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Photo ©: Bettini

92nd Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 9-31, 2009

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Stage 9 - Sunday, May 17: Milano Show 100, 165km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer

13:57 CEST   
Today's course is basically a criterium through downtown Milan. Some curves, some long straightaways and some very tight corners. A lot of people will be going all out today and we are afraid we will see any number of crashes. Hopefully there won't be any serious injuries.

14:09 CEST   
Things got underway promptly at 13:30 this afternoon, on a hot and sunny day. The sign-in was at the cathedral, right under the Duomo's famous spires.

14:12 CEST   
We are happy to start off our report today with some good news. Rabobank reports that Pedro Horrillo has come out of his induced coma, can be spoken to, and has moved his arms and legs. His wife will be arriving sometime today. He is still in very serious condition, though, and we send him all our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

14:13 CEST    20km/143km to go
The first round of the course is completed, and everyone is all together. We had our first crash of the day, Markus Fothen of Milram and Serafain Martinez (Xacobeo), but they got up and going again.

14:21 CEST   
Our man at the race, Gregor Brown, told us the sun was shining at the start, but it may not stay that way. It is supposed to get quite warm, but the partly-cloudy morning is scheduled to give way to showers and a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. The chance of rain is 60%.

14:25 CEST   
Check out our competition for today – pick today's podium and win a Columbia-Highroad jersey signed by their Giro squad. Sounds easy, right? Well, we've been trying to give this thing away for several days now! Just sign up with
our forum and go for it!

14:29 CEST   
Once again, our apologies for the lack of news. We simply aren't getting the information to pass along to you!

However, we do know that so far no one has broken away or even attempted to. Do you think the whole 190-man strong peloton will stay together in a big bunch all afternoon? Somehow we find that hard to believe.

Boasson Hagen at the centre of the attention
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

14:34 CEST   
We wish a very Happy Birthday to Columbia-Highroad's Edvald Boasson Hagen, who today reaches the grand old age of 22. Not that he's done anything worth mentioning in the Giro so far ..... All kidding aside, he won the team time trial with the team, has finished second twice and won Friday's seventh stage – and all that only as a 21-year-old.

14:37 CEST   
Milan is Italy's second largest city, the capital of the province of Milan and the regional capital of Lombardy. The city itself has a population of about 1.3 million, but the whole metropolitan area is estimated to be about 7.4 million, making it Italy's largest.

14:42 CEST   
Astana DS Viatcheslav Ekimov sees the week of the Giro as a warm-up for his team's podium candidate, Levi Leipheimer. "I think Levi is in great shape and holds a perfect position. For us, the Giro starts on the day of the TT," he said. "We have been in the race but have not pulled a metre yet."

14:46 CEST   
The guys don't seem to be in much of a hurry today. The first lap went by at a time of 33.370 km/h, which is significantly lower than the slowest planned speed of 42 km/h. Will we still be sitting here at midnight, writing "still no escape attempts"?

14:50 CEST   
What do we think of when we think Milan? Being female, we naturally think of fashion. And shopping! Did you know that Milan has what is reputed to be the world's oldest shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele? Oh dear, our credit card is starting to itch....

14:54 CEST   

Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank is sporting a new jersey today, in celebration of the 100-year Giro jubilee. The jersey sports the Italian tricolour on the sleeves and collar, right along with the traditional orange, white and blue.

Another new feature is the logo of Right to Play, a world-wide children's charity. The team will auction off not only these jerseys, but also Denis Menchov's bike, signed by all the team members, in order to raise funds for this worthwhile cause.

Team Columbia-Highroad also supports Right to Play.

14:58 CEST   
Here's another fashion note. The english word "millinery," which refers to women's hats, comes from the name Milan.

Lance Armstrong on Piazza Duomo in Milan.
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

15:02 CEST    43km/120km to go
And once more across the finish line for the large group. LPR is in the front of things, as they continue on at their comfortable 33.440 km/h pace.

15:07 CEST   
Today's stage is not one for the climbers. In fact, "flat as a pancake" is the phrase that comes to mind. It is not really totally flat, though, the altitude changes from 117 meters to 126 meters. But we imagine even the sprinters will survive that altitude difference with no problem.

