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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 3 Live Coverage Part 1
By Staff
Date: 5/12/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 3 Live Coverage Part 1

91rst Giro d'Italia ~ Stage 3 Live Coverage
The last episode of the Sicilian trilogy might finally provide the sprinters with some chances for glory. Follow all the action here.

12 May 2008, Stage 3: Catania - Milazzo 221 km
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage three of the 91st Giro d'Italia. The journey of 221 kilometres from the island's second main city Catania to the seaside port Milazzo wraps up the "Sicilian trilogy" that delighted us with some moments of great cycling.

First of all as the Slipstream-Chipotle riding machine rocked the clock in downtown Palermo Saturday; but nobody with a good knowledge of cycling could have been really taken by surprise by the great performance Zabriskie, Millar, Backstedt and associates put in, and arguably not even by how High Road, Barloworld and Liquigas, also fielding some good TTists, gave the mighty "Vaughters Vandals" a run for their money, with the stage result uncertain until the end, thus making the race opener even more enjoyable.

Perhaps a little more surprising, but equally welcomed and enjoyable, was the fact that presumed top overall contenders like Riccó, Pellizotti, Di Luca et al. decided to show their mettle as early in Sunday's stage two into Agrigento, with the Saunier Duval claiming line honours and the Liqui-guy with the blond curly locks taking the jersey off Christian Vandevelde's shoulders.

Monday's leg (see profile below) is meant to be one for the sprinters, one the not too many stages the fastest wheels around should take advantage of this year. The early portion of the route features plenty of uphill and downhill riding, but the going gets flat soon later, and stays like that almost until the finishing line, situated in the small town near Messina, in the land of Vincenzo "Shark of the Strait" Nibali, who's not likely to raise his fist in triumph today though, himself not being exactly a pure fastman.

Graphics courtesy gazzetta della sport

1515 CEST We join the stage in progress with six riders (out of 195 starters) on a breakaway, and the pack almost four minutes behind: Jérémy Roy (Fra - FDJ), Mickael Buffaz (Fra - Cofidis), Riccardo Chiarini (Ita - Team LPR Brakes-Ballan), Matei Jurco (Svk - Team Milram), Pavel Brutt (Rus - Tinkoff C.S.) and Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel - Quick Step) made the gap around km. 55. After the stage kickoff - slightly postponed due to some technical probs by Slipstream-Chipotle - the peloton stayed as one keeping a slow pace (31.5 kms were covered in the first hour) until ten riders made the first move of the day after Emanuele Sella beat Daniele Pietropolli and Fortunato Baliani at the summit of the third category KOM sprint Maletto. Sella firmly tops the KOM classification at this point in the race.

The first attack was not successful, but the half a dozen attackers who tried to go clear immediately afterwards attained their breakaway objective. The Liquigas-driven gruppo let them go and gain over four minutes by km. 77, but the advantage started yo-yoing since, falling to just two minutes and five second at Linguaglossa (km. 84), and going up again to three minutes as some 4,000 metres more were covered, and to 03'50" at the feeding zone (km.100) near Giardini Naxos town, the most ancient Greek settlement on Sicilian soil.

1518 CEST The bad news of the day is about David Zabriskie. One of the protagonists of Saturday's TT showdown was forced out of the race after falling near a railroad crossing earlier yesterday. A possible overall contender like Colombia's Mauricio Soler took to the startline today in spite of his hand problems, but he's struggling a lot to stay in the saddle and not give up to pain; unfortunately we wouldn't put any money on him finishing the race in Milan.

1525 CEST - The average speed was raised to 35.9 kph after three hours. The gap keeps going up and down, the last update saw the six frontunners lead Liquigas and the rest of the field by over two minutes.

1535 CEST - Newest gap update: Jérémy Roy (Fra - FDJ), Mickael Buffaz (Fra - Cofidis), Riccardo Chiarini (Ita - Team LPR Brakes-Ballan), Matei Jurco (Svk - Team Milram), Pavel Brutt (Rus - Tinkoff C.S.) and Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel - Quick Step) lead by 02'32" at Nizza di Sicilia, with about 90k to go. Buffaz made the news as winner of the Roccalumera Intermediate sprint a few minutes ago.

1546 CEST - Basically the whole Barloworld squad stay beside Juan Mauricio Soler, still having a hard time today. And the fact the peloton has to ride on cobbled streets, especially when going through some small towns in the Etna area, is not making it any easier to the man from the Duitama area of the Andes. Compared to this, Di Luca's recent problems were of no significance: Danilo just had a flat but immediately regained the group. In the meantime, the gap kept hovering around 02'15".

The peloton looks like they're going to bring the escapees down whenever they want to. Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner) also hit the tarmac today, resulting on thigh bruises on his upper left leg. Thankfully he's still in the saddle at the moment. 

An unwelcome guest made its appearance around km. 140: it started raining (although lightly) on the peloton and the field alike. The six men on the front take regular turns, but they're not making gains on the peloton any longer.

