said, "I'm still a bit in two minds I suppose. Maybe if Robbie didn't move, I would have won it. But he only moved because he was a bit worried, he felt them coming, and he wanted to get it. It would have been nice to win. But if Robbie hadn't have gone, maybe it would have been Kirsipuu that ran me down."

15:08 CEST   
The gap is down to 9'15" now and falling.

15:16 CEST   
We talked to Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) this morning who got stuck behind a lot of crashes in yesterdays stage. "It was Friday the 13th and I got out of it with all the freckles intact. I was pretty happy in the end, I didn't panic, came back, got a half decent position at the finish, I just haven't got the legs at the moment to be really up there."

We asked him how he felt about Henk going off the front at the end. "Big Dreek [Henk's nickname] lobbed off the front with a k to go, it was pretty cunning tactics actually, and Robbie's really something. After I got caught behind Petacchi's split, I got back on as they were stalling a bit. I was inclined to go straight by and saw it was Henk up front. I hesitated for that second, and it was too late. At 500 metres out, I thought Henk was going to get it.

"I'm just feeling better and better as the days go on. It's kind of what I was hoping for. On the first mountain day, I kind of hurt, but it's a pretty good build up for the month of July."

15:18 CEST    146km/65km to go
The break has reached the feed zone and will about 20km to refuel before hitting the first GPM of the day.

15:23 CEST   
The gap is holding at just over nine minutes at the moment and may even stay like this until the peloton goes through the feed zone after which it should start dropping again.

15:26 CEST   
Quick Step will have to bring this all the way back in order to keep the jersey as Celestino is only 49 seconds down in the General Classification and now of course virtual leader on the road as he is the highest in GC out of the break.

15:31 CEST   
The break is working very smoothly together, but the gap is gradually falling again and is at 8'50" at the moment.

15:33 CEST    155km/56km to go
The roads are wet, but its not raining at this point. On the front of the peloton CSC and Lampre are doing the work and the Discovery guys are moving up as they near the foot of the first Grand Prix de Montagne (GPM).

15:36 CEST   
On an interview with yesterdays stage winner, McEwen on Sporza yesterday he said, "It was a strange win indeed. The last laps were difficult and slippery. But we had done them three times already and the Fassa's made a small mistake. After the crash no-one wanted to take the lead so I let Vogels go. I stayed at the front and it's a pity for Henk, but I had to go. If Brett Lancaster wouldn't have chased Henk might have won. I'm very happy with my victory too though."

"It's going very well, I surely can't complain. It's going better than what I thought, as I didn't come here in the best of form. But it's going good and this way I can keep going a bit longer. Stage 9 and 10 are stages I want to win. Then we'll see. I didn't come here to take this sprint jersey home but to win stages. I'm not riding to defend this jersey."

15:38 CEST    159km/52km to go
They are in Lamporecchio now. A proper chase is in place by the peloton. Fassa is up there helping CSC. They have reached the base of the climb.

15:39 CEST   
The gap is now 8'22" as they start the climb, which is four kilometres long.

15:40 CEST   
Its not that long of a climb but will have a big effect on bringing down the gap to this break. It will also give the riders a chance to see how their climbing legs are feeling in preparation for the final climb.

15:41 CEST   
The bunch really stretched now as they start the climb. Roy Sentjens is in last wheel. The roads look a tad drier here.

15:43 CEST   
We asked Baden Cooke if he has his climbing legs on, when we saw him at the start this morning. His reply was simply, "Nup. Not today."

15:44 CEST   
The final climb today is going to be important for the GC riders. They will need to maintain position as it is a fast finish down to Pistoia.

15:45 CEST   
The leaders are 2 km from the top, with Celestino and Fertonani leading. The gap is 7'00.

15:45 CEST   
Marichal and Gomez Gomez come through to do their turns, followed by Michael Barry and Dariusz Baranowski.

15:45 CEST   
Now Gomez is on the front for a long turn. He's really pushing the pace.

15:47 CEST   
There has been a fall in the peloton, Matteo Tosatto (Fassa) is down. It was a broken chain.

15:48 CEST   
It also looks like Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis) went down and Jan Schaffrath (T-Mobile).

15:48 CEST   
One kilometre to the top of the climb now for the riders in the break.

15:49 CEST    162km/49km to go
The gap is now 6'45" and falling.
They sprint for the top of the climb (it's a Cat .2). And it's Gil, Zampieri and Parra in that order. Fertonani, Moreni fourth and fifth.

15:52 CEST   
The break is on the descent now. Back in the bunch Blaudzun is leading and it is strung out. Maglia Rosa, Bettini in about 7th wheel.

15:54 CEST   
When they hit the bottom of the descent, they have 18km until the bottom of the next climb, which is the tough one up Sammomme.

15:55 CEST   
The gap at the top was only 4'57". That was a lot of time made up.
Break is all together now. There is a bunch of 25 chasing the peloton with some Fassa riders in it.

15:59 CEST    171km/40km to go
40 km to go for the breakaways, and another 8 km before the first passage of the line in Pistoia. CSC, as always, is leading the peloton. Peron now on the front of the bunch.

