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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 6 Live Coverage
By Staff
Date: 5/15/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 6 Live Coverage

Giro d'Italia - Stage 6 Live Coverage
The longest stage of this edition of the Giro... Eleven riders away in the wind with a 14 minute gap... can they stay away for glory?


Stage 6: Potenza - Peschici 265 km
 The Giro gets back to Peschici after only two years, and when the race finished there in 2006 stage winner was a certain Franco P. Yes, the current Maglia Rosa wearer, who commented like this before the stage start today ."Yes, it's great to be back to the town that provided me with one of biggest satisfactions of my career, and with the Maglia Rosa on my shoulders. I'll see if can try and make something good today too". Also Riccardo Riccó promised that, if the stage finish is not too dangerous for him, he may he give it a go.

1510 CEST - But both guys must have to postpone their rendez-vous with glory, or so it seems: We join the stage in progress with an 11-man breakaway on the move: Maksim Igliniskiy (Kaz - Astana), Alan Pérez Lezaun (Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi), Matteo Priamo (Ita - CSF-Group), Matthis Russ (Ger - Gerolsteiner), Francesco Gavazzi (Ita - Lampre), Giovanni Visconti (Ita - Quick Step), Paul Martens (Hol -Rabobank), Daniele Nardello (Ita - Diquigiovanni-Androni), Magnus Backstedt (Swe - Slipstream-Chipotle), Jason McCartney (USA - Team CSC) and Nikolay Trusov (Rus - Tinkoff) attacked at km. 53, shortly after the Rionero in Vulture mountain prime.

René Mandri (Fra - AG2R-La Mondiale) was also amongst the escapees, but fell soon later and all of his breakaway hopes evaporated. The guys worked so well together that they built a sixteen-minute advantage (!) over the peloton. A kind of chase got started some time ago, but the gap stayed around an impressive 14 minutes or so at the latest check. 35k to go for the escapees ... and 45k to go for the peloton!

 "Waterboy" Matthias Russ, 01'39" down on GC at the stage start, is the brand new "virtual race leader on the road". But even in case the breakaway makes it to the finish, don't take his rise to the top of the overall for granted: Italy's National RR Champion Giovanni Visconti was only 13 seconds behind him at the startline today, and made some time gains (half a dozen seconds) at previous hot spot sprints, so the tricolore jersey owner is on Russ' heels GC-wise.

After hitting the tarmac in BOTH bunch sprints he has "contested" so far, Nikolay Trusov realized he'd better try his chance in some breakaways.

1530 CEST -  A great white stone stands in the bay - The "Monolito Pizzomunno" there's some kind of legenda about it. Too bad I don't have the time to tell now... Gap update: the peloton is still trailing by an impressive 13'18" as the race hit the seaside town Vieste. Vieste is wonderful small town standing out on a rocky promontory.

If you want to go for experience, look no further than Daniele Nardello. My god, he's been around: three top-tens in the Tour de France (98, 99 and 00), the Italian national championship, the GP Zurich and stages in the Vuelta and Tour de France. All that's missing is one from his home race...

At the beginning of one of its splendid golden sand beaches, the one called “del castello” (of the castle), stands out, majestic and solitary, an almost twenty-meter-high very white monolith, called “Pizzomunno” (world corner), which is the uncommon result of the sea wash and wind erosion. It is one of the symbols which, together with its popular legend, have scattered the image of Vieste all over the world. In fact, “Pizzomunno” is said to have been a young fisherman turned into rock by jealous mermaids who could not bear his love for a sweet local girl. Every one hundred years, on a full moon night, as if by magic, the huge rock is transformed and takes human countenance again. Like this “Pizzomunno” loves his beloved again, till dawn when the charm disappears.

1534 CEST - The 11-man breakaway, blessed by the mighty southern Italian sun, goes under the 20k to go banner. Their advantage over the field has been cut down (so to speak) to 12 minutes 35 seconds. Still a helluva gap.  Liquigas are "leading" the peloton of course. But Pellizotti and his teammates look - and ride - like they are anything but annoyed by the perspective of losing the jersey.

The Giro crew are riding along the coastline of the magnificent Gargano peninsula, in the southeastern corner of the nation. And in the region also known as "the heel to Italy's boot ".

