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92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 9 Live Coverage
By Staff
Date: 5/17/2009
92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 9 Live Coverage

92nd Giro d'Italia - Stage 9 Live Coverage Part 1
Welcome to the Milano Speed Festival

Stage 9  Milan – Milan 163 km
graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

Welcome to our live coverage of stage 9... With the Giro celebrating its 100th year this year the organisers had a bit of dilemma. Clearly they wanted to design a race route that paid tribute to the inaugural race but they also wanted to finish the three week battle in the country's capital city Rome. Traditionally of course the race finishes in Milan and so, by way of compensation to Milan, they have given the northern city its very own city centre circuit race.

Stage Nine then is nine laps of a circuit around the city centre of Milan. It is a technical circuit, twisting and turning through the streets of the city but also completely flat and, at 163kms, it is not particularly long. It is this race's version of the Tour's traditional finish on the Champs Elysee and that makes this a prestigious win. A number of breakaways could form and gain some time but ultimately they should be brought back by the team mates of the peloton's best sprinters, who will be working hard to ensure this stage ends in a bunch sprint.

 As Rome is where the Giro will end - to replicate the first running of the race in 1909 - the usual finishing city of Milan has been utilised here, in what is surely going to be explosive. Once the action begins that is - the race is currently neutralised, as several riders protested about some of the conditions in which the event has been run. Horillo's fall was the tipping point for many, including the little known American, Lance Armstrong.

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport
Yesterday's stage provided drama on several levels - not least Pedro Horillo Munoz's bad crash into a ravine. Munoz, who rides for Rabobank, crashed coming off the Culmine di San Pietro and plummeted 60 metres down the hillside. He was taken to hospital with several broken bones and a serious head injury.

Despite Danileo di Luca holding the Maglia Rosa for LPR it's probably Columbia having the most successful Giro so far. They have three stage wins, two individuals and the opening team time trial.

1549 CEST - Danilo Di Luca is talking to race organisers as the race begins the circuit. It appears that we are now racing, with LPR still leading the way up front. It's looking a bit of a Cyclist Touring Club outing a the moment - lot's of chatting in the front.

We join the race in progress after 4 circuits with Nick Bull and Mark Sharon calling the race from London. They've sped up a bit , with LPR continuing to lead, though Di Luca is hanging around in the middle of the front section as I think a lot of people who have visted Milan will envy the riders. The city is notorious for it's one way system. Even  Satellite Navigation struggles through the one way streets. At least these guys have signs to follow that make sense.

 Bruyneel's Twitter - "The riders decided to take no risks and the organization agreed to have no time for GC. So there will be a winner of the stage today but nobody will gain or lose time for the general classification. Good decision!" It's a shame because conditions are perfect for some good racing - dry and fine weather so far today.

 1504 CEST - All quiet on the Milan front..... I'm finding looking at the increasingly grey clouds is more exciting than this stage thus far. We need some crazy rider to attack......where's Jacky Durand?!  They just want a rest day - any excuse. It's not as if they've got one soon!

 Jens Voigt must be feeling frustrated, but "Breakaway Jack" really has no equal  After the dramatic mountains Milano is looking bleak.  Let's remind ourselves of the problem. The riders are basically saying that the course overall is too dangerous, with narrow finishes and bad descents; organisers have already been forced to amend a stage finish - number 6 won by Boasson Hagen.

Lampre have taken the front - taking turns at getting easy publicity. On that basis Astana will be at the back all day.

1612 CEST - Fabian Cancellara is in discussion with one of Race Organisers.  Luckily the peloton are on a fairly wide road, the complete opposite of some of those in the final 5 km yesterday. Right, right they have just crossed the finish line to start the fifth to last. Averaging about 34 km/h which equates to a 26 to 27 minute lap - yawn.

1618 CEST - 75km to go. So it's currently Danilo Di Luca leading, followed by Tomas Lovkvist and Michael Rogers, Columbia are now moving to the front to show off that hideous kit......oh, and their sponsors. I interviewed the designer of said hideous jersey earlier this year - nice chap. He explained he wanted to develop a super hero look, with the mock six pack on the front.

