Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia from Sapri to Tropea in the south of Italy.
60km remaining from 217km
The 214km is ideal for the sprinters as it follows the Italian coast south. However there is a sahort kick-up to the finish which could cause some surprises.
The stage has been a quiet day in the saddle for most of the peloton. Only two riders went on the attack after two kilometres: Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil) and Leonardo Giordani (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli).
The two opened a gap of 10:50 but it has now fallen back to just 6:30 and the sprinters teams are leading the chase.
The race has just passed through Sant 'Eufemia Lamezia, where a special prime was awarded in memory of the local riders who were killed by a car here just a few months ago.
The sprinters teams are now placing more and more riders on the front of the peloton to lead the chase.
This morning the riders were still agry about the leaked 'suspicious list' published by L'Equipe yesterday.
You can read more about here: www.cyclingnews.com/news/riders-react-to-leaked-uci-suspicion-list-from-2010-tour-de-france
As you are probably aware, the Amgen Tour of California starts today with the opening stage in Lake Tahoe. For more information on the race check out our special section on the site. Bookmark it to have all the latest news and information at your finger tips: www.cyclingnews.com/tour-of-california
45km remaining from 217km
The long straight road hungs the coast all day, either overlooking the sea or between bushes and trees. It is 23C today in Italy and the overall contenders seem to be happy to take it easy before Sunday's big mountian stage to Mount Etna.
In 2005 Paolo Bettini won in Tropea and pulled on the pink jersey. However this year the stage finish is easier and so more suited to the sprinters.
Selvaggi is looking at his race map. He'll see that he has just over 45km to go, with the road following the twisting coast al lthe way to Tropea.
Before the stage start, Mark Cavendish revealed on twitter that he had studied the finish on Google. Cav wrote: "Just looked at finish with @mark_renshaw on GoogleStreetView. Narrow roads, 270' turn, 650m climb at 8%, 2hairpins. Positioning is important."
We're coming up to the intermediate sprint of the stage. The two breakaways will take the first two time bonuses. But wil lthe sprinters contest the dash for third place?
Quick Step and HTC-Highroad are doing most of the work on the front of the peloton and the gap is faillin gradually. But will they catch them?
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) is again wearing the red points jersey. He wants a second stage win after his success in Parma and close second place in Fiuggi.
“It’s not a tough finish, it’s not the same finish as when I was third, behind Bettini and McEwen. Let’s hope its easy. It’s going to be difficult to control the race and I hope the other teams will help. We’ve got to think about Scarponi too and the Giro is very long and hard. We won’t do much work for a sprint.”
HTC-Highroad directeur sportif Valerio Piva has explained on Italian television that they will work in the chase to set up Cavendish.
“There’s a climb to the finish but we’re going to try to win it. There are only three chances left for Mark to win a stage, including this one. We’ll take him up there and hopefully he’ll win the stage. He went close in Parma, hopefully he can do it today.
27km remaining from 217km
The sprinters believe they can pull back a minute every ten kilometres when chasing a break. The break has 3:15 now, with 26km to go. They don't have much chance of making it.
Here comes the sprint in Vibo Valentia Marina.
The road is slightly downhill and the speed is high with Quick Step and HTC leading the chase.
Quick Step are riding for Francesco Chicchi and perhaps Gerald Ciolek.
The boys in blue and white are working hsard for them and seem convinced they can win the stage.
20km remaining from 217km
The two breakaways are now just 20km from the finish and are still driving hard. They are both good rouleur riders and could try and accelerate again in the final kilometres.
The gap is falling rapidly now as the bunch acclerates and the breakaway riders fade.
14km remaining from 217km
Selvaggi is trying to kepe the speed high but he looks tired.
The Calabria coast is spectacular but the riders will be too busy to enjoy it. Now position is vital and will be even more so when they hit the final climb.
Saxo Bank is also working to keep Alberto Contador out of trouble.
Danilo Hondo is protecting and helping Petacchi near the front of the bunch. He must be the favourite today.
10km remaining from 217km
The peloton is closing down on Giordani and Selvaggi. The cars are going past and so they know their day-long break is almost over.
In southern Italy the roads are super smooth but that can also make them slippy. And we have a crash.
Matt Wilson (Garmin-Cervelo) took a tumble but is up and okay.
Wilson will not catch the bunch again today.
8km remaining from 217km
Stefano Garzelli also crashed. He's fighting to get back, with the help of a car, to the bunch. He won't want to lose time to his overall rivals. The finish could have also suited him.
7km remaining from 217km
Saxo Bank are still keeping the speed high at the front, while Garzelli ducks and dives throuh the team cars. He is risking getting a penality for drafting.
It is not allowed to feed in the finale of the race but Garzelli has taken two sticky bottles.
Garmin-Cervelo is now on the front. They may be trying to set up Le Mevel for the finish. He could perhaps take pink if he got in the top three and took a time bonus. He is just five seconds down on Weening.
5km remaining from 217km
Team Sky now take over and have four riders on the front. Are they riding for Downing? Appollonio? or Kennaugh?
The speed is super high now but the roads are twsting and turning along the coast.
3km remaining from 217km
Position is vital in these final three kilometres.
Bak is on the front for HTC.
2km remaining from 217km
Here comes the fight for position.
A tight hairpin has slowed everyone and forced them to accelerate again. Gatto goes early.
1km remaining from 217km
Gatto has a gap. But Contador is going after!
Contador has 50m on the bunch but Gatto is still clear.
The road is flat but the sprinters have missed a chance.
Contador is closing on Gatto. Can he catch him?
Gatto hung to win but with Contador second. He stole about five seconds from his overall rivals and also picked up 12 bonus seconds.
There were doubts about Contador's form yesterday but he's proved he riding well today.
The replay shows that Alessandro Petacchi took third but the sprinters were caught out by Gatto and Contador.
Gatto celebrated with his arms in the air and Contador in his slipstream. That will be a photograph for is bedroom wall.
Pieter Weening (Rabobank) has kept the pink jersey yet again and so will wear it during Sunday's mountain stage to Mount Etna.
1Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli4:59:45 2Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 3Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD0:00:05 4Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team 5Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 6Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky Procycling
General classification after stage 8#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult 1Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team28:09:49 2Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad0:00:02 3Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad 4Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Team Garmin-Cervelo0:00:05 5Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard0:00:13 6Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD0:00:14
That was a surprise move from Oscar Gatto and especially Alberto Contador. The Spaniard has picked up some precious seconds but most of all he has landed a powerful pyschological blow on his rivals beofre the finish on Mount Etna.
As always, the Giro provided some thrilling racing.
That's all from our live coverage today. We'll be back tomorrow for special coverage of the Mount Etna stage. Dont' miss it.
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