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Hello and welcome to CN's live coverage from stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia.
Stage 6 looks to be an intriguing yet not especially tough stage, but much depends on the weather. If it's wet, the peloton could be reluctant to let breaks get too far clear as there are sure to be many still in with a sniff of the maglia rosa.
The route passes to the east of Rome in the lower reaches of the Apennine mountain chain, which bumps up and down all day without reaching any great height.
An uncategorised climb in the spa town of Fiuggi Terme is an opportunity for riders who have held something back for the final kilometres, since the final descent will whisk them almost to the finish.
Highest point: 450m
Category: Mountain stage (medium)
Lets bring you up to date with the current situation. We have covered 90km and a group of five riders have a 5.15 lead on the bunch.
We have Jussi Veikkanen, Kristof Vandewalle, Popvych, Modolo and Veunchelen all here.
Amazing to think that Popo finished third in the Giro back in 2003, almost ten years ago.
Meanwhile the leaders are near Fiano Romano and are just going through the feedzone. Do we have an icon for that? There you go.
Weening of course leads the race now and Rabobank are currently leading the bunch.
With all the bonus seconds up for grabs at the finish the GC isn't secure on the Rabobank rider's shoulders. Here's the current top ten as it stands.
1 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 14:59:33
2 Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad 0:00:02
3 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad
4 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:05
5 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:22
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:24
7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:26
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:28
9 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:30
10 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli 0:00:33
Both Le Mevel and Pinotti have said they'll fight for pink over the next few days. Interestingly guys like Contador and Scarponi haven't done the same. Clearly a split between GC aspirations.
As for the weather, dry and hot, the same at the finish.
130 to go and the gap is still around 5 minutes
Michele Scarponi and his Lampre-ISD team will be keeping a low profile on today’s stage to Fiuggi.
“The team and I will try and conserve as much energy as possible,” he told reporters outside Orvieto’s duomo. “I know it’s a tricky finish today but there’s Montevergine tomorrow and Etna on Sunday, so we’ll be looking to save the legs a bit today.”
Scarponi does not expect gaps to be opened on the tomorrow’s summit finish both due to the nature of the climb to Montevergine itself and the brevity of the stage.
“It’s a very fast climb, where the best will fight out the win and the time bonuses,” he said. “It would be different after 200km, but after 100km I think there will be more riders than normal up there in the group in front.”
So far there's not much reaction from the bunch. They're happy let the five leaders extend their gap to 5:40
Lampre-ISD announces sponsorship deal with Power Balance. Fitting as both the team & the bracelets have been under investigation in Italy
@inrng Thu, 12th May 2011 13:34:42
Rabo continue setting the pace as the bunch tackle a climb, jerseys all open today in the heat.
Di Luca, who finished without a saddle has a puncture and has to chase back, alone, to the bunch.
The leaders close to Ponte Lucano
Mark Cavendish's pro bike has been given the once over my Matt from bikeradar. You can read his thoughts here.
Over on Podium Cafe, Sarah, has interviewed Rachel Neylan
Shack are paying close attention near the front, making sure that they keep out of trouble and stopping a serious chase from organising.
The bunch is starting to react though and the lead is under 5 minutes.
78km to and the gap is at 4.20.
Veikkanen in his second break of the race and this is Popo's second attack in as many days.
Today's actually a very interesting day in terms of the race dynamic. With tomorrow's tough stage to come a lot of the GC guys will want to save their energy but there are riders, that will want the break back and the chance to try something too. The sprinters teams of course but also the likes of Le Mevel perhaps.
Rabo still setting the pace on the front and keeping the lead at 4.20 or thereabouts.
Popo was the leader on the road for a few km but he's no longer a threat. He's over 5 mins down on GC and the gap is now 4.20
The gap is still at 4:25 so Rabo are happy to just set a steady tempo.
Visconti near the front of the bunch. He's had some knee problems in the race so hasn't really had much of a chance to shine.
The gap has come down slightly, it's now at 4.10
And Visconti has put some of his men on the front to lead the chase.
The lead drops further, down to 3:35
Visconti's team still doing all the work on the front.
The bunch is slowly coming to life and the road gets a bit bumpy between here and the finish. We're in Palestrina now.
61km to go and the gap is 3.12
The break on a short descent and Modolo slides out but just about keeps it together.
2;45 now for the live leaders. Farnese are doing a good job considering they've only put three riders on the front. Working for either Visconti or Gatto, who did well yesterday.
Rabobank is able to take a back seat now as Farnese continue to set the pace on the front of the group.
Lancaster getting paced back to the front of the bunch. It looks like he had some problems with his bike.
