Category: Giro d'Italia 2007

June 3, 2007

Giro Stage 21: Easy win for Petacchi, Di Luca celebrates overall

You could have stuck a limo between Petacchi and the next nearest sprinter. His Milram train gave him a good leadout for what was probably his easiest -- as well as fifth and final -- victory of this year's Giro di Italia.

Liquigas lead the peloton much of the final kilometers with Di Luca tucked in at the end and Best Young Rider Andy Schleck sitting on his wheel. It was a very dominant victory for Di Luca and a surprise showing by Schleck, who I've already spotted in the latest Cervelo and Speedplay ads. Schleck wasn't as strong as Di Luca, but what impressed me most is that he didn't fade as the race went on. He was able to finish strong in yesterday's time trial, which shows he already has the skill to manage his efforts for a Grand Tour.

June 2, 2007

Giro Stage 20: Astana dominates with Savoldelli win, Simoni loses podium

It was a great stage for Astana today. Paolo Savoldelli took the victory while teammate Eddy Mazzoleni took second and moved onto the overall podium. Savoldelli had to give up his overall hopes fairly early in this Giro but quickly transitioned into helping Mazzoleni slowly climb up the standings. Today was the culmination of those efforts as Astana will be on the podium in Milan.

Simoni was unable to defend his spot but Di Luca had no problem holding off Schleck. Schleck put in an excellent sixth-place finish, but not even Savoldelli's finishing time would have been enough to bump Di Luca. Di Luca was able to give a celebratory arm pump on the finishing straight, knowing that all the critics who said he would fade in the second half were dead wrong.

David Zabriskie put in a solid third place effort on the day, unable to best Astana's effort. Zabriskie was hampered by rainy conditions on the latter half of his run, but Savoldelli bested all of his intermediate times from start to finish.

June 1, 2007

Giro Stage 18&19: 4x4

Alessandro Petacchi easily took his fourth win on Stage 18 -- it helps when all the other sprinters have abandoned -- and Iban Mayo soloed through the rain for Saunier Duval's fourth win by the fourth different rider (Piepoli, Ricco, Simoni). PezCyclingNews didn't give Di Luca their #1 pick, but you do have to credit them for having this to say about Saunier Duval pre-Giro:

Saunier Duval Should Be The Team Of The Race Gilberto Simoni is the unquestioned leader of the Saunier Duval squad, but they're bringing an explosive combination of riders that should make for some most excellent racing.

Leonardo Piepoli returns to the Giro after setting the mountains on fire last year. Simoni and Piepoli alone were fireworks on the road, but it just gets better with the addition of this year's breakout success, Riccardo Ricco. I can't wait to see the three of them light up the slopes of the mountains all over Italy. And those are just the three sure-things - heaven help us if the Iban Mayo of old returns. I'm not holding my breath on Mayo, but just think of the possibilities...

Tomorrow's time trial looks to be interesting. Danilo Di Luca looks to have things sewn up but a rainy course has a way of mixing things up. I also look forward to seeing if Dave Zabriskie can deliver on another Giro TT win. With Team CSC losing MAN as a sponsor, they could badly use a win right now.

May 30, 2007

Giro Stage 17: Gibo takes Zoncolan

It was an amazing ride by the trio of Simoni, Schleck, and Piepoli. Piepoli dug deep for Gibo and the two were able to burn Schleck on the final straight. Piepoli got to salute another teammate across the line, showing that he really deserves that green jersey that he's been sporting. Their break was able to get a gap on Di Luca and Cunego, but at the finish it looked like it was only half a minute. The better gap was on Mazzoleni, who lost his podium spot to make room for Simoni. Andy Schleck is now the surprise second place.

Simoni may not with this Giro but he was finally able to take the stage win instead of watching from the two second places he had on Stage 12 and 14. The Saunier Duval trio of Gibo, Piepoli, and Ricco have rocked the climbs with stage wins for all of them.

