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01:47 PM: Good day and welcome
to VeloNews.com’s Live Updates from the second stage of the 2008 Giro d’Italia, a 207km race from Cefalu to Agrigente. This stage features two climbs, the Category 2 Gatteri, at 26km and then the Cat. 3 Polizzello at 112km. This is not a simple and easy flat sprinters’ stage typical of the early days in the grand tours. This is the sort of stage that may favor a strong all-arounder, like Paolo Bettini … or Christian Vande Velde, for that matter. That’s not to say that the sprinters won’t have plenty of time to catch on after the climbs, if they are dropped. What may make it a bit tougher is the uphill finish in Agrigento.
The finish may be familiar to a few of the old-timers in the field, since it was used in 1994 for the world championships.
02:00 PM: Two riders
We are joining the race with about 150km remaining. Two riders — David Loosli (Lampre) and Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux) — slipped off the front 20km back and have worked quickly to build up a substantial lead, now approaching 8:00. We’re certain that the leash will extend only just so far.
Both of these guys were spit off the back of their respective squads during yesterday’s TTT and are 1:11 and 1:43 out of the lead respectively. Of course, this being an early stage, that means that Loosli is the virtual leader on the road, but we’re pretty sure that won’t last as the chase begins to kick in.
The peloton left the start without Igor Astarloa (Milram), who is suffering some sort of G-I grunge.
02:06 PM: Time check
Well, let’s update that time check. It looks like Roy and Loosli have been busy fellows, and they now have an advantage that has extended beyond the 10-minute mark. They have a long ride ahead of them, including a few unranked bumps in the road and the Cat. 3 Polizello coming up, so it’s still far from certain that they will hold their lead all the way to the finish. Armed with radios and directors in cars pulling in the TV feed, the peloton knows exactly where these two are.
02:09 PM: The gap
It looks like the information-rich peloton has decided to up the pace a bit. The Slipstream team is ramping up the effort and the gap has dropped by nearly one minute over the last five kilometers. Loosli and Roy are now 9:05 ahead fo the field.
02:16 PM: In pink
We found it interesting yesterday when Christian Vande Velde said he hadn’t planned to be the first one across the line when Slipstream stormed the time trial in stage 1. A lot of folks expected that U.S. national TT champion David Zabriskie was the designated leader for that one, but Vande Velde said that Zabriskie didn’t really want to deal with the post-race press conference, fielding the questions from the media, a daily obligation of the guy in the maglia rosa. Zabriskie, of course, had the opportunity to wear a leader’s jersey at the Tour de France – before losing it, in of all things, a team time trial – when he was a member of CSC.
Having asked our fair share of dumb questions at press conferences, we can’t really blame him, but as you can tell from the images from yesterday’s podium celebration, Zabriskie seemed more than happy just being part of the winning team. Any beats on how likely it would have been that the first question out of the assembled media scrum would have focused on his mustache?
02:24 PM: The two leaders
Roy and Loosli are heading up the unranked climb to Campanaro, which summits at 80km. They are holding an advantage of 8:45, so we can imagine that they are not likely to be reeled in before the Cat. 3 summit of Polizzello, at 112km. They may even make it to the sprint mark at 143km, but we’re not betting the rent on their chances of success at the finish… but that’s why they actually have races, because prognosticators, like us, are often wrong.
Zabriskie’s own stage win in the 2004 Vuelta is a good example of that. No one, especially him, would have predicted that his attack at the one-kilometer mark would have resulted in a stage win that day. His win, by the way, began a still unmatched streak. He won that stage as a member of U.S. Postal, won a time trial in the 2005 Giro (as a member of CSC) and then won the opener at the Tour de France that same year. He remains the only American to have won stages in all three grand tours and he did it in series, ta boot.
02:30 PM: A handy prize
After the press conference yesterday, the Slipstream bus driver got lost trying to get the team back to the hotel. After driving around and around in Palermo and circling past the start finish for the third time, the riders were starting to get a little antsy.
