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CSC gets it in tight finish with T-Mobile

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Yessss!

Yessss!
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The scene from the starting gate

The scene from the starting gate
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Team CSC were solid

Team CSC were solid
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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T-Mobile rode very well

T-Mobile rode very well
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Team CSC were solid on their way to the stage win

Team CSC were solid on their way to the stage win
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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T-Mobile fan out on their way to securing second on the stage

T-Mobile fan out on their way to securing second on the stage
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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T-Mobile rode very well to almost snatch the stage win

T-Mobile rode very well to almost snatch the stage win
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Gerolsteiner were hoping their ride qould keep Schumacher in pink

Gerolsteiner were hoping their ride qould keep Schumacher in pink
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) does his turn in the maglia rosa

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) does his turn in the maglia rosa
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Hey, you like it too? Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) enjoys the maglia rosa

Hey, you like it too? Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) enjoys the maglia rosa
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Team CSC salute the crowd as stage winners

Team CSC salute the crowd as stage winners
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ivan Basso and CSC get a little spray time happening

Ivan Basso and CSC get a little spray time happening
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni didn't finish high on the rankings today, but wait for the mountains!

Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni didn't finish high on the rankings today, but wait for the mountains!
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bouygues Telecom ride together on their way to 16th

Bouygues Telecom ride together on their way to 16th
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Euskadi-Euskatel were the whipping boys of today's team time trial

Euskadi-Euskatel were the whipping boys of today's team time trial
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Panaria found the going tough and it showed in the results

Panaria found the going tough and it showed in the results
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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AG2R-Prevoyance had a go but ended up in 15th

AG2R-Prevoyance had a go but ended up in 15th
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cofidis finished in 19th

Cofidis finished in 19th
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Milram were minus one man which made things kind of tough

Milram were minus one man which made things kind of tough
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Robbie McEwen leads the Davitamon-Lotto crew

Robbie McEwen leads the Davitamon-Lotto crew
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Perfect formation for Liberty Seguros-Wurth

Perfect formation for Liberty Seguros-Wurth
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Liberty Seguros-Wurth aren't known for their time trialling, and finished 17th

Liberty Seguros-Wurth aren't known for their time trialling, and finished 17th
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Saunier Duval-Prodir were out to protect Gilberto Simoni's chances

Saunier Duval-Prodir were out to protect Gilberto Simoni's chances
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Saunier Duval-Prodir have a couple of national champions in their squad, but finished 18th

Saunier Duval-Prodir have a couple of national champions in their squad, but finished 18th
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The orange train of Rabobank put in a big effort to finish 14th

The orange train of Rabobank put in a big effort to finish 14th
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Credit Agricole rounded out the day's top ten

Credit Agricole rounded out the day's top ten
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Phonak worked well together but could only manage eighth

Phonak worked well together but could only manage eighth
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Quick.Step-Innergetic made some early inroads before finishing sixth

Quick.Step-Innergetic made some early inroads before finishing sixth
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Francaise des Jeux finished in a respectable fifth place

Francaise des Jeux finished in a respectable fifth place
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Liquigas set the best time before CSC smashed it

Liquigas set the best time before CSC smashed it
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lampre had a top-ten stage finish to keep Cunego in the hunt

Lampre had a top-ten stage finish to keep Cunego in the hunt
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears finished the day in 13th place

Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears finished the day in 13th place
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Discovery Channel weren't quite the same without a certain Texan

Discovery Channel weren't quite the same without a certain Texan
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Gerolsteiner worked hard but couldn't hold onto the maglia rosa today

Gerolsteiner worked hard but couldn't hold onto the maglia rosa today
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ivan Basso (CSC) has a little trouble with the champagne bottle on the podium

Ivan Basso (CSC) has a little trouble with the champagne bottle on the podium
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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T-Mobile's Serguei Gonchar makes sure he's good to go on the podium

T-Mobile's Serguei Gonchar makes sure he's good to go on the podium
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Yessss! Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) raises his arms as leader of the Giro

Yessss! Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) raises his arms as leader of the Giro
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) is one happy camper in pink

Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) is one happy camper in pink
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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I can't believe this is happening! Serguei Gonchar gets a kiss as race leader

I can't believe this is happening! Serguei Gonchar gets a kiss as race leader
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Go on, Serguei... give it a good spray! And doesn't he love it?

