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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 8 Live Coverage Part 1
 
By Staff
Date: 5/17/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 8 Live Coverage Part 1
 

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 8 Live Coverage
The Corsa Rosa makes it to the outskirts of Rome with the westward journey of 208 kilometres into Tivoli. A place a certain reigning World Champion seems to know well ... Follow the action. Live. Here.


Stage 8 Rivisondoli - Tivoli 208 km

Welcome to our live coverage of the eighth stage in the 91st Giro Ciclistico d'Italia. The "Corsa Rosa" left the South of Italy behind and is set to continue its northward march. But also westwardmarch, as today's leg moves from the Abruzzo region into Latium, and the Rome area in particular, with the start line situated at Rivisondoli, near the region's main city L'Aquila, and the finish into Tivoli, a place hosting some UNESCO World Heritage sites, but often also the finishing line of the Giro del Lazio one-day event as well as stages of Italy's second biggest stage race, the Tirreno-Adriatico. A fact definitely known by Paolo Bettini, first across the line at Tivoli in the 2006 edition of the "race of the two seas". Roger De Vlaeminck took stage honours when the Tour of Italy came to town in the mid-70s - in fact it was late May, 1975 - instead.

The Cricket is poised to win today's stage too. Many picked him as the main suspect to uncork the champagne late in the afternoon. Today's route seems almost made for the man from La California (which is not on the Pacific Ocean coastline, but rather a borough of Cecina town in Tuscany, near the Tyrrhenian sea), with the finish line at the top of a small ascent of about 2,000 metres, averaging 5 to 8 percent as gradient. Plus, unlike yesterday the overall leadership of his team mate Giovanni Visconti doesn't look to be in jeopardy today, such that the rainbow jersey holder can use his own legs and skills in a more "selfish" way. But don't write off the chances of a fourth straight winning breakaway, with or without il Grillo inside. And perhaps even Di Luca and/or Riccò and/or Rebellin could have something to say in such a stage finish. The same Danilo, quickly interviewed at the start line, said that today's stage is going to be anything but a quiet stage (David Millar promised that he'll stay quiet "jusqu’à la chrono", until the Urbino ITT, instead). And Di Luca's loyal domestique Alessandro Spezialetti expressed the hope that today the capitano can do as fine as he did yesterday.


 

Prior to the final dash to the line, the Girini have to climb the second category Forca d'Acero (the mountain sprint comes a bit too early anyway, after just 56.9 km), then ride their way down into Latium in the long descent towards Abbazia di Casamari (km. 101.7), which plays host to today's feeding zone; Anagni city is set to be "crime scene" of today's "Milano Expo 2015" sprint (basically what used to be the Intergiro ...), the towns of Valmontone and Palestrina will be welcoming the race into the Rome province, and after some further leg-torturing on more or less gently undulating roads, the time will come for wannabe stage winners to finish off the job.

1225 CEST The stage, and some light rain with it, got underway a dozen minutes before midday. It got off to a fast start on the opening downhill portion into Roccaraso and Castel di Sangro, but none of the several attacks coming after the flag was dropped came to fruition.

1235 CEST A first, apparently dangerous breakaway group formed after about ten kilometres, courtesy of Geraint Thomas (GBR - Barloworld), Marlon Alirio Pérez Arango (Col - Caisse d'Epargne), Sven Krauss (Ger - Gerolsteiner) and Alessandro Bertolini of Serramenti Diquigiovanni-Androni as the only Italian. The quartet opened up a twelve-second gap on the field. A bit too little. They were reeled in by the merciless gruppo by km. 19. The peloton was still as one as they winded through Castel di Sangro, about fifteen miles into the stage.

1300 CEST The above quoted rider Alessandro Spezialetti finally made the headlines for something not strictly linked to Danilo Di Luca: he launched his own attack at km.42, along with Daniele Nardello (Ita - Serramenti Diquigiovanni-Androni), Mathieu Perget (Fra - Caisse d'Epargne), Fortunato Baliani (Ita - CSF Group-Navigare) and High Road's "support rider" Adam Hansen of Australia. The multi-ethnic front group have covered a good 45.1 kilometres in the first hour of racing, and had a fifty second advantage by the km. 48 check.

Mathieu Perget, born at Montauban on September 18, 1984, became a pro at Caisse d'Epargne two years ago, and the past year he won the best young rider's classification at the Tour of Rioja, a short Spanish stage race. He also won the Mediterranean Road Race Championship in the 2005 season, and the World U19 Time Trial Championship. As a junior, he took the bronze at the World Champs seven years ago. Okay, he's no Eddy, he's no Lance, he's no Big Mig ... But still kudos to him for giving it a go (and giving Yours Truly something to write about...) today.


The fab five on the attack.     Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1330 CEST The five escapees increased their advantage up to 02'38" as they reached the summit of Forca d'Acero. Spezialetti won the KOM sprint from Baliani - a teammate of green jersey holder Emanuele Sella - and Nardello. At his turn Nardello had a bad day in the saddle yesterday, losing plenty of time and moving down five spots to eighth place overall. His "start line deficit" to Giovanni Visconti (07 minutes, 53 seconds) has stopped him from posing a serious threat to the current race leader. Thus far at least.

1340 CEST Nardello is far from assuming the virtual leadership of the race also at the km. 72 check, with the gap still hovering at around 02'40" as the race hit the downhill part of the route into Sora.

1350 CEST The breakaway reached Sora (in the Frosinone province of Latium) after 86 kilometres.

1410 CEST Things are getting more serious now, with the advantage of the five-man breakaway group stretching to about five minutes around the feeding zone.

