STAGE 9: MAY 21 (Tuesday) - Tivoli to Caserta, 208 km
A brief transfer brings the riders to the Latium region, where Stage 9 begins in Tivoli. After passing through the cities of Cassino and Capua the peloton gets to Caserta, where the stage ends in front of the Royal Palace ("Reggia") in a likely bunch sprint.
Garzelli remains in the race. His B Sample test results should be known this evening.
Live coverage begins at 6:30 AM PST
6:32 AM PST - As we join the race, the big news is the escape of three riders: Mariano Piccoli (Lampre), Ruben Marin (Selle Italia), and Domenico Gualdi (Formaggi Trentini) attacked after 16 kilometres, and built a lead of just under five minutes. The three contested the Intergiro, and the result there was Piccoli, Marin, Gualdi.
The peloton is closing in, controled by Telecom for Maglia Rosa wearer Jens Heppner, and Acqua e Sapone, for Super Mario.
Mauro Zanetti of Alessio has abandoned in the feedzone.
6:38 AM PST - The breakaway is now 3.00 minutes ahead, and the peloton is closing in.
6:43 AM PST - The gap is down to 2.50, and the sprinter's teams have not yet taken the lead in the peloton. The break will be caught fast when they do.
Phil and Paul report that yesterday's crash to Kelme's Santiago Perez looked worse than it was, and that he will be alright. They have also solved for us the mystery of how the sponsors' logos get on the winners' jerseys so quickly after the day's stage: IRON-ONS!
6:49 AM PST - Meanwhile, Mariano Piccoli has gone clear of his two fading companions in the break!
6:55 AM PST - Piccoli has an .18 second gap on his former compadres in the break, and the peloton is 2.40 behind him. There are 50 km to the finish, and Telecom still controls the peloton.
7:06 AM PST - Peloton now 1.46 behind Piccoli and closing.
7:16 AM PST - Acqua e Sapone has come to the front of the peloton, and the chase begins in earnest. Piccoli is still away, but looks to be weakening.
7:20 AM PST - Piccoli .38 seconds ahead of the first chase group, and the peloton is breathing down their necks less than a minute behind.
7:22 AM PST - It's curtains for Piccoli. The peloton is in view.
Pantani is taking up his usual position in the rear, FYI.
7:35 AM PST - Piccoli is caught, the peloton is all together led by Cipollini's workhorses: Conti and Gasperoni. Lampre moving to the front as well.
7:41 AM PST - Lampre is leading the peloton, inexplicably... perhaps to protect Tonkov from the impending dangerous sprint conditions, or just getting some airtime for the sponsors. Saeco moving forward as well.
No objections from Cipo's Acqua e Sapone guard!
Strazzer, who leads the points classification at this point was off the back, but has caught back up, and his Phonak team is moving towards the front as well.
We're setting up for a big finish! The finishing stretch is perfectly straight and flat... perfect conditions for the Lord of the Jungle!
7:48 AM PST - Acqua e Sapone's big guns are gathering together... starting to set up a train. Cipo has his helmet on, ready for action!
Enrico Degano of Panaria crashes, he's ok.
The peloton is a long ribbon...
7:53 AM PST - Cipo it is! McEwen tried to push him off Lombardi's wheel, but Cipo wins easily! Don't mess with him!
The Lion King Roars!
Stay tuned later in the day for all your Giro news here on the Daily Peloton!
Stage 9 Results
1. Mario Cipollini (Aqua e Sappone) 4:38:56
2. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) s.t.
3. Christian Moreni (Alessio) s.t.
4.Fabrizio Guidi (Coast) s.t.
5. Ivan Quaranta (Index Alexia) s.t.
after Stage 9
1. Jens Heppner (Telekom) 45:52:24
2. Stefano Garzelli (Mapei) +3:33
3. Yaroslva Popovych (Landbroukredit-Colnago) +3:50
4. Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) +3:57
5. Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo) +4:08
6. Angel Vicioso (Kelme) +4:09
7. Paolo Salvodelli (Index Alexia) +4:27
8. Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) +4:29
9. Vladimir Belli (Fassa Bortolo) +4:39
10. Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio) +4:41