1541 CEST - The line is only 15 kilometres away for Maksim Igliniskiy (Kaz - Astana), Alan Pérez Lezaun (Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi), Matteo Priamo (Ita - CSF-Group), Matthis Russ (Ger - Gerolsteiner), Francesco Gavazzi (Ita - Lampre), Giovanni Visconti (Ita - Quick Step), Paul Martens (Hol -Rabobank), Daniele Nardello (Ita - Diquigiovanni-Androni), Magnus Backstedt (Swe - Slipstream-Chipotle), Jason McCartney (USA - Team CSC) and Nikolay Trusov (Rus - Tinkoff). The bunch is 12'38" back.

Matteo Priamo may even not be one of the strongest and most successful guys on the front. but he's in quite good shape, as proved by his recent accomplishments at Tour of Turkey, where he won two stages. Both of which in small bunch sprints. Kazakh campione Maxim Iglinskiy also has some good condition, evidenced by his victory in the opening road stage of the Tour de Romandie. With the finish on a small hill, Magnus Backstedt must be relishing the prospect.

1548 CEST - Gap 12:15, Don't discount Paul Martens either, a very handy rider poached by Rabobank from Skil-Shimano. He's good on hill finishes too. The escapees are tackling a small ascent of 1,500 metres, it's the last difficulty BEFORE the final climb. The breakaways could (almost) walk to the finish and still beat the peloton...

1652 CEST - Matteo Priamo attacks! The CSF athlete tried to solo away but Gavazzi countered his move. Behind, the escapees look at each other as if to say "I'm not chasing, you do it." The fireworks are finally about to start for real in the breakaway. Euskaltel man Alan Perez joins Priamo in front.  Priamo managed to open a little gap, but Alan Perez the Basque followed his wheel. And the two guys are taking turns. Still, Alan Perez and Matteo Priamo have 15 seconds on the chasers, and a further 12'08" on today's sluggish peloton.

1558 CEST -  The Orange Man leads Priamo down this short descent. They are committing to this. Their advantage over the nine chasers is basically the same (around 15") with 6 kms remaining. Magnus Backstedt managed to regain the wheels of the "first chase group". But he's likely to get dropped again in the last climb.

1600 CEST - 5km to go, Their lead has risen to 19 seconds now. We would say the peloton is chasing but that would be too a big WORD and mean they were actually trying to catch the 11. Visconti asks for help from the others. But the others know that he's the fastest guy on the front, so they are not that willing to help him. And as a result of that, Priamo and Perez Lezaun keep making gains.

4km to go - Stupid riding from the break, are they going to blast up the final climb? Also Martens got upset at the non-helping attitude of his breakaway mates. Now Magnus Backstedt goes off the front! Might as well give himself some space to fall back on the climb. He's got a decent gap.

Gap Update: Perez Lezaun and Priamo lead Backstedt by 28 seconds, with the other 8 riders a further 10 seconds back, e.g. trailing the front duo by 38". The two frontrunners hit the final climb to the finish.

1500 metres to go - If things stay the same, Matthias Russ will be a happy maglia rosa. The climb is 7-8% though, and the Swedish champion is going to go backwards. And either Priamo or Perez a well-earned stage winner. Under the flamme rouge for Perez and Priamo! Trussov and Martens also tried to attack the chasing group...  , but it is too late for them.

As the gradient kicks in, Priamo leads Perez. Behind, Russ is content to mark Visconti.
The two-man battle for line honours is starting ... Priamo attacks!! If his legs are ok, you'd put money on Priamo winning the sprint... A powerful move. Perez can't follow. PRIAMO WINS!!


Visconti dropped Russ by his wheels in the last hundred metres. Third for Trussov at 26 seconds, then Martens, Iglinskiy, Nardello, Gavazzi, Visconti, Backstedt... and Russ, a few seconds down.

The Sicilian made some time gains on the German. Enough for him to make up for his 7-second deficit and capture the maglia? The Italian champion threw his bike across the line as if it was a stage-winning sprint. He may have done just enough, an anxious wait for Visconti.  We'll get to know in a second. Stay tuned!

The gap across the line between the two guys was ... seven seconds! So ... it's a DRAW! They' have to resort to the TTT results to determine the new GC leader. It's a matter of hundredths of a second.

It's official now ... the NEW GC leader of the 91st Giro d'Italia is ...  is ... iiiiiiiiiiiis....


"Incredible..." he smiles breathlessly when the news comes through. "Maglia rosa... This morning I said I would win the stage. Well, I didn't do that, but the maglia rosa is just as good."

Meanwhile, 5 kilometres to go for the peloton...

