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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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At the moment, the bunch is riding all together, but we'll fill you in on any escapes as soon as they get away.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that yesterday's fight between Cadel Evans (BMC) and Daniele Righi (Lampre) is not an issue anymore today. Apparently, the two riders have solved their dispute. "Sometimes you lack some lucidity," Evans is reported to have said. "But the important thing is to learn from your mistakes."
And Righi commented: "I saw the gesture on TV, it's true that it was quite brutal. We're sorry for what happened. It's all cleared up."
Today's stage is similar to yesterday's, as the riders again move northward along the coastline before a final loop inland over some hilly terrain. But, today's hills are a bit more difficult, and could mess up the plans for a bunch sprint finish.
The peloton is still together, but strung out now.
We have two abandons already: Morris Possoni from Team Sky and Domenico Pozzovivo of Colnago-CSF Inox. The Giro is starting to wear the riders out, no doubt.
And we have a breakaway: David Loosli (Lampre), Christopher Froome (Sky) and Luke Roberts (Milram) jumped away from teh bunch at km 27, and have a 24 seconds lead three kilometres later. Let's see if they can make it up the road.
No - they have been caught. The peloton is racing fast as other riders try to escape, in vain.
It is a nice day again today in central Italy, with the sun shining and only a few scattered clouds up in the sky. Temperatures are reaching the 20° C and the sun continues to heat up the air so we have perfect racing conditions with the sea to the right, and some hills to the left of the road.
The first hour of racing is through. The riders are moving fast, at 43.9 km/h - and no breakaway has been able to form just yet.
The Giro took things a little easier yesterday when the bunch rode at 35 km/h, but today they seem to be in a hurry to reach those climbs...
There will be two important climbs in the finale of this stage, when the route takes the riders inland, both of which count for GPM points. The first is the Perticara climb at km 161 (7.5 kms long, 665 metres in altitude) that has some 9-12 percent ramps in the beginning of the ascent, whereas the second part is more rolling around 6 percent gradient.
Then, we have the Barbotto climb at km 181 (4.5 kms long, 514 metres in altitude) that starts out around 7 percent gradient but gets very steep in the last kilometre with ramps up to 15 percent.
In Senigallia, Remi Cusin (Cofidis) and Michiel Elijzen (Omega) have managed to put some space between them and the bunch. Not sure yet whether they will be able to build on this gap.
Nope, they didn't make it any further. Gruppo compatto says Radio Corsa.
Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) got a quick wheel change but is back in the bunch, too.
They are still racing along the coastline. The race will turn left into the hills only in Rimini, where Pantani died, after 125 kilometres.
Race director Angelo Zomegnan commented on this stage: "Cesenatico is the home of Marco Pantani but also of the Nove Colli Gran Fondo, which takes place on the weekend before the Giro comes to town. Every year, literally thousands of bike-nuts flock here for what is now one of the most important events on the amateur cycling calendar - and the end of this stage will take in some of the short, steep climbs that they face in the Nove Colli."
Sorry folks, but we haven't received any news from the race for a little while now. Radio Corsa seems to take a lunch break...
Here we go: a group of 17 men finally got away at km 62. The names are: Wyss, Bertogliati, Grivko, Claude, Kriit, Belletti, Mayoz, Meyer, Marzano, Lang, Facci, Stamsnijder, H. Henderson, Lewis, Horrach, Klimov and Voss.
They have a lead of 3'30" now.
This is a well-balanced group in which almost all teams are represented. Hence the consensus after so made breakaway attempts were spoiled.
They have a 3'50" lead after 75 kilometres. Looks good for such a strong group.
Only Acqua & Sapone, AG2R, Caisse d'Epargne, Cervélo, Liquigas and Saxo Bank missed the train. Xavier Tondo Volpini from Cervélo is leading the peloton out.
In Pesaro, the lead group has gained yet more ground, clocking 4'35" faster than the chasing bunch.
The average speed after two hours of racing is 42.4 km/h.
Stamsnijder is the only man in the break that has a chance of reaching out to an overall jersey. In the points classification, the Dutchman has the same amount of points than Jerome Pineau. But Voss, who is also in the escape, could equal them if he wins the intermediate sprint in Mercato Saraceno (km 176.3) - the only one on this stage.
While the leaders' advantage grew just over five minutes as the race reached the 100km-mark, it is now shrinking again to 4'55".
We have another rider that abandoned the Giro today: David Millar (Garmin). The tall Scot stepped off the bike at the feed zone in La Siligata earlier, what a shame.
The race reaches the outskirts of Rimini now, where it will turn left to move into the hills, away from the coast. This is where Marco Pantani was found dead in a hotel room one morning of February 2002...
The gap to the leaders is currently six minutes.
Mayoz (Footon-Servetto-Fuji) is the rider in the break that is best-placed on GC, as he is 26th at 16'14" from current leader Richie Porte (Saxo Bank).
The gap has again increased to 7'25".
This group of 17 could make it to the finish if they keep up the pace. The second part of the stage, now beginning, is definitely harder with thos two KOM's coming up, but they have a good chance of staying away as 16 out of 22 teams are represented.
Especially as the gap continues to grow: 8'12" now. Three hours of racing have passed, and the average speed remains stable with 42.35 km/h.
Saxo Bank are leading out the bunch together with Caisse d'Epargne.
The landscape right now is still more or less flat, but will get gradually more difficult in the next few kilometres. The Perticara climb really starts in Talamello with 69 kilometres to go.
There are a few more clouds in the sky and it is also quite humid - but no rain has been predicted.
Chances are growing that this break will make it through, as the break now clocks an advantage of 9'12" and the bunch doesn't seem to be worried.
