You may have thought that Il Diablo, a.k.a. Didi Senft, is the craziest guy that follows the major European bike races. But that’s only because you see him waving his pitchfork on TV and you haven’t seen some of the unique race groupies who don’t get on TV. My current choice for most way-out is Skippy, an Australian who rides every single stage on his bike ahead of the peloton. He starts on the course a couple of hours before the race starts and finishes each stage just before the peloton.
The publicity caravan that precedes the racers has around a hundred cars in it, each with a giant
With 7km left in the 212km stage, Denis Zanette of Liquigas-PATA attacked eight breakaway companions he had been with for 123km and rolled in alone through the streets of the Lubljana, the capitol of Slovenia. He crossed the line, arms upraised, throwing kisses to the huge crowd that was happily welcoming the Giro on this warm, sunny day. Mario Manzoni (Alexia) outsprinted Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski) three seconds later, and the rest of the breakaways finished at 15 seconds – 10 minutes up on the main pack. The top rankings didn't change, with a dozen riders wedged within a minute of overall
It couldn’t have been easier for Mario Cipollini. Instead of having to duke it out in another physical sprint like other flat stages have ended in, the Lion King was able to roll to an easy sprint win because of a crash behind him in the last corner.
While most of Italy is as up and down as a crumpled rug, over the millennia the mighty Po River has ground down every bit of topography in a crosswise swath where the country widens at the top of the boot. Consequently, stage nine, which ran northeast for 142km in the Po valley and crossed the river once, was flat as a pancake and certain to
Once again, Julio Perez was the animator of a pivotal stage and came agonizingly close to winning it. The pack had not even left the vacation spa town of Montecatini Terme when the Mexican Panaria rider attacked with five others just two kilometers into this difficult 185km stage.
Among those with him was Pietro Chaucchioli, who rolled into Reggio Emilia alone 183km later. Behind, in a small chase group finishing a minute behind the 26-year-old Alessio winner was ONCE’s José Azevedo, who came within a whisker of taking over the maglia rosa.
After 9km, a group of 11 took off after Perez’s
Stefano Zanini outsprinted a group of 49 riders to win the longest stage of the Giro, beating Gabriele Missaglia and Jan Ullrich after a great leadout from Stefano Garzelli. For the first time in the race, the Olympic road champion was feeling well enough again to come over the top of a big climb with the front group and even to mix it up in the sprint.
The 239km stage started in Rieti in the province of Lazio, headed north through the entire length of Umbria and finished in Montevarchi in Tuscany. It started slowly, winding along picturesque roads in hilly country along lakes and past
With another tremendous burst of power, Mario Cipollini has become the second-winningest rider in Giro history. With extremely aggressive riding once again, the big Saeco rider turned a seemingly hopeless position with 500 meters to go into a perfect one with 200 meters to go. And when he stood up to finish it, he blew the doors off Danilo Hondo and Massimo Strazzer, grinning the entire way to the line.
The going in the sprint was a bit easier by virtue of a long climb with 27km to go that caused Ivan Quaranta to lose contact. Yesterday’s sprint winner showed once again that he is the
Stomping each of his unique snakeskin carbon-soled Gaerne shoes down with enormous power, Ivan Quaranta held off Mario Cipollini to take the first purely flat sprint of this Giro on May 24. Today's 229km stage, starting just east of Naples and ending just south of Rome, did not affect the overall standings. This was the Alexia sprinter’s fifth Giro stage win in three years, and he still acknowledges that, "Cipollini (who has 30 Giro wins) is still the king of us sprinters."
Boxed in at the final corner 500 meters from the line, Quaranta -- nicknamed Cheetah -- managed to pop out in time to
In the first mountaintop finish of the Giro, Rik Verbrugghe lost almost five minutes and Dario Frigo overcame a crash just before the base of the 17km climb to the Santuario di Montevergine to take the pink jersey. Danilo DiLuca won the sprint finish to the stage after Mexican Julio Perez (Panaria), who had broken away at the beginning of the climb, broke his chain with only four kilometers to go while holding an 18-second lead.
Coming through Avellino with 20km to go, riders encountered a long stretch of rough and wet cobblestones. The pavé was rough and uneven to just drive over, and,
After winning stage two, Danilo Hondo said he hoped to soon repay Giovanni Lombardi for putting him in perfect position for the sprint. Well, after the leadout Lombardi gave him again today, Hondo is going to have to come up with a really nice gift for his Deutsche Telekom teammate.
With 500 meters to go, it appeared that Hondo was leading Lombardi out and evening the score. The two were in third and fourth positions when the Italian suddenly came around to give the German his wheel. Hondo didn’t realize it was Lombardi and bumped him, thinking it was somebody else trying to take his
Jan Ullrich may not be looking so good, but Deutsche Telekom still has plenty of firepower to call upon. In the uphill switchback sprint at the end of this 167km flat stage, Danilo Hondo, a German with an Italian name, got past Rafael Mateos in time to raise his forefinger in triumph.
Mateos looked to be pulling off a surprise win for his small team sponsored by a company that makes plastic bags for collection and recycling of various materials. The Spanish Colpack-Astro rider had a gap of several bike lengths with 200 meters to go, but Hondo shot out of the group and passed him.