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Stage 18 — ROVERETO – BRESCIA – 143 km
Live Updates1:15 p.m. — Good morning to our U.S. readers. Welcome to VeloNews.com’s live coverage of Stage 18 of the 2002 Giro d’Italia.
Start time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Rovereto.
Today’s 18th stage from Rovereto to Brescia offers something of a breather between yesterday’s seven-and-a-half-hour stage in the mountains and tomorrow’s time trial. Only 143 km, it features just one ranked climb, the Category II 638-meter Molina di Ledro at 32 km and finishes with three laps on a 6-km circuit in Brescia.
1:35 p.m. — The peloton is leaving Rovereto. There are 141 riders remaining in the Giro d’Italia. Telekom’s Jens Heppner — the man who spent ten stages in the leader’s jersey — did not start today.
1:45 p.m. — The weather should not be a major factor today. It’s warm — in the 80s — but there is no wind and no rain is expected.
1:58 p.m. — 30 minutes into today’s stage, the peloton remains intact.
2:18 p.m. — Our man at the finish, Andy Hood reports that the crowds in Brescia are huge again today — so much for World Cup fever, eh?
Interest in the Giro has picked up again, now that an Italian stands a chance of taking the overall on Sunday….though from the results of our VeloNews poll, most of you seem to think that this thing will turn out with a different result, because of tomorrow’s Time Trial.
2:30 p.m. — Since there’s not much action on the road, right now, here’s something of a shameless commercial plug. We are going to be making a few changes at VeloNews.com in time for the Tour de France. For one thing, we expect to move our servers to be able to handle the demand that comes at the end of a killer stage like yesterday’s. So we won’t be seeing the kind of freeze up we had at the end of yesterday’s stage. We are also revamping our ‘live’ updates system and, last but not least, starting in June, you can try your hand at VeloNews Fantasy Cycling! Pick the winners of the Tour de France and you could win great prizes including a trip to the 2003 Tour de France from Carmichael Training Systems. Go to fantasy.velonews.com for more information.
2:40 p.m. — The peloton’s average speed for the first hour was right around 25kph. It’s slow, but quite understandable after yesterday’s stage.
3:05 p.m. The pace continues to be exceptionally slow today. There have been no attacks and the peloton is still averaging under 30 kph.
3:12 p.m. The peloton hit the day’s ranked climb, the Category II 638-meter Molina di Ledro, at 32 km. Saeco’s Alessio Galletti took the points, though at this point, Julio Perez has a lock on the jersey.
3:32 p.m. The two hour pace has remained well below 30kph. Despite that, Fabrizio Guidi has pulled out of the Giro. We are down to 140 riders. All of them are in the peloton at this point.
3:37 p.m. — Finally, there has been some movement at the front of the field. Three riders have slipped off the front.
3:37 p.m. — VeloNews’s Andrew Hood spoke with the Telekom folks this morning. Their man Jens Heppner did not start, succumbing to injuries he suffered during a fall on the descent off Pordoi on Wednesday. He made it through Thursday’s stage, but the veteran couldn’t push on.
3:47 p.m. — That last break of three was brought back, but now Cristian Moreni is off the front on a solo attack. He has 35 seconds on the field.
3:51 p.m. — Moreni is off on his own… and so far isn’t being chased. We can expect Super Mario’s Zebras to give chase as Brescia comes up. It’s 72km to the finish.
3:58 p.m. — Moreni is now one minute up on the field.
Meanwhile, Andrew Hood had a chance to talk to Tyler Hamilton and Cadel Evans this morning at the start.
Hamilton was in good spirits, saying “I’m still in the mix.” He recounted Thursday’s climactic finish, saying he attacked with 9 km to go “because I felt good. I had good legs” but was disappointed when he said other riders “seemed like they were riding against me, even guys out of the GC.”
He said he bonked with 4 km to go, but has no regrets. “It’s a long race. We have to think about today.”
Evans was equally optimistic.
“Yesterday was one of the worst days even on a bike for me, but I am excited about the future. I’ve learned a lot at this race.”
3:58 p.m. — Moreni is entering the town of Vestone, the site of today’s Intergiro. He is now 1:35 ahead of the field and is likely to get the Intergiro, but he is aiming for a bigger prize, the stage win, but that’s another 61km away.
Meanwhile, the Acqua e Sapone team is beginning to get in position to drive a chase. Mario is aiming for what would be his fifth stage win at this Giro and his 39th career Giro d’Italia stage win.
4:06 p.m. — Intergiro leader Massimo Strazzer (Phonak) took the second spot in the Intergiro sprint.
Looking ahead, the finish in Brescia should be spectacular, finishing on the edge of this city’s beautiful historic center. The riders the final 6-km circuit three times. There’s a short, but steep 220-foot climb at with 4 km to go that could provide some fireworks. Acqua & Sapone will be fighting to keep it together to give Cipo’ another shot.
4:13 p.m. — Moreni’s lead is staying between 1:20 and 1:30. He’s holding his own, but the peloton is aware that he can be reeled in with little effort.
4:17 p.m. — The field is still being led by Acqua e Sapone. Moreni has a lead of 1:15. We are 53km from the finish.
4:21 p.m. — Moreni is growing a bit. He is 3:00 ahead of the field.
4:36 p.m. — Moreni is on his way toward Brescia with a 3:00 lead. There are a few attacks coming off the front of the group, including an effort from Telekom’s Mathias Kessler, the man who was pegged as his team’s GC threat… but that was before Jens Heppner earned the maglia rosa.