But they had just won a Garmin GPS unit on the second time the entire team had been called up on the awards podium, so they unwrapped it and turned it on. David Millar punched in the objective as the Hotel Torre Normanna, stuck it on the windshield, and it took them right to the hotel.
And the bus driver did not have to deal with a mutiny.
02:35 PM: Up and over
the unrated climbm the leaders are making their way down to the feedzone, at 103km, which comes up after a mostly downhill trip to the base of the Cat. 3 climb up the Polizello.
Since this is a Cat. 3 climb, the winner of the day’s first climb – a Cat. 2 – Emanuele Sella (CSF Group) is likely to be the one wearing the KOM jersey tonight. He beat Felix Cardenas (Barloworld) and Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step) to the top of that one. There will still be a point in contention for the peloton, though, so we’ll keep a close eye on that one, when they reach that summit at 112km.
02:41 PM: Reader comment
We just got a nice note from reader Greg W.
As a long-time Velonews reader, and someone who has emailed in a few suggestions, a quick note to compliment you on the improvements you’ve made to the liveupdate feature over the years (and to the video on your website–I remember when it didn’t work for Macs!).
Thank you Greg. We’ve finally been able to hire an in-house code magician, Kevin Hankens, who spent the winter months redesigning everything, including the site-wide update. We like the changes, but we’re happy to hear that many of you do, too.
Greg’s note reminds us that you can simply hit the “Contact our Editors” button below the window to drop us a line. Comments, questions and even complaints… send ’em on. We read them all and will even try to answer a few questions during our daily updates.
02:51 PM: Predictions?
We still have the habit of making predictions for the outcome of the day’s stage. Our money is on the two escapees being caught today and Quick Step’s Paolo Bettini emerging from the peloton as the day’s winner on that tough uphill finish in Agrigento.
Nope, we’re not all that good at predicting things (we put our money on McGovern to beat Nixon in 1972, for example), but we’re willing to put our guess out there today, anyway.
02:53 PM: Reports of a crash
Race radio reports that there has been a tumble in the in the peloton. It occured on that long downhill on the way to the feedzone. It looks like one Astana rider and a pair of Barloworld riders, including the standout from last year’s Tour, Juan Soler, were involved. We’ll try to get more information as soon as we can.
02:55 PM: Slipstream’s soigneurs
Last night, after completing all of the rider massages and a lot of their laundry, Sandra, Slipstream’s Irish soigneur, and her American counterpart, Alyssa (also of Irish descent; her surname is Morahan) showed up to dinner in the hotel’s huge dining room. Dressed identically in jeans and dark brown blouses with high ruffled collars, the two were glowing and smiling broadly despite having been working all day without respite. Sandra commented on how great she thinks “the boys” are. She followed by saying, “these boys all say to us: ‘thank you for all of the work you are doing for us!’ Most of the other boys (ie, riders on other teams she has worked for) never say that. And that makes it all worth it.”
She and Morahan went on to discuss the similarities between their jobs and being a mother. “Now you understand why I’m still single,” Morahan chuckled. “I’ve already got 25 kids; I don’t want any more!”
They went on to discuss whether the job prematurely ages them or whether it keeps them young. They ultimately agreed that taking care of “the boys” keeps them young.
Both women are hard-working and impressive. We remember when the 7-Eleven team’s decision to bring a woman soigneur triggered a huge controversy at the Tour back in the ’80s.
02:59 PM: Our two escapees
have bumped their lead back up to around 9:20.
03:09 PM: Our two leaders
are working their way up the Cat. 3 climb of Polizzello, which tops out at 112km. They are holding a lead of 9:05.
03:17 PM: The peloton
is working its way up the slopes of the day’s second climb. No one is putting any real pressure on the climb. Ahead, Loosli and Roy are heading down the other side. The gap is still around 9:00.
The chase work is still being handled by the Slipstream squad.
03:20 PM: Nearing the top
Sella and a couple of others are fighting for that last climber’s point. They are crossing at a gap of 8:05 behind the leaders.
03:25 PM: The gap
is coming down. Our two leaders are scooting down the descent, but they appear to be losing time and they now have an advantage of 7:28.
