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91st Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008

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Stage 13 - Friday, May 23: Modena - Cittadella, 177km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

Welcome back to Cyclingnews live coverage form the Giro d'Italia, where the sprinters hope for another day of glory, when they travel 177 kilometres from Modena to Cittadella on stage 13. The weather should be a bit better than yesterday, so let's hope for a save sprint.

14:07 CEST   
At 12:52 the riders took off, with the knowledge of having a flat stage and a good tailwind from the south pushing them along. One rider who couldn't start the day was CSF Group Navigare's Matteo Priamo, who was involved in the crash at the end yesterday. While the others (including sprinters Erik Zabel (Team Milram) and Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre) could continue, X-rays revealed that Priamo broke his elbow.

14:09 CEST    52km/125km to go
We currently have a two-man break, with Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) and Josu Agirre Aseginolaza (Euskaltel - Euskadi) pedaling some five minutes ahead of the peloton.

14:11 CEST   
So, the current list of riders who are out:

Stage 1 DNS: Maximiliano Richeze (CSF Group Navigare)
Stage 2 DNS: Igor Astarloa (Team Milram)
Stage 2 DNF: David Zabriskie (Slipstream Chipotle – H30)
Stage 3 DNF: Bradley McGee (Team CSC)
Stage 4 DNF: Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC)
Stage 4 DNF: Dominique Cornu (Silence-Lotto)
Stage 4 DNF: Tom Stubbe (Française des Jeux)
Stage 5 DNS: Nick Nuyens (Cofidis)
Stage 6 DNF: Enrico Poitschke (Team Milram)
Stage 6 DNF: Kevin De Weert (Cofidis)
Stage 6 DNF: Rene Mandri (AG2R La Mondiale)
Stage 7 DNF: Alberto Loddo (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Stage 7 DNF: Yauheni Hutarovich (Française des Jeux)
Stage 7 DNF: Aitor Galdos (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Stage 7 DNF: Patrick Calcagni (Barloworld)
Stage 8 DNF: Steve Morabito (Astana)
Stage 8 DNF: Sergio Ghisalberti (Milram)
Stage 9 DNF: Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Cofidis)
Stage 9 DNF: Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare)
Stage 10 DNS: Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Stage 10 DNS: Magnus Backstedt (Slipstream)
Stage 10 DNS: Steve Zampieri (Cofidis)
Stage 11 DNS: Francesco Bellotti (Barloworld)
Stage 11 DNS: Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner)
Stage 11 DNS: Geert Steurs (Silence - Lotto)
Stage 11 DNF: Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner)
Stage 11 DNF: Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre)
Stage 11 DNF: Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)
Stage 11 DNF: Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis)
Stage 13 DNS: Matteo Priamo (CSF Group Navigare)

14:15 CEST   
Fabio Sabatini (Team Milram) has retired from this year's Giro, adding to the previous list and making him the first DNF for stage 13.

14:21 CEST    63km/114km to go
The lead has gone out even more and is now at 6'14. Again, it is an Euskaltel rider who wants to avoid the sprint, but unlike yesterday, there are two in front. Not that it will stop the sprinters, who are probably more endangered by a crash, like yesterday, when Priamo, Lorenzetto and Zabel were removed from the mad dash to the line.

Buffaz (r) in the break during stage 9. Will he be able to hold on until the finish today?
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

14:24 CEST   
Mickaël Buffaz is not unknown to breaks, having been in the break of the day in stage 9. Will he have more success today or will it be another TV appearance appointment?

14:28 CEST   
The gap has gone up even further, and is now at 8'10. But the duo still has more than 100 kilometres left to go. On a nice, sunny day, the peloton is taking it easy and the riders are chatting to each other. The nice part of the race for most. How long will the truce last?

14:35 CEST   
What did Levi Leipheimer say – the attacks from Danilo Di Luca and Riccardo Riccò are for the TV cameras? Di Luca wanted to show off more today and attacked after 26 kilometres, without the TV crew in sight anywhere. But he was quickly brought back. To read more about Levi, check out the Cyclingnews interview.

14:37 CEST    66km/111km to go
After 66 kilometres, the gap for Buffaz and Aseginolaza is 8'24.

14:43 CEST    70km/107km to go
Well, that was it for the maximum gap of the day, looks like. After 70 kilometres, the gap is down to seven and a half minutes.

Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes) already won stage 7, but is not sure yet how tomorrow will go
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

14:45 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown spoke to Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes) before today's start. The Italian said that "The team will use me as a third person, behind Di Luca and Savoldelli. I don't know how I will go in the mountains. But other teams have three captains, too." It is only his second Grand Tour.

14:52 CEST    79km/98km to go
The gap has gone down to six minutes, as the peloton has definitely picked up the pace and rides single file. The tailwind must give them some ideas.