May 29, 2007

Giro Stage 16: Garzelli x 2

Today was a bit of a non-stage as the major contenders already had tomorrow's Zoncolan climb on their minds -- I know it's what I've been waiting to watch on this course. Garzelli was able to attack from the breakaway and win by a minute on his breakaway companions, eight minutes on the peloton, but he still sits just outside of the top ten overall at 13th place (11:32).r

Discovery's CheChu Rubiera was able to make the break as Discovery's highest placed rider. Of course, now that Popovych, Hincapie, and Vandborg have abandoned, it means that Discovery is only managing a top 30 standing (Rubiera 29th, 43:19). How the fortunes have changed for the pre-race, pre-Puerto-redux favorites.

May 27, 2007

Giro Stage 14 & 15: Saunier Duval strong but Di Luca still in charge

TiVo screwed up my planned viewing of the Versus recap, so I'm pretty bummed. I got to catch the early coverage of Stage 14 before I headed off to do a TT -- it was already shaping up to be the most exciting stage of the Giro. I was a bit suprised that a breakaway of that caliber (Bettini, Simoni, Savoldelli, Schleck, Parra, Garzelli, Mayo, Mazzoleni, Rubiera, etc...) could not get even a minute on Di Luca at the finish, but I think it's a sign of how dominant Di Luca has been (with help from Cunego/Lampre). Simoni made the most of the break and gained 0:50 on Di Luca, but he didn't get the stage win as Garzelli caught him on the line... with the help of a TV motorcycle draft.

Saunier Duval tried to continue the attack on Di Luca into Stage 15, but their leader Simoni cracked before Di Luca and Simoni was kind enough to tell his strong teammates to go and take the stage instead of limit Simoni's losses in the overall. A 1-2 finish on the hardest stage of the Giro is a quality achievement for Saunier Duval even if Simoni wiped out his time gains from Stage 14.

May 25, 2007

Giro Stage 13: Bruseghin wins TT, break pays off

Bruseghin was somewhat of a surprise winner of today's mountain time trial and strengthened his hold on second place in the overall standings. His victory capitalizes on his efforts in the Stage 8 breakaway and puts Lampre in a good tactical position for the rest of the Giro -- his teammate and Giro favorite Damiano Cunego finished 0:38 back and moved up to fourth place overall. Di Luca, of course, shows no signs of weakening, yet, as he finished in third place only 0:08 back of Bruseghin.

In other CSC news for the day, Zabriskie finished 4th on the day at 0:19 back and held the best time on the day until Piepoli rolled through 0:18 better. Teammate Andy Schleck continues to surprise with his 10th place finish, which was good enough to move him up a spot into the top three overall.

May 24, 2007

Giro Stage 12: Di Luca back on top

On a stage that was more Tour de France than Giro, Di Luca finished just ahead of Simoni and took back the maglia rosa in Briançon. It seems that Di Luca just can't get rid of it for more than a day or two without it reattaching itself like a Spiderman black suit. The final contenders have emerged as Andy Schleck, Mazzoleni, and Cunego were the only other riders able to follow, though all except Simoni lost time to Di Luca. Popovych and Savoldelli have pretty much lost their contender status as Popo lost 6:45 and Savoldelli lost 5:49.

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas 56.42.25
2 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre - Fondital 1.03
3 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 1.16
4 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 1.25
5 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre - Fondital 1.39
6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - Fondital 2.10
7 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria - Navigare 2.14
8 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir 2.34
9 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Credit System 2.48
10 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Astana 3.28

May 22, 2007

Giro Stage 10: Starting to shake up, Liquigas vs. Saunier Duval slugfest

Saunier Duval and Liquigas ruled today's stage. SD's Piepoli was able to hold off a charging Di Luca, but Liquigas' Andrea Noe (oldest rider) took the maglia rosa. Each team ended up taking three of the top ten spots on today's stage, leaving enough room for Savoldelli, Cunego, Andy Schleck, and Popovych to squeeze in. Di Luca's second-place finish today is really starting to skyrocket his odds in my book. The former Giro winners (Cunego, Simoni, Savoldelli) aren't looking nearly as fierce so far, though the hardest stages are yet to come.

Hincapie made a move to capitalize on his Stage 8 break by going for the maglia rosa today. A fierce chase and an untimely flat nullified that bid and lost him eight minutes in the overall. All is well for Discovery, though, as Popovych finished less than a minute back and CheChu Rubiera continues to occupy the top ten at 3:22 back.

