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.
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
4 LAVERDE JIMENEZ Luis F. COL CSF 184
5 FROHLINGER Johannes GER GST 184
6 MILLAR David GBR TSL 184
7 PEREZ SANCHEZ Francisco ESP GCE 183
8 HANSEN Adam AUS THR 164
9 VERBRUGGHE Rik BEL COF 162
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
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
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 Ciclismohoy.com. “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
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
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
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
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:
coverage of stage 9 continues in part 2
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