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Hello and welcome to CN's live coverage from the Giro d'Italia. Today's it's stage 3 from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo.
Sprinters will want to take advantage of today, since the peloton's sure to split late on, but fast men with good climbing legs and a strong team could stay up front. The flat finish in Rapallo suits them too but there are complications.
The first is the Passo del Bocco, where a series of steep ramps in the final kilometre provide room for attacks. Any who manage to stay away will benefit later from the Madonna delle Grazie climb, after whose summit there's only 8km to the finish. With mere seconds between many riders and the maglia rosa, the race leader will be under pressure too.
Highest point: 957m
Rapallo is of course where Virenque won a stage, back in 1999. That stage was a lot harder than this one and we should see the sprinters shine today.
The weather conditions today are close to perfect, the sun out, and very little wind.
The main climb of the day, the Passo del Bocco, was where Berzin won a TT in 1994, on his way to ending Miguel Indurain's dominance at the Giro. Today the riders will go over the climb and then head down towards finish. There's still a ramp up towards the finish but it's a very technical last few km with lots of twists and turns. It could be a very hectic and dangerous finish. Cav used the work carnage this morning.
30km of racing so far today, and no action yet. The bunch is all together. Lets take a look around at the news
"Looks like a really interesting stage. It's a long drag up to the Passo Bracco but the racing will happen on the climb to Madonna del Grazie, 8km from the finish. It probably won't affect the GC but it will be won by a good passista, someone like Visconti."
Four riders have just nipped off the front of the bunch. There was a flurry of attacks but this four managed to build up a small lead and they're working hard together.
So our four leaders are Brutt, de Clercq, Ricci Bitti and Brambilla and they've got a gap of nearly 3minutes.
No surprise to see Lotto on the attack again after Lang's brave efforts yesterday. They dont have a GC contender and with the third week being so brutal they're attacking whenever they get a chance.
50 kms: 49,3 km/h average speed / 50 km: velocità media 49,3 km/h
@giroditalia Mon, 9th May 2011 12:58:06
Not much has gone right for Katusha in the race so far. A poor TTT, and rider crashing from the late break yesterday - they'll be hoping for better luck today.
Brutt already has a couple of wins behind him this season and the 29-year-old is a handy rider to have around.
Brambilla is 23 and in his second year as a pro. He's had a few good results in the baby Giro but this is a big step up for him.
Ricci Bitti has been with the same team all his career. Like Brambilla this is his first grand tour, first Giro in fact.
The lead has gone out to 6 minutes.
The finish today is near the home town of Petacchi, by the way. he'll be keen to get in another win, that's for sure.
It's interesting that he's been training with Scarponi at altitude though. It doesnt seem to have affected his sprinting legs, in fact he looked very strong yesterday, didn't he? A few sprinters could easily get shelled out today so Petacchi could take advantage.
Bart De Clerq is 34 seconds down on Cav in GC by the way, so he's now the virtual leader on the road. He's the second Lotto rider in two days to hold that tag. I wonder how Lang's legs are today...
The peloton has already sprung into life and take 1.30 off the lead
De Clercq is a first year pro by the way so he's another rider making his Gt debut.
Another 30 seconds comes off the lead though, and it's down to 4 minutes.
In today's news, Petacchi counts the wins that were taken away during his suspension.
Igon Anton says that he's not here to win the race.
And Savio is caught up in doping allegations.
In slightly more uplifting news, Awang is better.
96km left and the peloton are keeping the four man group at 4 mins.
A crash in the main field involving Pozzovivo, Pirazzi, Stortoni, Popo and Hoogerland.
Cavendish with a problem with his bike and needs a change.
Took a few seconds to get that sorted but he's back - on a new bike - and chasing through the cars.
Like Pinotti, Cav has gone for the a pink jersey but kept the team colours for the shorts.
He's sitting behind the Quick Step car, takes a sharp turn and moves further through the convoy.
Saxo Bank on the front for now setting the pace with Lampre.
One rider waiting for Cav, while the four up the road press on.
Brutt sitting on the back and stretching his legs.
Interesting that Saxo are doing the lion share of the work.
Cav makes it back to the peloton and we've got 85km to go. The gap at 3.42
HTC has put a rider on the front.