16:01 CEST    173km/38km to go
The riders are all eating, drinking, and making merry now. Well maybe not the latter. It's important to refuel at this stage of the race, as the hardest part is still to come. The break is working fairly well, but everyone will be tired.

16:03 CEST   
In the break, Cristian Moreni (Quick.Step) is well placed on GC in 15th at 56 seconds, while Celestino is in 9th overall at 49 seconds.

The chasing peloton is in three bits, with each bit separated by 20-30 seconds.

Blaudzun is driving hard on the front of the peloton again, and the gap is 4'50.

16:05 CEST    176km/35km to go
The leaders go under 35 km to go and there are some big, ugly black clouds ahead of them. Looks like rain.

16:08 CEST    178km/33km to go
The break is now in the last kilometre in Pistoia...but has a 32 km circuit to complete before it is safely home. Zampieri leads up to the line, with Baranowski on his wheel.

16:10 CEST    179km/32km to go
The peloton is still 3 km behind the break. 4'25 is the gap. The break has a pretty good chance.

16:11 CEST    180km/31km to go
Gomez Gomez leads the break gingerly through a wet corner. All survive.

16:12 CEST   
The peloton is cheered into Pistoia as Peron drives it with Blaudzun on his wheel. It's all CSC, all the time.

16:13 CEST   
The gap at the finish is 3'51. This is going to be close.

16:15 CEST    182km/29km to go
The leaders are getting a bit nervous, and no-one really wants to work too hard before the climb. That's where the break will explode. 491m altitude in 4.5 km is not fun.

Aha - Zampieri attacks!

16:17 CEST   
Phonak's Steve Zampieri is the first rider to fly the coop and he gets company from Gomez Gomez and Koldo Gil. Three leaders.

16:18 CEST    184km/27km to go
The three leaders have 13 seconds on the rest of the break, while the peloton follows at 3'30.

16:20 CEST   
Gil makes sure his gloves are done up tight. Nothing worse than loose gloves.

Zampieri gets out of the saddle and rocks up a small climb.

Peloton at 3'12, still CSC...

16:21 CEST    186km/25km to go
It's Peron again working hard in the peloton, with five teammates in tow.

The three leaders, Gil, Gomez and Zampieri, go under 25 km to go with half a minute to the other 18 in the early break. Doesn't look like they're coming back.

16:23 CEST    188km/23km to go
Gil does a strong turn and Zampieri takes over. Gomez Gomez is not working at all.

In the peloton, one of the Liberty riders punctures - looks like Hruska. He's chasing now as Caucchioli also flats. Caucchioli gets three teammates to pace him back to the fast moving bunch. This is going to hurt.

The peloton is now at 25 km to go. 2'32. Impressive work by CSC!

16:25 CEST    189km/22km to go
The three leaders are in Piteccio, at the foot of the climb of Sammomme. The roads narrow, and they're still wet.

Heart rate data du jour: Luca Mazzanti is on 158 of a max of 190. Manuele Mori is sitting on 171/194. It ain't easy.

16:26 CEST   
Matthias Kessler attacks the rest of the break at the foot of the climb. He has to close a 40 second gap.

Caucchioli and Hruska are just about on the bunch now. Just in time for the climb. Caucchioli is going to hurt.

In front, Gil and Zampieri look a bit knackered.

16:27 CEST   
CSC drives the gruppo maglia rosa to the foot of the climb.

Zampieri attacks again, as Gil has run out of legs. But Gil comes back to him. They're probably trying to drop Gomez.

16:29 CEST    190km/21km to go
Two leaders now - Gil and Zampieri. Gomez is at 14 seconds, then Kessler at 0'56, then the rest of the break. Now the peloton is being led by Frank Schleck from the Danish team CSC. Bettini, Simoni, Di Luca, Sella are all up there.

Zampieri is now leading, looking back for Gil. He's there, but only just.

16:30 CEST   
Gil now does a strong turn, dropping Zampieri!

The maglia rosa is at 2'15 from the two leaders.

16:31 CEST   
Now the climb gets really steep with lots of short hairpins. I think I might even have done this one about 9 years ago. Or one like it very close to Florence. It's fairly savage.

16:33 CEST   
Strauss is caught and dropped by the peloton. The first of the break to succumb. The huge, hulking figure of Jose Rujano is leading the peloton.

Mazzanti is sitting at 175/190 (92% of max). Ow.

16:33 CEST   
Cioni and Di Luca are quite close to each other in the shredding peloton. Rujano leads them on the hairpins. Bettini is dropped!!

Marichal is caught too. 19 left up the road. Now Barry is back. 18 left.

16:35 CEST    191km/20km to go
Rujano continues to lead the break as Koldo Gil rides under a railway bridge. The gap between the two is 2'05, and Gil is surviving well.

16:35 CEST   
Now Di Luca takes over in the peloton with Basso on his wheel. He doesn't last long in front and it's Basso leading. Looks like Cunego in second wheel.

16:37 CEST   
Basso looks back and Simoni attacks! the green clad Rujano chases him. The peloton is perhaps 15 riders strong. Simoni takes a really sharp right hander in the lead, but hasn't got a real gap. Cunego, Basso, Cioni are all there. Di Luca a bit further back, and Savoldelli and Scarponi.

