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88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

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Stage 8 - May 15: Lamporecchio - Firenze ITT, 45 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from John Trevorrow and Tim Maloney

Complete live report

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

14:12 CEST   

The Hindenburg IV
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Welcome back to the Cyclingnews' live coverage blimp, the Hindenburg IV, (we've also got a car today) for today's first real test of the 88th Giro d'Italia, a 45km individual time trial from Lamporecchio to Firenze. The chrono heads east along the Arno River valley towards Firenze on difficult, narrow, twisting roads, then climbs up amid the vineyards and olive trees of Monte Albano, gaining 300m in 6km. Over the top, there's a technical 10km descent to Poggio a Caiano and then a straight shot back to Firenze and the finish on Viale Lincoln.

The wind is blowing from the south west today, which will be behind and across the riders. It's about 23 degrees, which is rather pleasant.

14:19 CEST   
The stage got under way at 12:53pm with Russell Van Hout (Selle Italia) the first cab off the rank. Van Hout rode well in the Giro time trial last year, finishing eighth, and was targeting this stage. However, at the finish, his time was only 1:05:15, which put him in third behind Sascha Urweider (Phonak, 1:04:01) and Brian Vandborg (CSC, 1:04:15). So a top 10 finish is out of the question for Russ this year.

14:25 CEST   
One rider who in with a good chance of a top 10 result today is CSC's US TT champion David Zabriskie, who left at 13:11, and we've been following him in the Cyclingnews car, where he set a new best time of 30'07 at the top of the climb at Il Pinone (km 18), and has scorched into the finish in 58'31, knocking more than five minutes off the previous best time of Eric Baumann (T-Mobile). It was not surprising that he caught his six minute man Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) with 7 km to go...

Zabriskie is a stalking horse for Ivan Basso today. His job was to go out and give him the best splits. It was a fantastic ride, and all the training that the CSC team has done here in Tuscany has obviously paid off for Zabriskie. He bombed the descent off the climb like he would at home in Utah in the USA.

14:41 CEST   
Some of the other specialists out on the course are having good rides too today: Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) was second after km 8.4, ahead of Brad Wiggins (CA) and Rory Sutherland (Rabobank). Rory came through km 28.6 in second place, 1'52 behind Zabriskie. We'll see what Dekker and Wiggins can do there.

14:49 CEST   
Zabriskie's 58:31 is still by far the fastest time today, as Sergi Escobar (Illes Balears) moves into second place with a 1:01:43, six seconds quicker than Rory Sutherland.

14:57 CEST   
We spoke to Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto), who came in with a 1:07:11, nine minutes slower than the flying Zabriskie. Henk unfortunately crashed on the descent after the climb, as there is a very steep and dangerous corner. He wasn't too happy about things: "No not really," he said. "I'm meant to be saving my energy to work for Robbie in the next few days. But you know me, I like to go full gas. I'm pissed off. I didn't really want to ride around with scars."

15:01 CEST   
The 9.6 kilometres between the first time check (km 8.4) and the top of the climb (km 18) are quite tough, despite the following wind. It's up and down (mostly up) and even Zabriskie's split was "only" around 19 minutes, an average of 30 km/h. That gives you an idea of how challenging the climb is.

15:17 CEST   
Thomas Dekker's ride is a good one, as he becomes the second rider to break the hour in this difficult 45 km parcours. He finishes in 59'54.

The top five at the moment:

1 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 58.31
2 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 1.23
3 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC 2.44
4 Sergio Escobar Roure (Spa) Illes Balears 3.12
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Credit Agricole 3.17

15:19 CEST   
We spoke to Discovery's Antonio Cruz after the finish, and the American was happy with his ride: "It was twisty and hard to find a rhythm. There was quite a bit of climbing before the climb. a bunch of rollers, one after the other. I was cruising [1:07:37]. I made it through and I'll be good for the next few days."

15:22 CEST   
Alberto Ongarato (Fassa) cruises in with a 1:05 plus. He barely looks like he's done a time trial.

Here comes CSC's Christian Vandevelde. He has not ridden as hard as Zabriskie, and finishes in 1:04:46.