More problems for Cav. Looks like a puncture this time. He's chasing back on with a number of riders.
Garmin are also near the front en masse. Like Saxo Bank it looks like they're just trying to keep out of trouble.
61km to go and the gap still over 3 minutes with De Clercq taking a long pull on the front.
Saxo has eased off the front with HTC , Lampre and Liquigas move up and do some of the work.
Duarte was the rider who came down. He's back up and chasing.
The four leaders on a downhill section and the lead just over 3 minutes.
A majority of you are saying that Cav will win the most stages in this year's Giro. You can vote in our poll, here.
55km to go and the gap at 3.03
That third cat climb still to come remember. The sprinters will be hoping to hang on there, most of them should be fine but lots of fresh legs in the bunch so we will see attacks.
Belletti has a puncture and is being paced back by a number of teammates.
And Daniel Friebe is joining us now
Welcome, Daniel, nice to have you with us again. What have you made of the Giro so far?
Lampre setting the pace now but Saxo and Garmin are right up there too.
The hammer has been dropped and Lampre are really putting the bunch under a lot of pressure with their pace
Well, it's still so early and this Giro is so hard that what we've seen to date is nigh on irrelevant as far as the general classification is concerned. I would, though, pick up on a point my Italian colleague Pier Augusto Stagi made the other day about Joaquim Rodriguez: if, as has been reported, two Katusha riders had mechanical problems in the team time trial but no access to replacement bikes, Andrei Tchmil's statement earlier this year - "Rodriguez will win the Giro" - doesn't seem to be backed up by the team's actions.
As regards yesterday, I think that, if Mark Cavendish is honest with himself, he'll acknowledge that he made the same mistake as in Trieste two years ago. It's been reported in a few places that Petacchi launched his sprint with 250 metres to go, but in reality he only came past Cav inside the 200-metre to go barrier...which means Cavendish waited too long
Do you think Cav will take the win today?
The gap is down to 1.44
Visconti hovering near the front. The finish suits him rather well
The finish is very fiddly, which won't help him. He could really do with a run of four or five routine sprint finishes to find his groove but he won't get them at this Giro.
42km to go and the pace is fixed, perhaps it's slowed ever so slightly in the last few minutes.
Garzelli up near the front too. Contador as well, a lot of the GC guys trying to keep out of trouble. The gap down to 1.20
41km to go and the gap is just over a minute
Dan, Mark is in the same boat as all the other sprinters though.
True. Mark will perhaps disagree but I just think he could have done with a few more easy wins before this Giro, for his confidence. His programme this year has been very challenging. Sprinters are like strikers in football: sometimes there's nothing wrong with banging in goals against easy opposition, being a flat-track bully. Mark only now targets the loftiest objectives but maybe he could have done with three stage wins in, I don't know, the Tour of Turkey. I just feel it might take him a few days at the Giro to find that winning habit again...and there aren't too many days available to him. We'll see...Either way, we shouldn't forget that the pink jersey is another pearl in his palmares.
On the climb de Clercq winds things up but Brambillla comes over the top. Brutt chasing him.
Lang wont hang onto his lead in the KOM and Brambilla will lead the competition.
De Clercq almost comes off on the downhill, it's a very tricky section, and Liquigas sit on the front of the bunch and keep things steady.
Cyclingnews caught up with Gerald Ciolek (Quick Step) just before the start in Reggio Emilia, and he reckoned that the Passo del Bocco would put paid to the hopes of a lot of sprinters.
“For sure it won’t be a bunch sprint with all the riders. It will be a sprint from a small group,” he said.
“I think the selection will be made on the category three climb. I don’t know exactly how many riders will be in the group because the level here is really very high. I think there’ll be quite a few, but not many sprinters.”
A crash in the bunch and a Rabo rider goes down.
Dan, what's stood out for you, from what we've seen from the GC riders?
Unlike some others, I do think prologue time trials often give strong indications about riders' form, but a team time trial is more complicated. Without having been on the course and watched them, it's hard to say whether, as Contador suggested, Saxo Bank were more cautious than some of the other teams. What's quite interesting at this point is how well Lampre are performing. They've got a potentially cataclysmic crisis on their hands - and they also have two leaders, Petacchi and Scarponi, who are to some extent involved in ongoing doping investigations. They also, though, have a new manager in Roberto Damiani with an outstanding reputation and, at the moment at least, a Midas touch.