03:35 PM: The climb
Sella didn’t grab that last point on top of the climb, but he lost that little scramble to LPR’s Jure Golcer, who didn’t figure into the Cat. 2 climb, so Sella will get the green climber’s jersey tonight in Agrigento.
03:37 PM: It’s a beautiful
winding descent off of the climb. The peloton is strung out in single file and the pace is high. We see our pick for the day – world champion Paolo Bettini -staying near the front and keeping a close on things. We still have 70km to go, so there is plenty of time to reel in the break.
03:42 PM: Word from Austin
Michael from Austin writes:
Hey guys, thanks for the coverage once again.
I live in Austin, TX where Lance just opened his bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s yesterday. Very cool conversion of an old building that houses a lot of different bikes from commuters to pure racers. The coolest thing is that he has many of his past bicycles hanging around the shop where you can literally reach out and touch them. Very cool to see his older steel ride from his Motorola days, some of the carbon bikes he rode in the tour, especially his time trial bike with that cool disc (black with all the symbols on it). The shop has a coffee shop connected to it and apparently plenty of places to shower for commuters. Anyway, it’s worth a stop in if you guys or VN readers get to Austin.
Yeah, we hear it’s quite nice. Our own John Wilcockson is down there. And a note to the many of you who wrote in on the subject: Yup, we do get the joke about the coffee shop’s name 😉
03:44 PM: Big Maggy
is setting a nice pace at the front of the peloton. Christian Vande Velde is nicely tucked in behind his teammates, most of whom are benefiting from the terrific draft the Swedish work horse is providing.
03:45 PM: The gap is
8:15. Loosli and Roy have really put in a big effort today.
03:47 PM: Last evening
Bill Duehring, Manuel Penazzato and Charlie Hancock of Felt Bicycles presented the Slipstream team with an enormous pink-frosted layer cake with a thick cream center layer after dinner last night. It said BRAVI (the plural of “bravo”, which in Italian is only used for congratulating one individual male) in big black frosting letters on top.
Chef Willy cut it up, and team doctor Prentice Steffen handed out the bright pink pieces topped with strawberries. Five other teams looked on, as High Road, Rabobank, CSC, Saunier Duval, and Ag2r shared the same hotel. What was particularly nice was that all of the other teams cheered as the Felt group toasted the Slipstream riders with Spumante, and all evening riders from other teams came by to hug & congratulate Christian and the whole Slipstream team. They are clearly well-liked and respected.
03:50 PM: After four
hours of racing, the situation has not changed much. We have two escapees off the front, with about 8:00 on the main field. Riders in the peloton are loading up on food and drink, but the pace is holding.
Vande Velde said this morning that the team really focused its efforts on yesterday’s TTT and keeping the jersey is not a priority… but would “be frosting on the cake,” if they could.
03:54 PM: Slipstream
is still doing the bulk of the work in the chase, but the Astana squad is moving up and may be doing a bit of work, if the gap doesn’t start coming down a little faster.
The weather has been pleasant for most of the day. We are seeing clouds moving in, so there is a chance of rain, but it’s been pretty nice – and dry – all day.
03:55 PM: Time check
Our latest time check gives the two escapees an advantage of 7:10, with 63km remaining.
04:00 PM: Reader comment
We got a not from Jim P asking about our comment that Dave Zabriskie is the only American to win stages in all three grand tours
Dear Live Update Guy,
You keep mentioning that Dave Zabriskie is the only American to win stages in all three grand tours. Didn’t Tyler Hamilton do it, too?
It’s true that Hamilton won stages in the Giro and the Tour, Jim, but that apparent victory in stage 8 of the 2004 Vuelta was scratched from the record books after his positive for homologous blood-doping, the incident that began a lengthy appeals process and his very gradual return to racing.
04:03 PM: Our two leaders are
still holding on to an advantage of 7:05. With around 60km remaining, it’s time for the peloton to ramp up the pace, if these boys are going to be pulled in before the finish. Most of you have heard the 1:00-per-10km formula, which is the tempo to maintain if the peloton wants to comfortably reel in a break.
