STAGE 6: MAY 18 (Saturday) - Cuneo/Varazze(181 km.):
12.30 Cycling fans worldwide will be shocked as more bad news regarding doping shrouds the race in controversy - nevertheless 182 riders set off this morning from Cuneo on a stage which may suit the sprinters but the hard men of cycling - the breakaway specialists - will be hoping that they can grab the right kind of headlines today .
The Sassello and Bric Berton (773 meters) climbs (the latter was climbed also during the 2001 Milan-San Remo, but didn't prove to be that selective) will be the decisive points of todays race with the descent going down to Albisola Marina, where they will take the MSR road, but in the opposite direction, this time going eastward
Garzelli has started todays stage .
13.00 - Please hit the F5 button to refresh the report - Konyshev has won the first sprint of the day - while it is worth looking at the overall on GC
General classification after stage 5
1 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 26.21.28
2 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.43
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport 1.00
4 Santiago Perez Fernandez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 1.03
5 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1.06
6 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.10
7 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Team Coast 1.11
8 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC Tiscali 1.13
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Mapei-Quick Step 1.14
10 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 1.19
Tyler Hamilton was with doctors until late last night having his injuries attended to following his bizarre crash
Simoni said after yesterdays stage "I was suffering coming into the last climb but I did well. That's a good sign,"
Meanwhile before yesterdays stage Pantani took a sideswipe saying: "A few years ago they (Mapei) said the first five in the overall standings in major stage races were on dope. Now they have a rider who is in the lead."
But Mapei spokesman Alessandro Tegner said: "Pantani's assertions do not deserve to be commented on."
How sad that this great sport is blighted by the same old problems year after year .
Meanwhile it is not a sunny day in Italy and maybe the weather reflects the mood - it is overcast and gloomy but not raining as yet
13:30 150 km from the finish. The peloton is still together but there are continuous attacks which are being immediately closed down .It will be a day for the teams who have not yet registered a result in the race so far - that is most of them i guess with the Acqua and Mapei teams taking most of the glory so far to put pressure on the race leader
13:36 Strazzer gets first in the Intergiro competition .
The result is : Strazzer first, Guidi second, Khalilov third. Yesterday they were standing at -
1 Massimo Strazzer (Ita) Phonak Hearing Systems 18.56.09
2 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team Coast 0.20
3 Marc Streel (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 1.22
4 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo
5 Sven Teutenberg (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.25
So this consolidates Strazzer as leader on the competition . The intergiro is a "race within a race " which encourages the teams to race from the start - good to see the Phonak and Coast teams doing so well in this competition .
Meantime the gloom has finally tuned to heavy rain -
13.45 Massimo Strazzer is one of the elder statesmen of the peloton - born in 1969 he has been a pro since 1991 - and has been a consistent performer - this year has been his most successful ever with 5 victories so far - including three in a row in the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe 2002
13.50--Two riders, Veneberg ( Rabobank)and Leon Mane (Kelme) ,have and gained a small advantage of 20'' on the group.
14.00 - the average speed so far today is 38.904 k/p/h - while the break gains ground - now 12 riders have come across they have a 1'25" second advantage, and include Piccoli (Lampre), Lombardi and Caucchioli (Alessio).
the 12 escapees have upped the tempo and now have 2,20 on the peloton
14.35 Spanish rider Manzano Ruano from the Kelme team abandons after 75 kms the youngster from San Lorenzo in only his second season is obviously finding the Grand Tour too much - he had one success last year in the Vuelta a Rioja - the average speed is now 39.100 k/p/h
Meanwhile a bit of other news from Spain - Alberto Martinez, (Euskaltel - Euskadi ) the man who narrowly defeated Lance Armstrong in this years Criterium International now seems very unlikely to start this years Tour de France .The man from Pasaia fell heavily during Tuesdays race the Subida al Naranco , badly damaging his wrist .He was orignally told that he would be off his bike for at least six weeks - but now is waiting for results from the hospital to find out if an operation is required . He is certain to miss the Euskal Bizikleta (held between the 5th and 9th of June ) .
It would seem very unlikely that even if Alberto makes a speedy recovery he would have time to prepare for the Tour de France - The winner of the Criterium the International, and one of the few rivals of Lance Armstrong over a time trial course , will be greatly missed in this years event .
Vicioso another Kelme rider is the first man into Castino as the breakaway continues to lead the peloton - he has had two wins this season the GP Indurain and the : GP Primavera
14.40 the lead is up to over 5 minutes for the 12 escapees Piccoli, Caucchioli, Vicioso and Veneberg - the rain is torrential - it will be an epic day
Marzoli (Formaggi Trentini) is the first rider into Vesime
15.00 - 7.20'' is the advantage of the 12 escapees as they pass the half way point .