14:56 CEST   
Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen came in third yesterday. He told Gregor Brown that "I lack a bit of acceleration, due to the crash [in stage 11]. I had a hard time holding the acceleration of Bennati. Today, I will try again, before I go home tomorrow."

14:58 CEST    84km/93km to go
The average speed after two hours of racing is 42.2 km/h. And the peloton is on the break's heels, now only 5'15 behind.

15:03 CEST   
One reader has asked if Jens Voigt has gone home. It probably will take someone to cut off his legs before he will step off a bike, so no, Jens is still very much in the action. In fact, he tried to escape today, together with Markel Irizar Aranburu (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre), Raffaele Illiano (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) and Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems). They went after six kilometres and tried for some six or seven kilometres, but the gap never went past much more than a dozen seconds and they eventually gave up.

Marco Pinotti (High Road) wants a neutralised end to today's stage
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:06 CEST   
Marco Pinotti told Gregor Brown about a special trip this morning. "I went to the course director and asked him if the stage could be neutralised earlier, like it was done yesterday. Today, the finish is again very dangerous and we do a circuit around the city," before the finish line is hit. Pinotti is afraid of crashing and who can blame him? It may be sensible for the race directors to follow through on the request.

15:11 CEST    97km/80km to go
Twelve kilometres before the feed zone, the gap has dropped below the five-minute mark. It is not looking too good for the break, but at least they will reach the handout of the musettes before the others and will have less risk of crashing in the feed, which is a notorious danger zone.

15:16 CEST    98km/79km to go
Buffaz takes the intermediate sprint, ahead of Aseginolaza. There is not much of a competition. Will the field sprint for the remaining spots to get points? Buffaz has now 14 points and is only 2 points behind Roy, who leads that classification.

15:18 CEST   
The gap had dropped below the five-minute mark, but is now back to just above five minutes. The feed zone will interrupt the chase further, until all the riders in the peloton have sorted out their goodies. But after that the sprinters' teams will take charge of things.

15:20 CEST   
Buffaz is leading the Spaniard, but now swings over to the left to let the Euskaltel rider take a turn. The two have a quick conversation. Unlikely that they are trying to figure out the finishing order...

15:21 CEST    102km/75km to go
Visconti has a puncture, but the Quick Step team is quick to bring him back.

15:25 CEST   
Like yesterday, Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin is working hard at the front. He is leading the peloton's chase, hoping that sprinter Robert Förster will get another Giro win. He won in Milano a couple of years ago. There is actually not much slowing in the feed zone, as the soigneurs are trying to find their riders.

15:27 CEST    108km/69km to go
Bottles are flying to the right, as one Gerolsteiner rider successfully grabs the mussette. At those speeds it takes some skill to be able to grab the bag and not crash. One of the most frequent types of crashes in the feed zone is one rider throwing away the bag, but not far enough and another rider getting it caught in the front wheel.

Bennati on the left in his special jersey, the maglia ciclamino.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:29 CEST   
The field did sprint for the points and it was no other than the leader in the points classification, Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), who overtook everyone. He is wearing the maglia ciclamino.

Current race situation

  • Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) and Josu Agirre Aseginolaza (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
  • Peloton at 4.24

15:34 CEST    112km/65km to go
The gap of Buffaz and Aseginolaza is down to 4'24.

15:38 CEST   
While Simoni is joking with one of the photo reporters we will address Dave's question about Erik Zabel. The reason the German finished only 29th yesterday was a crash inside ten kilometres to go. Team-mate Marco Velo was waiting and paced Zabel back, but they didn't enter the bunch until five to go. Too much energy to waste to move up in those 60km/h finales. Hopefully he will be luckier today, but the final is flat
and it will be tough. There are many sprinters who can take. Obviously, Bennati is on a roll and Cavendish is not far off. McEwen will be motivated before going home.

15:39 CEST   
Simoni is done joking with the photo reporter. Now he shares a laugh with Paolo Bettini, who is riding on his right.

15:42 CEST   
So far, the sun has been out, but the clouds do not look promising. Bettini is gulping down a sports drink, while talking to team-mate Andrea Tonti. Despite the chatting the pace is high enough that the gap continues to shrink. The duo up front only has four minutes left.

15:49 CEST    120km/57km to go
Buffaz in second wheel doesn't seem to be happy with the Euskaltel rider's pace. He gives him a push, resting his hand on the Spaniard's rear side for several seconds. Buffaz then goes back to the team car to get a bottle, and also sharing a joke with his DS. They know now that they won't last.

Current race situation

  • Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) and Josu Agirre Aseginolaza (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
  • Peloton at 3.40

15:51 CEST   
Gregor Brown asked Gilberto Simoni if he will motivated tomorrow, in his home region. The Italian replied, "It doesn't change anything. This is my home race."