4:42 p.m. — The race radio reports that the average speed for the opening three hours has been 31.9 kph.
That’s pretty slow. Just how slow is underscored by the official time table released by the Giro organization, which gives estimated times of arrival at various points along the route based on given speeds. The slowest on the chart is 37kph.
4:45 p.m. — Moreni’s advantage is now coming down again. He is just 1:22 ahead of the pack.
4:51 p.m. — The men that scampered off the front of the field — including Kessler — are back in the fold. Moreni is being reeled in. He has an advantage of 46 seconds.
Cipo’s team is driving the charge.
4:55 p.m. — Moreni’s lead is close to 45 seconds. The chase is serious… so serious that the field has split in two. The Acqua e Sapone team is driving at the front.
5:01 p.m. — Moreni is back in the field.
5:07 p.m. — The peloton is coming into the city of Brescia. Ahead are still three laps on a 6-km circuit through town.
5:11 p.m. — The peloton is now coming up to the finishing circuit.
Up front, the zebra-stripes of the Acqua e Sapone team, which is working to put Cipollini in position for a win. Also working up there is the CSC team of Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton is riding close to the front to avoid the risks of a crash in the field.
5:18 p.m. — The field is now on the finishing circuit. There are 17km remaining.
5:21 p.m. — The field is workingits way up a tough little cobbled climb on the circuit.
Andrea Peron (CSC), Dario Frigo and Matteo Tosatto have slipped off the front of the field.
5:23 p.m. — With 13.5 km to go, the three leaders have a small 10-second advantage. Frigo and Tosatto are working hard. Peron is hanging on. He has other responsibilities.
Behind, the Acqua e Sapone team is driving the chase.
5:25 p.m. — Caught. The Acqua e Sapone team has survived its first scare of the closing kilometers… but they have ot go up that hill two more times.
5:27 p.m. — On the climb, Denis Lunghi is off the front.
5:28 p.m. — Well Lunghi’s break didn’t go far. He crashed on one of those slippery corners on the climb.
Acqua e Sapone are driving the front of the field.
5:30 p.m. — Acqua e Sapone led the field up the climb, negating any other attack attempts.
The peloton will hit that climb one more time.
5:33 p.m. — Acqua e Sapone is still leading the field and we have the climb coming up in 2.5km.
5:35 p.m. — Rabobank’s Steven DE JONGH has charged on the hill.
5:37 p.m. — De Jongh has been caught, but his teammate Boogerd has charged off.
5:38 p.m. — Boogerd has been reeled in. The Zebras are in front.
5:40 p.m. — Acqua e Sapone are setting up for the sprint.
5:40 p.m. — Mario.
5:41 p.m. — Mario Cipollini takes his fifth stage win of this Giro d’Italia. Cipollini beats Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) by a bike length.
This gives Cipo’ 39 career wins at the Giro, two short of Alfredo Binda’s record of 41.
The top three men — Savoldelli, Caucchioli and Hamilton finished with the main field, setting up tomorrow’s time trial as this Giro’s big show down.
Word from the race organization is that the TT course will have to be extended by 1.2 km because of road construction. That can only help Tyler Hamilton’s chances.
1. Mario Cipollini (I) Acqua e Sapone 4:12:44 (34:423 km/h)
2 Alessandro Petacchi (I) Fassa Bortolo
3. Rene’ Haselbacher (A) Gerolsteiner
4. Lars Michaelsen (Dk) Coast
5. Massimo Strazzer (I) Phonak Hearing Systems
6. Mariano Piccoli (I) Lampre-Daikin
7. Fabio Sacchi (I) Saeco-Longoni Sport
8. Aart Vierhouten (Nl) Lotto-Adecco
9. Mauro Gerosa (I) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi
10. Biagio Conte (I) Saeco-Longoni Sport
11. Cristian Moreni (I) Alessio
12. Angel Vicioso Arcos (Sp) Kelme-Costa Blanca
13. Uros Murn (Slo) Formaggi-Trentini
14. Gabriele Missaglia (I) Lampre-Daikin
15. Paolo Savoldelli (I) Index Alexia
16. Matthias Kessler (G) Telekom
17. Juan Manuel Garate (Sp) Lampre-Daikin
18. Mykhaylo Khalilov (Ukr) Colombia-Selle Italia
19. Lorenzo Bernucci (I) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
20. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
Overall after 18 stages
1. Paolo Savoldelli (I) Index Alexia 84:49:55
2. Pietro Caucchioli (I) Alessio, at 0:55
3. Tyler Hamilton (USA) CSC Tiscali, at 1:28
4. Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre-Daikin, at 1:39
5. Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Lampre-Daikin, at 3:08
6. Fernando Escartin (Spa) Coast, at 3:19
7. Georg Totschnig (A) Gerolsteiner, at 5:32
8. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Adecco, at 7:54
9. Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Sp) Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 8:12
10. Dario Frigo (I) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi, at 9:41
11. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Sp) Phonak Hearing Systems, at 10:41
12. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, at 11:34
13. Ivan Gotti (I) Alessio, at 12:05
14. Franco Pellizotti (I) Alessio, at 14:13
15. Cadel Evans (Aus) Mapei-Quick Step, at 14:20
16. Eddy Mazzoleni (I) Tacconi Sport-Emmegi, at 14:45
17. Michael Boogerd (Nl) Rabobank, at 15:50
18. Julio Perez Cuapio (Mex) Panaria, at 16:36
19. Michele Scarponi (I) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo, at 17:55
20. Andrea Noe’ (I) Mapei-Quick Step 19:24