15:11 CEST   
The opera house here is the world-famous La Scala, which opened in 1788. Mozart wrote three operas here, and it premiered operas by Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Verdi.

15:13 CEST   
Here is another injury update with some good news: Garmin-Slipstream's Christian Vande Velde is coming along fine. "I’m taking it day by day. The first couple of days were excruciating but the pain is getting more manageable," he said. "I’m going to keep working with the team’s medical staff and let them determine when I can get back on the bike." No word at all as to when that might be, and DS Matt White emphasises that it is important that CVV take all the time he needs to heal properly.

15:16 CEST   
The stage today has been neutralized, by the way. The riders complained that the course was too dangerous. So we can expect a sprint, but we may well see a large bunch hang back and let the sprinters fight it out among themselves. Which is what the sprinters prefer anyway.

That means we won't see any changes in the GC or jerseys (barring something awful happening, which of course we don't hope.)

15:20 CEST   
Milan was first settled in about 400 BC by the Celts, with the Romans taking over in in 222 BC. The city has been through the Visigoths, the Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Longobards and the Franks. Eventually it became part of the Holy Roman Empire. Other conquerers moved in (and out) over the centuries, with Austria taking over in 1713. Napoleon later took over and was in fact crowned in the Duomo (cathedral), but after him, the city went back to Austria. It became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

15:24 CEST   
Today's course is not the traditional closing circuit in Milan. But of course, you will remember that the race did not have that traditional end last year either. The 2007 closing stage was a 28.5 km long individual time trial.

15:28 CEST   
Jean Francois Quenet spoke with Boasson Hagen before the stage today. The young Norwegian said,"Today is my birthday and Norway's national day, but the most important for me is the stage of the Giro. I'm here to help Mark Cavendish to win. This is the priority, not the cyclamen jersey that I'm wearing now."

15:30 CEST   
Hm, we think we have figured out the rationale for the slow pace today. Are they thinking, "You can make us ride this dangerous course, but you can't make us ride it fast"?

15:33 CEST   
The riders have said this is a dangerous stage, and there have certainly been complaints about other stages, too. How about yesterday's finish? That had the potential for some ugly situations, which fortunately didn't happen.

Here's what one pro has to say about the situation: Silence-Lotto's Cadel Evans is sitting the Giro out, but is watching it and twittering away. As for yesterday's finale, he said, "Nice final for the Giro stage again... NOT! 'Drama' seems to be the course theme in Italy this year. Looks like it would suit Robbie McEwen."

15:35 CEST   
The peloton just dawdled over the finish line, and they are going slower than ever! NO NO NO! Come on, guys...... The previous lap was 33,440 km/h, but the most recent one was 33.081 km/h.

15:38 CEST   
In Italy you always eat well. Here in Lombardy you will find more rice than pasta and virtually no tomatoes. But you will find the "cotoletta alla milanese", a fried, breaded veal cutlet, and other main dishes like cassoeula (stewed pork rib chops and sausage with Savoy cabbage), ossobuco (stewed veal shank with a sauce called gremolata), risotto alla milanese (with saffron and beef marrow), busecca (stewed tripe with beans), and brasato (stewed beef or pork with wine and potatoes).

15:40 CEST   
Things have been going well for Team Columbia-Highroad lately – how about four wins in two days? Yes, that's right, the men in yellow aren't the only ones with winning ways.

The women in yellow are underway in France, and dominating the Tour de L'Aude. Linda Villumsen won the prologue on Friday, and turned over the leader's jersey to teammate Ina-Yoko Teutenberg on Saturday, as the German won the first stage. It was Teutenberg’s 16th stage win in this race, dating back to 1997.

15:48 CEST   
Now what???? Six laps to go, and the peloton comes to a stop before it crosses the finish line! Di Luca is making a statement over a microphone....

15:49 CEST   
Di Lucas is now talking to the race organizer, but we are still waiting for a translation of his remarks. Nothing is happening.

15:49 CEST   
There they go, finally!

