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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 5 Live Coverage Part 1
By Staff
Date: 5/14/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 5 Live Coverage Part 1

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 5 Live Coverage
The short but steep ascent to the line can make for a hectic stage finish, and be a significant test for the main overall contenders. Follow the action live here.

Stage 4 Belvedere Marittimo - Contursi Terme 203 km
graphics courtesy -Gazzetta della Sport

Hello everyone. Benvenuti (welcome) to our live coverage of the fifth stage in the Giro d'Italia 2008. The Corsa Rosa starts his journey northward with a 203-kilometre effort from the seaside resort of Belvedere Marittimo in the Calabria region up to the Contusi Terme spa resort in Naples' region Campania. After the sprinting festival held over the last two days (with "newcomers" Daniele Bennati and Mark Cavendish stealing the limelight to other names the tifosi got accustomed to over the past years), the likes of Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Paolo Bettini, Franco Pellizotti and - why not? - perhaps even Riccardo Ricco' are given another opportunity to stamp their authority on the race. Yes, basically the same guys that snatched the top spots in Sunday's stage into Agrigento, whose final portion resembled today's (some say today's finish looks a bit like Liege-Bastogne-Liege's),

The stage first moves along the Tyrrenian coastline in Calabria, then takes an inland route as the race hits the soil of the Basilicata region, also known as Lucania. The slopes are mainly gentle - with the Fortino mountain sprint (third category) after 88 kilometres as only real "difficulty"- and the road is mainly straight until 40 km from the finish, then things got "uphill and downhill" and stay like that until the line. The last three kilometres average a gradient of 5.9 percent, but they can be as steep as nine percent. Not bad, eh?

1310 CEST The action got started some twenty minutes before midday local time/CEST. Magnus Backstedt, one of the main protagonists of Slipstream's winning ITT performance this past Saturday, made an early move. That, unlike Verbrugghe's yesterday, didn't prosper at all... The next attack, starring his teammate David Millar (GBR - Slipstream), had better outcome. The Scotsman did not attack all by himself though: Luis Felipe Laverde Jiménez (Col - CSF Group-Navigare), Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger - Gerolsteiner), Pavel Brutt (Rus - Tinkoff Credits System) and Francisco Pérez Sánchez (Spa - Caisse d'Epargne) helped him set up a multinational breakaway group that built a decent advantage of 01'35" over the field by km. 28 (at Scalea town). The gap ballooned to 04 minutes, 40 seconds by km. 41.

Pavel Brutt leads the break of the Fab Five. Left to right: Laverde Jiménez, Francisco Pérez Sánchez, Brutt, and Millar, Johannes Fröhlinger's helmet visible at the back. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

The overall ranking stayed the same at the end of yesterday's massive sprint, with Franco Pellizotti leading Christian Vandevelde by a little, tiny second, with Danilo Di Luca in third at 07" and possible Giro revelations Morris Possoni (High Road) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) one further second. In younger classes Possoni won a tough race like Giro della Valle d'Aosta twice, so watch out for the guy when things get vertical, notably in the last, crucial week.

"Goldilocks" Pellizotti may give it a go also today then, provided ... he recovers from the theft of ...ONE SHOE he was victim of yesterday!! Looks like we've got a strange kind of thieves at the Giro...

The Fab Five on the front (David Millar, Luis Felipe Laverde Jiménez, Johannes Fröhlinger, Pavel Brutt and Francisco Pérez Sánchez) made it to Praia a Mare town (km. 45), with the peloton still trailing by about 04'45". But the advantage kept growing further at km. 48: five minutes, forty seconds. In the meantime Leonardo Piepoli added his name to the list of fallen riders, but quickly regained the saddle and (by km 47) the bunch.

1320 CEST The advantage amounted to 06'45" at the km. 62 check. But we finally got some reaction from Liquigas and the rest of the peloton as the gap started dropping: 06'20" by kilometre 66.

1350 CEST We spoke a bit too early: the advantage of Millar, Laverde, Fröhlinger, Brutt and Pérez Sánchez got quickly back to its "uphill" ways: it was 07'15" with the summit of the Fortino climb five kilometres ahead.

1415 CEST Spanish-speakers dominated affairs at the Fortino mountain sprint: Felipe Laverde captured the top spot with Paco Sánchez in second place. Johannes Fröhlinger was "best of the rest".

The green armada of Liquigas set the pace with maglia ciclamino wearer Benatti escorting race leader Franco Pellizotti. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1422 CEST The time gap between the five cyclists in the breakaway group and the gruppo increased also after the KOM sprint: it was 07'20" after 90 kilometres and reached the eight-minute mrk by km. 98. But at the most recent check, with under 100k to go, Millar and associates were even leading the pack by 08 minutes and 20 seconds.