Zabriskie was perhaps cursed by a VeloNews article touting his GC chances. Z-man plummeted from 10th to 44th after finishing 8.28 down, but his teammate Andy Schleck continues to shine in the mountains and is holding at 12th place.

There were plenty of abandons today, especially among the spritners. Haedo gave up his quest for a sprint victory in the Giro, as did T-Mobile's Greg Henderson. Petacchi lost a part of his train as Ongarato and Ghisalberti abandoned. Lampre's Napolitano barely squeezed in last place at 34:57 back.

May 20, 2007

Giro Stage 8: CSC on the board as another break succeeds

A 21-man break went early, cooperated, and managed to take the stage as CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen outsprinted Paolo Bettini. The break finished 4:19 ahead of the rest of the field, but that was not enough to change in the overall lead. Pinotti's own breakaway still leaves him with 0:28 on the rest of the field.

George Hincapie was in the break and now sits 0:42 ahead of Danilo Di Luca in the standings. His teammate CheChu Rubiera was in the break as well and is almost three minutes ahead of Di Luca and 1:36 behind in the overall. Either could possibly use the next two stages to move into the overall, as could many of the other riders in today's break (Arroyo, Bruseghin) -- though not Bettini, who is still clawing back major deficits in the overall and sits 6:08 back.

May 19, 2007

Giro Stage 7: Petacchi x 2, Giro Stage 6: A break succeeds

Apologies with the late Giro coverage -- too busy with Maker Faire and work deadlines

Stages 6 and 7 of the Giro brought a little more of the same and a little bit of something new to the mix. Alessandro Petacchi got his second stage win on stage 7 as his Milram train worked solidly. They pulled back both a Salvatore Commesso (Tinkoff) breakaway (i.e. yet another Tinkoff breakaway) and an ultimo chilometro breakaway by Fabian Cancellara on the racetrack finish. Petacchi showed his power yet again as he went first at 200m and held everyone off.

Stage 6 was the stage that mixed things up, though a bit by design. After working so hard to get the maglia rosa, Danilo Di Luca willed the jersey to a long breakaway. The sprint teams weren't big fans of the stage either, perhaps because of the narrow and twisty final kilometer, including a 90 degree bend with 300m to go. Laverde (Panaria) and Pinotti (T-Mobile) were the riders that took advantage of the strategic situation and each finished the stage happy: Laverde took the stage win in a 'sprint' that Pinotti conceded, happy to be moving into the maglia rosa overall.

May 17, 2007

Giro Stage 5: Gerolsteiner gets a sprint win with Forster

Robert Forster won the sprint on a winding sprint finish that was difficult for the sprint teams to control. Credit Agricole led into the final kilometer before Milram was able to form a three-man train. Two leadout men isn't nearly enough for 800m and they started to get swamped with 400m to go. As the the course wound through an S-curve, Petacchi was cutoff from his leadout man and boxed in by Maximilian of Panaria. Forster stuck to Hushovd's wheel and was able to come around him for the win.

Giro Stage 4: Liquigas/Di Luca in charge

(sorry for the late catchup coverage)

Danilo Di Luca is looking like the Di Luca of 2005, the one that wore the Pro Tour leaders jersey, blazed through Amstel, Fleche Wallone, and Pais Vasco, and picked up the 3rd and 5th stage of that year's Giro. The maglia rosa has been solidly Liquigas so far, with the help of the opening TTT to be sure, but Di Luca is starting to build a hefty margin and showing that he can climb and TT.

The surprise result for me was seeing Dave Zabriskie finish in tenth place, ahead of Simoni and Savoldelli. I haven't seen Zabriskie climb like that in a Grand Tour since, well, ever. Perhaps his newfound 140-lb featherweight status has something to do with that.

May 14, 2007

Giro Stage 3: Return of Ale-Jet

I've never seen a rider so happy to win as Alessandro Petacchi, audibly sobbing in his return to the front of the sprint. After almost a year of healing from a fractured kneecap in last year's Grio, today's win gives Ale-Jet twenty Giro d'Italia wins. It was a messy win for Petacchi as he was forced to win without his usual leadout train.