04:07 PM: The peloton
crosses through the sprint mark 6:23 behind the leaders. The two men up front – Jeremy Roy and David Loosli – appear to have eased up a bit, just as the peloton is ramping up the pace. The two escapees are eating, drinking and chatting with their team cars.
04:14 PM: Liquigas and Astana
are putting riders up near the front. The chase is turning into a multi-team effort. The pace in the peloton is picking up, just as the two up front are begining to fade a bit.
04:17 PM: The visual cues
were right. The leaders appeared to be easing up and the latest time check confirms that. The time gap has come down quickly and is now just 3:42.
04:18 PM: Crash!
There has been a crash in the peloton and David Zabriskie is on the side of the road… he’s not getting up, but he is sitting up and holding his back. He looks shaken.
04:20 PM: Zabriskie
looks quite shaken. He’s still not getting up. He is being attended to by medical personnel and his team staff are there with a new bike, just in case he does opt to continue, but it doesn’t look likely, right now.
04:22 PM: Ambulance crew
the attending ambulance crew have broken out the gurney and Zabriskie is being lifted on to it for a trip to the hospital. We didn’t see the crash, but we’d have to guess that he touched a wheel at the front of the field.
04:23 PM: Zabriskie
is being taken to the hospital. He’s out of the Giro d’Italia. Bad luck for the team of the race leader.
The peloton and the race, however, continue to roll and the gap to the leaders is now down to 2:40.
04:27 PM: Loosli and Roy
appear to have given up. The gap is down to less than a minute. They’ll be pulling the team cars out of the gap here soon.
04:29 PM: The sure sign of surrender
The two escapees are looking over their shoulders, because the inevitable is about to happen. Strange how quickly that lead evaporated. These two just stopped pedaling.
04:30 PM: And they’re caught
POOF! A nearly 10-minute lead has disappeared and the two escapees are back in the fold.
04:33 PM: Interesting conversation
We see Paolo Bettini and Erik Zabel chatting in the peloton. Those are both guys who could do well with a finish like today’s.
04:34 PM: Julian Dean
it looks like Slipstream’s Julian Dean was also caught up in that crash. He’s got a few bumps and scrapes and plenty of road rash on his left side, but he’s up and riding.
Word from the field is that Alberto Contador, Enrico Gasparotto and Christian Pfannberger were also involved. They are all up and riding, with Zabriskie the only serious casualty of the crash.
04:38 PM: The pace
is holding. The peloton is cruising along at around 45kph.
04:40 PM: Gerolsteiner
is moving its crew up to the front, with Davide Rebellin tucked nicely in among his teammates.
One guy you do not want to exclude from consideration today is Robbie “the Rocket” McEwen. He’s here and he’s fast. Will the uphill finish suit him? Could be. The little Aussie has a good habit of grabbing the right wheel on the way to the line.
04:42 PM: 39km to go
and the group is intact.
04:46 PM: Dean
seems to be fine after his crash. He’s doing waterbottle duty and has just returned to the front of the field with about 15 of the things tucked into his jersey.
04:47 PM: Five hours
the peloton has just hit the five-hour mark and we have about 36.5 km remaining in today’s 207km stage.
04:51 PM: 35km to go
The peloton is heading to the finish. The race leader’s Slipstream is leading the field now, but coming up in about 20km, we can expect to see some hungry sprinters’ teams move to the front.
05:01 PM: Reader comment
Reader Walt S writes that we’ve been spending too much time talking about Slipstream today and that he’s off to read other coverage.
I may have to find another site to watch the race. There are many other teams fighting for this win besides Slipstream. It’s almost like you’re kissing their butts to ensure good interviews.
Walt, we’re sorry about that. We have a couple of reasons. One, is the obvious, in that we have an American team with the race lead and the other 2) is that our own tech geek, Lennard Zinn, has been with the team for the last couple of days, so he’s been sending in snippets throughout. He’s our “embedded” reporter, so to speak. Speaking or reporters, Walt, we generally don’t “kiss butt,” to get interviews, since we get just as good of stuff from those who don’t like us as those who do.
