Giro d’Italia 2008 Stage 3: Live Coverage

  • 12:32 AM: Good morning . . .

    . . . and welcome to VeloNews' Live Coverage of the third stage of the 2008 Giro d' Italia.

    • 12:32 AM: Good morning . . .

      . . . and welcome to VeloNews’ Live Coverage of the third stage of the 2008 Giro d’ Italia.

    • 02:04 PM: Today’s stage

      It’s one for the sprinters – 221km from Catania to Milazzo, with the biggest bump coming early on, the category-3, 1017-meter ascent to Maletto, just 50km into the stage. The final 120km are largely flat, so look for a bunch gallop into Milazzo.

    • 02:13 PM: The scenic route

      Starting in Catania, on the Ionian Sea at the foot of Mount Etna, the peloton will roll around Etna, heading inland towards Paternò, Biancavilla and then Maletto for the KOM. Then it’s downhill toward Randazzo, Linguaglossa and Piedimonte Etneo, before taking the Ionian coastal road into the province of Messina via Giardini Naxos. The course proceeds through Messina, on a Tyrrhenian coastal road taking the field to Villafranca Tirrena, before the final stretch along a road providing a stunning view of Milazzo.

    • 02:18 PM: On the sidelines

      David Zabriskie is not among today’s starters – the Slipstream-Chipotle rider was caught in a pileup with about 55km to go in stage 2, as the peloton approached a railroad crossing. The diagnosis was a fractured L1 vertebra, described as a painful but not serious injury.

    • 02:24 PM: The top 10

      Here’s the top of the general classification as stage 3 gets under way:

      1. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, 6:15:16
      2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:01
      3. Chris Sorensen (Den), CSC, at 0:07
      4. Danilo Di Luca (I), Team L.P.R., s.t.
      5. Morris Possoni (I), Team High Road, at 0:08
      6. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Liquigas at s.t.
      7. Nicki Sorensen (Den), CSC, at 0:17
      8. Bradley McGee (Aus), CSC, s.t.
      9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr), Team High Road, at 0:18
      10. Paolo Savoldelli (I), Team L.P.R., at 0:19

    • 02:35 PM: A storied history

      Catania has played host to the Giro many times before. Mario Cipollini won here in 1999, and Alessandro Petacchi added Catania to his palmares in 2003.

    • 02:38 PM: At the end of the line

      Milazzo was chosen as a finishing point during the 1961 Giro, marking the centenary of Italian unification. Turin’s Nino Defilippis took the sprint in that 44th edition – you might keep an eye on Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) this time around.

    • 02:43 PM: Fast and furious

      The peloton will enjoy a strong tailwind en route to the finish – until they turn around for the final dash to the line, straight into a head wind.

    • 02:46 PM: A tour sans tourism

      Milazzo sits on a gulf with two beaches: a stone beach to the west and a sandy one to the east. The promontory offers a breathtaking view extending from the Aeolian Islands to Etna. We expect the guys will be a little too busy to take notice, though.

    • 02:56 PM: No eruptions today

      Despite the presence of Mount Etna, the peloton has been anything but volcanic. After an hour of racing the average speed was just 31 km/h.

    • 02:59 PM: Up and over

      Emanuele Sella (Navigare) led the way over the only major obstacle of today’s stage, the cat. 3 climb at Maletto. Second was Daniele Pietropolli (LPR Brakes) with Fortunato Baliani (CSF Group) third.

    • 03:02 PM: And we’re off

      Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux) had a go with 160km to race. He was joined by Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quick Step), Riccardo Chiarini (LPR Brakes), Matej Jurco (Milram), Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis) and Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff).

    • 03:07 PM: Cavendish is eager for a stage win

      One of the top favorites today will be Mark Cavendish. Before the start, the High Road rider told our man Andrew Hood that he’s hoping to do well. “I hope to win at least one stage in this Giro. There aren’t many stages for sprinters. Today is a good opportunity, but everyone is thinking the same thing. It should be fun.”

    • 03:10 PM: Lunchtime

      Our leaders took a three-minute advantage into the feed zone.

    • 03:13 PM: Roy feeling randy

      You may recall that the Francaise des Jeux man was active in yesterday’s break as well.

    • 03:14 PM: Back in the bunch

      Liquigas is controlling the chase for the race leader.

    • 03:17 PM: Sprint? Me? Fuhgeddaboudit

      Christian Vande Velde (Slipstream-Chipotle) is only one second from the recapturing the maglia rosa, but he said he won’t be chasing it. “If it were a time trial, it might be different, but I’m no sprinter so I doubt I will be getting back the jersey.”

    • 03:22 PM: Update on the Z-man

      While we wait for news from the road, here’s the latest on Zabriskie – he’s heading home to recover. According to Slipstream’s official medical report, he sustained a compression fracture to the anterior aspect of his 1st lumbar vertebrae (happily, the moustache was undamaged). He suffered no neurological damage and isn’t expected to have any in the future. The team said it’s too early to talk about a return to competition.

