Giro d’Italia Stage 6: Ventoso victorious

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News. I am sharing recap writing duties with the other writers of both the Giro and the Tour of California.

A stage that wasn’t particularly tough ended with a close sprint between Alessandro Petacchi and Francisco Ventoso. Petacchi did not have anything left in his legs to shut down Ventoso, who was able to take the win by a good margin.

So far in this race, the biggest contenders haven’t been making too much noise- but it’s still early in the race and the big mountains have yet to be ridden. Of the favorites, Vincenzo Nibali was the highest placed at the start of this stage, in 6th at 24 seconds behind. The real hills start tomorrow, so the climbers did what they could to save their legs today.

The break of the day was made up of Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma Lotto), Kristof Vandewalle (Quickstep), Yaroslav Popvych (Radioshack), Sacha Modolo (Colnago), Frederik Veunchelen (Vaconsoleil), which was formed within the first 10km. Popvych was highest placed in the GC in 59th, at 5’53”. This group was never allowed more than 5’40”, as the sprinters’ teams were on high alert.

It was a pretty calm stage until there was about 40km left. By this time, Modolo was unable to hang on anymore, and dropped off the back of the leaders. After spending a fair amount of time in purgatory, he was caught by the peloton with 22km to go. Just one kilometer down the road, Veikkanen dropped as well.

It was about this time when the sparks started to fly. Attacks started with Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago)  and didn’t stop until the finish line. Attacks were happening everywhere, initiated by everyone and every team. Nothing was able to snap the elastic, and everything was reeled back. Even though the break was doomed at this point, it didn’t stop Vandewalle from attacking out the break. With 7.5km Popvych was caught and Vandewalle was truly alone.

With 2km to go, peloton had Vandewalle in its sights, and quickly swallowed him up. Now the teams started to jostle for position, trying to get something in place for a sprint. Within the last 100 meters, Danilo Di Luca (Katusha) shot off the front in this flat finish, hoping to make it away, but Petacchi and Ventoso were hot on his heels. Ventoso lead the run to the line, with Petacchi right behind him. Petacchi tried to get around Ventoso, but a few pedal strokes after coming around him, his burst to chase down Di Luca caught up to him and he all but sat up, enabling Ventoso to take the win. After the stage, when asked why he seemed to sit up and give the win to Ventoso, Petacchi responded that there were just too many attacks to mark: “Di Luca went very hard and I took Bozic’s wheel. I thought he was the man to beat as he still had teammates up there. I let Ventoso come past initially as I had already made the effort to follow Di Luca, but then I went.” Unfortunately, he found he had nothing left in his legs to give, and quickly sat up.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Francisco Ventoso SPA (Movistar)
  2. Alessandro Petacchi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
  3. Roberto Ferrari ITA (Androni Giocattoli)
  4. Danilo Di Luca ITA (Katusha)
  5. Davide Appollonio ITA (Sky)
Top 5 GC
  1. Pieter Weening NED (Rabobank)
  2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  3. Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  4. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 5 sec
  5. Pablo Lastras SPA (Moviestar) at 22 sec

Photo Graham Watson


Giro d’Italia, Stage 5: Back to the bike

The writer’s over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Stage 5 saw the Giro get back to racing, as Fitzalan Gorman reports. Pieter Weening took the pink jersey from David Millar at the end of this stage.

Photo: Graham Watson

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Pieter Weening NED (Rabobank)
  2. Fabio Duarte COL (Geox-TMC)
  3. Jose Rodolfo COL (Androni Giocattoli)
  4. Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo)
  5. Oscar Gatto ITA (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli)
Top 5 GC
  1. Pieter Weening
  2. Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  3. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
  4. Christophe Le Mevel at 5 sec
  5. Pablo Lastras SPA (Movistar) at 22 sec

