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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 9 Live Coverage
By Staff
Date: 5/18/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 9 Live Coverage

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 9 Live Coverage - 1
A day clearly for the sprinters, Cavendish? Bennati? Zabel? Pick your man, as the sprinters come out of hiding on the road to San Vincenzo for the flattest stage of the race to date.

Stage 9: Civitavecchia - San Vincenzo 218 km

Welcome to our live coverage of the ninth stage of the 91st Giro d'Italia, covering 218 flat kilometres from Civitavecchia to San Vincenzo. After the lumps and bumps of the first week, the sprinters will be rejoicing at the prospect of the flattest stage so far. The peloton will have nice views of the Tyrrhenian Sea all day long, as they dart up the west coast of Italy, from the region of Lazio into bella Toscana, a popular holiday destination for Europeans.

So, after hiding in the gruppetto for a few days, the fast men will be roaring back into action, unless a breakaway can shake up things. However, one imagines, as it's still early days - and the sprinters still have the legs - that it's unlikely that any fugitives will be allowed to stay away into the confines of San Vincenzo, a town with a population of just 6,000 (most of whom will be out cheering today). Daniele Bennati and Mark Cavendish will be looking to add to their stage tally, but there are a host of rivals who would love a stage win to ease the pressure: McEwen, Forster, Zabel, Usov, Hondo or even Bettini.

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The profile is simply a sprinter's dream - 170 pan-flat kilometres, before the day's only GPM climb, the Campiglia Marittima. However, at 209 metres height, it is a mere trifle compared to the challenges both already encountered and to come. Despite an unclassified rise to San Carlo within the last twenty kilometres, expect any escape efforts to be stifled as Liquigas, High Road and Milram take centre stage to set up their men for a 75km/h sprint clash. After the number of climbs in recent stages, does anyone else find themselves actually looking forward to this likely bunch sprint? The race organisers have clearly done something right if a flat stage is whetting the appetite this much...
The weather reports are suggesting cloud and rain for today's racing, but there's a chance it may all clear up for a sunny finish in San Vincenzo.

1158 CEST No absentees today, as the full complement of 181 riders took the startline in Civitavecchia. Ag2r-La Mondiale rider Yuriy Krivtsov was clearly itching for an attack, as he attacked from the gun. He was joined by perennial attacker Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis).

Paolo Bettini at the end of the peloton checks over his shoulder.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1208 CEST A disinterested peloton was still spinning out the efforts of previous days, as Buffaz and Krivtsov enjoyed a lead of 2'10". Their breakaway has the potential to be one of the longest of the race, considering there is 218 kilometres to the line...

1243 CEST It's still all piano, piano in the bunch, the riders content to chat and roll along. Our leading duo, Buffaz and Krivtsov, have quickly got into their stride, and their lead is up to 8'45". Tomorrow, it's a rest day before the 39.4km time-trial between Pesaro and Urbeno, so at least the two escapees will get a chance to spin the effort out of their legs at lower intensity on the scenic Tuscan roads

1305 CEST The average speed for the first hour was a decent 38.2km/h, though let's remember the first four hours of riding are all on mirror-flat roads. Buffaz and Krivtsov, both plying their trade for French squads, have increased their lead to 10'40" at the 36km mark.

Krivstov and Buffaz on a flyer, clocking miles for the Trofeo Fuga Cervelo. Cervelo is the sponsor of the competition. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

By the way, a quick look at the Trofeo Fuga Cervelo standings, for the rider with the longest distance covered in breakaways. Was the prize a couple of years ago a Vespa? Was that a Daily Peloton in-joke? Answers on a postcard. Anyway, Pavel Brutt currently leads, but assuming that this escape isn't caught any time soon, Buffaz is going to leapfrog into the top three. The pair were both up there in 2007 too - Brutt was fourth, Buffaz took second, beaten by another Tinkoff Russian: Mikhail Ignatiev. The competition winner takes home about 6,000 Euros, which isn't too bad.

The standings are currently:
1 BRUTT Pavel RUS TCS 319
2 ROY Jérémy FRA FDJ 263
3 BALIANI Fortunato ITA CSF 242
6 MILLAR David GBR TSL 184
10 BOSISIO Gabriele ITA LPR 155
18 BUFFAZ Mickael FRA COF 135

1324 CEST Milram and Saunier Duval have come to the front and reacted, realising that it would be silly to let the two fugitives enjoy any more of a lead. In fact, their lead has come down slightly to 9'15".

Trawling through the reams of Giro competitions, I see there is also a "Combattivitá" classement. Slightly confusing; at any rate, Emmanuele Sella is leading that one. In his quest for the maglia verde, the pint-sized Sella leads closest challenger Bosisio by 17 points. However, with the big mountains still to come, he'll be hard-pushed to hold off the GC contenders.

1345 CEST The riders have entered the province of Grosseto. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because of the inaugural Giro di Grosseto (2.1) run in February, which saw stolen bikes, cancelled stages, a strike due to a dangerous finish... and an overall win by Filippo Pozzato, the only cyclist in the sport's history cool enough/foolhardy enough to pull off cornrows. I'm sure he'll be remembered more for his race wins (Milano-San Remo, HEW Cyclassics, Tirreno-Adriatico etc.) rather than for his pioneering hairstyles.

As for the Buffaz-Krivtsov tandem in front, the gap is stabilizing. At the 55km point, it was 9'26".

1405 CEST Some news from the Tour de Picardie: Cofidis neo-pro Jean-Eudes Demaret has won the 88km morning stage in a four-man sprint to take the race lead. Good riding from the youngster.

Anyway, back to Italia, and it's pretty much status quo. No better, no worse for Mickael Buffaz and Yuriy Krivtsov, as their lead is 9'35". As the 91st Giro peloton continues to head north along the Tyrrhenian coast, the average speed of the race has fallen to 37.5km/h.