1435 CEST David Millar, Luis Felipe Laverde Jiménez, Johannes Fröhlinger, Pavel Brutt and Francisco Pérez Sánchez have taken their advantage up to a new maximum (09'05") after 113 km. as they hit a small town called Sterpone.

1445 CEST About 80k to go for the five-man breakaway, currently getting near the "Milan Expo 2015" sprint (what used to be the InterGiro) at Polla town. With the gap still hovering at nine minutes, chances for the Fab Five to make it the finish are getting bigger. And perhaps Paco Sánchez, current virtual race leader "on the road", has even got some chances to wear the actual Maglia Rosa after the stage. Perhaps. The Spaniard was about two minutes down on GC at the start line earlier today. It looks like Liquigas are finally putting in some kind of chasing efforts however. The green lime armada lined up on the front and started picking up the pace before too late.

1458 CEST Efforts from the Maglia Rosa domestiques, with Bettini's Quickstep helping a bit, are starting to bear some fruit: the peloton gained about 40 seconds on the fugitives through the last 7-8 kilometres. But the gap stays a good 08'20": Liquigas need more help if they want to bring them back.

Levi Liepheimer climbs ahead of Danilo Di Luca. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

The gap built by the Fab Five on the front is similar to that enjoyed by Rik Verburgghe yesterday, but whereas the Belgian was all by himself against the bunch. Now we have a solid quintet, whose members are cooperating with each other.  Still, the advantage is coming down quite seriously now. It amounted to about seven minutes at the latest check a while ago.

1520 CEST - The Gruppo made it to the Expo 2015 Sprint line at Polla, about seven minutes behind the frontrunners. David Millar had won the sprint there, by the way, with Fröhlinger (racing for Gerolsteiner and ... born in Gerolstein town!) and Pérez in the other top three spots.

1523 CEST - Bad news for Millar and the other breakawaymen: also Team LPR became part of the chase machine. Di Luca's teammates moved towards the front of the field.

1530 CEST - The "grey" weather that "welcomed" the peloton on the Giro roads today left room to rain. In the meantime, the peloton took a further minute out of the breakaway group in the last few kilometres: the advantage came down to 06'25". Still, it's quite a gap, isn't it?

Worthy of particular mention is the work done by Dario Cataldo so far in the Giro. The Liquigas youngster, two-stage winner at the past Tour de l'Avenir, has been a helluva domestique throughout the early days of the event. He's been dictating the pace for many a good miles, and once done with that job, he dropped himself to the back of the peloton and started working as water-carrier.  He's playing the perfect teammate now, but we would not be surprised to see him as team leader in years to come.

1538 CEST - Interviewed before the stage kickoff, Paolo Savoldelli said that Di Luca is in good shape and can do fine today, but also that this stage finish is tricky enough, and someone could suffer significant time losses; in his opinion it will be crucial to start the final climb in the right position.

The Gerolsteiner man from Gerolstein city, arguably the best climber in the front group, drives the breakaway charge on an uphill portion of the route. But despite such efforts from Fröhlinger the advantage fell under six minutes as the pack goes under the 45-km-to-go banner.

The going got vertical for the chasing pack too. This section is gonna be crucial, and will likely tell us if the breakaway still has any chance to make it.

1551 CEST - In pre-stage talks to the press "Goldilocks" Pellizotti admitted that this is a challenging stage, and there's a chance that Di Luca may take the Maglia off his shoulders. But he sounded like he enjoys having that mantle on, and would not be that unpleased if the reigning champion of the race failed to steal him the jersey.

1552 CEST - 40k to go. The gap fell under 05 and a half minutes. And Jurgen Van den Broeck fell off the road, hitting the grass of a nearby field. The Belgian quickly rushed back in the saddle, and is frantically making his way back into the bunch. Team High Road also moved the front of the peloton, their goal is to keep Morris Possoni's high overall placing. And that's why they're giving Liquigas some precious help.

35k to go, for the five frontrunners (David Millar, Luis Felipe Laverde, Francisco Pérez Sánchez, Johannes Fröhlinger and Pavel Brutt).

1558 CEST - A couple Liqui-guys raised the pace even more, resulting in ... their teammate Kjell Carltöm getting dropped. But notably resulting in the advantage falling down to about 04'30". The bunch have made some solid gains in this uphill section. But now that the race is back to its downhill antics, the escapees might well take advantage of the route and save some of their still decent lead.

Plus, LPR are not helping the chase that much: "we're a young team, and if we waste too many energies now could, it could backfire later in the race" said their DS Fabio Bordonali.

1603 CEST - The breakaway just went under the 30k to go banner. It's raining over Millar, Perez, Laverde, Fröhlinger and Brutt, who have been away for over 150 kilometres so far in the stage.

Our live coverage of stage 5 continues in part 2.

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