|Hello, and welcome to the DP's coverage of the third stage of the 86th Tour of Italy, covering 144 kms. between Policoro and Terme Luigiane. Unlike the first two legs, this one is not the best possible one for the sprinters as, in the words of the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, the stage features "a final, almost easy, uphill 11.5 km. slope, with a reasonable gradient (average 3%). A lap that may bring some excitement if a "finisseur", a sudden attacker looms out at the end".
The stage got underway at 12h47 local time, with Fassa's Alessandro Petacchi still wearing the pink jersey, but without Mariano Piccoli. The Lampre rider was indeed forced to pull out of the race as he suffered two broken ribs after crashing during yesterday's stage.
A first breakaway group featuring NAUDUSZ, KHALILOV, SVORADA, CASPER, DI BIASE, ADYEYEV, MARINI, PETERSEN formed at the km. 27 mark, their lead went up to a maximum of 01'34" at the km. 43 mark.
At the Intergiro, a little behind the km. 50 mark, Di Biase outsprinted Naudusz and Casper. The average speed was 36,164 Km/h. At the km. 60 the eight leaders were just 25" ahead of the chasing bunch, led by the Kelme riders.
1537 - The 8 leaders have been caught, the peloton is regrouped.
1540 - Talking of the Integiro, as you may know this special classification is led by Mario Cipollini. The World Champion today was "forced" to wear the Intergiro Leader's Blue Jersey, instead of his "beloved" rainbow jersey, under the threat of being excluded from the race.
Indeed yesterday the Lion King was wearing the World Champion's jersey even if it was the cyclamen one of the Points Classification (where he was second behind Petacchi, but the latter was already pretty in pink...) that should have been on his shoulders. The jury decided to be tolerant and accepted Cipo's choice.
But today it was a whole different matter: the judges told Super Mario to wear the blue jersey or he would be thrown out of the race, so the World Champion had to comply with the rules, and not show those rainbow colors he loves so much.
1554 - Teme Luigiane has hosted a Giro stage three times in the past: in 1993 (Konyshev won), 1995 (the winner was Maurizio Fondriest) and 1999 (glory day for Laurent Jalabert).
1600 - Peloton still regrouped. Formaggi Pinzolo's Rinaldo Nocentini had mechanical problems and was forced to stop for a while, but quickly regained the bunch.
1606 - about 50k to go, and still the peloton riding quite slowly.
1610 - The Fassa Bortolo team managers said they won't make too big an effort to defend Petacchi's pink jersey today.
1619 - the 11-km. Fagnano Castello ascent just began, and the first attack came, courtesy of Raffaele Illiano and Julian Winn.
1620 - Illiano is a Neapolitan rider of the Colombia-Selle Italia team, while Winn is Britain's National Road Champion.
Illiano and Winn have been joined by a few more riders, including Scholz, Kelme's Riera and Lampre's Manuel Quinziato.
1624 - Six riders - most of them young guns - in the break now: Winn (Team fakta), Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Illiano (Selle Italia), Quinziato (Lampre), Munoz (Selle Italia) and Riera (Kelme).
1625 - The leading sextet put 24" on the peloton, while there was a crash at the bottom of the bunch, involving Stremersch, Marin and an Alessio rider.
1628 - with 39 km. left, and 3 to go to the top of the climb, the peloton is 15" down to the leading sextet.
1629 - the leading sextet kept splintering, Illiano was dropped.
1630 - Only 4 men in the lead now: Ronny Scholz, Jordi Riera, Manuel Quinziato, Hernan Dario Munoz.
1631 - Hernan Munoz, an excellent climber, won the Tour de Langkawi in 2002 and came second to Saturn's Tom Danielson this year.
1633 - 4 more riders joined the leading bunch: Tiralongo, Mesa Mesa, Fredy Gonzalez Martinez (KOM Competition leader) and Caldirola's Eddy Mazzoleni.
1634 - Eddy Mazzoleni is also known as boyfriend of Elisa Basso, former podium girl and sister of Fassa Bortolo's Ivan Basso.
Marin and Stremersch, involved in the previous crash, rejoined the main bunch.
1636 - This year Munoz won the Vuelta al Tachira, first UCI stage race of the year, in Venezuela in the month of January.
1637 - Also thanks to the excellent leadout work from his teammate Munoz, Selle Italia's Colombian Fredy Gonzalez took the KOM prime at Castelfagnano and strengthened his grip on the green jersey.
