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91st Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008

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Stage 4 - Tuesday, May 13: Pizzo Calabro - Catanzaro-Lungomare, 183km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

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

14:33 CEST   
Welcome to day four of the Corsa Rosa.

The Giro d'Italia is back on the country's mainland where it will stay for the remainder of the race. Kicking off from Italy's toe is a stage of 183 kilometres from Pizzo Calabro to Catanzaro-Lungomare. The Corsa Rosa has arrived in Catanzaro five times, but the last time was in 1996 when Pascal Hervé took top honours.

The last kilometres of today's stage are flat, but that 300-plus-metre riser to the city's centre will break up affairs. It is likely strong men like World Champion Paolo Bettini will be battling over the Viadotto Morandi that spans the Fiumarella valley at the chance of a stage win along the Ionian Sea.

14:35 CEST    53km/130km to go
Belgium's Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) is leading the race with 9'15" on the peloton at kilometre 53.

14:38 CEST   
It was a hard day yesterday for Team CSC. It lost Bradley McGee and Stuart O'Grady, the former did not finish yesterday's stage, while O'Grady did not start this morning in Pizzo Calabro.

Here is a list of the riders who are no longer in the Giro:
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)

14:42 CEST    58km/125km to go
At 125 kilometres to race Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) has 8'55" on the peloton. It will be a hard day in Reggio Calabria for the lone rider; after topping the Passo di Pietra Spada (km 64), he will have to battle winds and an aggressive peloton. Winner of yesterday's stage, sprinter Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), is anxious to repeat.

14:50 CEST   
Gerolsteiner's DS Christian Henn told Cyclingnews that he expects things to start out slowly and quietly today, "due to the exorbitant transfers."

Gerolsteiner spokesman Jörg Grünefeld confirmed to Cyclingnews that Andrea Moletta was the team's only crash victim yesterday, "but thank god, no serious injuries!" Moletta had that nasty crash in last year's Milano-Sanremo and again this year has made contact with the pavement a number of times.

If it comes to a sprint today, Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster will look for another chance, after finishing 12th yesterday. "'Frösi' got stuck in the bunch and had no chance to sprint all out," Gerolsteiner spokesman Jörg Grünefeld told Cyclingnews. The surprise fourth place finisher was Thomas Fothen, "who did very, very well, especially considering that he was only supposed to bring 'Frösi' into position."

14:52 CEST    61km/122km to go
With three kilometres from the GPM (Gran Premio della Montagna) the time gap is 9'20".

14:55 CEST    64km/119km to go
The gap from Verbrugghe to the gruppo is 9'30" over the top of the Passo di Pietra Spada.

15:02 CEST   
If you are in the area you should try the 'Morseddhu,' which is a tripe and offal (heart and lungs here - ed.) cooked with red wine and a lot of chilli peppers.

15:06 CEST   
Verbrugghe, from Helecine, has been a professional since 1996. You will remember his grand Giro d'Italia in 2001; while riding for Lotto he won the prologue in Pescara and went on to spend four days in the maglia rosa. That year he set the record speed for a prologue at 58.874km/h!

He also won a stage in the 2002 Giro, in Versilia.

15:12 CEST   
Race leader Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) confirmed, according to Agr, that there may be a strike of sorts today. The riders are not happy about last night's transfer to the mainland and the number of transfers in the 91st Giro d'Italia.

"We have talked with Bettini, Rebellin and the other senators to decide how, but also what we will do; maybe pedal slowly at the beginning of the stage," commented Pellizotti. No news about a slow start has been reported, but we will keep you updated.

In addition to the long transfer last night, which made for late showers and massages, there were numerous crashes in what many riders attributed to a dangerous stage three parcours.

15:13 CEST    77km/106km to go
Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) is gaining time and now leads by 10 minutes at kilometre 77. He will soon enter the town of Pazzano.

15:22 CEST   
We forgot to mention that Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) also won stage seven of the 2006 Giro d'Italia to Saltara, exactly two years ago to the day.

15:28 CEST   
The acid green team of Liquigas is leading the race for Franco Pellizotti.

15:31 CEST   
Liquigas leads the team rankings and its rider Franco Pellizotti leads the general classification over USA's Christian Vande Velde (Slipstream Chipotle - H30).