Go on, Serguei... give it a good spray! And doesn't he love it?
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ukranian Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) lets fly with the champagne

Ukranian Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) lets fly with the champagne
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) salutes the crowd

Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) salutes the crowd
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bouygues Telecom wait for the start of their ride

Bouygues Telecom wait for the start of their ride
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ceramica Panaria-Navigare begin their ride

Ceramica Panaria-Navigare begin their ride
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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AG2R-Prevoyance about to start their time trial

AG2R-Prevoyance about to start their time trial
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) is focussed on the task at hand

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) is focussed on the task at hand
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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McEwen adjusts his glasses before the TT start

McEwen adjusts his glasses before the TT start
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) concentrates hard before the start

Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) concentrates hard before the start
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) gets prepared to ride

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) gets prepared to ride
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) looks relaxed in Piacenza

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) looks relaxed in Piacenza
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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T-Mobile about to ride what was a very fast time trial

T-Mobile about to ride what was a very fast time trial
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Jan Ullrich looks ready to terminate the competition

Jan Ullrich looks ready to terminate the competition
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Hey, Mr Armstrong! How's it going in Italy? Lance Armstrong has been following the Giro with Discovery Channel

Hey, Mr Armstrong! How's it going in Italy? Lance Armstrong has been following the Giro with Discovery Channel
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Discovery Channel looked the part but didn't quite get it together

Discovery Channel looked the part but didn't quite get it together
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The scene from the starting gate in Piacenza

The scene from the starting gate in Piacenza
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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We couldn't tell you what it is... but we can only guess it's ome kind of overgrown rodent

We couldn't tell you what it is... but we can only guess it's ome kind of overgrown rodent
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Euskadi-Euskatel gets the signal to begin their race against the clock

Euskadi-Euskatel gets the signal to begin their race against the clock
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Do you think those women enjoyed their jobs today?

Do you think those women enjoyed their jobs today?
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Rabobank is ready to ride

Rabobank is ready to ride
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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T-Mobile's Michael Rogers limbers up before the time trial

T-Mobile's Michael Rogers limbers up before the time trial
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Gerolsteiner lads were out to hold onto the leader's jersey today

The Gerolsteiner lads were out to hold onto the leader's jersey today
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) takes a moment out to think about the task ahead

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) takes a moment out to think about the task ahead
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Euskaltel-Euskadi sets out.

Euskaltel-Euskadi sets out.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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It's time.

It's time.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lampre-Fondital hits the road

Lampre-Fondital hits the road
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Liquigas launches down the start ramp

Liquigas launches down the start ramp
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Saunier Duval-Prodir gets going

Saunier Duval-Prodir gets going
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Chamnnel) limbers up.

Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Chamnnel) limbers up.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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AG2R Prevoyance heads out

AG2R Prevoyance heads out
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bouygues Telecom sets off

Bouygues Telecom sets off
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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CSC sets out.

CSC sets out.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lampre-Fondital on the way to eighth

Lampre-Fondital on the way to eighth
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lampre-Fondital

Lampre-Fondital
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Liquigas powering to fourth place.

Liquigas powering to fourth place.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Liquigas

Liquigas
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Liquigas

Liquigas
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Milram on the way to a mid-field finish; respectable for a team with no TT specialists.

Milram on the way to a mid-field finish; respectable for a team with no TT specialists.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Phonak would finish ninth.

Phonak would finish ninth.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Belgian TT champion Marc Wauters leads his rabobank team on the way to 14th

Belgian TT champion Marc Wauters leads his rabobank team on the way to 14th
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Saunier Duval-Prodir - losing 1:26 will slightly dent Simoni's chances for the overall.

Saunier Duval-Prodir - losing 1:26 will slightly dent Simoni's chances for the overall.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Saunier Duval-Prodir

Saunier Duval-Prodir
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Team T-Mobile featuring world TT champion Mick Rogers, far right

Team T-Mobile featuring world TT champion Mick Rogers, far right
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) takes a drink

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) takes a drink
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ceramica Panaria-Navigare comnpeting with Euskaltel for brightest team strip.

