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92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 5 Live Coverage Part One
By Fabio
Date: 5/13/2009
92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 5 Live Coverage Part One

92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 5 Live Coverage

 Stage5: San Martino di Castrozza - Alpe Di Siusi 125 km

Welcome to the Giro d'Italia's Centenary Celebrations. It was a mid-spring day, it was Thursday, May 13th 1909. It was the day (better, the night, for it happened at 0253 AM, local time) Mr. Carlo Cavaneghi, the president of the Unione velocipedistica italiana, dropped the flag, and a bike extravaganza spanning over one hundred years got kick started, with 123 Italians and four Frenchmen in attendance.

That was quite of a stage, a journey of 397 kilometres from Milan to Bolonia, with a certain Dario Beni and his Bianchi team making histry by claiming the first ever stage triumph on Giro roads. Such contest ran over eight stages, and triple stage victor Luigi Ganna became eventual winner of the point-based event (had it been a time-based race like today's, the winner would have been Giovanni Rossignoli, with Ganna in third at 50") in Milan 17 days later, curiously with Mr. Beni taking line honours also in the final leg.

Ah, welcome to the fifth stage of the 2009 edition of Italy's Grand Tour too, by the way. Yes, it's not all about what happened a hundred years ago. It's also about what's going to take place in a day that could tell us a lot about who's going to wear that coveted jersey on the Rome podium late this month. Unlike many previous years, we won't have to wait for the final week to see who's got great climbing legs. We started to have a clue about it yesterday, when Danilo Di Luca sprinted at 60 kph to claim stage victory from Stefano Garzelli and Franco Pellizotti, with Levi Leipheimer hanging on and Lance Armstrong losing a little time to the other main GC contenders. We'll get to know more at the end of today's short (just 125 kilometres) but though journey from San Martino di Castrozza to Alpe di Siusi.

Stage 5 © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

That would be the second mountain top finish in a row, but definitely more challenging than yesterday's, as it wraps up a 24-kilometre ascent, with the going getting steeper in the last nine thousand metres, and gradients going up to 11 percent. It ain't the only difficulty of the day of course, as the road will start tilting upwards right after the gun, courtesy of the Passo Rolle slopes, "crime scene" of legendary bike fights throughout a century of rides, but maybe coming a little early to make the difference among the top overall contenders today. Still, a good launch pad for wannabe early attackers, a solid breakaway group is likely to come into being there.

Stage 5 © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

A long descent into Predazzo and some more uphill racing (but no KOM Sprint there, sorry) until Caldaro town follow, then comes the Hot Spot Sprint in bilingual (Italian and German) city Bolzano/Bozen. A few more miles of flat riding, a string of half a dozen tunnels ... and let the final battle of climbing giants break out!!

Stage 5 © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

1340 CEST The stage got under way under cloudy skies at 0135 PM local time. The peloton is climbing the Rolle pass, with cyclamen-jersey holder AleJet Petacchi in the driver's seat, and GC leader Thomas Lovkvist besides him. No signs of attacks thus far.

1350 CEST Eros Capecchi, a very young Tuscan with the Fuji-Servetto outfit, started the fireworks. Barloworld's Francesco Bellotti, on the move, he was also in the first miles of yesterday's leg, and three more guys (Diquigiovanni's José Serpa, LPR's Daniele Pietropolli and Lampre's Francesco Gavazzi) followed his opening move. Di Luca, Simoni, Cunego didn't wait long to get one of their respective domestiques into the day's first breakaway group.

The group changed a little as Serpa's Venezuelan team mate Carlos Ochoa plus France's "Titi" Voeckler of Bouygues Telecom joined the frontrunners near the top of the ascent, and Bellotti was dropped. Ochoa out sprinted Voeckler and Capecchi at the summit, taking the most KOM points. They are on the descent now.

Again, the escapees are: José Serpa, Carlos Ochoa, Thomas Voeckler, Eros Capecchi, Daniele Pietropolli and Francesco Gavazzi, with the peloton half a minute back.

1405 CEST The fugitives got a new companion: ISD'S Giovanni Visconti attacked in the downhill section and got across to the leaders. The seven-strong breakaway slightly extended their advantage to 40 seconds.

1410 CEST The pace set by Lovkivst's Team Columbia helpers, with Liquigas-Doimo sitting on their wheels, is not too high, and the gap is marching towards the minute.

1415 CEST Pavel Brutt (Team Katusha), stage winner at Contursi Terme last year, sped off on his own and is currently trying hard to close down on the seven wonders up front. The Russian's time distance is no more than 40 seconds while the main bunch, perhaps too busy contemplating those weapons of mass distraction that are the magnificent landscapes of Trentino, have to make up for a two-minute gap already.

1420 CEST Brutt can't make it on his own, sorry. The Russian's losing his battle against the seven wonders, his gap moving up to the minute at the most recent check. Team Columbia and their wheel-followers sit 02'15" behind, "perfectly in control of the situation" according to Italian TV co-co-commentator Silvio Martinello (he said the same things about LPR yesterday, and facts eventually proved him right).