Gilberto Simoni pulls over for a natural break. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1420 CEST The breakaway has just passed through Albinia (78km), and the gap is 9'30". It looks as if the peloton has found a nice rhythm and speed to ride at and is content to hold them at just below double figures (ten minutes is a nice round sum). Expect the pace to be slowly wound up inside the last two hours.

1435 CEST - A welcome chance to take on eat some gels and food for Krivtsov and Buffaz, as they go through the feedzone at Stazione di Alberese (94km). Their advantage is 9'15".

In other news: Rock Racing's Victor Hugo Peña took a second victory for the team at the Vuelta a Colombia by attacking out of a 12-man breakaway three miles from the finish on a cold and rain-soaked Stage 7 on Saturday. Peña, a former yellow jersey wearer at the Tour de France, freewheeled across the line 18 seconds ahead of Edwin Orozco (Orgullo Paisa) to win the 101.6-mile (163.6 km) race. Wilson Marentes (Colombia es Pasión-Coldeportes-Alpina) was third, 32 seconds behind. Peña’s win comes 10 years after he last won a stage in his national tour.

“I’m very happy for this win because it has been several years and I haven’t had a win,” Pena told Luis Barbosa of “I was amazed that I could take such a hard stage of the race in such difficult conditions. I dedicate this victory to my wife, Erika, and my sons, Mateo, Sofia and Paolo.” Photo of Victor crossing the line (courtesy of here.

1455 CEST - Buffaz and Krivtsov are about to hit Grosseto, capital of the province of the same name. It's well worth a look for its faux-Romanesque style cathedral and the remains of walls built by Francesco I de Medici in the late 1500s.

"I hope to do well," Daniele Bennati tells RAI journalist di Stefano - a bit of an understatement there. He continued: "I want to be wearing the maglia ciclamina by the end of the day."

1500 CEST - As they go through Grosseto 9'12" behind, the pack is led by Milram and Liquigas. A smidgeon over 100 kilometres to go then. Andrea Noé and Paolo Bettini have a chat in the pack; come to think of it, they look like similar.

Liquigas and Quick Step at the front. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1512 CEST - Liquigas is up front controlling the peloton and not taking the breakaway too seriously. With that interesting climb 18km from goal, we should see some attacking today from the classic specialists. The riders look to be enjoying today's ride with the rest day coming tomorrow in Pesaro. But Bettini will be hot today... today's finish in San Vincenzo is in his home region of Tuscany. We can expect a huge bunch of Bettini tifosi at the finish line.

LPR Brakes have gone to the front now, and the advantage of the breakaway is coming down. 8'35" now. Our brave duo Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis) and Krivtsov (Ag2r) seem unfazed by the changed gap and continue to motor up the road working together. So... what do we think of the Ricco-Astana feud building up?

1515 CEST - About 90km to go for Buffaz and Krivstov. The latter looked to be handy as a youngster, his best year being 2003 (he was 24) when he won stages in the Tour de Romandie, Tour de l'Avenir and Circuit de la Sarthe. He's still a good rider with strong time-trialing abilities, but has fallen quiet recently. His last win was the Ukrainian national time-trial back in 2004.

Ricco isn't doing much good professing to not needing friends. If he IS good enough to win the Giro (as he claims), Leonardo Piepoli may not be enough.

Still, Klöden is being somewhat disingenuous in claiming that Ricco doesn't have a chance of winning. He may have trouble in the ITTs, but it seems hard to deny that he has the class to be a danger.And Ricco does have a point about Contador... it's hard to believe the claims that he was not prepared for the Giro, with the riding he has shown so far.

1530 CEST - 85km to go. The peloton go past Castiglione della Pescaia, a well-maintained Medieval fortified town with a castle overlooking the sea. we are 3:32 into the race and the average speed is at 38:39 km/h, not exactly burning up the road at this point. Riders in the peloton are riding in rows talking among each other while Buffaz leads Krivstov.

 The TV shows pictures of Club Bettini present in numbers at the finish line. Bettini has already announced that he will attack on the final climb, and his fans would like nothing better than to see him take this victory at home. He, himself, would probably like few things better... it is not often one gets such a chance.

I think he'd do better waiting for the bunch sprint. I can't see any Classics men, no matter how good, holding off a flying bunch for 15 kilometres. Perhaps that kind of thing doesn't matter when you're in local territory: it's OK to be ruled by your heart for a day. The two climbs at the finish are pretty tough, though, so hard riding might cause trouble for some of the sprinters.

Visconti and Bettini chat. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

In the bunch, Nocentini, Baliani and Di Luca share a joke. This is a kind of neo-rest-day before the rest day, they'll only have had to ride hard for the last 60 kilometres or so. I'd expect an attempted attack over the last climb by a few brave souls attempting to deny the sprinters the one clear day for a duel in the sun.

1537 CEST - 74 km to go. The gap is now down to 8 minutes and falling, and the peloton has not even started riding in anger. The peloton is in a long line, though, so even though the riders are looking relaxed, they are moving along at a good pace. They're a bit lined out from a bit of a crosswind coming off the sea.

As the pack go into a tunnel - sunglasses off boys! - after Roccomare, the gap is now 7'45".  I wonder how much wind will be a factor nearer the finish ? Let's hope there is not too much wind, so that we can have some effective attacks. Milram would love a win today. What with parting company with Petacchi the other day and his bans, it hasn't been a good few months for the team... who were basically built around the man they split with.

Back in the peloton, Mark Cavendish moves up nearer the front. British fans will be hoping for a second Giro stage victory today.

Our commentators today are Andy McGrath and Michael Akinde making the race calls and commentary. Join us for part two:

Our Live coverage of stage 9 continues in part 2

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