15:25 CEST   
Here's prologue winner Brett Lancaster, the big boy from Shepparton in Australia. Brett was aiming for a good time and he's not bad at the finish, with a 1:01:33 for fourth. Three minutes slower than Zabriskie's superb effort.

15:28 CEST   
Tom Danielson (Discovery) is usually pretty handy against the clock, and he's approaching the first time check at km 8.4. His teammate Bileka goes over the climb in about 31:40, 1'40 slower than Zabriskie, who has set the standard today.

15:32 CEST   
Danielson passes km 8.4 in 18th place, 26 seconds slower than Zabriskie.

Meanwhile, further up the road, Jan Hruska (Liberty) powers to the top of the climb in 31'07, exactly a minute slower than Zabriskie, for third place.

15:34 CEST   
Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step) almost manages to nudge himself into the top 10 with a 1:02:46, 4'15 slower than Dave Zabriskie.

Zabriskie's hardworking teammate Michael Blaudzun is a bit quicker, as he drives to the line in 1:01:40 for fifth.

15:38 CEST   
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) cruises in with a time of 1:06:04, exactly two minutes slower than Giovanni Lombardi (CSC), who finishes next to him.

15:39 CEST   
Marzio Bruseghin (Fassa Bortolo) heads off. He is a good rider against the clock when he wants to be. We'll see how hard he takes it today.

15:41 CEST   
Serguei Gonchar (Domina Vacanze) is next off the ramp. He was second overall in the Giro last year, but there's no way he will repeat that this year. He's already 2'23 down on the general classification.

Bruseghin is into his rhythm now, rocking a little from side to side and sitting on the tip of the saddle.

15:42 CEST   
Brad Wiggins (CA) is in seventh at the moment, over 3 minutes behind Zabriskie. We spoke to him after his ride: "It was quite hard actually. I think I did a 1:01. I was happy with the effort, even though I was a bit off the pace. I went well up the climb, which surprised me - I thought I would have stopped. I felt good, kept it steady, so I'm pleased with how I felt considering we're one week into it."

15:44 CEST   
Here comes Michael Barry (Discovery), just ahead of Fabio Sacchi (Fassa). That means Sacchi has put two minutes into the Canadian, and ends with 1:02:16.

15:55 CEST   
Now it's Ivan Basso (CSC) up on the start ramp. He lost 30 seconds yesterday, complaining of cramps at the top of the climb, blaming it on a bike change earlier in the stage.

He's off! Zabriskie has given him a good time to beat.

Bruseghin is on the climb now.

16:00 CEST   
Bileka comes in with a time of 1:00:51, which puts him in third. Not bad at all, and a good marker for his Discovery teammate Paolo Savoldelli, who has just left.

Zabel finishes in 1:04:00.

Regarding my comments on Gonchar: sure, 2'23 isn't much to be down on GC, but he lost most of that on one climb yesterday and came in 45th. That is not good for a GC rider who wants to stand on the podium in Milan!

16:03 CEST   
That said, Gonchar is still a favourite for today's stage. Stuart O'Grady, Matt White and Thomas Dekker have all picked him to win.

16:08 CEST   
Gonchar is second at the first time check, in the same time as Zabriskie and four seconds behind Bruseghin, who has the fastest in 11:07.

Italian TT champion Dario Cioni (Liquigas) has started. Gilberto Simoni is on the ramp too - he's off.

Marzio Bruseghin is still on the climb - it's a long one.

Ivan Basso has ridden 11:06 at the first time check! One second quicker than Bruseghin.

16:09 CEST   
Further along the course at the Intergiro point, Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) is riding well, 29 seconds behind Zabriskie.

Savoldelli is two seconds quicker than Basso at the first time check!

16:10 CEST   
Bruseghin comes over the top of the climb in second place, a few seconds slower than Zabriskie. Gonchar is over too, two seconds slower. So he's been riding at a similar speed to Zabriskie.

Cunego is on the ramp. One more rider to come after him: Di Luca.

16:13 CEST   
Di Luca sits on the start ramp, clad in a pink and black skinsuit with a dangerous looking aero helmet. Dangerous if he stabs someone with it, that is.

Di Luca is away!

16:17 CEST   
Cunego is motoring along the flats now, towards the first time check. He's not a great rider against the clock, but he's improved a lot.

