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From cocaine-fueled gangster themes to tiny details on the hubs
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The BMC Teammachine of the American GC hopeful
Hyper-aggressive position for the sprint lead-out
The riders started out at 12.07pm local time. There were 169 men on the startline, with two riders missing: Wouter Weylandt from Quick Step and Dominik Roels from Team Milram.
Shortly after the start, around km 5, a small crash occurred in the bunch. Two riders came down: David Loosli (Lampre) and Cameron Wurf (Androni Giocattoli), but it was nothing serious.
Rick Flens (Rabobank) attacked as one of the first riders at km 9. He quickly got a gap of several minutes, and luckily at km 18, Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) set out to chase him down. It took a little while until the duo joined him - the gap was 9'37" after 30 kilometres! - but eventually the lone leader was caught at km 42. Now, the trio is well-ahead of the bunch and leads by 6'42".
Under the control of teams Garmin and Columbia, the leaders' advantage is steady, now at just a little under six minutes. The first hour of racing was pretty mellow, as the bunch rode an average of 36.2 km/h.
Well, it seems as if pro cycling was back to normal today. As you all know, the race's overall classification was largely re-shuffled yesterday when a high-profile breakaway of 56 riders stayed clear of the bunch by 12'45", including such stars as Carlos Sastre (Cervélo) and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who are now back in contention.
Australia's Giro rookie Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) took over the maglia rosa from Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and this race may soon may see other twisted turns as other riders will be able reach out to the precious garment, too.
But the Giro d'Italia is also shook up by the recent doping allegations made by Floyd Landis. The 2006 Tour de France winner, who quickly lost this title as he tested positive for testosterone, has now back-pedalled from his long-time denial of ever having used performance-enhancing substances, claiming that he indeed doped massively and alleging that he was not the only one.
Landis has charged Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and current Amgen Tour of California leader David Zabriskie of doping - moreover saying that Armstrong tested positive once and that a financial agreement with the UCI was made in order to keep the news confidential. If his intention was to keep his lawyers busy, we're sure that he's succeeded...
But back to Italy: Yesterday was a nasty journey for the riders as it rained constantly. The weather today is dry, but not too warm: only 19° in the province of Pescara. The race is travelling north alongside the coastline, but at kilometre 114, the parcours will turn inland for a few small hills - not too hard, though.
The last 37 kilometres then form a circuit between Potenza Picena and Porto Recanati, with one ultimate bump with 11 kilometres to go. But if everything goes to plan, we should see a bunch sprint at the finish...
The leading trio still has a little under six minutes over the bunch, with the gap remaining the same. AG2R's Krivtsov is doing his utmost, true to his nickname "the machine", but the bunch behind has them on its long leash, ready to pull once it'll be time.
Will we finally see an Italian stage winner today? The tifosi are getting pretty impatient. Will Alessandro Petacchi find his top speed again or Tyler Farrar remain almost unbeatable? If the stage does finish in a bunch sprint...
Let's take a look at our three leaders:
Rick Flens, an excellent rouleur, has good form this season as he came second of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne earlier this year. Olivier Kaisen has not scored a victory in 2010 so far, either, but he won the fifth stage of the Tour of Turkey in 2009.
Yuriy Krivtsov has three pro victories so far, all taken in 2003. The Ukranian has recently changed his nationality to obtain the French passport.
The breakaway has reached the feed zone. Krivtsov grabs his musette. The gap is 5'27".
The sun has been out for a while and it should have warmed up the roads by now. Finally, the riders are getting some humane working conditions!
But the gap is melting, as the bunch reaches the feed zone five minutes after the leaders. Maglia rosa Richie Porte is also taking a lunch break along with everybody else.
100 kilometres to go. Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) looks happy, he's on his very last Giro and hopes to leave cycling in style after the event.
The riders are getting some cheers as they pass through small coastal towns. They will soon turn left into the hinterland. After all the rain yesterday, they must be relieved to feel warm again!
The turning point is in Civitanova Marche, a beautiful small harbour. A Rabobank rider is currently driving the bunch, followed by two Garmins and the Saxo Bank team-men of Richie Porte. They are turning inland now, strung out at a roundabout inside town.
Unfortunately, the allegations made by Floyd Landis are literally overshadowing today's happenings at the Giro d'Italia. Media coverage is extensive, and will be spurred at the start line of today's stage of the the Tour of California. Team RadioShack is expected to react to Landis' claims before the stage gets underway.
Sorry to have mentioned Alessandro Petacchi as a candidate for a sprint win today. As our faithful readers have pointed out, he of course abandoned a few days ago due to a bronchitis - our fault!
The leaders are still pushing along bravely, even though the bunch is coming nearer. Krivtsov drives them as they pass through some beautiful Italian countryside. They reach the intermediate sprint at Monte San Giusto, where Flens crosses the line first.
BMC owner Andy Rihs, meanwhile, has reacted to Landis' allegations in a press release, in which he says that "Neither I nor the management of the team knew that Floyd Landis was doped. His present statements according to which I was informed are lies."
4'51" is the current gap. With 70 kilometres to go, the sprinters' teams still have plenty of time to take over complete control of the race.
