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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 2 Live coverage
 
By Staff
Date: 5/11/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 2 Live coverage
 

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 2 Live coverage
The first breakaway of the Giro is underway with Jeremy Roy and David Loosli the brave escapees on the road to Agrigento

11 May 2008, Stage 2: Cefalù - Agrigento 207 km
The second stage in the Giro is 207 km long in distance between Cefalù and Agrigento. The stage is very tough and contains several climbs and the finish is on top of a hill too. There was one non-starter and that was Milram's Igor Astarloa. The reason of the non-start of the former world champion is not known yet.

The first hour of the race was very slow with an average of 29,9 km an hour. The first attack of this Giro came from Euskaltel rider Dionisi Galparsoro. He got 1.30 but was caught just before the top of the Gratteri. Sella took the KOM points ahead of Cardenas and Seeldraeyers.

Indeed, this stage is being ridden in the traditional Giro style - "piano, piano" slow for the first few hours, then balls-out for the last 90 minutes.

Click on map for larger image
Graphics courtesy gazzetta della sport
At the moment we have Jeremy Roy (FDJ) and David Loosli (Lampre) in the lead. There max gap was 10.10 with 150 km to go and they still have 6.50 after 77 km of racing. There was also a crash in the bunch with Morabito (Astana), Calcagni (Barloworld) and Soler (Barloworld). But all are back in the bunch. The gap is up to 9.30 again after almost 100 km of racing.

Race leader is American Christian Vandevelde of Slipstream-Chipotle after their win in the TTT yesterday.
The average speed after 3hours of racing is 33,1 km/h. RAI are doing a little feature on Giovanni Visconti - watch this man today, as he was born in Palermo and will be super-motivated to perform well on his home island of Sicily.

RAI are doing a little feature on Giovanni Visconti - watch this man today, as he was born in Palermo and will be super-motivated to perform well on his home island of Sicily.

World champion Paolo Bettini wants to gain the leaders jersey in the first week. as they are about 40 seconds down after the TTT Paolo has to win at least 2 stages and have to battle for the time bonuses during the stage too to accomplish that. Nibali is Sicilian too, another one to watch but does he want to attack now or wait till later stages being the team captain of Liquigas for the Corsa Rosa.

Beside the apparent conflict of the two Quickstep riders; Visconti as Italian champion isn't going to have a quiet Giro, he won't be in the shadows. We'll see what happens.


A well ordered phalanx of riders in rows of 5 climbs inland from the sea.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Let's go to the team previews to take a look at today's two breakaways:
David Loosli didn’t get a contract renewal in the beginning of the season but just before the Settimana Coppi & Bartali in the end of March his contract was renewed. Loosli turned pro in 2004 with Saeco and immediately won a stage in the Course de la Paix (Peace Race). Loosli is a good helper for the team on all terrain both on flat, hilly and mountain stages. The 28 year old also has competed in all the three Grand Tours and his experience will be of great help to the young guns.

His companion today is Jérémy Roy: It is insane that Jérémy Roy been a professional for five years – to me, he is one of those riders with the Peter Pan-esque ability of seeming to be fresh off the Elite-2 conveyor belt. Perhaps the fact that Roy has been just on the cusp of a good results, thus effectively just off the radar, contributes to my blinkered view (third in a 2007 Vuelta stage, fourth in the Tour of Picardy, fourth GP de Plumelec). After three years of riding solidly in the Vuelta, doing the Giro is a small and natural progression for Roy. Still only 24 years old, he at least has plenty of time to gain more experience and bag that elusive big result.


The peloton starts a climb with slipstream on the front. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Going through the town of Villalba, the gap was down to 9'00". Still 98km to go though, as they climb up towards the day's second GPM point at Polizzello.

Any literary fans will be interested to know that Nobel prize winning author Luigi Pirandello - best known (here in England anyway) for Six Characters in Search of an Author (Sei Personi in Cerca d'un Autore) - hails from today's finishing town, Agrigento. Well, today, we have about about 200 characters in search of a victory...

1523 CEST - Agrigento was the domain of the world championships in 1994. Italian Luc Leblanc won the race Claudio Chiapucci and Richard Virenque were 2nd and 3rd back then.

There's some movement off the front of the pack for third in the GPM, CSF winding it up for Sella. On top of the Polizello the bunch is 8.20 down on the two in front.  Italian Luc Leblanc sorry its a French guy. Nope, it looked like Dominique Cornu (at any rate, a big Silence rider) was leading it out; Sella came under him and went side-by-side with Jure Golcer (LPR Brakes), but the talented Slovenian just had more gas to edge ahead and take third position. Due to the fact Sella was the best on the first 2nd cat climb of the Giro he will get the KOM jersey at the end of the day.Slipstream leads the pace in the bunch as the gap is down to 8.00.

1525 CEST - In front, Loosli leads Roy as they descend, heading towards the town of Serradifalco in about 20k time; the final climb is 4 km long. The riders will have a recognition as they pass the finish line already with 15 km to go

Slipstream are leading the peloton on this descent; further down it, Roy and Loosli reveal the rough road surface and narrow turns, still 82 km to go. Rebellin, Di Luca and Bettini all talk to RAI and all effectively say the same thing with cautious confidence: vediamo, "we will see".

Astarloa didn't start due to the flue, The Spaniard has been very unlucky since that World Championship win in 2003 in Hamilton.