A couple of Sky riders back with their team car too.
Just under 50km to go and the leaders are still working nicely. We're going to need another team to help on the front soon. Rabo probably wont, so perhaps Lampre or HTC will help.
And Saxo are moving up. We've seen them on the front a few times during the race, mainly to keep Contador out of trouble.
Interestingly, now that the gap has come down and Popo is no longer a threat on GC the break has a better chance of staying away.
Modolo is starting to struggle and is slipping off the back. The Colnago rider is around 20,30 meters off the back.
Garmin, like Lampre and Saxo are also moving up to the head of the bunch.
So under 40km to and the gap is still around 2.40, 2.49 to be exact.
Popovych is tearing down the descent and has a gap on his breakaway companions. I remember him doing something similar against Cunego in the Giro once before.
The bunch is going to have to do something if they're going to bring the group back. Not only are the riders up ahead strong but these roads are helping the break stay away.
Popo has been brought back and the four leaders are back together.
2.44 and Farnese aren't having any impact on the break's lead.
Farnese are still doing all the work on the front but the gap is still holding. Popovych taking a big turn on the front, pulls off and Vandewalle takes his turn. They're working well together these four.
As McEwen is dropped from the bunch. That's a bit of a surprise.
Browne also off the back but it looks like he's coming back through the cars.
25km to go and the bunch is at 2.27
Farnese all on the front, Garmin moving up, these flat sections do help the chase, and they'll be key between down and the finish.
Visconti is back with this team car. Looks like his team are working for Gatto then.
McEwen makes it back to the bunch. A lot of teams moving up and the bunch is stringing out.
Farnese pull over and a few teams are looking around , Lampre, Sky, Liquigas all present.
Popovych isn't hiding his strength is he? Every time we reach a short rise he's the first rider to the front and takes a long, long pull.
The gap has gone down, just as Farnese stop working. It's 1.58
Veikkanen is dropped from the leaders. We're down to three men at the front.
Three Garmins' off the back. Could that be Le Mevel?
Cav near the back of the bunch
Bak is with him.
Visconti moves up and takes a turn on the front of the bunch.
Three men out front but it's looking less and less likely now. Under 20km to and the gap is 1;35
Pirazzi has attacked from the bunch as up ahead Popo storms down another short descent.
Pirazzi, a local rider, is up against it but he's got a gap on the bunch. He'll know the run in well...
No one team is able or willing to take control on the front of the bunch, the gap is still coming down, 1:23 to the bunch.
Movistar up at the front, Androni as well.
Weening around 40 riders back
All over for Pirazzi.
Lotto on the front now, Lampre looking good with Scarponi very close to the front of the bunch.
10km to go and the gap is just 48 seconds.
A number of riders dropped and Vandewalle has attacked his companions.
No response to the other two and the QuickStep rider is on his own. He waited until Popo took a big turn and then went for it.
Nibali moves up, Contador follows him.
Another attack from Pirazzi. but he only gets a few meters and is then caught.
7km for our lone leader.
Millar having a go and he gets a small gap
It's a long steady, smooth climb and it's taking it's toll on the bunch. Shack are bringing it all back together.
36 seconds for Vandewalle.
Millar caught and number of other attacks go off the front.
Vandewalle pushing a huge gear, but Frank attacks from the bunch. Now HTC.
Frank has a small gap but it's not going to last.
A lot of riders have a chance to win today. No one team is controlling it.
Frank is caught and an Androni rider attacks. A lot of looking back from the bunch and it's Sella who has atttacked.
Sella is caught and we're all back together. but now another attack from the bunch.
Millar again attacks. he's got a rider with him but again I dont think he'll make it. Our lone leader has around 4 seconds and Lampre are on the front.
less than 2km to go!
Sky are up there, Di Lucas as well.
Petacchi is up there!
Can Petacchi win again?!
1km to go.
Vacan on the front. Petacchi and Bozic both up there.
Di Luca attacks.
Ventoso gets it!
The Movistar rider timed his sprint to perfection. Petacchi could only manage second.
Petacchi simply stopped sprinting with around 30 meters to go. He had nothing left. Ventoso lead it out , Petacchi on his wheel.
It looks like the Italian may have had a mechanical, he came from Ventoso's wheel and it looked like he was going to take it but then he simply stopped sprinting.
I think Petacchi was actually on for the win there with around 20meters to go.
Ferrari took third, Di Luca fourth.
Weening still leads by the way.
Either way, a fine win for Ventoso.
Maybe it was simply cramps for Petacchi. Either way, we'll find out soon enough. Thanks for joining us today and stay tuned tomorrow for more coverage from the Giro d'Italia.