    • 03:28 PM: Contador playing a waiting game

      Alberto Contador (Astana) said he felt better Sunday than he expected: “I was hurting on the final climb, but not as bad I thought I would be. My heart rate was very high and that’s a sign that I’m not in racing shape right now. We’ll see what happens in the next week before we decide if I ride to win or ride to support Levi or Andreas.”

    • 03:31 PM: Our break . . .

      . . . is still ticking along, 126km into the day’s labors. No urgency yet in the bunch. There’s a ways to go yet.

    • 03:33 PM: Just a reminder

      Our leaders are Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux), Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quick Step), Riccardo Chiarini (LPR Brakes), Matej Jurco (Milram), Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis) and Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff).

    • 03:35 PM: Liquigas on the front

      And the gap is coming down, albeit gradually. The break has about two and a half minutes’ advantage after three and a half hours in the saddle.

    • 03:38 PM: Soler’s sore

      Barloworld’s Mauricio Soler had a difficult night after crashing during the second stage and hurting his left hand. Soler’s hand is not swollen, and the pain eased after a massage, but it worsened again during the night and he started today’s stage – which includes sections of pave – with a bandaged mitt and an analgesic. He’ll get X-rays post-stage.

    • 03:41 PM: The gap . . .

      . . . is 2:22.

    • 03:43 PM: The Cobra hopes to strike again

      Riccardo Ricco was riding a customized Scott frame in his victory Sunday. His nickname, “The Cobra,” was painted on the top tube and etched into his saddle.

    • 03:44 PM: Another absentee

      We forgot to mention that former world champ Igor Astarloa (Milram) pulled out yesterday with a bad stomach. The boy has been plagued with nothing but bad luck since winning that rainbow jersey in 2003.

    • 03:54 PM: The gap . . .

      . . . is down to 2:05, and the roads are a bit damp.

    • 03:56 PM: Drip, drop

      With 70km to race, we’re getting some light rain. Clouds are building at the finish – it could get wet and nasty for the finale.

    • 03:59 PM: Sorry ’bout that map

      We’ve had to pull the map of today’s stage – which was actually a map of tomorrow’s stage, as far too many of you have noticed. The staff cartographer has been disciplined, but he should be up and around by start time tomorrow.

    • 04:00 PM: Looking down the road

      The final 11km loop on the peninsula at Milazzo features a light climb of about 80 vertical meters in the first 5km and another short hump with 4km to go. That’s followed by a gently descending run from 4km to 2km. From there it’s a dead flat straightaway run to the finish.

    • 04:01 PM: The gap’s gone back up

      It’s 2:22 now. Time for the sprinters’ teams to lend a hand.

    • 04:02 PM: Crash!

      And a big one.

    • 04:03 PM: Three Slipstreams . . .

      . . . including David Millar. Yesterday’s stage winner, Ricco, is on the deck too, along with Andre Greipel (High Road).

    • 04:04 PM: Ricco’s all ripped up

      He’s apparently injured his left hand, too.

    • 04:07 PM: Other victims . . .

      . . . include High Road’s Cavendish and Kanstantsin Sitsou.

    • 04:09 PM: The peloton is trying to reorganize

      We have 60-something kilometers to go.

    • 04:12 PM: 2:55 the gap

      Bad for the bunch, good for the break. Meanwhile, Cavendish and Ricco are back in business, if a tad battered.

    • 04:18 PM: The gap’s holding steady . . .

      . . . at 2:55.

    • 04:22 PM: A bit of travelogue for you

      The route is looping around the far northeast corner of Sicily at Ganzirri. Italy’s “boot” is visible across the Straits of Messina. And the brisk tailwind the lads have been enjoying will become a head wind for the run into the finish.

    • 04:25 PM: Tightening the leash

      Just over 2:30 with 54km to race.

    • 04:29 PM: Two minutes now

      Erik Zabel (Milram) is up toward the front – think he fancies his chances today?

    • 04:30 PM: LPR’s Paolo Savoldelli enjoys a snack

      Don’t look for him to be bumping bars with the head-bangers today.

    • 04:33 PM: 1:40 the gap

      Greipel still hasn’t made it back to the bunch. He landed hard on his left hand and arm, but still seems to be able to keep both hands on the bars.

    • 04:35 PM: One rider who likes his chances today . . .

      . . . is Danielle Bennati. The Liquigas sprinter only returned to competition at the Tour de Romandie after a nagging knee problem sidelined him last fall. He won the first and last stages at the Vuelta a Espana – maybe he can win the first sprint stage in the Giro?

    • 04:36 PM: Millar has rejoined

      And the gap is down to 90 seconds.