Giro d’Italia, Stage 3: Somber day

The writer’s over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Fitzalan Gorman’s recap of Stage 2, which saw the death of Leopard-Trek rider Wouter Weylandt, gracefully balances the sad news with the stage results.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Angel Vicioso SPA (Androni Giocattoli)
  2. David Millar GBR (Garmin-Cervelo)
  3. Pablo Lastras SPA (Movistar)
  4. Daniel Moreno SPA (Katusha)
  5. Christophe Le Mevel SPA (Garmin-Cervelo)
Top 5 GC
  1. David Millar
  2. Angel Vicioso at 7sec
  3. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 9sec
  4. Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 9sec
  5. Craig Lewis USA (HTC-Highroad) at 9sec

Giro d’Italia Stage 2: Petacchi takes the win by a tire spoke

Petacchi wins, Cav poutsThis is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News. I am sharing recap writing duties with the other writers of both the Giro and the Tour of California.

Today’s Giro stage was the longest of the race, at 244km. Sebestian Lang (Omega Pharma Lotto) escaped after 6km and thus started a solo breakaway which lasted almost the entire race. Lang probably expected someone to go with in the break, but it didn’t happen, and he was on his own. Even though he had 20 minutes at one point, it was a doomed escape, as the peloton would work hard to bring him back and ensure a bunch sprint.

Everyone worked for their sprinter today, even Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad), the pink jersey wearer, was working for his sprinter, Mark Cavendish. As a flat stage it was a relatively calm one, but at about 35km to go, the field started jockeying for position and working to bring Lang back. Lang was rewarded for his time out front along by taking the Mountain Classification jersey.

The second Lang was swallowed up, with 24km left, Leonardo Giordiani (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) launched a counter attack, followed quickly by Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Michal Golas (Vaconsoleil-DCM). Soon, a group of eight had amassed at the front: Ivan Rovny (Radioshack), Ruggero Marzoli (Astana), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Jérôme Pineau (QuickStep), and Daniele Righi (Lampre-ISD). However threatening this group was, it was not to be, as it was caught within the last 10km.

With 1.5km left, Garmin-Cévelo, Lampre, and HTC were all leading the peloton, working to get their sprinters (Tyler Farrar, Alessandro Petacchi, and Mark Cavendish, respectively). Coming into the final 100m, Farrar’s Garmin-Cérvelo had the perfect position, but Farrar was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Petacchi and Cavendish duked it out, with Petacchi edging out Cavendish by a few scant millimeters. Cavendish was clearly unhappy with how Petacchi ran his sprint, as his prolific hand gestures indicated. Afterwards, Cavendish charged Petacchi with with changing his line 3 times, causing Cavendish to have to slow down to avoid running into him. However, despite Cavendish’s displeasure, Petacchi gets the stage win.

In the end, Cav may have lost the stage win, but he gets the pink jersey, as his finish ahead of Pinotti put him in the lead.

I hate to say it, but Garmin-Cérvelo were the real losers of the day- despite having a mess of riders up front in the closing meters of the stage today, they were unable to get Farrar to the line.

Tomorrow will be a tricky day for sprinters team. A Cat 3 climb 40km from the finish could allow a well timed breakaway to succeed. However, the sprinters teams will be watching attacks very closely, as they will want the stage to end in a bunch sprint- especially Cavendish and HTC, as he was denied today. Check out the profiles here.

Top 5 stage results

  1. Alessandro Petacchi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
  2. Mark Cavendish GBR (HTC-Highroad)
  3. Manuel Belletti ITA (Colnago)
  4. Roberto Ferrari ITA (Androni Giocattoli)
  5. Borut Bozic SLO (Vancansoleil-DCM)
Top 5 GC
  1. Cavendish
  2. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 12sec
  3. Craig Lewis USA (HTC-Highroad) at 12sec
  4. Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 12sec
  5. Lars Bak DEN (HTC-Highroad) at 12sec

Giro d’Italia, Stage 1

The writer’s over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Check out Peter Alvelais’ recap of Stage 1, where HTC-Highroad took the Team Time Trial and Marco Pinotti put on the pink leader’s jersey.