1. Matteo Priamo (CSF Gruppo-Navigare) 5h 24m 49s
2. Alan Perez Lezaun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 8 seconds
3. Nikolai Trussov (Tinkoff Credit Systems) 27"
4. Paul Martens (Rabobank) 31"
5. Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) 32"

Oh yes, caught in between all the fuss about stage victory and notably the new holder of the Maglia Rosa, we forgot there's still a peloton in the race. The question is now, will the peloton's deficit still be in double figures?

 "UNA GIOIA INCREDIBILE" were the first after-race words from Matteo Priamo. And we don't even think a translation is needed ...

The pack is lined out as they hit the climb, but it's going to be at least 10 minutes deficit.  700 metres from the finish, Serpa and a few others have to grind to a halt in the middle of the pack as a police motorbike blocks the side of the road. Inconvenient... Pellizotti is second wheel, with Bennati behind him; both recognizable in their jerseys.

Bennati "wins" the sprint for twelfth ahead of Alberto Contador (hmm!), Cherel, Pellizotti and Bettini were also up there. They were 11'33" back. Contador showed up at the front of the field, with the first significant stage (GC-wise) coming tomorrow.  The Spaniard is sending his rivals some message, isn't he?

1615 CEST - Paolo Bettini in front of the cameras "See how things change? Everyone was criticizing us (Quick Step) yesterday, and now we've got the jersey". Yes Paolo, you totally had this planned. You masterminded this. In fact, why don't you have the trophy?'

Franco Pellizotti: "I said goodbye to the jersey, but we came here in order to win the Giro, so I hope that I can have it back. My plans are not going to change anyway. Sure my teammates are going to recover a bit in the next days".

Then New General Classification, has been reorganized at the top: The champagne and good times flow on the podium: another success for the small CSF Gruppo (formerly Panaria) team - this is only Priamo's third year as a pro, but he's making it count. Visconti also takes the Maglia Bianca as the top under 23 rider in the Giro.

1. Giovanni Visconti (Ita - Quick Step)
2. Matthias Russ (Ger - Gerolsteiner) - s.t.
3. Daniele Nardello (Ita - Diquigiovanni-Androni) - at 01'22"

4. Alan Pérez Lezaun (Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi) - at 04'22"
5. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita - Lampre) - at 05'34"
7. Franco Pellizotti (Ita - Liquigas) - at 09'08"
8. Danilo Di Luca (Ita - Team LPR) - at 09'15"
9. Morris Possoni (Ita - Team High Road) - at 09'16"
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita - Liquigas) - at 09'16"
12. Nicki Sörensen(Den - Team CSC) - at 09'25"
13. Kanstantsin Sioutsou (Blr - Team High Road) - at 09'26"
14. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita - Team LPR) - at 09'29"

Matteo Priamo even thought of dropping out of the race after he fell a couple days ago. Thankfully (for him) he didn't. And got his first ever Giro d'Italia stage victory in his first ever time in the Corsa Rosa. He admitted he din't expect such an "early" win. "It is my first time at the Giro, and I really didn't think I could win a stage. Everyone was running out of steam late in the stage. Perhaps I was more daring than the others. I knew that if I was going to open a gap, it was going to be hard for the others to catch me, so I attacked".

CSF-Navigare got off to the worst possible start in this Giro, with the team down to eight riders from the beginning after news that Maximilian Richeze had tested positive at Circuit de la Sarthe came through. But they took their redemption on the road, and team boss Bruno Reverberi was logically all smiles after the stage: "I think we fulfill our objectives, with Priamo winning the stage and Sella in green. We can be truly satisfied with our accomplishments so far, but are also determined to hold on to the KOM jersey".

Some words from new overall leader Giovanni Visconti, so happy at claiming the jersey that he even ... hit himself with a bottle cork during the ceremony on the podium!

 "I attacked today because I was very upset at not being able to do well in front of my fans on home roads, back in Sicily. But that's the way cycling is, you know: when you long for something, you often don't get it" and "I know that I'm going to surrender the jersey sooner or later, but I'll try and keep it as long as possible, hopefully also doing a good ITT. And even if I lose the Maglia Rosa, there are still two other jerseys, and I want to keep them ... until the Italian Nationals".

Thanks for joining us for our live coverage of  stage 6. Thanks also to Andy McGrath and Fabio our tickerers. Join us tomorrow for Stage 7, a 180 km test as we go into the mountains from Vasto to Pescocostanzo with 3 classified climbs with a mountain top finish that favors young Gerolsteiner climber Matthias Russ who may switch the blue jersey of his team for pink of race leader.

Complete Official results and photos from Stefano Sirotti to come...

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