15:33 CEST    98km/85km to go
The riders are close to the feed zone of Monasterace Marina.

15:38 CEST    102km/81km to go
Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), winner of yesterday's stage, is joins Pellizotti in wearing a leader's jersey. 'Benna' leads the points classification and wears the maglia ciclamino.

Morris Possoni (High Road) wears the maglia bianca of best young rider. Emanuele Sella (CSF Group Navigare) wears the maglia verde of the best climber.

The average after three hours is 34.3km/h

15:42 CEST    108km/75km to go
The riders are riding, in Guardavalle Marina, with the Ionian Sea on their right as they head towards Catanzaro. The gap has not fallen much, it is at 9'42".

15:48 CEST   
Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) is 184th in the classification at just over 18 minutes back. He has his hands in the drops after finishing off a Coca-cola handed to him from the team car.

15:51 CEST    108km/75km to go
Our on site reporter Shane Stokes noted that Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) went on the attack from the gun (or drop of the flag). He looks strong but he is going to have a hard time keep his advantage until the arrival in Catanzaro.

Milram has moved to the front of the peloton.

15:54 CEST   
Stokes spoke with Mark Cavendish (High Road) at the start today. "It was quite messy at the end," the rider said of yesterday's stage. "It was just one of those things. Even with 400 metres to go I thought I had a chance. It was dangerous... I was in a good position, but unfortunately I picked the wrong wheel to follow, the Russians. They went down the left, but it would have been better to have gone down the right. It is a risk you take.

"My legs are okay. They are sore today [indicates near groin - ed.] after the crash. I went down in the big one with about 60 kilometres to go. It was wet roads, somebody might have hit their front brake or something and everybody came down."

He continued, "I hope that maybe today there could be a sprint. It might be hard – it goes up that hill on the run-in, but if I start at the front maybe I will hang in there. I don't know."

Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:58 CEST   
"No comment, it was too long and too difficult. We are already tired," said Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld) to Rai, who is also writing a Giro d'Italia diary for Cyclingnews.

16:02 CEST   
In the calm before the storm 2007 Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) changes bikes. He spends a lot of time at the team cars because he does not use a race radio. He is currently talking to the directeur sportif driving car number 25, number three in the caravan today.

16:11 CEST    128km/55km to go
A light rain has started to fall at kilometre 128. Look for the domestiques to be heading back to the team cars to get the rain caps for their captains, while the roadside tifosi have out their umbrellas.

'The Killer' paused for a drink: Danilo Di Luca, while back at the car also had time to drink a caffč.

16:13 CEST    133km/50km to go
Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) takes in a power gel as he enters the final 50 kilometres of the race. He hold 9'40" over the peloton.

16:19 CEST    138km/45km to go
Verbrugghe is holding the gap at 8'58" at 45 kilometres remaining. His maximum gap was up to 11 minutes.

16:20 CEST   
He is taking on another power gel while his DS cleans his glasses.

16:25 CEST   
The pace is heating up and the riders' faces are showing pain.

Shane Stokes of Cyclingnews spoke with the winner of the 2007 Vuelta a Espańa before the race. "I am feeling okay at the moment, but it is before the start," Denis Menchov of Rabobank joked. "My legs are getting better and better. I think that stage seven will be the first big day. It is not the most important stage, but it is the first one that matters."

He said that he will not compete again before the Tour de France. "After this race, I will have one week rest and then I will see some of the Tour stages."

16:28 CEST    143km/40km to go
Verbrugghe, 33 years old, enters into the final 40 kilometres. The gruppo is at 45 kilometres to go. The Belgian, riding in a 53-14 gear, is being cheered on as the chase is gearing up with Milram and Euskaltel doing the most of the muscle work.

16:29 CEST   
Charles Wegelius (Liquigas) leads the peloton for team-mate Franco Pellizotti.

16:36 CEST    148km/35km to go
Verbrugghe now has his hands on his brake hoods. As the kilometres pass, he looks more and more likely to make it to the line solo. He has been a professional since 1996 and knows what it takes to stay clear in the closing kilometres of a race this big; he will start to feel the heat of the sprinters' engines revving higher and higher.

The gap is now 6'13" (-35) as the fans welcome him to Catanzaro where he will start a 30 kilometre loop.

16:38 CEST   
Bingen Fernández (Cofidis) has a bit of a misfortune and is forced to change his wheel.