Top 5 Stage results

  1. HTC-Highroad
  2. RadioShack at 10sec
  3. Liquigas-Cannondale at 22sec
  4. Omega Pharma-Lotto s.t.
  5. Garmin-Cervelo at 24sec
Top 5 GC
  1. Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad)
  2. Lars Bak DEN (HTC-Highroad)
  3. Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad)
  4. Mark Cavendish GBR (HTC-Highroad)
  5. Craig Lewis USA (HTC-Highroad)
Photo: Graham Watson/

Giro d’Italia: Let The Climbing Commence

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News.

Now that the Classics have come to an end with the closing of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, attention turns to the Grand Tours. The first of the Grand Tours starts this weekend, with the opening of the Giro d’Italia. There are three Grand Tours- called as such because they are three week tours of their host countries. May is the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy), July is the Tour de France (Tour of France), and August is the Veulta a España (Tour of Spain). Each of these races has its own personality, but they all require the utmost in dedication and preparation. Whole seasons are dictated and structured around Grand Tours. If one hopes to win, place on the podium, or even in the top ten,  commitment must be 100%. There is no half-assing it at the Grand Tours! This is because Grand Tours are brutal to the max. Racing around 200 kilometres a day for 3 weeks, with only 2 rest days, is like running a marathon every day for 3 weeks.  They offer different challenges than one day races, with the cyclists hoping to be a General Classification contenders or podium finishers having to race smart to make sure their bodies can survive 3 weeks of racing. As such, the tactics are subtler and attacks by favorites less frequent. In addition, an awesome team is needed that can protect and shepard their leader to the finish.


The Giro d’Italia was started by an Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport. They were inspired by L’Auto, which had created the Tour de France five years earlier to boost sales. In 1909, the first race was held, with 127 riders on the start line. Only 49 riders finished 8 days later. Like most races of the era, it’s run was interrupted by World War I and II. Until 1914, winner was decided by how many stages they won, not by overall time.


Until 1950, only Italians stood on the top step of the podium and it wasn’t until 1919 that there was a non-Italian on the podium- Belgian Marcel Buysse. In 1925, Alfredo Binda started winning stages and races at such a rate, that in 1930, the organizers offered Binda 22,500 lire to not run the race! He returned in 1931, but had to abandoned due to a crash.

By the 1950’s, wasn’t being won just by Italians any more. In 1954,the the Swiss rider Hugo Koblet was the first non-Italian to win the race, and there wasn’t another run of Italian winners until 1997.

Not surprisingly, Italians have won this race 66 times, with Belgium WAY back in second with only 7. Andrew Hampsten is the only American to have won the Giro, in 1988.

Alfred Binda, Fausto Coppi, and Eddy Merckx are tied for most victories, as they each have won 5 times.


1931 was the year the pink jersey made its first appearance for the overall leader. The color was modeled on the color of La Gazzetta dello Sport‘s newsprint color. Francesco Camusso was first winner to bring this jersey home.

Maglia Rosa
The King of the Mountains Classification (maglia verde) jersey was introduced in 1933, as well as the first individual time trial.
Maglia Verde
The points classification jersey (spring jersey) is the maglia ciclamino (mauve jersey).
Maglia Ciclamino

The best young rider’s jersey is white, maglia bianca.

Maglia Bianca

In the 1940s, there was a black jersey for the cyclist in last place. Another entry in the interesting fact file was Alfonsina Strada as a female rider in the 1924 Giro. She was disqualified form the GC when she crashed and finished outside the time limit, but she was one of the 30 riders to finish that year. This was because when the newspaper saw a spike in sales after her participation, they made her the highest-paid participant so she would finish the remaining 4 stages.

2011 version celebrating 150th anniversary of unification of Italy and promises to be a doozy. Many riders have expressed their fear that the route might be the death of them. Podium Cafe has a great breakdown of the race and also check out the US Pro Cycling News previews as well!