Gilberto Simoni is looking to tomorrow and the rest of the week
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:52 CEST   
Not so good news from the weather front. The spectators at the finish have their umbrellas out.

15:55 CEST   
Robbie McEwen looks relaxed. He is chatting with Alberto Contador. Are they talking about today's sprint strategies? It should be clear - McEwen in the thick of the action and Contador out of trouble.

15:56 CEST   
The leaders take a sharp right at full speed, while Di Luca hangs onto the team car and gets some advice – or rest. Or maybe both.

15:59 CEST    130km/47km to go
More conversation going on between Buffaz and Aseginolaza , who have extended their lead slightly, to 4'05, but the gap is dropping again. Currently it is 4'00.

Rebellin is chewing on a bar. Based on his facial expression it probably isn't the most tasty in the world.

16:02 CEST   
Aseginolaza also gets a bottle from his team car, while a few fans in pink jersey are going wild on the side of the road. So are the horses that are with them, but for different reasons. Fortunately, the horses stay inside their boundaries. It wouldn't be the first time that a four-legger mixes it up with the peloton.

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is doing a lot of work.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

16:04 CEST   
The peloton is riding along at 38 km/h, while the break can only do 36. The gap is currently some 2.3 kilometres. The gap has been reduced to 3'36.

16:06 CEST    134km/43km to go
The peloton passes the 45km to go banner. The gap is down to 3'15. They will get the two early. Maybe time for a counter attack?

16:07 CEST   
Sella attacks the peloton!

16:08 CEST    137km/40km to go
Sella is wearing the green jersey for the best climber. Maybe he has a feeling he will lose it tomorrow and that will be the last time he can show it off.

16:09 CEST   
Ah, no. It was a pre-arranged move to say hi to his family! A few hugs on the right hand side of the road, but the peloton is not far behind and Sella has to get going again.

16:15 CEST   
More bottles for Buffaz. And there is Jens Voigt in the peloton. He wears clear shades and is probably kicking himself for not being able to get into the move of the day. Bettini is taking another lunch break, while the gap has dropped below the two-kilometre mark. Visconti is chewing, too. This is the last opportunity, as soon the pace will be too high to eat.

Current race situation

  • Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) and Josu Agirre Aseginolaza (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
  • Peloton at 2.45
Jens Voigt did not make the break today, but will surely try again.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

16:17 CEST    142km/35km to go
The front riders have passed the 35km to sign, with the lead less than three minutes. Buffaz takes over. Both riders' pedaling styles reveal that they have been at the front for a while.

Lotto, Gerolsteiner, Milram, High Road. The usual suspects at the front.

16:20 CEST   
And of course Liquigas is at the front as well. Can Benna make it four?

16:22 CEST   
The two leaders take pulls of about 30-45 seconds. The exit of this roundabout is an opportunity to switch the lead again, as Buffaz is out of the saddle and drops back. Aseginolaza passes him on the left.

16:25 CEST    147km/30km to go
Aseginolaza seems done. Buffaz leaves him behind, but the Spaniard fights back and reaches the Cofidis rider again, just before they pass the 30km to go sign. The gap is at two minutes.

16:27 CEST   
The peloton has to master several speed bumps. That doesn't look like fun. A Barloworld rider has put on a vest, expecting rain. Baldato is slightly off the front. That move was unclear, as Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) leads the peloton back up to the Lampre rider.

Can Mark Cavendish win again?
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

16:33 CEST    153km/24km to go
And there is Mark Cavendish. Will he finally get his birthday present today? Aussie Adam Hansen told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown at the start that "I will work for Cavendish again. I will likely pull from five to 1.5 km to go. Yesterday, I went until 1.8km to go."

This brings up John's observation that High Road seems to run out of steam before they can put together a real lead-out. However, as Cavendish has shown with his win already, he may be requiring more help until the last kilometre, not inside it. At any rate, it should be an interesting sprint!

16:36 CEST    154km/23km to go
There is no rain for the moment at the finish, but the road is wet and it could be still very dangerous.

16:37 CEST   
The leaders have reached the wet roads. They have entered the Provincia di Padova.

16:39 CEST   
The organisers are still busy preparing the finish line. it's about time. The peloton will go over it twice. The first time at km 171. Then they have another six to go, before the sprint finish. Or will a last minute flyer on the twisty city course succeed?

16:41 CEST   
That looks interesting, a tight left hand turn with a big concrete divider in the middle of the road, But no crashes – that was close, though, and required the full concentration of all the riders.