Tadej Valjavec (Phonak) comes home in 1:01:40 for 9th.

Top five so far:

1 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 58.31
2 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 1.23
3 Jan Hruska (Cze) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team 1.34
4 Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 2.20
5 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 2.40

16:18 CEST   
Cunego still has a while to go to the first check.

Basso is on the climb, maintaining the aero position on the TT bars. He's done this course 15 times, and he's in the small chainring and one of the bigger gears on the back. It's not an easy climb at all.

Savoldelli is further up the climb, also in the aero position.

16:19 CEST   
Danielson powers home in a decent time of 1:01:50, which will put him in 15th at the moment.

16:24 CEST   
Rory Sutherland (Rabobank) has fallen out of the top 10, but his time of 1:01:49 is still quite good. He didn't realise what his time was until he logged onto our live coverage in the hotel.

"Ooooh, that hurt a lot," he told us at the finish. "I felt good. I'm surprised actually. It suits me better, this type of time trial, up and down. The last 3km was hell, a really strong headwind.

"Since the National's (where he was second), I've felt more comfortable in time trials. I feel better on the bike, I feel like the bike's fitted more to me. I got my three minute man right before the top of the climb. It's a grand tour and I've got no expectations. It's all about the future."

Gonchar is past the Intergiro at km 28.6 in 41:13, 17 seconds slower than Zabriskie for a provisional third.

16:26 CEST   
Cunego is 17th at 27 seconds at time check 1, while Cioni has also lost 27 seconds and Di Luca lost 13 seconds.

Basso crosses the climb in 29:59, 8 seconds quicker than Zabriskie!

Karpets is quicker than Dekker at the finish, ending in 59'38 for second. Nice ride for the Russian.

16:29 CEST   
Savoldelli is over the climb in 30:16, which is 17 seconds slower than Basso! His fast start has cost him, it seems.

Garate crosses the line a couple of seconds quicker than Belli, for fifth.

16:31 CEST   
Basso hammers down the descent, catching his two minute man Cristian Moreni (Quick.Step).

16:35 CEST   
Di Luca is pedaling quickly up the climb, alternating between the TT bars and the normal bars. He passes 15 km (not an official time check) in about 21:54.

Cunego is struggling on a steeper part of the climb.

Garzelli is 7th quickest at the top of the climb at km 18.

16:36 CEST   
Cioni has lost more than a minute at time check 2 (km 18). He's in 13th there.

16:39 CEST   
Savoldelli is now at km 28.6 in 40:48, after a great descent. That gives him the best time there.

Speaking of good times, Marzio Bruseghin finishes in 59:19 for second best. A solid ride for the Fassa rider.

Now Gonchar comes up to the finish. It hasn't been a great ride by his standards, but it's not bad. 59:22, just a bit slower than Bruseghin. Zabriskie still leads!

16:41 CEST   
Cunego is nearing the top of the climb now. He's cheered on by massive crowds, but his time won't be good enough to beat Basso. He's already 30 seconds slower.

16:42 CEST   
Cunego is 12th at the top, 54 seconds slower than Basso. He's got some work to do - Basso has already taken back the time he lost yesterday, and more.

16:43 CEST   
Di Luca flies over the top in 30'25, 26 seconds slower than Basso for fifth place.

16:45 CEST   
Di Luca dives down the descent, taking the first few hairpins very well. He's obviously ridden this once or twice. Cunego is further down, but he's probably going to lose 1'30-2'00 to Basso today.

16:47 CEST   
Andrea Noč (Liquigas) drives to the finish.

Cioni is 10th at km 28.6, losing 45 seconds to Savoldelli, who is the quickest at that point so far.

16:48 CEST   
Basso is third at the km 28.6 check! He's lost of a lot of time. He's behind both Savoldelli and teammate Zabriskie, who is looking good for a top three today...

16:49 CEST   
Zabriskie and Basso had the same time at the km 28.6 point.

Here's Simoni, also at km 28.6. He comes through in 41'55, 1'07 behind Savoldelli. Not bad.

16:50 CEST   
Basso has it all to do if he's to win this time trial. Savoldelli seems to be better on the flat and the descents.

