88th Giro d'Italia - Stage Five
(Celano to L'Aquila - 223 km.)
Click for larger images. Courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport.
Hello everyone, welcome to our live coverage of Stage 5 of the 88th Giro d'Italia, from Celano to L'Aquila over 223 km. A tough stage, that could see the strongmen and/or overall contenders in action to grab line honors, but also spice up things a bit in the General Classification. Many of them will be extra-motivated for different reasons: Danilo Di Luca is hungry to stamp his authoritiy on the home roads of his region Abruzzo. Paolo Bettini may be looking for redemption after being (rightly) sanctioned and stripped off his victory at the end of yesterday's controversial sprint, and the likes of Cunego, Simoni, Cioni etc. may want to put some seconds into each other and all other rivals ("every second counts" someone said ... er, wrote) and gave them a morale blow. If you want to know more about today's parcours, you can read the stage preview we wrote in late January.
Stage 5 (Thursday - May 12, 2005)
Celano to L’Aquila (223 km)
Things get a bit more serious as we go from yesterday’s flat riding to some going up and down the Appennine hills of the Abruzzo National Park in Central Italy (known to many hardcore cycling fans as they played host to several Trofeo dello Scalatore legs in recent seasons), in one of longest stages of the event. The peloton swings east in a classic medium mountain stage, with three KOM primes, and even if the main difficulties come in the first half, the race could have something to tell us about the condition of the main favorites of the Giro d’Italia battle. Some 25 km. into the stage, after crossing the town of Gioia dei Marsi, riders hit the first climb, Passo del Diavolo, for a good 15-17 km. of uphill riding at an average gradient of 4.1%. Regardless of its name, the climb is not that tremendous, as you can see casting a glance at its profile here. But it’s soon followed by another ascent, going from Villetta Barrea up to the Valico di Monte Godi, a 12-km. difficulty whose gradient is averaging around 4.8%, and whose altitude (1564m ASL) makes it the highest point in the Giro before the race hits the Dolomites. You can find the profile of this climb too if you click here.
L’Aquila’s "Teatro Comunale". Courtesy Comune dell’ Aquila.
Riders getting dropped on those two large but not too steep ascents might regain the bunch in the descent into Scanno and Sulmona, but then there’s the third and final difficulty of the day, the 4-km., 7% ascent (making its Giro d’Italia debut) into the hamlet of Goriano Sicoli, through the Subequana Valley. Riders going on early attacks might even hold on in the last 40-50 km. (where the route is not as tough as it was earlier, but not too easy either …) and make it to the line. We expect either a breakaway to succeed or a small bunch sprint to determine the name of the guy joining 1914 Luigi Lucotti (1914), Giuseppe Enrici (1924), Gino Bartali (1935 and 1936), Giancarlo Astrua (1950), Carlo Clerici (1954) and Guido Carlesi (1965) in the list of L’Aquila stage winners.
Live updates from the race
1330 CEST - We expected a battled stage on the roads of Abruzzo. And a battled stage is what we're getting right since the first kilometres. The action got started at 11:18 AM CEST, as all 191 riders who crossed the line yesterday (190 of whom on their bikes ...) rolled out of Celano. The peloton set an evenr pace for the fiorst 10 kilometres, then the fireworks began, courtesy of Denmark's Frank Hoj (Gerolsteiner). His attack was chased down 2-3 kilometres later though, and so were those seven riders who tried to follow his move, but all of them were immediately back into the bunch.
The pace were higher, but at km. 15 another attack came, this time from Spain's Angel Gómez "Litu" of the "red bird" team Saunier Duval-Prodir (very active also in yesterday's leg). Similarly to his Danish colleague, he was allowed to stay clear a few minutes only. Then it was the turn of Moldova's Ruslan Ivanov: the Domina Vacanze all-rounder broke away at km. 20, won the (not timebonus-awarding) sprint at Ortucchio, before being joined by seven more riders: Andrea Moletta (Ita - Gerolsteiner), Rory Sutherland (Aus - Rabobank), Angel Gomez again and Eric Baumann (Ger - T-Mobile) first, Dimitri Fofonov (Kaz - Cofidis) René Andrle (Cze - Liberty Seguros Team ) and Matteo Tosatto (Ita - Fassa Bortolo) later.