1638 - Still 8 riders in the lead, with the peloton some 20" behind.
1639 - The teammates of Perez Cuapio and Pantani are now seen at the front of the chasing bunch.
1642 - Matteo Tosatto is struggling to stay with the rest of the peloton, while another rider who crashed some days ago, Mercatone's Ivan Ravaioli, reportedly pulled out of competition.
1643 - Quite unusually the road kept going towards the sky even after the kom prime. Not unusually, Mario Cipollini has been dropped on the ascent.
The 8 leaders were caught, but a new attack came, courtesy of Kelme's Alexis Rodriguez, who gained 10" on the peloton.
1645 - Still the Mercatones and Panarias forcing the pace, the former working for Pantani, the latter for Giuliano Figueras, today going for both stage win and overall leadership.
1646 - But the current pink jersey wearer Alessandro Petacchi remains with the main bunch.
1647 - More skirmishes inside the peloton, with the road now continuously going up and down.
1648 - Less than 25k to go. Cipo still way behind, while his teammate Giovanni Lombardi is struggling to stay in the main bunch.
1650 - Kelme's Jordi Riera, part of a break until a few minutes ago, is now at the bottom of the main peloton.
1651 - A breakaway group of 9 formed and put 16" into the peloton.
1652 - The situation changed again: now there are 9 men in the lead, 11 men in a chasing bunch trailing 11" down, and the next bunch at 23".
1653 - none of the current leaders is a serious GC contender anyway.
1654 - The peloton is on a long descent now.
1655 - 20 k to go, and young Frenchman Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com., runner-up in last year's Paris-Nice) is notably active in the leading bunch.
1658 - Mario Cipollini is in a 50-strong bunch, trailing 01'21" behind the leaders.
1657 - Colombian Fredy Gonzalez Martinez, so far the best climber in the Giro, lost the wheels of the peloton on the descent. When the downhill ends, there will be only 10 km. left.
1700- 15k to go, and the peloton is regrouped now, with Alessio's Franco Pellizotti in the first places. The young Venetian could be a possible stage winner today.
1701 - Now it's a Colombian (Mesa Mesa) leading the bunch on the descent, but nobody seems intent on attacking. Everyone want to save their legs for the final ascent.
1702 - Everyone but Robbie McEwen, who just launched an attack on the descent!!
1703 - McEwen gained a few dozen meters, and is now inside the town of Cetraro, the descent is coming to end.
1705 - 10k to go, and solo leader McEwen is 100m ahead of the peloton.
1708 - If McEwen is showing his downhill skills (and the gap is 10" now), another Aussie, Scott Sunderland, is doing quite the opposite, struggling to stay with the peloton.
1710 - 8km to go, and the descent is over for both solo leader McEwen and the peloton led by Italo-British rider Dario Cioni. The gap is 14" now.
1711 - Yesterday's winner Baldato is struggling at the bottom of the peloton, and will lose contact soon.
1712 - Some 5k to go, and the Fassas are forcing the pace.
1714 - The Green Jersey (Fredy Gonzalez) and the Blue one (Mario Cipollini) are together in a second bunch.
1716 - 3k to go, and the first significant test for the overall contenders (a 1.5-km. ascent into the finishing line) is about to come.
1717 - Alessandro Petacchi still in the first places of the peloton. Will he be going for stage win?
1718 - Now it's the Domina Vacanze guys forcing the pace, working for Colombo and Scarponi.
1719 - 1K TO GO !!!
NO ONE MADE HIS MOVE YET
500 M TO GO - PETACCHI IN FOURTH PLACE
LOMBARDI LEADING OUT COLOMBO - GARZELLI AND PETACCHI BEHIND COLOMBO
And it's Garzelli!!!
GARZELLI, PETACCHI, CASAGRANDE, PELLIZOTTI, COLOMBO.
1723 - Garzelli's words: "I m so happy. I didn't think I could win as I was feeling a bit tired in the last part of the stage. I have to thank my teammates. This win means a lot to me after what happened last year."
1724 - Simoni finished 7th, Pantani finished 16th and lost 5" to Garzelli, while Aitor Gonzalez took 18th and lost 9", and Frigo (19th) lost 9" too.
1726 - CORRECT TOP 3 is: 1. GARZELLI 2. CASAGRANDE 3. PETACCHI.