Ignatiev (Tinkoff) and Visconti (Quick Step) gave panic to the sprinter teams and Petacchi was forced to burn his leadout men as part of the chase. The breakaway was caught with 2.5km to go but Milram was further used up as Quick Step counterattacked with Tosatto. That attack was also nullified but things became really chaotic in the final kilometer.

Credit Agricole's Nicholas Roche launched an attack and Thor Hushovd went down in a crash (post-crash photo of Hushovd's welt), taking a small number of riders with him (possibly Cunego and Simoni). Petacchi launched his sprint with 300m to go. Robert Forster tried to come up his left side as Maximiliano Richeze fell off Petacchi's wheel. Robbie McEwen was boxed in behind Lampre's Napolitano and couldn't get around in time. JJ Haedo was nowhere to be seen and finished 77th, most likely as a result of Hushovd's crash.

May 13, 2007

Giro Stage 2: Di Luca can start smiling

Robbie McEwen took his 12th Giro di Italia stage victory and Danilo Di Luca was able to use a 12th-place finish to take the maglia rosa leader's jersey from Gasparotto, which should calm things down in the Liquigas team bus. Milram seemed to have things under control for Petacchi but the train ran out of cars on the final stretch. Petacchi launched his sprint too far out and McEwen and Bettini were able to easily come around for first and second. The sprint finish was sparser as a crash with a little over a kilometer to go broke off the back part of the field. QuickStep's Tonti seems the most injured with a broken nose.

Tinkoff's Pavel Brutt was able to claim the first mountain jersey of the Giro as he was clearly the strongest in a long and early breakaway.

Michael Barry fans will be sad that Barry is already out of the race due to illness -- as his pre-Giro diary notes, he wasn't exactly expecting to be riding a Grand Tour when he got the call due to Honchar's 30-day suspension.

FYI: Steephill points over to the RAI streaming video site for live Giro coverage. I haven't gotten it to work for me, yet, but I also haven't tried it live.

May 12, 2007

Giro Stage 1: Liquigas dukes it out

After a bit of complaining, the opening TTT of the Giro got underway. Liquigas' Gasparotto drove the team's final efforts and ended up sparking a little bit of team controversy as he took the maglia rosa instead of captain Danilo Di Luca. Di Luca was a little unhappy at the time (photo), but he is now singing the, "it's all for the team" line.

As opening stages go, this one seems to have shaken things up a great deal. Simoni will go into stage 2 already 1:25 down on Di Luca, while Cunego lost 0:42. Savoldelli managed best of the other contenders as Astana finished second at 0:13 back. Popovych took a spill on the technical final km and the team had to sit up. Discovery may have to wonder "what if" as they finished the stage only 42 seconds down.

2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
8 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Astana 0.13
18 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre 0.42
27 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 0.49
29 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 1.02
56 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval 1.25

May 10, 2007

Getting ready for the Giro d'Italia

The riders

Starter List: Cleanest Grand Tour? Much like Discovery, Tinkoff is paying for dipping into the doping bin to fill its rosters as Hamilton and Jaksche are off the start list. Caisse d'Epargne is also paying with the absence of Constantino Zaballa and Ruben Plaza, though their bigger threat is losing Valverde for the Tour de France if those rumors gain traction.

PezCycling does its picks: will the podium be 1-2-3 former Giro winners? (Simoni vs. Savoldelli vs. Cunego) Or will Di Luca or Popovych finally sit atop?

Daily Peloton previews Team Milram: Will Petacchi finally re-emerge (he'll have to do so without Marco Velo and Erik Zabel)

Daily Peloton previews T-Mobile: without Honchar, T-Mobile will have to shift focus to stage wins. Marco Pinotti's journal

The route

The start of the race looks beautiful, but of course everyone is waiting for the dramatic Zoncolan, which will be climbed this time on the steeper side and is referred to as "Europe's most difficult climb" by Daily Peloton.

Daily Peloton route preview w/ elevations

VeloNews route preview

More

Steephill is maintaining a Giro d'Italia dashboard

Cycling.tv's Versus Channel has video, but this time around it appears that you have to pay extra for the Giro (in the "Versus Channel", aka the "Italy Channel"). Is it just me, or are they actively trying to make their site harder to use and understand? (not that it was ever easy to use)