They quickly built a lead of 02'10" over the pack, though Baumann couldn't follow the tempo set by other escapees, so that the front group was down to seven men only. The peloton reacted quickly anyway, in particular a group of a dozen guys (among them Filippo Pozzato) who gained a few hundred metres on the rest of the field and started their own chase of the break. Their efforts bore fruit, as about an hour into the stage the seven escapees (Moletta, Sutherland, Gómez, Ivanov, Fofonov, Andrle and Tosatto) were helding onto a small lead of just 26" on them, with the Gruppo Maglia Rosa a further 16 seconds adrift.
At the summit of Passo del Diavolo Cat.2 climb (Won by Ivanov from Moletta and Sutherland) the break still had an advantage dozen seconds over their first chasers, but the two groups merged on the downhill part afterwards.
The newly-formed front group, containing several Spaniards (anything but a surprise, in a stage like this) extdned their lead over the main bunch to 02?00" as the race made it to the town of Pescasseroli, hosting a sprint won by Liberty's Koldo Gil - a protagonist also in Tuesday's leg, though unfortunately a mechanical stopped him from going for the line honors. Two more Spanish warriors attacked by km. 62: Euskaltel's David López and Catalan Joaquin Rodriguez of Saunier Duval stayed clear for about 15 minutes, but were chased down by other escapees.
So that, with 150 km. left, we still had 21 riders on the front, and the main peloton trailing by 05'35". The average speed, after two hours of racing, was up to 36.00 kph. Which was no small thing, on such a parcours.
1415 CEST - At the km. 76 point Fassaman Matteo Tosatto and Croatia's own Vladimir Miholjevic of Liquigas-Bianchi made a move. They gained 14 seconds on the rest of the break, though Rabo-boy Theo Eltink tried to follow them. The Dutch rider was pulled back into the break, but another succeeded in getting across to join the two leaders: Venezuelan José Rujano. Yes, folks: RUJANO IS IN THE BREAK! One of the most talented youngsters around is finally starting to show his skills on the "big" cycling scene. And after Illiano, Di Biase, Van Hout and Wilson, Selle Italia got another rider into a breakaway. As we said yesterday, a Giro d'Italia stage wouldn't be the same without a warrior from the Colombian team on the attack!
1430 CEST - Matteo Tosatto took the first place points at the Cat. 2 KOM Prime at Monte Godi, with Rujano and Miholjevic following his wheel. The leading trio was joined by the rest of the break (also containing the East-european trio of Dariusz Baranowski, Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Muravyev and Lampre's Evgeni Petrov) in the following descent though. And the 21-strong leading group was back toghther, even with a larger advantage over the main bunch, as the gap ballooned to 08'25" at the top of Monte Godi and 08'50" at Scanno (km. 103/120k to go).
1455 CEST - FYI: The names of the 21 frontunners are Matteo Tosatto, Vladimir Miholjevic, José Rujano, Angel Gómez, Ruslan Ivanov, Dariusz Baranowski, Andrea Moletta, Wim van Huffel, Evgeni Petrov, Theo Eltink, Dimitri Fofonov, Ivan Parra, Sandy Casar, René Andrle, Koldo Gil Pérez, Charlie Wegelius, Rory Sutherland, Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver, Dimitry Muravyev, David López Garcia and ... Paolo Bettini! YEP, as you can see, reportedly there’s also the Maglia Rosa in the front group. The cricket is really looking for redemption after yesterday’s sprint, or so it seems …
1515 CEST - Bettini is veery motivated indded: the Cricket sprinted at the Intergiro too, and took first place. In the meantime the peloton, led bt the Lampres, finally reacted, and brought the gap (that went up to a maximum of 9 minutes), down to the current 4 minutes or so, while we are at the foot of the Monte Burano climb.