Nice: lush green hills under sunny skies. Central Italy can be a delight in May!
The race is quite mellow today, even slightly behind schedule. At this speed, we expect the finish around 5.30pm CET.
The hills in this area are very rolling and the riders have no trouble getting over them in a big gear. Nothing to worry about for the sprinters, we're sure. The gap is down to 4'28".
The leaders ride through Macerata, where locals have interrupted their siesta to cheer them on. Just joking - perhaps because a nap would be of use up here in the blimp!? We're afraid there's not much happening on the road right now...
The race is getting faster now, though. Radio Corsa gave the latest gap: 3'17" with 53 kilometres to go until they reach the finish line in Porto Recanati. Three Garmin riders are leading the peloton.
Cyclingnews is currently gathering more reactions on the allegations made by Landis, and we will be publishing them as soon as possible. Stay tuned for comments from the team managements of RadioShack, Team Sky, Garmin-Transitiosn and, last but not least, the OUCH-Bahati Foundation Cycling Team, Landis' current squad. What will they make of his statements?
In Montelupone, which is as stunningly beautiful as it sounds, the gap is down under three minutes. The peloton will have to watch out for counter-attacks if they reel the break in too soon. There is a small ramp with 11 kilometres to go, which could serve as a trigger for last-minute escape attempts.
Krivtsov gets out of the saddle to gain some momentum. Still, the leaders are powering along - there is always a chance of success in every break, even if most of them are condemned to fail in advance.
They are speeding down a descent now...
The World Anti-Doping Agency has issued a statement on Landis' doping confession and allegations. WADA president John Fahey says, "We are very interested in learning more about this matter and we will liaise with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and any other authorities with appropriate jurisdiction to get to the heart of the issues raised. WADA looks forward to these further investigations and enquiries by those responsible."
The leaders have reached Potenza Picena, where they will return in a while after completing a loop that will take them once through the finish in Porto Recanati.
Yury Trofimov (Bbox) punctured and is getting a wheel change. It'll ba hard to chase back to the bunch now that the race has picked up some speed. 30 kilometres to go, and the gap is down to two minutes.
The trhee leaders have reached Porto Recananti, where they cross the finish line once before the real finish in 25 kilometres. The crowds have already gathered, of course, and pink balloons are everywhere. Gap: 1'13".
Nothing particular can be said about this finish. The road is straight, large, and flat - the sprinters will eb served, and lead-out trains shouldn't be messed up.
Garmin-Transitions are driving the bunch for Tyler Farrar - they have done this for a while, but now they are putting the hammer down.
André Greipel (HTC-Columbia) is also sensing his chance. He keeps hidden inside the bunch for now.
The bunch is on a small climb now again. Krivtsov doesn't look like he's willing to call it quits even though the break's lead is under a minute.
35 seconds, to be exact. Now is the time for positioning in the bunch, and we can see the teams setting up their sprint finish plans.
Garmin really drives it hard now. So does Krivtsov, "the machine", as they call him in his AG2R team. How long until they will be caught?
15 clicks to go. The bunch has the break in sight down this hill. Flens and Kaisen look back, and give up. Krivtsov continues....
Francesco Failli (Acqua & Sapone) bridges up to Krivtsov, and passes him easily. The AG2R rider is caught.
Alessandro Bisolti (Colnago) has bridged up to Failli, so have Marco Pinotti (HTC) and Thomas Voeckler (Bbox). But it's coming together again.
There is a small gap between a dozen riders and the chasing bunch, but it's only a matter of seconds. Wow - Vinokourov is in there!
Ten seconds between the bunch and a group of overall favourites including Vinokourov, Nibali, Basso, Garzelli... interesting!
Evans is moving up inside the bunch. You never know, anything could be decisive!
This is another interesting twist after yesterday in what seemed to be a very straihgtforward bunch sprint finish. Millar is pulling it now for Garmin, but the Garmin train created a gap!
The bunch chase is not organised, riders are getting nervous. Garzelli and Scarponi are leading the front group. They are highly motivated as the stage win seems to be around the corner. 20 seconds is the gap.
Evans is not happy back in the bunch - getting into a fight, almost!
Pozzato is pushing the pace in front now, while Team Milram is doing some work for Förster in the back. But will it be enough to catch the breakaway?
Vinokourov in front of Nibali... but the others are coming back. Voeckler comes around, together with Pozzato - and Pozzato gets the win!
Pozzato took the first win for the Italians in their Gardn Tour - the tifosi will be delighted! Nice race finish move by the overall contenders, which did not give them many seconds but sure did annoy Evans, who was seen exchanging some slaps with a Lampre rider in the finale... Voeckler second, and we think Pineau third.
Garzelli was fourth, followed by Vinokourov, Nibali and Pinotti. No changes to the top of general classification.
Thanks for having joined us again on Cyclingnews and stay tuned for full results, report and photos of today's Giro stage. Have anice day/night, wherever you are! Arrivederci!
1 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha 5:15:50
2 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
3 Jerome Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
4 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas - Doimo
7 Marco Pinotto (Ita) Team HTC-Columbia
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli