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90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 4 Live
By Staff
Date: 5/16/2007
90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 4 Live

90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 4 Live
The first mountain test for the peloton starts today in 'Naples' own region Campania, with a large stage getting underway in Salerno featuring a "hectic" early part in the Sorrento area, and finishing up to the Santuario di Montevergine di Mercogliano - that is not new to hosting Giro stage finishes, by the way, as previous stage winners here Danilo Di Luca (2001) and Damiano Cunego (2004) are well aware of.

Salerno - Motenvergine de Mercogliano 153 km
Today sees the first summit finish of the 2007 Giro, up to Montevergine di Mercogliano (1260m).

It's 17km at 5% average - in recent years, it hasn't created too many gaps on the GC but should give it a post-TTT shakeup. This is the first test of the legs for any riders that harbour ambitions for the maglia rosa.

The last time up it was in 2004 when Damiano Cunego won in the prison-striped Saeco jersey (remember the Save My Cannondale campaign?), with eleven riders in the same time.

After a sedate first hour (29km covered), three riders attacked and got away: Yuri Krivstsov (Ag2r Prevoyance), Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and mountains leader Pavel "The" Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems). After reaching a lead of seven minutes, it's now down to 5'15" with just over 50km to go

16:23 CEST - 40km to go, It's been a nervy day in the bunch, with a few crashes including the likes of Petacchi, Bettini, Gasparotto, Furlan and Pozzovivo. 50 riders were involved in a series of crashes on very wet roads, with Bettini one of the casualties. Paolo Bettini has been paced back to the bunch by his teammates, but he doesn't look so steady as he grips his right side.

Nocentini, Nibali, Di Luca (winner here in 2001), Rebellin and Bettini are being touted by the tifosi as favourites for the stage. Under the 40km to go banner, the bunch is led by Saunier Duval, 4'30" down. Angel Gomez is on the front at the moment.

 16:25 CEST - The rain has made the bunch nervous, but the sun is now out, as the three escapees start going uphill. Oleg Tinkov must be delighted, getting riders in the first three breakaways. Ignatiev and this man Brutt have bright futures ahead of them... the latter might need to see a good barber though. Never get style tips from Viatcheslav Ekimov. Brutt, 31st at 1'04" behind Gasparotto, again finds himself as virtual leader, though the gap is heading towards the 4 minute mark.

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1630 CEST - 35km to go, the gap is 4'07". Saunier Duval have six men on the front, just keeping up the tempo. Panaria are also up there, with Luca Mazzanti, another man who could do well today.

Joan Horrach has a massive bump on his upper thigh - a stage winner last year, the Spaniard is getting it checked out by the race doctor. Ouch. Another crash victim. It's being bandaged up - more painful for the viewer is perhaps Horrach's awful cyclist's tan. The scourge of cyclists' girlfriends/wives everywhere..

Acqua & Sapone also have a big presence at the head of the bunch, protecting Stefano Garzelli. Domenico Pozzovivo, involved in one of the crashes, passes veteran Stefano Zanini at the back of the bunch.

News is that Bettini has not fractured anything in his crash, but it doesn't look like he'll be playing a big part in the finish today.

1639 CEST - Brutt is cranking it out on the front, but Krivstov, a decent time-trialist and sprinter, still looks smooth in his wheel. The young Russian should be the best climber out of the three, but Irizar is Basque - ascending mountains quickly is something which courses through their blood Their gap is now down to 3'40".

Angelo Furlan (Credit Agricole) and Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues Telecom) are at the back of the bunch, "biting their stems" in the paceline. Gorazd Stangelj, one of Lampre's best domestiques, goes backwards, getting water for his leader. Gasparotto's maglia rosa is blackened with road dirt from his fall, but the youngster is still riding strongly. There's no way he'll hold onto it today, but it's still been a dream start for the former Italian champion.

Gilberto Simoni looks focused, just chewing on an energy bar in fifth wheel. 25km to go for the breakaway, which holds a lead of 3 minutes over the bunch. CSC move up to the front, with David Zabriskie visible, and youngster Andy Schleck on his wheel.

1647 CEST - Still Saunier Duval-led, the bunch goes under the 25km to go banner, 3'08" in arrears. Gilberto Simoni, or maybe even Ricco, must be fancying his chances today because his team is putting in a lot of work today. Irizar, Brutt and Krivstov are now in Avellino, a Roman town. If anyone's seen The Sopranos, this is where that fictional family has its origins...