The bunch is strung out on the downhill. Liquigas still setting the pace.
Robbie McEwen told Cyclingnews that he has come to this Giro a little short on preparation and is hoping that his form will build through the race. He wasn’t overly optimistic about his chances of being in the mix for the win in Rapallo.
“Today’s pretty tough, but it might be a chance for Hunter to have a go if I’m not there after that climb,” he said.
The gap down to 44 seconds. with 30 km to go.
A lot of investigations going on in the background, the recent one involving Savio. what's your take on the situation?
Well, Dan, as you're aware, I know Gianni quite well....
A few gaps caused by the pace on the climb but it looks like it will all come back together.
Oh there's a rider down and that looks really serious.
he's a Leopard rider.
he's a Leopard rider.
He isn't getting up. Doctors are around him. Im just reporting what I see but he's not concious. the medical team are with him, they were there very quickly.
The rider accusing him says that another witness is about to come forward, so we'll see. Whatever the outcome, is further evidence that Italian cycling is an absolute viper's nest at the moment. Petacchi's whinge about having won 27 Giro stages and not 22 was symptomatic of what they're facing there; unfortunately, when he made the comment on live Italian TV, the presenter just giggled and said "We know what you're talking about". In case anyone reading didn't know, Petacchi was stripped of those five wins because, in the eyes of sporting law, he was doped at the time. Luckily there are one or two people, like Eugenio Capodacqua who are willing to call a spade a spade, or flagrant arrogance exactly what it is. The whole of Italian cycling is on trial at this Giro and they'd do well to remember that.
weylandt is the rider who crashed.
We dont know any more about the crash but as soon as we do we'll bring it to you.
Up the road and the break has 47 seconds.
The four leaders are back together.
Lampre are on the front.
It looks like the bunch has slowed.
Weylandt who rides for Leopard was on the deck and RAI's coverage showed the medics doing CPR on Weylandt.
We've not seen the crash, just images post crash. We hope for the best, sometimes crashes look a lot worse than they are, and our thoughts are with Weylandt
We have 17km to race and the gap is 42 seconds.
The gap is coming down, it's at 37 seconds. As soon as we know more about the crash we'll bring it to you.
Lampre doing most of the work on the front still.
The Garmin train has moved up next to the Lampre team.
Ah it just reminds you how dangerous this sport can be.
Lots of speculation going around now. I'm not going to print something until there's confirmation from someone official
10km to go and there's a final climb before the finish. The sprinters' teams trying to keep it all under control. Petacchi near the front.
Lotto attack from the bunch.
The move marked by Leopard, garmin and Sky,
Cav is in difficulty on the climb, he's losing ground
Sastre moving up the field and we've now got a small group off the front but it should come back together.
Le Mevel and Lastras are now leading the race, a lot of riders being dropped behind in the bunch.
Sastre is suffering now, and Cav is too.
Le Mevel leads over the top with Lastras, Cav has lost 1.12
Just under 6km to go.
We're hearing that Weylandt is still on the ground with medical staff
It looks like Farrar is getting a rear wheel
Moreno is with Le mevel and Lastras, and vicioso. They have 14 seconds on the bunch.
Moreno is attacking.
Le Mevel forced to chase
It looks like Millar is coming across.
Another rider is trying to jump as well
Le Mevel wont work for now as Lastras sets the pace
Millar makes it so now we have five leaders.
just under 2km to go. that group should make it.
18 seconds advantage.
Very twisty run in, I think they can do it as long as they dont mess around.
1km to go
Le mevel leads out
millar in 4th wheel
millar moves to the front
vicioso gets it. Millar is second.
I think Lastras got third.
The bunch has come over the line.
Vicioso took the best line and takes the win for Androni.
No confirmation yet but Millar may be in pink this evening.
However we're turning attention to the crash involving Weylandt. So far we don't have any more information.
Confirmation that Millar is in pink for tomorrow's stage.
Very quiet scenes at the finish. It looks like the organisers have cancelled the podium.
The latest we have is that Weylandt has been airlifted to hospital.
We're going to close the live report now but we'll keep you updated on the site.