1530 CEST - So while the Village People plays at the finish line and the choppa choppa of the helicopters swirls over the riders, a Rabobank rider attacks off the front of the break. It's (surprise) an Australian, Rory Sutherland, launching another salvo in the ongoing Aussie onslaught.
Sutherland has an 18" lead. Lorenzetto (Domina) is leading the chase from the break. Now a couple of Cofidis boys are having a go from the break.
1536 CEST - Sutherland is churning up the climb out of the saddle. Wonder how long he'll be able to maintain this pace. The break is too big, so this flurry of attacks will likely thin the herd a bit.
And in the meantime the Lampres (despite having Petrov in the break, but the Russian is not working that much) are setting a higher pace at the front of the peloton.
The peloton is in their way up the climb. Padrnos (Discovery) is languishing near the back of the peloton... some gaps are forming.
And yes, it's Rujano (Selle Italia-Colombia) who has now bridged up to and quickly dropped Sutherland!
Bettini is coming up to the front of the break now. Koldo Gil (Liberty Seguros) has now countered from the break. He's catching and passing Sutherland as well.
1542 CEST - The peloton is still largely together, though strung out a bit with some stragglers. Now it's Panaria-Navigare setting the pace, with that great Mexican, Julio Perez on the point. The wind is blowing at 8 kph, while the current temperature is 16°C.
Julio "Lucky" Perez came to prominence in the 2002 Giro, of course, when he had that incredible string of mishaps that earned him that nickname. First, his chain broke when he was sure to win an uphill finish. Then his fork snapped a couple of stages later, sending him face first into the pavement and costing him his front teeth. Then he won that dramatic stage in a breakaway with Simoni, and also got the nickname "Smiley" because of his huge smile from the podium, which at that time was full of the jagged remains of those broken teeth.
That was Stage 16 of that Tour of Italy, which Perez won ahead of Gibo at the top of the Pordoi climb, after a sensational ride.
1547 CEST - Looks like Rujano is going to be first over the top of this Cat 1 brute of a climb. The crowd is thick up near the top, campers and cars parked all over. Gil is in hot pursuit still as Rujano crests and goes over the top.
So the break has split up quite a bit, as the remnants are straggling over the top. There will clearly be some regrouping on the descent, but Rujano has a pretty good lead. The peloton, led by Perez still, goes over the top 2' 32" back. They have really brought down that gap.
1551 CEST - Wim Van Huffel (Davitamon Lotto) was third over the top of that climb, behind Rujano and Gil.
Now Gil and Rujano are together working on the descent to keep their lead over the other breakaways. Rujano's KOM prime first place put the little big climber from Santa Cruz da Mora, Venezuela, in the green jersey of the Mountains competition leader. Which is the real goal of the Selle Italia team.
1555 CEST - There are still over 100km left for the riders, a long way to stay off the front with only a couple of minutes lead.
Now Bettini and a couple of others (including Sutherland) have joined Gil and Rujano. Bettini is talking to everyone, trying to motivate them or something.
The Gianni Savio boys managed to win the Green Jersey more than once in past editions of the race, mainly courtesy of Fredy González Martínez. Now Fredy is riding for their Panaria rivals, but you can be sure that regardless of this, Selle Italia is not giving up the fight for the King of the Mountains crown.
Van Huffel is leading this lead group, which also has Wegelius (Liquigas-Bianchi) and Casar (FDJeux.com). Petrov (Lampre) is also here.
1600 CEST - More and more riders dropped on the previous climb have regained the wheels of the main group with Cunego, Simoni, Basso etc., that currently consists of some 90 riders.
The two Selle Italia men are now setting the pace at the front of the lead group. Bettini is at the back checking things out.
1603 CEST - So the peloton has a Discovery rider near the front. Discovery has nobody in this lead group, which is now 3' 29" ahead of the peloton and 1' ahead of the chasers. But Lampre has now come back to the front of the peloton again to pick up that pace.
Basso is about 7th wheel in the peloton, with two of his mates right in front of him keeping him out of trouble. Meanwhile, Ivan Parra (Selle Italia-Colombia) pulls through, then Wegelius takes his turn in the break. Casar is not in this lead group, but rather in the chase group.