The leading three are about to hit the final climb (17km long). Crash!! Axel Merckx and Benoit Joachim are down, the maglia rosa was affected. Second fall for Axel today.. A lot of riders have had to slow down. Merckx (T-Mobile), in his last season, is now going again, Joachim is a bit slower to his feet. Nicolas Roche was also involved.

20km to go - The bunch is coming up to the first slopes of the final climb, 2'49" down. Gilberto Simoni looks like he's on a Sunday club ride, protected by Leonardo Piepoli. They're old hands at this though. Savoldelli has a teammate moving him up! Nocentini is also up there, no sign of Lampre really yet though...

So is Luca Mazzanti (Panaria), as Manuele Mori moves to the front. Now here comes Lampre, towards the front, alongside Saunier Duval, with Gorazd Stangelj. Meanwhile, Vanotti is looking after maglia rosa Enrico Gasparotto. The gap is down to 2'15" as Irizar works on the front.

Montevergine is 17.1km long, 5% average with a max of 10%. The last four kilometres are a bit steeper than the rest, about 6%, but nothing too crazy. Yet... Acqua & Sapone have come to the front with five riders, they're going for Garzelli! The 2000 Giro winner looks calm. Brutt has opened up a gap on Irizar and Krivstov without accelerating, but the Euskaltel man quickly closes it. Gasparotto is suffering, slipping off the back.

1701 CEST - Perez Cuapio is near the front, good to see! Pavel Brutt ATTACKS! Krivstov is chasing, with Irizar 40m behind.

Massimo Codol is on the front for Garzelli. Hold onto your hats folks, this is the first mountain action of the Giro.Brutt is down in the drops, powering away solo. Bettini is on the wheel of Garzelli - Marzano is helping Cunego, while Liquigas is now on the front; Perez Cuapio is also near the front of the pack. Pellizotti and Nibali are protecting Di Luca, as Wegelius taps out the pace.

The front group is thinning out. 1'30" gap for Brutt - Liquigas are bringing this back. Savoldelli has two men with him, just behind Garzelli, Cunego and Di Luca.

Simoni is there too, just slightly further back. All the big names are here. With Spezialetti, Wegelius, Miholjevic and then Nibali and Pellizotti, Liquigas have a strong team for the mountains of this Giro. They're definitely showing it now...  Brutt is starting to suffer, out of the saddle, grinding, as he tries to preserve his lead.

1708 CEST - 12km to go; Yaroslav Popovych is also just behind the favourites. There's still a fair few riders in the front group, about fifty.  Krivstov and Irizar are together as they go under the 10km to go banner - they've caught Brutt. Miholjevic and Brit Wegelius lead under the banner, no more than 50 seconds behind. Paolo Bettini has moved up to the wheel of Di Luca and the Liquigas train.

Attack! Frantisek Rabon of T-Mobile. And Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio chases him down and flies past him! "Lucky" Perez had his best year in 2002 with two stages wins.  Irizar goes off the back of the lead group. The tiny Mexican has 30 seconds to make up to catch the leading duo, with the pack biting as his heels ten seconds down. Behind Liquigas and Di Luca, there's Garzelli, Bettini, Sella, Popovych...

8km to go - The lime team still has five men on the front. Perez Cuapio is going to catch the leaders - Irizar regained them. Behind, Steve Zampieri (Cofidis) is chasing Perez! Lampre have four riders near the front, moving up Cunego - Bruseghin, Tiralongo and Marzano are working for the Piccolo Principe.

Zampieri now passes the breakaway... Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) attacks and Marzano of Lampre latches onto his back wheel. Dario Cioni has attacked onto the wheel of Zampieri, and they are behind Perez Cuapio, who has 10 seconds on them!

1718 CEST - The Predictor man is powering, and Zampieri is digging deep to hold his wheel. They've been caught by Visconti, Marzano and a Euskaltel and Caisse d'Epargne rider. Sella is up with them! Seven men just in front of the pack; Sella is ratcheting up the pace on the front. Piepoli is now on the front of the pack; the Sella group has been reprised. Andrea Noč is on his wheel, then a Euskaltel man.

5km to go for Perez Cuapio - he has 20 seconds lead! Liquigas take over on front again, they won't be overly worried about the Mexican, who is 2 minutes down overall. Leonardo Piepoli tries again, with Sella on his wheel! 24 seconds for Perez Cuapio! Alexander Arekeev, a Tirreno-Adriatico stage winner, gives it a go on the front now for Acqua & Sapone. Liquigas have him in their crosshairs though, and he's being brought back.