The breakaway works well together, circling nicely with everone taking even turns. All false flats uphill now, this will start to hurt.
The pass through some beautiful villages in stunning countryside. This is where the late Marco Pantani trained and where the famous Nove Colli Gran Fondo took place one week ago.
The leaders are on th Perticara climb now. Looks to be the steep sections around 9 percent gradient before the climb gets a bit more rolling. People have gathered in the turns.
Katusha's Klimov is heading the break at the bottom of the climb. They ride over a cobbled street through the village of Talamello now. The gap is 8'25". Klimov leads all the way.
The bunch now gets to the village, still riding a reasonable pace.
In the lead group, Cameron Meyer now takes his turn. Three kilometres of climbing left until they reach the summit.
Both groups are riding together, there are no attacks whatsoever. The gap has slightly decreased to 7'27".
Speaking of attacks - we have one! It's Vladimir Karpets (Katusha), who jumps away from the bunch. Does he really think he can make it to the leaders? He has two team-mates there in Horrach and Klimov.
Karpets digs deep, and is successful. He's on his own and making up time. But he's still got seven minutes to bridge up the the front group...
Linus Gerdemann from Milram has now set out to chase Karpets, while Liquigas makes the pace in the bunch. Karpets is only one minute behind Cadel Evans or Ivan Basso on GC.
At the summit, Karpets passes at six minutes, with the peloton following 37 seconds behind. They are not letting him get away so quickly.
They are now speeding down the descent, an undulating road but not twisty. Gerdemann must have been caught.
The road does get a bit more winding towards the end of the descent, and riders need to use the brakes more. And the pedals, as building up speed again is vital.
They are approaching the intermediate sprint in Mercato Saraceno now, taking advantage of a little flat road before they will start to climb again.
Stamsnijder and Voss will be the two men to watch at the sprint, as the Dutchman could take the jersey from Frenchman Pineau, and Voss could match Stamsnijder's and Pineau's score.
Stamsnijder takes the sprint points and should therefore take over the jersey tonight.
Marzano and Bertogliati take advantage of the ascending road and try to attack the front group. But the've been brought back.
Karpets gets to the intermediate sprint 4'42" later, followed by the bunch at 6'02".
Four riders are being distanced in the breakaway, we think it's Stamsnijder, Henderson, Grivko and Wyss. The Barbotto is a Cat. 2 climb, and the day's been a long one already.
Klimov leads Facci as the pace up the climb. They want to wear the others out a bit before the final descent and flat part into Cesenatico.
The group is breaking up. But we'll have to see after the descent if it hasn't come back together. Spectators abound on this climb, there is even a Spiderman!
Bertogliati is alone in the front now as the leaders come over the summit in small groups.
Karpets is still between the two groups in no man's land.
Karpets has lost a bit of time again on the front group since the sprint: he's now 5'07" behind.
The bunch comes through at 6'15".
There is still a bit of climbing left after the KOM before the descent down to the coast begins.
Marzano is driving nearly all of the lead group together now. The two Katusha riders, Horrach and Klimov, are still missing - maybe they are waiting for their captain.
Cofidis' Kriit got a wheel change and is chasing back now.
They are speeding down the hill now, no time to rest. It is clear that they will stay away until the finish.
It looks like the leaders are not unanimous anymore, looking at each other. No-one wants to ride. Lang takes over now, and the others take his slipstream.
Now Mayoz takes over the charge, leading the other downhill.
They are completely strung out as Mayoz digs deep.
Horrach is in this group though and now attacks.
Mayoz marks him but there is a gap. But the other come back as Stamsnijder now takes his chances, dragging others behind him.
Stamsnijder, Claude and Mayoz together in front now. But the gap to their chasers is not big.
The bunch is now 6'21" behind the leaders, just controlling. Karpets still in between.
The leaders are together again, testing...
Katusha is very active in this break, with Horrach and Klimov taking turns in attacking.
Karpets follows the break at a little over four minutes. His move will nevertheless bear fruit on GC.
Estonian Kriit also looks strong, so does Stamsnijder. If one of the Katusha riders wins, it would be the third victory for the team ina row.
But atm it's Kriit, Stamsnijder, Mayoz and Facci together in front.
The four have opened a good gap. This could be decisive.
The four riders are pacing fast, with the others trailing at a distance. With 10 km to go, they might be able to hold them off.
Current situation: M. Facci (Quick Step), T. Stamsnijder (Rabobank), I. Mayoz (Footon), K. Kriit (Cofidis) together racing hard towards the finish in Cesenatico. The others don't seem to be able to bridge up again. Cameron Meyer is trying to get across on his own.
Kriit puts his head down. Meyer has made it into that group, so they are five in front now.
The other group behind the leaders has seven riders, trying to get organised. Four others behind. The two groups are together now.
Sorry, it was the leaders who were caught. They are 12 riders now.
belletti gets across to Facci and Klimov, who attacked. Three leaders, but they look behind.
It comes back together.
If it comes down to a sprint, Henderson should be a favourite. Lewis leads now.
Lewis has a good gap! He's on the finishing straight...
But Belletti bridges up in one last effort and passes him on the last 100 metres. Antoher Italian victory!
Henderson second and Mayoz third. Belletti can't believe it. Fantastic victory for him.
Horrach gives up his teamwork for Karpets now that he is in the finish. Karpets made up some time on the GC contenders before the moutnain stages this week-end, but will that really be an advantage?
Here comes the peloton, led out by Liquigas. Karpets came in 5'02" behind the winner.
7'27" for the bunch. So Karpets has made up 2'25" on some of the other overall leaders.
Belletti can't hold his tears on the podium.
Thanks for having joined us again today and stay tuned for all the details of this stage, dedicated to Marco Pantani. Ciao from Cesenatico!