Lampre's main goal is preventing Bettini from taking an excessive advantage, but Cunego's team and Basso's CSC would be delighted to have The Cricket wearing the Maglia for a few more days: that would mean less extra work for them.
1610 CEST - So once again, this lead group is Bettini, Wegelius, Parra, Rujano, Gil, Petrov, Van Huffel, Theo Eltink (Rabobank) and Joaquín Rodríguez (Saunier Duval-Prodir).
Bettini's DS Serge Parsani just commented from the team car: "I think that if there's cooperation inside the break we can make it to the line. And sure there's guys like the Selle Italia duo or Liberty Seguros that could work with us. But if the breakaway should be chased down, we'd just stay in the bunch and try and keep the Maglia Rosa".
1615 CEST - Parra takes a long pull on the front of the break. They do seem to be working well together right now in that lead group, which has increased its margin to 1' 38" on the chasers. Oops, now Rodriguez takes a flyer off the front of the break, as soon as I say that.
Selle Italia's DS Gianni Savio "replied" to Parsani's words: "He (Parsani) is right, riders in the break should work well together, so that the break may succeed. Our goal today is not just putting in some kind of attack, but also capturing the green jersey, which has been ours in 2002 and 2003, and which we want to get back with this young rider, José Rujano".
1619 CEST - We erred just before the top of the hour in saying that there were 100 km left - there are 41km left in the stage. Rodriguez goes through Secinaro, just near the beginning of a nasty little uncategorized climb. Rodriguez has quite a smart gap over the Bettini group, which is being led right now by Eltink.
Now a Selle Italia rider (one of the two) has a go, but is quickly marked by Bettini.
Casar is still leading that chase group which has slipped back to only about a minute ahead of the peloton. Bettini is setting the pace in his group, but now Eltink has a go.
Liquigas is now leading the peloton with two riders. Joachim is the Disco man in third wheel. The peloton is now catching the Casar group. Now a third Liquigas man comes to the front to drive it. They seem to be serious about the chase now. At the front of the race, Rodriguez has about a 3' 20" lead over the peloton as he goes under the sign for 40km left.
The Parsanis and Savios at the Giro, rooting for the break to make it to the line, have got an enemy today though: Danilo Di Luca. As we wrote earlier, the Liquigas rider is racing on his home roads of Abruzzo, and he's definitely extra-motivated. As he confirmed when talking to RAI's Alessandra de Stefano before the start this morning:
"I tested the route some days ago, and noticed that it suits my skills. Plus, there's many fans of mine along the route, and it would be great to win for them. Sure our first goal is getting to the finish with Garzelli and Cioni in the first places, because they are our men for the GC. But should we be given the opportunity to win the stage, we'll do our best not to waste it".
1626 CEST - The lead for Rodriguez over the Bettini group is 26". Beloki is in the peloton today, not yet dropped. That's a good sign for the still-recovering Spaniard.
Vladimir Miholjevic (Liquigas) sets a fierce pace in the peloton as they go under the 40km banner. They are pulling down that gap for sure. It's down to 3' 13" heading into a long descent. It will be hard for Rodriguez to solo the whole way home.
Rodriguez is riding one of those sweet Scott bikes provided to Saunier Duval, black with the yellow trim. He has pushed his lead to 33" over the Bettini group, so he's pulling away for now.
Bettini is driving the chase on the descent. Great to see the Pink Jersey on the attack like this all day! Still, the gap is now up to 40" for Rodriguez, and the lead over the peloton is down to 3' 00".
1635 CEST - Uh oh, the roads are wet and slick with rain on this descent now. Rodriguez is picking his way through some sketchy corners.
Bettini now gets some help from the Selle Italia men in the chase. The gap has come down to 36" now.
1637 CEST - 30km left. Rodriguez is pushing along on the flatter (relatively) part of the course that leads into that short uphill at the finish. He takes a drink and gets back to it.