15:51 CEST   
The Giro and Milan are nearly inseparable. The first Giro started out from here in 1909, at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m or so. Some 397 kms and 14 hours later, Dario Beni won, believe it or not, a sprint in Bologna to take the win. The Giro has been back here 81 times since then.

This stage will not go down in history as one of the great ones, though.

15:53 CEST   
Well, they're riding again but at a very leisurely pace -- even I could keep up them!

Good grief they are down to 32 km/h.

15:56 CEST   
Cyclingnews can report that Dario Cioni was inside the Astana bus for around 10 minutes this morning, maybe talking to Armstrong about the annulment of the stage? Armstrong seemed to be involved in the action. Cioni, of course, is one of the rider reps at the ProTour Council.

15:58 CEST   
We now have a translation of Di Luca's remarks. He said "We are going on. We wanted to stop and say thanks for your presence, but we don't feel the need to risk it anymore. The circuit is not adapted to our security."

16:01 CEST   
Damiano Cunego is exhausted from the day's strenuous activities and calls for his team car. Well, now it looks like he is having a long chat rather than getting something to eat or drink.

16:02 CEST   
No surprise as to who has won here in Milan the most often: the great Mario Cipollini, five times. Behind him are Alfredo Binda and Alessandro Petacchi, both of whom have three wins. Will "Ale-Jet“ win today to move into second place alone?

And now the clouds are moving in.....

16:07 CEST   
The Duomo, Milan's cathedral, is the third largest cathedral in the world. It was built between 1386 and 1577, and has the world's largest collection marble statues.

16:11 CEST   
LPR is sharing the honours today. Lampre is now leading the way.

Lots of riders hanging on to various cars talking to various people.

16:14 CEST   
Once more across the finish line, with Columbia moving in to help Lampre tow the bunch across the line.

16:21 CEST   
Giro organiser Angelo Zomengnan has said, "I don't agree with the riders on this decision. If this circuit is dangerous, then races like Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège should be canceled."

16:25 CEST   
To recap where we are:

The riders decided that the city circuit course through Milan, with its tight corners and cobbled roads, was simply too dangerous. Organisers decided, apparently before the stage, that it would be neutralized. That means, no changes in GC – basically nothing except for a stage win. The riders are protesting by riding as slowly as they can and riding in a bunch. They stopped at one point and Di Luca made a statement on the situation, apologizing to the crowd.

16:26 CEST   
Katusha has moved into the lead and things seem to be moving a bit more quickly -- or is that just wishful thinking?

16:32 CEST   
Team Columbia-Highroad is not doing at all badly here in the Giro. How's that for an understatement? Three stage wins, three days in the maglia rosa, and second and third overall at the moment. That's not enough? Then let's add the young rider's jersey and the fastest team leads, too.

16:33 CEST   
The peloton now heads up the Corso Bueneos Aires. No, don't worry, they haven't jumped across the ocean to Brazil!

16:40 CEST   
Wow, things are moving faster now! They are up to a whopping 33.980 km/h now!

16:41 CEST   
Hm, Edvald Boasson Hagen won on Friday, and Kanstantsin Siutsou won Saturday. So which Columbia rider will take today's victory? You have to think of Mark Cavendish, who still has something to prove – he hasn't yet won a sprint in this year's Giro.

But let's not automatically award the prize to Cavendish quite yet. There are some other good sprinters here who would like to stand on the podium this afternoon. Does the name Petacchi ring a bell?

16:43 CEST   
"I don't agree with the riders on this decision," said race director Angelo Zomegnan. "I think that this decision is taken on the back of yesterday's dramatic crash. Yesterday, we scaled back the jersey and stage presentations due to the incident and out of respect [for Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank)]."

"Evidently, they [the riders] find this circuit dangerous. If this circuit is dangerous, then races like Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège should be canceled.

"In some ways the public has been cheated and I hope that the riders begin to race in the last five laps for the passionate people here."

16:44 CEST   
Brown sends us an update on Horrillo: "The situation is stable," said the doctor at the Bergamo hospital. "If all goes well, after seven or eight days, he can return home.

"The only problem at this point is the possibility that the situation changes and there is a blood clot [in his leg, where they will operate - ed.]."

16:47 CEST   
Manuele Mori of Lampre just got some repairs on his bike. We always wince when we see the mechanics hanging out the car window and over a bike like that.

16:48 CEST    108km/55km to go
Mori is back for more repairs, but now he heads back to the peloton. Don't think he has to worry about catching up!

16:48 CEST   
My goodness, things have really picked up -- 37 km/h! Will we actually see some sort of a race today after all?

16:51 CEST   
An Acqua & Sapone is at the head of the peloton. The speed has picked up, but no one team is particularly doing anything.

16:53 CEST   
A Milram rider moves up to the front now.

16:54 CEST   
But Lampre has things under control, with a Katusha rider in there, too.

16:55 CEST   
Barloworld jumps to the front now.

16:56 CEST   
That is Barloworld is lined up behind a Garmin rider. They are approaching the day's intermediate sprint, so the speed has jumped all the way to 51 km/h.

16:57 CEST   
Or perhaps not? The Garmin rider has disappeared.

16:59 CEST   
Three laps to go!

17:00 CEST    121km/42km to go
We don't know what happened with the intermediate sprint. It seems to have not taken place. Again, our apologies for the confusing situation.

17:02 CEST   
Julien Belgey of BBox Bouygues is now at the head of the parade. Oops, as we type that, he is replaced. Things seem to be starting to happen!

17:02 CEST   
Two Garmin riders are now near the front, with the tempo at 51 km/h.

17:03 CEST   
Team Saxo Bank is looking for its first stage win today, DS Torsten Schmidt said "we have a good chance of being in the front and JJ Haedo and Matthew Goss will hopefully show their sprinting skills."

17:05 CEST   
Another reason for the riders' protest is the cars parked on the course.

17:07 CEST   
How did yesterday's stage go for Astana's Levi Leipheimer? "Gave it a go in today's stage with Mick Rogers and Chris Horner, it didn't work out but it was a lot of fun," he twittered yesterday.

17:08 CEST   
A mechanical for a Cervelo rider. The speed has picked up, but he ought to catch the bunch easily enough.

17:08 CEST   
Danilo Di Luca and his all pink outfit are very visible at the front now.

17:10 CEST   
Carlos Sastre of Cervelo, looking very skinny, moves his way up through the peloton.

17:12 CEST   
Speaking of Cervelo and Sastre: According to Jean-Paul van Poppel, DS at Cervelo TestTeam, today's stage is “is more like a crit. But for us, we hope that the sprinters teams control the race, and that we don’t have any trouble. The main aim is to keep Carlos in the best position so that he doesn’t lose any time."

"Carlos" is, of course, Carlos Sastre, who is currently in seventh place overall, 1:24 down. And he won't lose any time today, that's for sure.

17:14 CEST   
The riders are heading back towards the Corso Buenos Aires. Yes, we know it is in Argentina, and not in Brazil -- we were just testing you to see if you were still awake.

Or something....

17:17 CEST   
Aha, now we know what happened to the intermediate sprint which we lost before! It hasn't taken place yet! We couldn't read our documents properly and promise to go to the doctor for new reading glasses. The sprint is to happen the next time the peloton crosses the finish line, that is, with two laps to go.

17:22 CEST   
They are now into the second to last lap. Obviously they crossed the finish line and hit the intermediate sprint, but the Giro doesn't seem to be inclined to let us know who won it.

17:24 CEST   
This is starting to look like a bike race today! The field is really moving now.

Four Columbia riders are near the front -- they are most likely thinking of launching Mark Cavendish for a sprint a little later on.

17:24 CEST   
Ronny Scholz of Milram has a flat rear tire and calls for help.

17:26 CEST   
You know who Scholz' father-in-law is: Hans-Micheal Holczer, former manager of Team Gerolsteiner.

17:27 CEST   
None other than Alessando Petacchi took the intermediate sprint.

17:29 CEST   
At least the good weather has held today. If the expected showers or thunderstorms had occurred, who knows what might have happened to the race.

17:32 CEST   
ISD has moved to the front of the finally-fast-moving peloton.

17:32 CEST   
Eight riders have dropped out of the race so far. from seven teams. Ag2r is the only team who has lost two riders. Those teams one down are Caisse d'Epargne, Fuji-Servetto, Garmin-Slipstream, ISD, Milram and Xacobeo.

17:35 CEST   
The riders are finally swinging around the corners at speed, with numerous teams represented near the front. At 53 km/h, they are no longer fooling around!

17:36 CEST   
1000 metres to the finish line -- for the start of the bell round.

17:37 CEST    147.8km/15.2km to go
Now the race will really start! Which team will be able to bring its sprinter best into position on this difficult course?

17:38 CEST   
Columbia's Mick Rogers finished fourth yesterday, losing some valuable bonus seconds to Danilo Di Luca. It doesn't seem to have bothered him, though, as he wrote on Twitter, "Another great day for the team. Costa took the win solo with a perfectly timed attack. I'm so happy for him. Hard working guy."

17:40 CEST   
Milan and Lombardy are candidates to hold the Summer Olympics in 2020. What do you think are the chances of having the gold medal in road racing decided on this city circuit?

17:43 CEST   
Will the whole peloton stay together until the end? Or will the sprinters take off and leave the others back to come in at their leisure? We suspect the "other" riders will dawdle so they don't have to be at all involved or take any risks. Armstrong and Astana have decided to go that route and are at the back.

17:44 CEST    153km/10km to go
Lots of eying back and forth. Voeckler takes off as the first attack of the day!

17:45 CEST   
The French rider has a lead of maybe 20 metres or so.

17:46 CEST   
Saxo Bank leads the way, with a bunch of Columbias in there. Cavendish has glued himself to Petacchi's rear wheel (so to speak).

17:47 CEST   
Garmin moves to the front, riding for Farrar.

17:48 CEST   
The sprinters's teams didn't want Voeckler to steal their thunder and have gobbled him up.

17:48 CEST   
Many Garmins are at the front but one is at the tail end of the peloton: David Zabriskie.

17:50 CEST   
The GC favourites have gathered at the rear: Basso, Di Luca, and so on.

17:50 CEST    160km/3km to go
There is now a 15 second gap between the sprinters' group and the favourites' group. Doesn't make any difference, though.

17:52 CEST   
Two Columbia riders now lead, followed by a Garmin. Lövkvist is the leader at the moment, which is surprising, as he is number two in GC.

17:52 CEST    161km/2km to go
They go around the last two curves and head into the long straight run-in.

17:53 CEST    162km/1km to go
Nothing organised yet.

17:53 CEST   
Boasson Hagen goes into the lead, followed closely by Mark Cavendish.

17:54 CEST   
The sprint opens!

17:54 CEST   
Cav takes it clearly!

17:54 CEST   
That is three stage wins in a row for Team Columbia-Highroad!

17:55 CEST   
Cavendish opens his arms and hugs two teammates simultaneously, with a huge smile on his face.

17:56 CEST   
The favourites' group is now hitting the finish line, about two minutes back.

17:58 CEST   
Well -- that was an, um, interesting stage! It's a good thing that tomorrow is a rest day, probably everybody needs a day off at this point. Come back and join us again on Tuesday, when we head back to the mountains.

Provisional results

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - Highroad                               
2 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step                                                
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream                                      
4 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team Saxo Bank                                           
5 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini                         
6 Robert Foerster (Ger) Team Milram                                           
7 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld                                              
8 Davide Vigano (Ita) Fuji-Servetto                                           
9 Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                                     
10 Thomas Fothen (Ger) Team Milram                                            
11 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Xacobeo Galicia                                      
12 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Katusha                                               
13 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                                   
14 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo                       
15 Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli    
General classification after stage 9
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini                              
2 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - Highroad                          0.13
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad                           0.44
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana                                            0.51
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                            0.58
6 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas                                               1.14
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team                                   1.24
8 Christopher Horner (USA) Astana                                         1.25
9 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                        1.35
10 David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                                    1.49

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