16:38 CEST   
Simoni continues to lead the bunch of GC favourites as Cunego comes from fourth wheel and accelerates. Simoni looks at him. Hmm. Simoni gets back on the front. Now it's Rujano leading. The favourites are down to about 10.

Moreni, Baranowski and Rodriguez are caught.

16:40 CEST    194km/17km to go
Rujano, who is in fact a lot smaller than Simoni, is ripping the favourites group to shreds on the Sammomme climb. Danielson is dropped, and is back with Bettini it looks like. Rujano, Simoni, Cunego, Di Luca, Basso, Savoldelli and Atienza(?) are there.

In front, Koldo Gil is still alone, but we haven't had a time check yet. He is at the top of the climb.

16:43 CEST    195km/16km to go
Simoni tries to do a turn but the 162cm figure of Jose Rujano blasts by him and then most of the early break to take some mountain points.

Zampieri presumably crosses second, then Celestino is at 56 seconds, then Rujano at 1'14. Rujano is now with the remnants of the early break, with Simoni's group of favourites chasing at 15 seconds.

16:46 CEST    197km/14km to go
Fertonani was second over the climb at 57 seconds. Then Halgand, Rodriguez, Zampieri, then Rujano six at 1'15. The groups are slowly coming together on the descent. But it's still Koldo Gil in the lead!

Bettini's group is at 2'32.

16:50 CEST    199km/12km to go
OK, an attempt to clarify the situation. Basso is not looking good, and is 40 seconds behind a group with Simoni, Cunego and Di Luca, who have caught everyone in the early break except Koldo Gil. The Spaniard still has 1'05 as he flies down the descent.

Basso is in a group with Sella, Moreni, Ardila and Garzelli at 1'42.

16:52 CEST   
The Simoni, Cunego, Di Luca group of about 10 is just 1'02 behind Gil, who is getting close to 10 km to go. Basso's group is at 1'35. It also has Garzelli, Sella and Cioni in it. Unsure where Savoldelli is - he should be in the front group.

16:54 CEST   
Bettini's group is still at 2'30, which means Di Luca could find himself back in pink again. This first chase group has Simoni, Cunego, Di Luca, Zampieri, Fertonani, Halgand, Kessler, Petrov, Lefevre, Parra, Rujano, Brandt, Casar, Eltink.

Wegelius has gone back to help Garzelli and Cioni, 30 seconds back.

16:55 CEST    206km/5km to go
It's five km to go and Lampre is hammering! They have Basso and the Liquigas boys on the ropes. Apart from Di Luca.

Savoldelli is in the front chase group.

16:56 CEST    207.5km/3.5km to go
Gil should be able to stay away for the victory - fantastic ride by him. But it ain't over yet. He has 50 seconds.

16:57 CEST    209.5km/1.5km to go
Gil is working as hard as he can now, looking back, gritting his teeth. He's on the outskirts of Pistoia and en route to a big victory. Basso's group is still 32 seconds behind Simoni's mob.

16:57 CEST   
Gil is getting close to 1 km to go. He's won it!

16:58 CEST    210km/1km to go
Koldo Gil (Liberty) goes under 1 km to go with a 50 second lead over the Cunego/Simoni chase group, which only has Di Luca and Savoldelli of the main GC riders in it. Interesting.

Crash in the chase group as Liquigas drop themselves. Garzelli is down, as is Cioni. Garzelli sits on the ground.

16:59 CEST    211km/0km to go
But it's Koldo Gil who wins the stage!! Excellent ride by the Liberty rider. He looks back with a big smile on his face and celebrates over the last 75 metres. Great ride.

17:00 CEST   
Cunego and Di Luca fight it out for second and it's Cunego, Di Luca, Halgand, Celestino and Casar in roughly that order. Cunego got second anyway, and Di Luca should be in pink. The gap is some 25 seconds, and Basso's group comes in at 53 seconds.

17:02 CEST   
Bettini comes in at 1'47, while Garzelli finishes at 2'32. But he might get the same time as the bunch he was with.

17:13 CEST   
As Danilo Di Luca puts back on the pink (and now the purple) jersey with a great deal of satisfaction, we leave you once again. Who will Liquigas work for now, as both Garzelli and Cioni were dropped on that last climb, while Di Luca could follow? We'll find out after tomorrow's 45 km time trial in Florence.


1 Koldo Gil (Spa) Liberty                        5.08.16
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre                       0.20 
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
4 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze                    
5 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole          
6 Sandy Casar (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux  
7 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team    
8 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 
10 Theo Eltink (Ned) Rabobank                
11 Ivan Parra (Col) Selle Italia-Colombia     
12 Marco Fertonani (Ita) Domina Vacanze        
13 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita  
14 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Lampre-Caffita   

General classification after stage 7

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                 35.06.41
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre                       0.26
3 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze              0.54
4 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita  
5 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi          1.06
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi           1.14
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Wurth      1.16
8 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto 
9 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel          1.26
10 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                        1.27


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