Hmmm... well, the lead over the peloton is 2' 49" with 30km left. With the sprinters unlikely to take an interest due to the finishing climb (uncategorized), it is seemingly plausible now that this break might succeed. Liquigas is back to driving the peloton in pursuit, but Rodriguez is now 45" ahead of the Bettini group again.
I must say, I dig those Saunier Duval team kits. They would totally match my bike color scheme with my ride and accessories. Well, now the Liquigas men are getting some help in the chase from a Lampre rider. Marco Milesi is the one hammering for Liquigas right now.
Also talking to RAI before the stage kick-off was Stefano Garzelli, who was happy at Di Luca's victory this past Tuesday - even if Garzelli himself was the team's appointed man for the sprint that day - and might well rejoice again should his teammate score again at L'Aquila:
"I know that Danilo is racing on home soil, and is hungry to do well today. To keep the situation under control will not be an easy task, with so many kilometres to be covered, and attacks certainly going all the way from the start. But Danilo is ready, and I'll try and stay with him, working for him, but also for myself, as in such a dfficult Giro an overall contender should stay up front and avoid any risks, in stages like this one".
1649 CEST - 25km to go. Well, the gap to the Bettini chase group seems to have fallen now to under 20". Rodriguez still looks strong, but his lead is failing. In the peloton, Cioni in his Green Jersey and DiLuca in his white Pro Tour Leader's Jersey sit at the back of the Liquigas train. Van Huffel leads the Bettini group, which now has Rodriguez in their sights.
Rodriguez sits up and waits, knowing that he won't be able to make it to the finish alone now.
1651 CEST - CSC seems to have taken an interest in the front of the peloton. They could just be trying to keep Basso out of trouble. The lead has come down to 1' 12" for the Bettini group.
Wegelius is now sitting on the back of the Bettini group, and has been for awhile... clearly he's under orders to sit on and wait for his Liquigas mates to bridge the gap. 20km left.
1654 CEST - Wow, the gap has come down to only 43"! The Liquigas train is really doing some damage at the front of the peloton.
So now two men take a flyer off the front of the break... it's Parra and Eltink. They are working together, clearly hoping that without the Pink Jersey on board they might be given more leeway.
Parra and Eltink have been joined by a few others, but the gap to the peloton is only 38". Petrov and Gil are working with Eltink and Parra. So the Lampre man is trying to keep the agony up for the Liquigas boys, forcing them to chase while Cunego sits on.
Ivan Parra is the younger brother of former rider Fabio Parra, who climbed the Tour de France podium back in the days of 1988. (Fabio is, of course, the name of champions in Italy. Just behind Fausto.)
1701 CEST - 15km left. The CSC men have a conference with Basso giving orders, right behind the Liquigas train.
Prediction time on Italian TV - close to all pundits asked to pick a man as stage winner chose either Danilo Di Luca or Damiano Cunego. We'll see whether they were right or not in about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Simoni sits in the peloton with a quizzical look on his face. He is perhaps wondering if anybody remembers who he is. He has been doing a good job of saving himself and keeping anonymous in the race so far, waiting for the mountains.
The peloton is bunched up a bit, but that's only because of a short downhill slope... The Liquigas-Bianchi men are still in charge. Oh! a crash.
1708 CEST - David Lopez of Euskaltel is down... he is in pain, and tried to get up before laying back down. Nardello of T-Mobile is also banged up. Nardello gets a new bike and is off, but the ambulance stops for Lopez.
Another Euskaltel rider down after Lopez de Munain...So the four men off the front, Eltink, Gil, Petrov, and Parra, are still driving it. In the peloton, CSC has taken control now. 7km left.
The Discovery train also comes up to the front shepherding Savoldelli, who lost time behind that crash yesterday.
1711 CEST - The Discovery train also comes up to the front, shepherding Savoldelli, who lost time behind that crash yesterday. And now a Fassa man gets in the mix at the front... go figure... 6 km left.
The gap is only 15" now. The hammer is down, and everyone else has been swept up but these four survivors who now go under the 5km banner.
Ah, and now comes the catch. Gil gives Petrov and friendly pat on the back to say good effort. Parra delays the agony by attacking, but he is now swept up by the peloton. So it's all together with 4km left.