1726 - Yarolsav Popovych lost 9" to Garzelli, second placed Casagrande lost 2" to Garzelli, and so did Simoni. Mario Cipollini crossed the line more than 4' behind the winner.
Redemption day for Garzelli, back to the top of the podium after the unpleasant experience he had at the Giro last year, and the long ban he was awarded. Not th efirst victory after his comeback though, as Garzelli also won aG Giro del Trentino stage in April. Also thanks to the 20-second time bonus he was awarded after taking the stage, Garzelli put 22" in the GC into his main rivals (only 8" into Francesco Casagrande).
Good news also for super-combative Alessandro Petacchi, who fought hard to save his overall leadership and succeeded. Now he can keep the Maglia Rosa until Saturday, when the first difficult top mountain finish (Terminillo) comes
Good news for young Graziano Gasparre as well, the man currently in the top 5 places overall. Not bad at all
It was surprising to see the Domina Vacanze "Zebrato" train (and notably Giovanni Lombardi) doing their leadout work for a different rider than Mario Cipollini. Gabriele Colombo was aiming for both stage victory and overall leadership. Garzelli's fellow Lombard missed both of them, but he tried anyway. And he promised he'll be trying again.
Frigo and Aitor Gonzalez lost some time. And if "TerminAitor" lost 9 secs in a small, 1.5-km. ascent, what might happen when the race hits the Alps ?
Once a pink jersey wearer in the early part of the Giro, Belgian Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo), who couldn't benefit from the prologue against the clock this year, hit the ground during the stage and lost some time, but managed to finish the stage anyway.
The last man to cross the line was Argentinian neo-pro Ruben Guillermo Bongiorno (Panaria-Fiordo).
Stage 3 - Top 10 places
1. STEFANO GARZELLI (ITA - CALDIROLA-SIDERMEC) – 03h34’38”
2. FRANCESCO CASAGRANDE (ITA – LAMPRE) - at 02”
3. ALESSANDRO PETACCHI (ITA - FASSA BORTOLO ) - at 02”
4. FRANCO PELLIZOTTI (ITA - ALESSIO) - at 02”
5. GABRIELE COLOMBO (ITA - DOMINA VACANZE-ELITRON) - at 02”
6. PAOLO LANFRANCHI (ITA - PANARIA-FIORDO) - at 02”
7. GILBERTO SIMONI (ITA - SAECO) - at 02”
8. SERHIY HONCHAR (UKR - DE NARDI-COLPACK) - at 02”
9. ANDREA NOE' (ITA - ALESSIO) - at 02”
10. GRAZIANO GASPARRE (ITA - DE NARDI-COLPACK) - at 02”
General Classification after Stage 3 - Top 8 places
1. ALESSANDRO PETACCHI (ITA - FASSA BORTOLO) - 13h37'08"
2. STEFANO GARZELLI (ITA - VINI CALDIROLA) at 17"
3. FRANCESCO CASAGRANDE (ITA - LAMPRE) - at 27"
4. GABRIELE COLOMBO (ITA - DOMINA VACANZE-ELITRON) - at 27"
5. GRAZIANO GASPARRE (ITA - DE NARDI-COLPACK) – at 32”
6. FRANCO PELLIZOTTI (ITA – ALESSIO) – at 32”
7. GILBERTO SIMONI (ITA - SAECO) – at 32”
8. DENIS LUNGHI (ITA - ALESSIO ) – at 32”
1. ALESSANDRO PETACCHI (ITA - FASSA BORTOLO) - 61 points
2. STEFANO GARZELLI (ITA - VINI CALDIROLA) - 34 points
3. GABRIELE COLOMBO (ITA - DOMINA VACANZE-ELITRON) - 32 points
1. FREDY GONZALEZ MARTINEZ (COL - COLOMBIA SELLE ITALIA)
2. RUSLAN GRYSCHENKO (UKR - LANDBOUWKREDIET-COLNAGO)
3. FRANCESCO CASAGRANDE (ITA - LAMPRE)
1. ANDRIZ NAUDUSZ (LAT - CCC-POLSAT)
2. MARIO CIPOLLINI (ITA - DOMINA VACANZE-ELITRON)
FAST TEAM CLASSIFICATION
2. FASSA BORTOLO
4. TEAM FAKTA
All with the same time
Full results to follow!
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