Meanwhile, the peloton is now 24km from the finish.
05:04 PM: Nearing the 20km to go
mark. It’s still Slipstream up front, but we are starting to see teams like High Road, Quick Step, Liquigas and Gerolsteiner getting into position.
05:07 PM: Drops of rain
There is a bit of rain coming down, but it’s still relatively light. If it holds at this level, it won’t be a problem, but much more and we make see some danger on the twisty roads on the way to the finish. This area of Sicily, however, doesn’t have the big danger… lot’s of slick white paint on the roads.
05:09 PM: 19km to go
the peloton is zipping along, still under the power of big Maggy Backstedt. We imagine his goal today is to protect the jersey and not try for a stage win. He’s a pretty talented sprinter in his own right, although today’s finish isn’t necessarily the sort to suit his abilities.
05:13 PM: 15km to go
We’re coming up on the finish. It’s still Slipstream at the front, but you can spot the rainbow jersey of Paolo Bettini moving up in the field. This should be a great finish.
05:14 PM: POP!
Well, one sprinter we probably won’t see at the finish is Gerolsteiner’s Robert Forster. He is suckin’ wind at the back of the field.
Up front, David Millar is setting tempo, with Christian Vande Velde siting right on his wheel.
05:16 PM: We’re getting a good look
at the finish, since the peloton passes through once before taking on a circuit on the outskirts of town. 13km to go.
05:19 PM: One lap
– of about 12km – to go. One lap to go.
05:22 PM: And the jockeying begins
We see the Gerolsteiner team moving up in the prime spot.
05:23 PM: In France
Cofidis rider Stephane Auge of France claimed overall victory in the Four Days of Dunkirk today.
05:24 PM: Liquigas is moving up
we’re less than 10km from the finish.
05:26 PM: 6.5km to go
and the sprinters’ teams are moving up in full control of the main field.
05:28 PM: five kilometers to go
The peloton has been trimmed a bit by the rolling terrain here near the finish, but we’re still seeing some serious fast-twitch talent in there.
05:29 PM: 4km to go
The Diquigiovanni team is moving into the lead, with Quick Step and Gerolsteiner close by.
05:31 PM: Three km to go
Di Luca’s team is up front and this could be a good finish for him. It suits his talents, for sure. And here come Gerolsteiner again. It’s a tough little climb here.
05:32 PM: Rebellin and Bettini
are hanging back in about 10th position, with 2.5km to go.
05:33 PM: 1.5 km to go
Di Luca is riding in second position and Bettini is moving up.
05:33 PM: 1km to go
Di Luca looks like he is going for this one, but he’s got some reall talent hanging on his wheel.
05:34 PM: Piepoli
is moving up… remember him. The Saunier Duval climber looks quite at ease here.
05:35 PM: Joachim Rodriguez attacks
He’s flying up the hill. He’s got a gap.
05:35 PM: Man he timed that
The Caisse d’Epargne rider looks like he’s going to win. My pick, Paolo Bettini, has been shelled. There is a strong group, including Rebellin, Franco Pellizotti and a couple of Saunier Duvals giving chase.
05:36 PM: Rodriguez caught!
Saunier Duval’s Riccardo Ricco charges out of the field catches Rodriguez and takes the win.
05:40 PM: We need to check times
that climb really broke things up, so we’re not sure where the race leader finished. Saunier Duval did not have a great TTT yesterday….
Wait, it looks like Liquigas’s Franco Pellizotti has moved into the leader’s jersey and Vande Velde trails by one second.
05:47 PM: Ricco on the podium
and doing the usual Spumanti-spritz. Up next, Pellizotti steps up to get the leader’s jersey.
05:51 PM: Okay folks
thanks for tuning in today. Check back soon for results, photos and a stage report from our own Andrew Hood. We’ll also post reports regarding the condition of David Zabriskie as soon as we hear anything.
Don’t forget to check in with us for Live Coverage of stage 3 of the 91st Giro d’Italia. All the best and we’ll see you tomorrow.