The peloton is bunched up, so the pace has slowed a bit. They are still going 48, compared to the break's 42 km/h

16:43 CEST    158km/19km to go
The wind is coming form the right. The pace is back up and the echelon is formed. Zabel is in there, while a Lotto rider brings McEwen further up to the front.

16:45 CEST   
Quick Step is now leading the bunch. The sun has come back out again. The complete team of the race leader Visconti is now pulling, with Hubert Schwab in first place.

16:46 CEST    162km/15km to go
The peloton can see the break, as the two pass the 15km to go sign. Only 33 seconds left.

16:47 CEST   
Aseginolaza wipes his nose. A strong effort form the two, but of course the sprinters were too eager to get this one and there was no chance they could stay away. Buffaz turns around and checks on the gap. 200m...

16:48 CEST   
AG2R is moving up on the left, with Gerolsteiner in tow. Contador sits in the middle, thinking about tomorrow - and about not crashing again. He is riding with a fracture in his elbow...

16:50 CEST    164km/13km to go
Buffaz and Aseginolaza shake hands. The Spaniard takes his sunglasses, as Buffaz smiles and gestures to him to move ahead of him to the right, so they won't impede the fast-moving peloton.

16:51 CEST    167km/10km to go
We see Ermanno Capelli (Saunier Duval - Scott) in the bunch. He wears a black back number. Black? Yes, he is the marked last man in GC, a somewhat honourable placing and he will do everything to defend. He may even do the time trial slower than usual...

16:54 CEST   
The pace is definitely high now. Liquigas, High Road, Quick Step – what a mess!

16:55 CEST    170km/7km to go
The peloton leaves the highway to the exit on the right. The sky is threateningly dark. Milram and sprinter team Slipstream at the front.

16:56 CEST   
The bunch passes the red banner for the first time. There is a sharp right and the commissaire waves his red flag like crazy to calm the bunch.

16:56 CEST    171km/6km to go
Liquigas leads the bunch across the finish. The noise is unbelievable.

16:57 CEST   
And there comes High Road, as predicted.

16:57 CEST   
The red flag is still out. The speed is 61 km/h!

16:57 CEST    172km/5km to go
Now it is Ag2R on the front. What happened to High Road? 5 to go.

16:58 CEST   
There is a small gap between the first ten riders and the rest. It will be closed, but it takes extra energy for the sprinters. How can this AG2R rider still drink???

16:59 CEST    173km/4km to go
There is Hansen, leading it out now for High Road.

16:59 CEST    174km/3km to go
The tension rises. From the riders, the commissaires and the spectators.

17:00 CEST   
There are four High Road riders on front. One pulls off now. Less than 3km to go. I

17:01 CEST   
A sharp right. Hansen lead. Bennati, McEwen, Cav, Bettini, Zabel - they are all there.

17:01 CEST   
Koldo Fernandez, too

17:01 CEST   
Julian Dean and David Millar are there too.

17:02 CEST    176km/1km to go
Zabel is trying to get into line.

17:02 CEST   
Ongarato is pulling for Zabel. The last turn!

17:02 CEST   
No crashes in this right hand turn. Milram is strong!

17:02 CEST   
Bennati in third, behind Zabel.

17:03 CEST   
Martin pulls for Cav, but he goes for another wheel.

Bennati starts the sprint!

17:04 CEST   
Cav has moved over to the left and sprints hard. Can Benna hold?

17:04 CEST   
Cavendish comes past everyone very strongly!

17:04 CEST   
Cav gives it all...

17:05 CEST   
And he takes it!!!! He gets his belated birthday present. In the end he has two bike lengths!!!

17:05 CEST   
Zabel was Benna's wheel, but could not get past. Fernandez slips in for third.

17:12 CEST   
What a sprint by Cavendish. He decided to not go for Martin's wheel, instead watching his left hand side and jumping behind Benna and Zabel. Benna started the sprint and it looked as if Cav may get squeezed in. But the sprint moved over the the left and Cavendish could freely sprint. Zabel stayed with Benna, but could not get around. In the end, Fernandez of Euskaltel came up on the left, and it looked like he passed Zabel for third.

17:15 CEST   
At the finish, Bennati and Cavendish were hugging each other. The two are likely to battle it out for the next few years. In the Giro, it is 3:2 for the Italian.

Cavendish has some trouble on the podium, figuring out the kissing order, but he eventually gets his kiss. And the champagne, He also stays upright, which doesn't always happen for him on the podium...

So this is it for the sprinters. McEwen will go home, the others will step into the bus - the autobus that forms in the mountains. Expect some fireworks tomorrow. We hope you can join us again tomorrow for the exciting stage 14.

Stay tuned for more reports later. It looks like several favourites, including Di Luca, Savoldelli and Klöden, have lost over a minute to the rest!

Thanks for reading.

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