Ceramica Panaria-Navigare comnpeting with Euskaltel for brightest team strip.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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AG2R Prevoyance

AG2R Prevoyance
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bouygues Telecom

Bouygues Telecom
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears

Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears

Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cofidis

Cofidis
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Credit Agricole

Credit Agricole
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robbie Mcewen leads Davitamon into battle, wearing the purple jersey of sprint points leader.

Robbie Mcewen leads Davitamon into battle, wearing the purple jersey of sprint points leader.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Discovery Channel team - looking well-drilled as always.

The Discovery Channel team - looking well-drilled as always.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Discovery finishes a ride that was good for third place.

Discovery finishes a ride that was good for third place.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lance Armstrong waves from the Discovery team car.

Lance Armstrong waves from the Discovery team car.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Euskaltel-Euskadi - not the world's best team time trial squad.

Euskaltel-Euskadi - not the world's best team time trial squad.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gerolsteiner lost the leader jersey

Gerolsteiner lost the leader jersey
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gerolsteiner leans into a curve

Gerolsteiner leans into a curve
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gerolsteiner finishes in fifth place

Gerolsteiner finishes in fifth place
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Team CSC celebrates its team TT win.

Team CSC celebrates its team TT win.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) celebrates. UCI president Pat McQuaid looks like he'd prefer to be looking at a podium girl...

Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) celebrates. UCI president Pat McQuaid looks like he'd prefer to be looking at a podium girl...
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) still grinning as he is congratulated by the podium girls.

Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) still grinning as he is congratulated by the podium girls.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Gonchar new maglia rosa; Basso and Savoldelli well placed

Pre-race favourite Team CSC has taken the honours in the fifth stage team time trial, 35 km between Piacenza and the home of violin maestro Antonio Stradivari, Cremona. The powerful Danish squad finished the flat stage in a time of 36'56, an average of 56.859 km/h - a record in Giro d'Italia time trials. But despite posting the best time checks all day, a strong finish by T-Mobile almost cost CSC the win. If T-Mobile's fifth rider Matthias Kessler had not been dropped with 300 metres to go, the one second difference between the two squads probably would have been reversed.

But as Bjarne Riis said before the stage, "I don't care how we win, all that counts is that we do." They did, and it was a very happy CSC on the podium. Today's win partly made up for their disappointment in last year's Tour de France, where they missed out on the TTT stage by just a couple of seconds.

"It was an important victory for us and it was an awesome feeling standing on the podium as a team," said Ivan Basso on team-csc.com. "Everyone contributed with all they had, and it means a lot to me to have such a strong team behind me here in the Giro. Today it was all about taking the victory as a team and show people how we are able to work together and accomplish something big. Just as expected it was a close race, so in the overall standings maybe the results won't mean a lot, but I can assure you it means a lot for us as a team and the assignment we are on as team mates."

Despite this, T-Mobile could celebrate at the end of the day, as their Ukrainian team captain Serguei Gonchar became the new maglia rosa, taking it from Stefan Schumacher's shoulders, after his Gerolsteiner team finished sixth, 1'03 behind the winners. Gonchar now leads Jens Voigt (CSC) by six seconds, with Michael Rogers and Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile) in third and fourth, and Ivan Basso (CSC) and Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) in fifth and sixth. Basso is now the best placed of the "top favourites" for the Giro d'Italia, having regained all the time he lost during the opening stages in Belgium.

The Discovery Channel team finished third, but lost 39 seconds to CSC, which must have been a slight disappointment for Paolo Savoldelli and the gang. Although they had the support of Lance Armstrong in the following team car, they didn't have his far more valuable power on the road, and that cost them time. Nevertheless, Savoldelli is still only 20 seconds behind Gonchar and nine seconds behind Basso, and it's too early to tell how significant that will be in the final week.

For the other Giro favourites, Danilo Di Luca's Liquigas squad rode very well to finish fourth, just 42 seconds behind CSC. That left Di Luca in 12th overall, 49 seconds down on Gonchar and 40 behind Basso.