 The peloton has bunched up a bit, with some Katusha riders emerging, and I was wrong, the Astana boys have come to the fore. I liked both of last year's kits - sure the High Road white top may be considered dull by some, nonetheless I liked it. (And if any of you readers want lessons on sartorial elegance, feel free to contact me...)

There is the vague hope that someone is going to take pity on the crowd and make a race of it. While this stage may be a write off, there is plenty of spectacular stuff to come, including a mountain top finish on Mt Versuvius... And more of Rai's English captions, such as 'BUNCH PACKED.

The riders have just negotiated a section of the old cobbles, part of the old tram network, never a nice thing to ride on; the lads going over the rail work on Corso Buenos Aires, now back on tarmac. They have a couple of tight turns at Piazzale Loreto then head back down Corso Buenos Aires, Then into Corso Venezia alongside the Giardini Pubblico, and up into via Moscova.

1631 CEST - The Riders reach the feed zone. No need to slow down to take the musettes....

 1633 CEST - 64 km to go. The crowds are still looking quite good, and apparently race speed is increasing - they must be pedaling with both legs occasionally. The last time the Giro held a sprint finish in Milan, it was Alessandro Pettachi - then at Milram - who won. He later got stripped of this victory for doing some naughty practices taking too many pulls on his asthma inhaler, handing the stage win to Maximiliano Richeze. That's some ironic name! The Argentinean rider was also credited with Stage 18 of the race, but also found himself in trouble with the Doping Authorities - he was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

 The average speed for the stage so far is around 35 km/h - a race between trams on the aforementioned tramways may have been faster than that! The last lap was done in a shade over 22 minutes. The peloton is passing Castello Storzesco at a leisurely pace. The sun has come out. Just as well.

1647 CEST - 55 km to go. We just got a view of a mechanic adjusting a brake block, leaning over the riders to the other side of the bike - wizard stuff. Knowing me, I would drop the hex bolt in wheel and crash the rider. The pace is now 37 km/h.

1700 CEST - I am betting that the last two laps will be raced. Speeds are touching 60 km/h at times - Three laps to go as the speed starts to creep up.

It looks as though tomorrow's rest day will be include meetings to discuss the Giro's course this year with the teams and riders weighing in on what they consider some dangerous sections, including having a criterium during the stage race. Though we would point to the typical finishes in Milan and Paris as not terribly different than today's stage in Milan. As it is this is going to be a soft pedal until the final circuit with a sprint finish as seemingly agreed to by the riders. Watch for the riders not involved in the sprint to back off in the final lap and take a leisurely ride to the line. Race radio has asked for lead vehicles to speed up.

1707 CEST - The bunch is still together, the pace increasing and the sun shining a little more. Still, this cannot make up for the events surrounding the stage. The peloton is riding like a bus - spread out across the road - though a fast bus at 51 km/h.

 1710 CEST - 37km to go. They've just passed the old Milan arena.  Marco Pinotti has had a puncture, but I don't think he'll struggle to catch up. Pinotti of course won the final time trial and stage of last year's Giro and is currently Italian TT champion.  As we speak Marco has reached the back of the Peloton. Barloworld, Lampre and Acqua & Sapone riders lead the peloton stretching it out a bit.

1618CEST Two laps to go - Adding to today's course controversy and debate is cars parked on the streets being used in the circuit; very odd can't say I remember seeing that in a pro race of this level.  I think the grievances from previous stages were exacerbated by yesterday's incident.

Columbia moving up to the front, they'll want to be setting this up for Cavendish... at least we are likely to see another duel of Petacchi, Cavendish and the other sprinters today. Quite a few punctures in the last several kilometers, bad timing; rider had to swerve to miss a car parked on the course.  Team Columbia are starting to stretch the peloton a bit with Michael Barry on the front, Boasson Hagen some fifteen back, Cav will be there too. "The fastest man in the world" will want to be up there just in case there is any split in the peloton.

 1728 CEST - 22 km to go. We can say now that there will be no change in the G.C. today as the stage result is essentially neutralized other than sprint points and the stage win. We can hear it now, Are we there yet Dad? "Not for another 40 minutes, son"  OK "Oh, it seems like we've been going for hours!"....  Are we there yet Dad?

Th peloton is one long line now, averaging 51 km/h, the pace rises again to 53 km/h... here we go folks.