Liquigas are unsurprisingly driving the chase, both because they are the Maglia Rosa's squad and have got one of the fastest guys in the field, Daniele Bennati, one of the main suspects to hit the podium today. Paolo Bettini might well give it a go at the sprint today, but the Cricket is taking it easier at the bottom of the pack now.

1601 CEST - Aaaaaargh. A pile-up!!! Riccó, Millar, Gavazzi and some 25-30 more guys fell on the road made tricky and slippery by the rain. Lund and Griepel also spotted on the tarmac. High Road's Toni Martin and Marco Pinotti were amongst those involved too. Most riders, but not all of them, are back in the saddle.

The maglia rosa Riccardo Ricco's shorts are torn and he is moving his left hand gingerly, making sure it's feeling ok. The accident happened as one rider, sitting around spot number twenty or so, fell all by himself. And many others followed him on the "asfalto"

Matej Jurco of Milram just went for a long one to win the Traguardo Volante at the 155km point.  A Traguardo Volante awarding some precious bonus points too. By the way Brutto (2nd), Roy (3rd), Buffaz (4th), Chiarini (5th) and the long-named Belgian (6th) followed Jurco across the line at the recent intermediate sprint .

1606 CEST - All of them but Belgium's Dominique Cornu have regained the saddle. The aforementioned accident helped the escapees increase their advantage up to about three minutes as the gruppo make it to downtown Messina.  This was a result of the Liquigas attitude change: the chase-leaders slowed the pace to wait for those caught up in the pile-up.

Ricco is being helped back on by his Saunier Duval-Scott team-mates after that unfortunate fall. We'll see if there are any ramifications, like what has befallen Soler. Ricco is visibly struggling. But he should made his way back into the peloton soon. He's currenlty being paced by three teammates, with Mark Cavendish following his wheel. Danilo di Luca, meanwhile, makes his feelings known to a motorbike rider.  Apparently, the Ricco group is 25 seconds down on the peloton.

1613 CEST - Dario Cataldo, a past winner of the Baby Giro and dual stage winner at Tour de L'Avenir, drives the peloton charge for Liquigas, but the pace is anything but frantic. The Barloworld "Red Army" are helping Lqiuigas at the front, with Mikhail Igantiev of Tinkoff as only yellow stain in an ocean of red and lime green jerseys. Ricco goes through the cavalcade, some of the backmarkers, and is back in touch. And so are Cavendish, Velasco and the other "chasers". Gap update: 02'55"

1620 CEST - While the Italian TV cameras were busy showing aerial images of the Messina Strait, the rain Gods resolved to stop torturing the peloton and move somewhere else. Still, there's another danger to the safety of Riccó and the others in the pack: the "sand clouds" that come into being and annoy the field from time to time, courtesy of the winds blowing in the area.

1624 CEST - While some Liquigas tifosi at the finish line are showing their support for the green team with banners stating "waiting for Bsoso, we root for Liquigas" and more like that. the six in the breakaway maintain a lead of 02'50" over the field with about 50k to go.

Again: the stars of the six-man breakaway are Jérémy Roy (Fra - FDJ), Mickael Buffaz (Fra - Cofidis), Riccardo Chiarini (Ita - Team LPR Brakes-Ballan), Matei Jurco (Svk - Team Milram), Pavel Brutt (Rus - Tinkoff C.S.) and Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel - Quick Step). Jeremy Roy taps it out on the front. He'll be leading the Trofeo Fuga after his escapades over the last two days.

1633 CEST - Germany's Greipel, who hit his left hand in the previous pile-up, such that he can now hold the handlebar with just two fingers of his left hand, finally managed to rejoin the gruppo. The gap has been shortened to 1'40" though. Ermanno Cappelli rides alongside Ricco, who still looks a bit subdued from the crash.Liquigas, LPR and Barlworld keep marshlling things and the front, with the boys in lime green steadily in driver's seat. The escapees and the peloton are taking on an undulating portion of the route.

And a couple Sicilian tifosi wave at the cameras from ... the summit of a street lamp. How the heck they climbed their way up there goes behind our knowledge... Liquigas are gradually reeling in this fuga, 1'25" is the deficit now. The escappes rode their own way under the 45-km-to-go banner. The pack is going to come in soon ...

Sounds serious for Ricco; there are worries over his finger and clavicle? Talking to his team manager Algeri (who at his turn told it to the RAI journalist "on the road") Riccardo Ricco' said that he thinks he got a broken finger. Algeri said he hopes not ("we'll see") but also thinks Eros Capecchi may have been the one sustaining the worst consequences: a "clavicola rotta", which translates into English as "broken collarbone". Looking at the crash again, it is still a mystery how that Francaise des Jeux man went down to cause it - it looked like there was no contact, though a Silence man was on his wheel.

1646 CEST - 40k to go for the breakaway. Paolo Bettini rides as cool as you like alongside Andrea Tonti at the back of the pack. Piano, piano.  Now the pack goes under that 40k banner, the gap has gone out slightly to 1'45".

Our live coverage of Stage 3 continues in part 2.

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