Damiano Cunego and Lampre-Fondital also turned in a good time to finish 8th today, 1'04 off the pace. That puts Cunego in 25th overall at 1'17 behind Gonchar and 1'06 behind Basso. Gilberto Simoni's Saunier Duval team finished, as expected, a fair way down the rankings in 18th. But the yellow and red boys only lost 1'26 to the winners, and Simoni sits 52nd on GC, 1'56 down. It could be better, but it could be worse.

Finally, Jose Rujano's Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni squad finished in 20th, 1'37 off Team CSC's time. Rujano will have more work to do in the mountains if he is to erase the 2'46 gap to Gonchar and co.

How it unfolded

The fifth stage was run over a slightly shorter than advertised distance: 35 km instead of 38 km. The Giro hasn't featured a team time trial since 1989, and this one between Piacenza and Cremona was a straightforward one to resume the tradition. Its short distance, dead flat profile, and a light tailwind made for a fast day on the chrono machines, with time gaps expected to be minimised. Unlike the Tour de France TTT's in recent years, today the teams and riders would be awarded their actual times at the finish for the purposes of the general classification.

The first team to roll out of the sunbaked, cobbled square in Piacenza was Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni. Gianni Savio's boys went out hard, and posted a sub-11 minute time check after 9.7 km that not many teams would better. Selle Italia eventually finished in 38'33, a respectable average speed of 54.47 km/h. Their time withstood the arrival of Ceramica Panaria, who lost several riders along the way, but not Bouygues Telecom, who came in with 38'19 to set the new top time. But that didn't last long as the stronger teams started to come in, with Davitamon-Lotto turning in a 38'05, led home by maglia ciclamina Robbie McEwen.

Saunier Duval was having problems keeping its paceline together, and that cost them a little at the end of the day. Their finish time of 38'22 was only enough for 18th place. But with the small time gaps today, it was not a disaster for team captain and double Giro winner Gilberto Simoni. At the end of the day, he had only lost 1'26 to CSC, which was just beginning its ride as Saunier Duval finished.

CSC got into its rhythm quickly, riding a single paceline for most of the stage. The well drilled unit made best use of riders like Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Michael Blaudzun and Bobby Julich to rocket through the first time check in 10'32, nine seconds quicker than Liquigas, which had also started well. The next team through was T-Mobile, driven by time trial specialists Jan Ullrich, Michael Rogers, and Serguei Gonchar. The magenta boys were eight seconds off CSC's pace at that first check, and gradually conceded time over the next three checks.

Although Liquigas posted a time of 37'38, it became clear that CSC and T-Mobile were the ones to watch. CSC brought it home with almost all its riders intact, in a new top time of 36'56, and speculation began whether Jens Voigt could take pink. But T-Mobile, despite being 15 second behind after 22 km, rode a great final 10 km to push CSC all the way to the line. Their only problem was that they were down to the minimum five men in the final 500 metres, and when Matthias Kessler couldn't follow the pace of Gonchar, Ullrich, Rogers and Pollack, a gap opened up. Kessler fought all the way to the finish, but while his teammates crossed the line one second ahead of CSC, he was one second behind, and it was the time of the fifth rider that counted. Still, Gonchar was now ahead of Basso in the virtual classification.

Finally, Discovery Channel and Gerolsteiner set off. Paolo Savoldelli's men got off to a slow start, posting a time 24 seconds slower than CSC at km 9.7. They never really recovered from that, with riders like Hincapie and Armstrong not there to push the pace in the final kilometres, and eventually lost 39 seconds to CSC. It was still enough for third place.

Gerolsteiner started last, with maglia rosa Schumacher enjoying his last day in the jersey. The light blue outfit was never going to challenge CSC, and although it finished 6th at 1'03, that wasn't enough to keep the leader's jersey.

Stage 6 - Friday, May 12: Busseto - Forli', 227 km

A long, dead flat classic sprinters' stage to the hometown of Italian champ of yore, Ercole Baldini, where McEwen will look to trump the competition on the last 2.5km along Forli's Corso della Repubblica.

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