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1725 CEST -Still 30-35 riders in the bunch, as they round a hairpin. Perez Cuapio's lead is down to 14 seconds. Arekeev is caught, Nibali, Pellizotti and Di Luca are perched menacingly behind Miholjevic.

Saunier Duval have three riders near the front, must be Piepoli, Ricco and Simoni. Just 3km to the finish for Perez Cuapio, he STILL holds 14 seconds.  Bettini has blown and is slowing down, out the back. Probably from his crash. Looks like he's in pain. Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio hasn't won a Giro stage since Stage 16 of 2002 when he also took another stage and the mountains win. But he now has 18 seconds!

Piepoli AGAIN goes to the front, forcing the pace, Sella, Nibali, Pellizotti, Di Luca, Garzelli and Cunego are right behind him. Perez has 16 seconds, this is going down to the wire. Vincenzo Nibali comes to the front. They want the Mexican back! The Panaria man is dancing on the pedals, getting all the speed that he can.

2km to go! The crowd is willing on Perez Cuapio, he looks behind and the Liquigas train rounds the corner! It's all strung out!!! Still 15 seconds for Perez Cuapio, again he gets out of the saddle. Davide Rebellin is in difficulty! The tiny Mexican grimaces but again pushes hard. Suddenly only about a dozen left in the front group under Liquigas's pressure. Perez Cuapio is going to be caught...

He's passed with 800m left. Two Liquigas on the front, then Simoni and Cunego right behind. And Ricco!
Sella is there - 600m to go - Pellizotti leads it out for Di Luca...

350m to go! Now Di Luca goes gives it the gas, the Liquigas!


Andy Schleck was FOURTH. 2 Ricco 3 Cunego 4 A. Schleck. Simoni is dropped. He comes in now 35 seconds down!!!! Savoldelli is also gone, Danilo di Luca had a great lead-out, and he held off Ricco comfortably enough. That's the best way to get back into rosa...

Danilo di Luca had a great lead-out, and he held off Ricco comfortably enough. That's the best way to get back into rosa...But the big news, Paolo Savoldelli and Gilberto Simoni both lost over 30 seconds on an innocuous ascent, compared to the beasts of the last week. Garzelli was fifth on Schleck's wheel. What a ride by Andy Schleck - he could be the revelation of the race.

1736 CEST - Bettini is about to finish; Gasparotto in rosa is still riding up. Arroyo of Caisse d'Epargne and Sella were also high up.  Frank Schleck has said that his younger brother has an even bigger engine than him... is the 2007 Giro where we first see his talents on a big stage?

The question is inevitable: who is Saunier Duval's leader? Ricco is unproven in the mountains of the Giro but he looked at ease there, just beaten by Di Luca after following his wheel all the way inside the last 1000m.

Cruel luck for Perez Cuapio, reprised just inside the last kilometre. He'll be back to attack another day though...

 Amazing show of determination for Bettini today...showing the grinta that made him world and Olympic champion. Bettini is talking to RAI now: 'It happened in a second' he says.'It was a massive crash, taking out about 45 riders like skittles... It blocked the road for about 60 others behind too. Painful.'

Stage 3 Result (Provisional)
1 Danilo Di Luca
2 Riccardo Ricco
3 Damiano Cunego
4 Andy Schleck.
5 Garzelli
6 Pellizotti
7 Mazzanti
8 Arroyo
Schleck and Garzelli at 3 seconds; Pellizotti and Mazzanti at 6

Di Luca, Pellizotti, Noe and Nibali are still the top four of GC. What a team performance...Di Luca comes out onto the stage, and the crowd cheers like mad! Danilo 'The Killer' Di Luca needs some help opening the champagne... In tenth place people DAVID ZABRISKIE Quite a day for CSC, two in the top ten.

Danilo di Luca takes the Maglia Rosa and the 'kisses from the miss's' and Danilo adds the Maglia Verde of the climbers classification for his effort today and more 'kisses from the miss's'  Although Di Luca also has the Mountains competition lead, it will be Ricco wearing that jersey tomorrow. Robbie McEwen steps to the podium to receive the Ciclamino jersey as Sprints leader.

Thanks for joining us for the Stage 4 live report. See you tomorrow.
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90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 1 Live
90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 2 Live
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