The German rider Heppner (telekom ), is in the virtual race leaders jersey on the road due to the escapees advantage of nearly 7 .30
just to confirm who is in the break Giovanni Lombardi (A&S), Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio), Ruggero Marzoli (Formaggi), Bert Grabsch (Phonak), Jens Heppner (Telekom), Angel Vicioso and Francisco Leon Mane (Kelme), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet), Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) and Juan Ramirez (Colombia-Selle Italia). Fans of Popovych the U23 world champion will be hoping the grest prospect can be an indication of a brighter future for racing
the breakaway still have a huge advantage as the rain continues to pour down - they also face the climbs of Sassello and Bric Berton (773 meters) - it will be these and the mood of the peloton behind that will determine whether they stay away - Heppner is leading the race on the road by around six minutes at the moment
Heppner born in 1964 and a pro since 1987 is riding like a man possesed at the front of the escapees the first race he won was the Ronde van Hessen in 1987 - before Miguel Indurain won his first tour de France
the gap has fallen to 6.30 - while Saeco and Mapei start to work at the front of the peloton - conditions are nasty - and the wet roads causing many punctures - the peloton is finding it difficult to get organised in the wet conditions , undulating twisty roads
Hunter (Mapei)abandons the race - what a difference 24 hours has made to the Mapei team - they still lead the chasing peloton with Nardello leading the pack
16.00 - The climb Bric Berton (773 meters) looms for the escapees - as the Fassa send men to help out the Mapei in the big chase down
Mariano Piccoli (Lampre) and Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet) are looking strong on the climb - which winds like a grey ribbon through the wooded wet Italian countryside - the lead is still 6.24
Grabsch has punctured - but is able to rejoin the breakaways after a good wheel change - meanwhile at the back of the chasing peloton riderss are beginning to loose contact as the Mapei and Fassa boys up the Tempo
Garzelli and Casagrande are at the front of the peloton together - not looking too happy - the gap is still 6.20 as Heppner again powers the escapees onwards
Bizarely enough it is Pantani at the front of the chasers now - while the escapees approach the top of the climb - still with 6 minutes advantage - it will be difficult to catch them now - first over the top Ruggero Marzoli is first over the top - the descent will be dangerous -
Ruggero Marzoli has just changed his bike 5.52 now from the 12 escapees and the peloton - the descent is fast and very wet Marzoli is struggling to catch up
a dog has nearly brought doown the escapees - miracuously they all manage to avoid the dog safely - there are just 30 kilometres to go !
just a reminder of the escapees Giovanni Lombardi (A&S), Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio), Ruggero Marzoli (Formaggi), Bert Grabsch (Phonak), Jens Heppner (Telekom), Angel Vicioso and Francisco Leon Mane (Kelme), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkrediet), Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) and Juan Ramirez (Colombia-Selle Italia)- can Heppner pull off an historic ride to take the pink jersey ?
The Mercatone Uno team are now leading the chase down - the Mapei team seem to have disappeared from the front of the peloton
Saeco now take up the chase - but surely they cannot catch the escapees now - Heppner is descending like a mad man and has gained a small advantage over his fellow escapees - there are 24 kilometres to go
Jens Heppner is powering on but now the escapees are all back together - still very wet and dangerous for the riders - one worries about Tyler Hamilton staying upright in the chasing peloton !
Angel Vicioso and Eddy Mazzoleni have attacked the escapees and have a small gap on the leg sapping short climbs - just 10 kilometres to go !!!!
Meanwhile 5.20 back Garzelli and Pantani have attacked the peloton !
while it looks like Yaroslav Popovych has chased the two front men down !
Hamilton is again in trouble in the peloton ! 8 men now lead the race
Heppner, Popovych, Grabsch . Marzoli Mazzoleni and Vicioso and Piccoli are back together at the front !
Lombardi is there to - Heppner does a huge turn at the front - determination etched all over his face - they are on roads familiar to MSR fans - but the sea is rough and stormy just 2 k to go
Grabsch is with the leaders now -
the sprint finish - it is Lombardi - charging ahead - Lombardi wins it for Acqua!!!!!!!!
Salvodelli has attacked the peloton and is thundering down the road -
Salvodelli comes in 4.21 behind the leading group - the peloton arrives 5.04 behind Lombardi
1 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 4.56.45
2 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Formaggi Tret
3 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak
4 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Tacconi Sport
5 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Kelme
6 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
7 Jens Heppner (Ger) Team Telekom
8 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre-Daikin
9 Francisco Leon Mane (Spa) Kelme 0.18
10 Thorwald Veneberg (Ned) Rabobank
11 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio
12 Juan D. Ramirez (Col) Colombia-Selle Italia
13 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Tacconi Sport 4.20
1 Jens Heppner (Ger) Team Telekom
2 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 3.33
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 3.43
4 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio 3.45
5 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Tacconi Sport 3.57
6 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Kelme 4.09
7 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4.16
8 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Tacconi Sport 4.27
9 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport 4.30
10 Santiago Perez Fernandez (Spa) Kelme 4.36
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