Prior to the final dash to the line, the Girini have to climb the second category Forca d'Acero (the mountain sprint comes a bit too early anyway, after just 56.9 km), then ride their way down into Latium in the long descent towards Abbazia di Casamari (km. 101.7), which plays host to today's feeding zone; Anagni city is set to be "crime scene" of today's "Milano Expo 2015" sprint (basically what used to be the Intergiro ...), the towns of Valmontone and Palestrina will be welcoming the race into the Rome province, and after some further leg-torturing on more or less gently undulating roads, the time will come for wannabe stage winners to finish off the job.

The man all eyes are on today, Paolo Bettini, also briefly spoke on Italian TV RAI3 minutes before the start this morning: "a Maglia Rosa should always be honoured and defended, and it wouldn't have changed a thing if I had crossed the line forty seconds earlier than I did; that's why I think that I did the right thing (in helping Visconti) yesterday. But today I'll try to win the stage".

Bettini is on the side of those giving Contador the benefit of doubt. "I don't know if he really was on holiday, but I want to believe him. I know some riders who can keep their bikes in their garage for a few days, then get back into the peloton and start going fast again after just a couple days or so. One of them is Oscar Freire, another is ... Paolo Bettini. And now I know that another is Alberto Contador. Perhaps they have something more than the others, I mean that they can get into top form after little work. Contador is a great rider, no matter what they say ... He won the Tour de France, and had a great start to the season, dropping everyone on his wheels. With such early season condition, he didn't need too much training in order to regain it. And I think he even benefited from taking a break and going on holiday. He got a last minute Giro call, struggled a bit in early stages, but is getting better by the day. He's particularly good in three-week races, and the third week is a tough one so, as I told you yesterday, watch out for him".


Daniele Nardello leads the escape on the Forca d'Acero.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1438 CEST Gap update: the lead of Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita - Team LPR), Daniele Nardello (Ita - Serramenti Diquigiovanni-Androni), Mathieu Perget (Fra - Caisse d'Epargne), Fortunato Baliani (Ita - CSF Group-Navigare) and Adam Hansen (Aus - Team High Road) ballooned to 06 minutes, 20 seconds at km. 120.

1450 CEST The breakaway have covered 133 kilometres thus far in the stage. The finishing line is 75k away.

1507 CEST - Less than 70k to go for Baliani, Nardello, Hansen, Spezialetti and Perget. The peloton split on the Morolo descent.

1508 CEST - News came through that a few riders previously hit the tarmac at Sora. One of them was nobody else but Alberto Contador. The Spaniard was quickly back in the saddle but lost a precious teammate as unfortunately Steve Morabito, the Astana Swissman, who also fell at Sora, was forced out of the race.


The team cars pass the crash as the riders check their injuries.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1512 CEST - Few are surprised at watching Quick Step lead the chase. Bettini is the man to beat today (but also sprinters like Zabel and Bennati could give it a shot) and he has no intention to let a breakaway make it to the line for the fourth time.  Giovanni Visconti promised that, in case of a sprint finish, he'll pay the Cricket back for his support and give him a good leadout.

1517 CEST - The five frontunners have covered 150 kilometres. But there's a long way between them and the finishing line. And unfortunately for them there's also the whole Quick Step armada, now living up to their team name as they lift the pace on the front of the gruppo. The team leads the chase as the peloton stretches to a long thin line following the pace the Quickstep'ers set.

1519 CEST - The road to the "Milano Expo whatever" sprint is much closer, just 1,000 metres away. The breakaway is getting into Anagni town. By the last check, about 2 km. ago, the gap had been cut down to 05 minutes 10 seconds.


Contador gets some treatment by the race doctor while being paced back.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1521 CEST - There was nothing even remotely looking like a sprint at Anagni. Fortunato Baliani just drove the breakaway across the line and got some bonus seconds (not much useful to his overall bid, neither to his stage bid) and points at stake there.

As you already know for sure, Levi Leipheimer lost over 20 seconds two days ago after being hampered by a motorbike late in the Peschici stage. The jury are still taking his case into consideration, and looking at the images ... but they haven't given him those seconds back. Justice will be done soon anyway (perhaps).

1535 CEST - More good news for Paolo Bettini and anyone rooting for the chasers came from the latest check: the gap is absolutely continuing in its dropping ways, and just fell to 04'40".


Another long day in the saddle for Quick Step as they lead the chase.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1540 CEST 45k to go for the chasing bunch. They gained close to a minute over the last 10 kilometres, bringing their deficit down to 03'54". Bettini is taking some risks though: efforts from Quick Step could take toll on the team's legs, and Il Grillo remain with few teammates around in the decisive moments of the stage.

Baliani, Nardello, Spezialetti and the two other fugitives have made it to Colleferro town. Their gap further shrank to 03'25", and now to 3:14. A Saunier Duval rider is up with the Quick Step crew pushing the pace as LPR and Astana follow in the wheels of Visconti's team.

Some commentators are perplexed about LPR's attitude. For the second day running, we have got a teammate of a top overall contender like Danilo Di Luca riding hard in the "breakaway of the day". A teammate that could have also saved his legs to help Danilo later in the race, in more crucial days. It didn't use to work like that with the likes of Armstrong and Indurain, did it? Team LPR's tactics are a bit questionable indeed. But facts could even prove them right later in the race, in more crucial days.

1547 CEST - Under 40k to go, and the gap is running down. Steadily. It hovers around three minutes.

Our Live coverage of stage 8 continues in part 2

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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 8 Live Coverage Part 2

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