1430 CEST Again and again, the seven leaders are:

  • José Serpa (Col - Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli);
  • Carlos Ochoa (Ven - Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli);
  • Thomas Voeckler (Fra - Bbox-Bouygues Telecom);
  • Eros Capecchi (Ita - Fuji-Servetto);
  • Daniele Pietropolli (Ita - LPR Brakes-Farnese);
  • Francesco Gavazzi (Ita - Lampre-NGC);
  • Giovanni Visconti (Ita - ISD)

    Their advantage on the Columbia-led group is a little bigger (02'36") with Pavel Brutt (Rus - Team Katusha) still in between but with basically zero chances to succeed in his chasing bid.

    1440 CEST Nothing more than a little gap update: the aforementioned attackers are 01'20" clear of Pavel Brutt, with the bunch falling further back to 03'30" at Cavalese, 42 kilometres into the stage and 83 kilometres from the finish line. The main GC contenders have all the time to make up for their current time deficit in the two-thirds of the stage yet to be covered.

    1445 CEST José Serpa, Carlos Ochoa, Thomas Voeckler, Eros Capecchi, Daniele Pietropolli, Francesco Gavazzi and Giovanni Visconti covered 42.6 kilometres in the first hour of racing. They're still working well with each other, and such cooperation was no stranger to the fact their advantage reached new heights, getting dangerously close to four minutes.

    1450 CEST Now it's 04 minutes and 14 seconds as the race steps into the Bolzano province (aka South Tyrol) with 75k to go. Such more solid gaps took the "virtual Maglia Rosa" all the way onto Giovanni Visconti's shoulders. The Sicilian was 02'49" behind Lovkvist in the overall standing at the start line today.

    Tall and strong Thomas Lövkvist is the third ever Swede to wear the overall leader's jersey at the Tour of Italy. The first was Gosta Petterson, who also happened to be race winner back in the days of 1971, whilst Tommy Prim (Lövkvist's team manager a few years ago) enjoyed a brief spell atop the leaderboard in the 1983 edition. Thomas Lövkvist is also the leader in the best young rider's classification, albeit the white jersey sits on the shoulders of South Africa's John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld) today.

    1500 CEST Seventy kilometres to go. Mark Cavendish is caught driving the peloton charge, but their time distance remains a good 04'32". Pavel Brutt persists in his pointless solo ride: the Russian's gap ballooned to 02 minutes and 38 seconds, and he ain't even getting any decent TV exposure, so why does the boy keep wasting energies like that?

    Eros Capecchi, born in 1986, and was both stage an overall winner in last year's Euskal Bizikleta, is the youngest member of the front group. And possibly also the bravest: the guy was unfit and had to pull out of the Tour of the Basque Country some 40 ago, then stayed out of the saddle for a couple weeks, but this didn't stop him from giving it everything today.

    1510 CEST Pavel Brutt's gap to the seven wonders is getting bigger. Did the Russian finally realize the pointlessness of staying all alone in between the leaders and the pack ?

    1515 CEST Barloworld have moved en masse towards the front of the pack over the last miles. Is Soler, who's NOT an immediate GC threat, vying for glory today? That wouldn't be much of a surprise. A couple lieutenants of the Colombian's "Red Army" have joined Team Columbia to help to chase.

    Pavel Brutt reportedly sat up and waited for the peloton to catch him. The boy made the right decision at last

    1520 CEST Columbia and Barloworld are not being very effective in their attempt to bring the gap down. But at least they keep it around 04'30" - 04'40".

    1525 CEST Just interviewed "on the road" by the RAI journalists, Barloworld's team manager Alberto Volpi confessed that yesterday was a good test for Soler's climbing legs after the Colombian's previous misfortunes almost persuaded the guy to drop out of the race. But the "test" gave a positive response, and yes, now the Colombian is still in the pack and could well give it a go today. He's not in a hurry to win however, the parcours will provide him - and the other mountain goats - with plenty of opportunities this year. Provided the South American polka-dot jersey winner learns to stay in the saddle a little more ...

  • 1535 CEST The chase is bringing fruit at last, the peloton gained about half a minute on the seven wonders up front over the last few miles. Visconti and his companions, still perfectly cooperating, just reached the 35-to-go point as they wind through the Bolzano-Bozen area. The start of the final climb is only a dozen kilometres away; Lance Armstrong asks for the Astana team car to reach him. Why? He knows, we don't ...

    Lance had to fix something in his handlebar.

    1539 CEST Titi Voeckler the Alsatian beat Pietropolli and Serpa to claim victory at the Bozen traguardo volante. The bunch came in 04'11" behind. The average speed after two hours of racing is a good 45.7 kph.

    One more time, the seven front runners (with 30 kilometres to go now, and a wild bunch of tunnels coming prior to the start of Alpe di Siusi) are:

    • José Serpa Perez (Col - Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli);
    • Carlos Ochoa (Ven - Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli);
    • Thomas "Titi" Voeckler (Fra - Bbox-Bouygues Telecom);
    • Eros Capecchi (Ita - Fuji-Servetto);
    • Daniele Pietropolli (Ita - LPR Brakes-Farnese);
    • Francesco Gavazzi (Ita - Lampre-NGC);
    • Giovanni Visconti (Ita - ISD)

    Our live coverage of stage 5 continues in part 2.

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