16:39 CEST   
Tinkoff is moving to the front.

16:43 CEST    153km/30km to go
The sky is dark but the rain is holding off.

Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis), travelling at 35km/h, is taking another power gel from his directeur sportif. At the other end of the race, Alessandro Spezialetti (LPR Brakes) is entering back into the gruppo after a mechanical.

16:47 CEST    153km/30km to go
The gap has taken a big dive and is now at 3'55" at 30 kilometres remaining. With that bit of lose it looks like Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) will not add stage win number four to his palmarčs.

We see McEwen moving towards the front.

16:50 CEST    158km/25km to go
Verbrugghe enters the final 25 kilometres. He keeps taking on board food but it is a little late to put energy into the system now. Soon the tall Belgian will be crushed and spit out the back of this fast moving gruppo.

16:53 CEST   
The gruppo enters the final 25 kilometres 2'48" behind Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis). Barloworld is sending its men to the front of the charge. It is concerned with keeping Mauricio Soler out of trouble and a chance at a stage win, maybe for Enrico Gasparotto.

16:55 CEST   
Quick Step is adding its men to the chase as well.

16:57 CEST   
Barloworld DS Volpi claims that his men are at the front only to stay out of trouble following yesterday's stage.

Meanwhile, Italian Champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) heads the charge.

16:58 CEST   
Visconti eases up on this small rise. We see LPR moving to the front of the group as well. This stage should end in a sprint, but who knows, let's wait and see.

17:02 CEST    164km/19km to go
Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) is caught at kilometre 164 and it is now gruppo compatto.

17:04 CEST   
A small group has formed off the front after Verbrugghe was caught at the top of that climb, which reached 335 metres. LPR Brakes leads the race after 4:30' of racing.

We should see this second group re-enter with the leaders, who are travelling at 69km/h.

17:06 CEST    169km/14km to go
The peloton heads through the Fiumarella valley at 14 kilometres to go. Di Luca yells at his men to slow down the pace.

17:09 CEST   
World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) shoots free.

17:10 CEST   
He is joined by seven or eight others, including Emanuele Sella (CSF Group Navigare).

17:12 CEST    173km/10km to go
The move is snuffed out by Team LPR.

17:14 CEST   
Erik Zabel (Team Milram) must be thinking how he can handle Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) today. Yesterday, the experience German fell short to the power surge of Italy's emerging sprinter 'Benna,' who was schooled by none other than Mario Cipollini.

17:16 CEST    176km/7km to go
High Road hits the front, led by Pinotti.

Caisse d'Epargne team is chasing back on after what seems to be a misfortune for José Rujano. Vladimir Karpets remains in the gruppo while his team-mates are chasing back.

17:16 CEST   
Behind the men of High Road is Team Lampre.

17:19 CEST    179km/4km to go
Team Lampre takes over from USA's High Road with four kilometres to go. The road conditions at this point are perfect. The Cyclingnews Ferrari is riding so smoothly.

17:21 CEST   
The race is now in its final three kilometres. High Road is back at the front for Cavendish, while Team Milram is now in second position for Zabel.

17:21 CEST    181km/2km to go
Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) takes control. Hansen is right behind him.

17:21 CEST   
The race goes through a right-hand turn.

17:22 CEST    182km/1km to go
Milram now has control.

17:22 CEST   
Milram does a slow-mo lead out. Bennati is in fourth position.

A big crash!

17:23 CEST   
Mark Cavendish (High Road) is there beside Bennati.

17:23 CEST   
Bennati opens it up...

17:23 CEST   
Cavendish is able to come around the Italian's left and wins the stage. Bravo Cavendish!

17:27 CEST   
Nick Nuyens (Cofidis) is one of the victims. He enters an ambulance. The crash also involved two CSF riders.

17:28 CEST   
Zabel's man led out long but the German could not follow through as Bennati (3rd) opened up the gas. Cavendish worked up on the Italian's left. Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner), was left of Cavendish, and finished second.

17:29 CEST   
Fourth was Assan Bazayev (Astana) and fifth Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre).

17:34 CEST   
Thanks for joining Cyclingnews today. Please check back for a full report and news regarding today's stage and all Giro d'Italia happenings.

Provisional results

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) High Road
2 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas

6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
7 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence-Lotto

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