    • 04:38 PM: 45km to race

      The gap is 1:25.

    • 04:40 PM: Liquigas and Barloworld up front

      CSC’s moving up, too.

    • 04:46 PM: The gap’s back up

      About 1:45 now. Tantalizing.

    • 04:48 PM: 40km to race

      And Millar gets a little service from the team car as Bart Simpson looks on from roadside. D’oh!

    • 04:54 PM: Our six leaders . . .

      . . . are still clinging to a lead of just over 90 seconds with 35km to go.

    • 04:58 PM: Just a minute now

      High Road is contributing to the pursuit.

    • 05:00 PM: The break hears the hounds yapping

      The level of cooperation (and motivation) has clearly dipped a notch.

    • 05:01 PM: 38 seconds now

      And the bunch has the break in sight.

    • 05:02 PM: We haven’t seen Robbie McEwen today

      But that’s no surprise. The Aussie pocket rocket likes to stay quietly anonymous until the last moment. And he fancies his chances today: “There are not a lot of chances for sprinters in this year’s Giro, so today we’ll see if we can win one. My form is improving, but there are a lot of strong sprinters here this year. It won’t be easy.”

    • 05:03 PM: 30km to go

      And here comes the catch.

    • 05:05 PM: Gruppo compatto

      One big happy famiglia again.

    • 05:05 PM: Another candidate for the win

      Gerolsteiner will be working for German sprinter Robert Forster, winner of a stage in each of the past two Giros. “The team is hoping to win a stage this first week. We were close with Rebellin yesterday and today we hope to put Forster in good position to have a shot. After that, we’ll take chances when we can,” said Oscar Gatto.

    • 05:12 PM: 25km to race

      And Cavendish has moved up toward the front. Tinkoff is up front, too, alongside Barloworld, as the bunch gets split by some road furniture on a left-hand bend.

    • 05:14 PM: Another crash!

      Backstedt is down, as is McGee.

    • 05:16 PM: McGee looks in a bad way

      He’s not getting back on his bike. It was a wicked crash – looked like a Tinkoff rider swept too wide through a right-hander and slid off his bike into a curb. His bike bounced into the peloton and knocked down McGee, Backstedt and others.

    • 05:18 PM: That’s it for McGee

      He’s out with an injury to his right shoulder. The peloton is riding piano, waiting for the wounded and delayed to catch back on.

    • 05:20 PM: LPR is up front

      And they’re cranking. Looks like time and Danilo Di Luca wait for no one. Tinkoff is there, too, for Alberto Loddo.

    • 05:22 PM: Vasili Kiryienka was the rider . . .

      . . . who overcooked that corner.

    • 05:23 PM: Big rush to the front

      Everyone with a sprinter or a GC rider is trying to set up/protect their guys.

    • 05:25 PM: 14km to race

      And there’s McEwen, lurking around the front.

    • 05:27 PM: And an attack

      A Quick Step has a dig on this undulating run-in to the finish.

    • 05:27 PM: We’re in Milazzo proper

      It was Andreas Tonti – and he’s been caught.

    • 05:29 PM: Big crowds now

      They’re clogging the roads – some so close that they have to step back to keep from getting T-boned.

    • 05:30 PM: And here’s another dig

      An Astana this time – Antonio Colom? – dogged by two others.

    • 05:31 PM: Now a Liquigas

      Vincenzo Nibali rips it as Colom craters.

    • 05:33 PM: Nibali grabs a gap

      About six seconds is all, with just over 7km to race.

    • 05:33 PM: Not so fast

      He’s caught.

    • 05:36 PM: 5km to the finish

      Milram’s getting into the mix, along with Lampre – and a Silence-Lotto rider jumps! Jurgen Van den Broucke.

    • 05:37 PM: No joy there, either

      High Road runs him down. Bettini is up front, as are Cavendish, Vande Velde and Zabel.

    • 05:38 PM: Danilo Hondo’s in there, too

      . . . as is Graeme Brown. This is gonna be a hairy finish.

    • 05:39 PM: 2km to go

      FDJ’s Lilian Jegou has a dig – no soap.

    • 05:40 PM: 1km to go

      Milram’s running the show.

    • 05:40 PM: Here we go . . .

      . . . 450 meters to go . . .

    • 05:41 PM: Crash!

      Not again!

    • 05:41 PM: And Bennati gets it!

      Wow, that was some serious bar-banging, with Graeme Brown right in the thick of it.

    • 05:43 PM: Daniele Bennati wins a scary finale

      That looked more like a bar fight than a bike race.

    • 05:44 PM: The rest of the podium

      Zabel takes second and Hondo third.

    • 05:52 PM: That’s all, folks

      Thanks for joining us today. We’ll be back tomorrow with more live coverage. Meanwhile, stay tuned for a race report from European correspondent Andrew Hood, photos from Graham Watson and complete results.