1732 CEST - 19km to go - Past the McDonalds again.... 2 km left on this penultimate lap of Milano.

1737 -CEST   Last lap the bell is rung - Misery almost over, Pettachi is currently in the first third of the Peloton, Di Luca is a long way back. He can do that; remember this stage does not count towards the GC. Columbia turning up the heat. Saxo Bank are contributing too. Lance Armstrong will be back there with him.

Hey Jens Voigt attacks!  I've hardly seen him on the coverage today - makes a change. Will he be a hero to the crowd today and make soemthing of it  They've had enough time to familiarize themselves with the course.

 Felippe Pozzato has been spotted way off the back - though he could be a puncture victim, or waiting for one of his team mates who definitely was.

1741 CEST - The Peloton are now traveling at 53 km/h. Saxo bank's man for the win will be Olympic Champion Fabian Cancellara. Astana appear to be riding off the back of the Peloton; at least four of the team are there. Cavendish is up with the front men alongside Boasson Hagen.

 1743 CEST - 10 km to go. A Bbox Bouygues Telecom rider has attacked. It's Voeckler. Surprise Suprise! He only has a gap of around 5 seconds.  It's not even his birthday...

1744 CEST - 9 km to go.  He's just being a hare to the hounds Or just his normal crazy self!  Looking after the sponsor, he is. Pettachi is sitting in Cavendish's wheel. Katusha now pulling. Garmin now come to the front, Wiggins is doing a turn.

1748 CEST - 6 km to go. Wiggin's is in great form...  "On fire" He's been climbing superbly. Thank god he has better form than his hair If only he'd stop trying to copy Paul Weller's style! Faster now than ever

 Garmin Slipstream is continuing to pull the train, Cav still has four men up with him, one is Luvkvist, another the beast- Edvald Boasson Hagen.  Ivan Basso and another moped haired man, ole' Frankie Pellizotti, are content to roll to to the finish. The pelton has split It now has a 15" split in it as non sprinters pull back to let the fastmen have their day.

1750 CEST - 3km to go. With Di Luca content to be in the back group  Team Columbia has taken the lead  Garmin still have two men upfront one is Tyler Farrar. same too for Saxo Bank. We have two Columbia, Slipstream, Saxo then he two more Columbia.

 The front group has just passed the opposite way  to the rest of the peloton.  No obvious structure, but up front positioning is everything as the sprinters teams fight to set up their man and control the front.

1753 CEST - Final kilometre in Milano. We have Lampre, Liquigas on the front...  Now it's Saxo Bank pulling.   Boassen Hagen is leading for Cavendish,  Cav is in his wheel.  It's Boassen Hagen's birthday.

500 meters,  Cav is going..  Here he comes, Cavendish is at the front...  No-one can get him....

Maaarrrkkk Cavvvennnddisshhhh Wins!!!

It looked like Cancellara was slowly closing in on him, but to no avail. Boasson made the right decision. The Brit is congratulating his team-mates who got the lead out spot on. Cavendish looks done in and exhausted.

Meanwhile the second group is being led in by three more Columbia riders. Di Luca is in that group too. They're over 90 seconds down, but that's irrelevant.

 Race time 4 hours16 minutes and 13seconds  the second group trail in 2:15 later.

Mark Cavendish's win will go in the history books of the Giro (winning the most boring stage in the tour of Italy's history) and his stage wins. Cavendish looks knackered after the race, he needs the rest day no doubt.

Stage 9 Results
1. Mark Cavendish
2. Allan Davis
3. Tyler Farrar
4. Matt Goss
5. Alessandro Pettachi

Full results to follow... Though there will be no changes on the general classification. The next chance of that comes after Monday's rest day on stage 10.

Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage. We'll see you on Tuesday for stage 10. Sorry for the outage yesterday, couldn't be helped as we had a few key computer failures, alls handled now, well as well as we can predict.  Stage 10 takes the riders from Sulmona to the Benevento over 182 kilometers, an up and down day with three challenging climbs on the menu. A day for adventurers and breakaway specialist on the hunt for climbing points and the leaders to check the condition of their rivals legs afte 9 days of racing.

Stay tuned to the daily peloton today for a preview of next weeks racing and a history of the Giro from Giles Belbin.

Stage 10 graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

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