Discovery has some big numbers up at the front, six riders up there. Interesting. Bettini is still near the front, though it's unlikely he'll have the gas left for a victory today.
Ceramica Panaria have a duo moving up to the front, challenging the CSC train. 2km left. It's getting tight down there... The leadout is all mixed up with various teams taking their turns.
A Liquigas rider is now leading the bunch with 1100m to go. Rabobank, Phonak, T-Mobile, they're all up there...
Here is that final uphill shunt to the line.
Murn and Kolobnev (not Kessler) try to get a gap. An attack by a T-Mobile rider... Di Luca is countering... Here comes the finale... Oh, a Fassa rider jumps! But Di Luca takes it ahead of Fassa's Bruseghin!
Bruseghin went for a very long sprint, gritting his teeth uphill, but in the last 100m, the all-white Di Luca just came out of his slipstream and edged past. Danilo is panting into the microphones... This puts Di Luca in the maglia rosa!
Yup, Bruseghin jumped up the right hand barriers. Di Luca jumped over to his wheel, and then slowly began to come around him on the left to win by a bike. Another great win for the ProTour leader. Di Luca and Bruseghin got a 2" gap over the field, which was enough to help him snake the Pink Jersey! And snake it for the first time in his career! (as a professional rider at least, 'cause Danilo was the well-earned winner of a Baby Giro back in the 1990s) Di Luca is now 3" up on Bettini.
1. Danilo Di Luca
2. Marzio Bruseghin s.t.
3. Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano at 02"
4. Bjorn Leukemans at 02"
6. Damiano Cunego at 02"
7. Stefano Garzelli at 02"
8. Paolo Savoldelli at 02"
9. Patrice Halgand at 02"
10. Luca Mazzanti at 02"
Brief General Classification
1. Danilo Di Luca
2. Paolo Bettini at 03"
3. Luca Mazzanti at 25"
4. Dario David Cioni at 28"
5. Damiano Cunego at 30"
6. Stefano Garzelli at 36"
7. Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano at 37"
8. Michele Scarponi at 41"
9. Mirko Celestino
10. Gilberto Simoni
11. Serhyi Honchar
12. Ivan Basso
Well, well, all those years of Di Luca being pressured to have a big showing in the Giro, and now he has his first Pink Jersey. Wonder if the UCI will still try to make him wear that White ProTour Leader Jersey anyway....And for the first time in this Giro - Basso finishes as stage ahead of Cunego.
Danilo Di Luca's first post-win words: "Winning here today was even better than winning the Fléche. I could snatch the jersey, and did it here in Abruzzo. Thanks to a helluva team: Bettini put in great performance today, but with a squad like that, we were able to catch him. I won two stages, I took the jersey, I attained all my objectives. I can tell you that my Giro ends here..."
Marzio Bruseghin: "After Petacchi worked for me in the last kilometres, I think that it was a good thing for me to try and finish off his work".
Here's more on what winner Di Luca said today after the race:
"This season has been simply extraordinary for me, and got to its highest point as I took the jersey today. I have been serene these days; winning the stage was certainly part of my plans, but I wasn't going for the jersey. I took both things instead, and did it here, on home soil.
"What more can I say? I'm going to defend it as much as I can, but I've been riding hard since the Tour of the Basque Country (in early April), and we have two strong contenders in Garzelli and Cioni who are in good form, so I will not be going for the overall this time.
"But you can be sure that I will as I come back next year". And again, "My winning comeback in fact started this past winter, as I moved to Mexico for training there. I asked my team to take me there, and they did. They are a great squad, and I'm at ease at Liquigas. They treat me like I was a true team leader, and I'm doing my best to pay them back".
In his bid to keep the jersey for some more days, Di Luca should watch out for Paolo Bettini, though. The combative Cricket was very satisified with today's performance, and promised he'll fight to get the jersey back as soon as possible, as he wants to be wearing it as the race gets to Tuscany.
Thanks for joining us today, and you won't want to miss a second of what has already been a thrilling Giro, so please join us again tomorrow.
Results and classifications