By the way, some news for Rock Racing fans - with Botero, Pena, Sevilla and Hamilton, the team took the top-four places in the Vuelta a Colombia prologue time-trial yesterday. Still, it's one of the longest UCI races around, so we'll see how they do. With climbs up to 5,000m, it should be interesting. I predict a very boring Vuelta a Colombia with Rock dominating the Vuelta of the old guys. With 40'ers like Buenahora and Ochoa as contenders. A good start for Botero, who won in 2007. I think Hamilton and Sevilla will get a shock on the Climbs Botero and Pena are used to Colombian racing, the incredible height of mountains

Earler, the LPR man wasn't Golcer, it was Daniele Pietropoli. The question remains can Vandevelde keep his leaders jersey at the end of the day? with the 4 km long climb to the finish in Agrigento,. Indeed; is it possible someone like Zabriskie will inherit it? Slipstream looks committed to keeping the rosa shirt for as long as possible at this point.


The peloton stretches out single file on the fast descent.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1535 CEST - The bunch are strung out in a long snaking line as they continue this long descent. There's a bit of uphill coming up though... Ag2r-La Mondiale rider Rinaldo Nocentini notes that he doesn't know the climb, but hopes that his condition is good and he can win a tappa this year.

David Millar pounds out the beat on the front of the peloton, Christian Vandevelde pre-start: "If we can keep the jersey, one more day that would be great. If not, our objective was yesterday, so anything else is just icing on the cake."

1545 CEST - Magnus Backstedt, recognisable enough without the Swedish national champion's jersey on, taps out a pace on the front for Slipstream. Elsewhere, in deepest Spain, Baden Cooke has won the second stage of the Vuelta a Alcobendas. Still a good rider, but he seemed to lose his zip after winning that green jersey in the 2003 Tour.

The gap, meanwhile, is still pretty steady at 8'15".

1557 CEST - Slipstream continues to lead the peloton as the gap to Loosli and Roy is down to 7.10, more likely the result of the two up front slowing down than the intensity of the chase effort. Slipstream are probably harbouring some heavy legs after yesterday's impressive effort.

1600 CEST - 7:10 the gap, The breakaway goes through Serradifalco, with Loosli leading Roy. Still 60 kilometres to go, they have been taking an Italian attitude to the race schedule - they're way behind, and don't care at all. Juan Mauricio Soler sits at the back of the bunch; he could fly in the mountains. Hopefully that crash hasn't taken anything out of him.

Cardenas and Gasparotto ride just behind the head of the peloton. Gasparotto could surprise today, he is one of Barloworld's leaders. It would be fair to say they were one of the surprises of the TTT yesterday, grabbing fifth.

1608 CEST - Liquigas and Barloworld clip off the front to go for third in the intermediate sprint at Serradifalco, and Daniele Bennati outguns Gasparotto casually. Bennati collects the final two bonus seconds in Serradifalco... so: 1) Loosli 2) Roy 3) Bennati 4) Gasparotto The sprint at Serrafino signifies the 64km to go mark.

1615 CEST - In the peloton, Gilberto Simoni rides alongside Aussie champ Matthew Lloyd, Orange man Markel Irizar and  High Roads Marco Pinotti. The camera focuses on Mark Cavendish. Ever the embodiment of impetuous youth, he sticks his tongue out playfully at the camera.

The gap has crumbled to 3'42". The finish comes at the top of a 4km climb. Perfect for someone still in form from the Ardennes Classics. It would be a surprise, but after three top-10s in the Ardennes Classics, Christian Pfannberger has revealed himself as a strong rider. Riders like Bettini and some of the climbers will be favored for the finish.

Loosli and Roy are riding what 15 km/h. The two are having arguments since the sprint. Roy doesn't do any work anymore and Loosli got the assignment of direttore Saronni not too ride either.

Crash in the bunch with Zabriskie and Pfannberger. For Zabriskie it doesn't look great. Zabriskie clutches his lower back; he might have fallen on his cocxyx. Race leader Vandevelde waited to see how it was going with Z-men but I think this is end of the race. He's barely moved since the crash; rotten luck for one of the most popular riders. Luca Mazzanti (CSF Gruppo) was also in the crash, but was unscathed. It's a serious injury - they're preparing the ambulance for him. Ouch. It's official abandon Dave Zabriskie. Hope it's not a serious injury, get well soon Z.

1627 CEST - The gap is down to 2.15 As Zabriskie is stretchered away, Roy and Loosli continue to undo their good work with petulant soft-pedalling. They're not even Italian for gods sake, I don't know where they get it from. they are not on the same line anymore since the sprint in Serradifalco. It seemed that both riders got orders not too pull. The camera focuses on the UNESCO World Heritage site at Agrigento; it used to be a key Greek city.


The peloton passes an ancient Greek temple perched on a hilltop.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

The gap is down to 1.00 as the rain has come; not much rain but some drops.

1627 CEST - 50 km to go, Austrian champion Pfannberger, also involved in that crash, gets some assistance from the medical car.

Loosli and Roy are about to be caught. All that's missing is their "I'm rubber, you're glue, your words bounce off me and stick to you" confrontation.OK the leaders are caught. Gruppo compatto. due to their arguments they lost about 6.00 in 10 km, what a shame!!

1630 CEST - This very premature catch probably isn't ideal for Slipstream, who now have to set the pace for the next hour and chase down other attacks. Time to make pasta. I've had a very Italian week in the lead-up to this race - my preparation: I've had macchiato coffees, pizza and pasta, I've even been generally inappropriate and naughty in my attitude towards girls. I think my Italian-ness is peaking just in time for week 3. Bravissimo...

Our live coverage continues in: 91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 2 Live Part 2

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