Emmanuele Sella comes home in 1:01:31, a couple of seconds quicker than his teammate Lancaster.

16:51 CEST   
Basso is now riding through Florence, taking care to avoid works of art. There are quite a few here.

16:51 CEST   
Basso has 2 km to go. His time is already 56'30. He won't beat Zabriskie.

16:52 CEST   
Celestino comes past km 28.6 in 42'59, well off the pace.

Bettini finishes in 1:01:10, not bad! 12th so far.

16:52 CEST   
Basso has one km to go. 57'32.

16:54 CEST   
Cunego is at the km 28.6 check, 41'50, 1'02 slower than Savoldelli.

Basso drives it all the way home, but he won't beat his teammate, American TT Champ David Zabriskie. His final time is 58:48. Still that puts him in second place.

16:55 CEST   
Di Luca is through the km 28.6 check in 41'15, which is good for sixth place.

Savoldelli isn't going to beat Zabriskie!!

16:56 CEST   
Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) comes to the finish in 59'15, for third place.

Zabriskie wins the time trial. Extremely impressive ride for the Utah boy.

16:57 CEST   
We're still waiting on a few riders, and it remains to be seen who keeps the pink. At the moment, it looks like Di Luca.

16:59 CEST   
Cipollini is giving Di Luca some moral support from the team car. "Get your back flat. No wait, adjust your shades first. Image is everything. That's better. If you can't win, at least look the part." (Cipo managed to do both!)

17:01 CEST   
Cunego is now in the streets of Florence, but isn't looking at the scenery. He's looking at his heart rate, the road, the sweat pouring off his nose...you get the idea.

Di Luca looks good in pink.

17:03 CEST   
Garzelli comes to the finish, bandaged knee, in a time of 1:00:27, 1'56 slower than future time trial winner David Zabriskie (CSC).

17:05 CEST   
Mauricio Ardila (Lotto) is not well known for his time trialling, and finishes in 1:03:21.

Dario Cioni is a lot better, struggling though. He finishes in 1:00:27, exactly the same as Garzelli.

17:07 CEST   
The Cunego vs Di Luca title fight continues, and Di Luca's still got the advantage and therefore the pink. Unless he loses 1'27 to Basso...

17:08 CEST   
Gilberto Simoni has survived the TT without losing too much, but his time of 1:01:23 puts him 2'52 behind Zabriskie. He'll need to do a bit in the mountains. But he can.

17:09 CEST   
Cunego is under 2 km to go, really working to keep his speed up. But he'll be over the hour.

17:10 CEST   
Cunego now passes the crowds lining the streets and reaches 1 km to go in about 59'30.

17:12 CEST   
Celestino comes to the finish in 1:02:33 for 45th. That'll shift him down a few spots on GC.

Cunego follows him in in 1:00:55, losing 2'24 to Zabriskie and 2'07 to Basso, who will pass him on GC.

17:12 CEST   
Di Luca drives it out of the last corner...will Basso take pink?

17:15 CEST   
Di Luca finishes in 1:00:06, 1'35 slower than Zabriskie. He keeps pink, just... Basso now in second on GC.

Zabriskie wins the stage from Ivan Basso (+17) and Paolo Savoldelli (+44). Fantastic ride by the US TT champ from CSC. And Basso's work has more than erased the damage done yesterday.

17:23 CEST   
That wraps it up for today's eighth stage, an interesting 45 km time trial between Lamporecchio and Firenze. Basso is back, and Di Luca is still on top. Savoldelli is up there, Cunego and Simoni have a bit of work to do, as do Garzelli and Cioni.

We'll be back with tomorrow's ninth stage from Firenze to Ravenna at the usual time of 14:30 CEST. Bye from the blimp!


1 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC                              58.31
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                    0.17
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team    0.44
4 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                         0.48
5 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                         0.51
6 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears                         1.07
7 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner                             1.15
8 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                 1.23
9 Jan Hruska (Cze) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team                  1.34
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                               1.35
11 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                     1.56
12 Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas
General classification after stage 8
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                       36.06.47
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                       0.09
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team       0.35
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                             1.15
5 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                        1.27
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                         1.35
7 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                            1.38
8 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                            1.39    

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