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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia 2008 Stage 4: Live Coverage

10:12 PM: Good morning . . .. . . and welcome to VeloNews.com's live coverage of stage 4 of the 2008 Giro d'Italia, a 183km dash north from Pizzo Calabro to Catanzaro-Lungomare.

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  • 10:12 PM: Good morning . . .

    . . . and welcome to VeloNews.com’s live coverage of stage 4 of the 2008 Giro d’Italia, a 183km dash north from Pizzo Calabro to Catanzaro-Lungomare.

  • 02:01 PM: Getting the boot

    The race has left Sicily for the toe of the Italian boot, and today’s stage marks the first time this Calabrian seaport, situated on a steep cliff overlooking the Gulf of Santa Eufemia, has hosted the Giro. This doesn’t mean that Pizzo has lacked for action – in 1815, Gioacchino Murat, brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte, was executed here after botching an attempt to reclaim the kingdom of Naples. That’s much worse than being fined by the commissaires for a sticky bottle on a climb.

  • 02:06 PM: The route

    Stage 4 will take place entirely in Calabria, passing through the province’s administrative capital, Vibo Valentia, San Nicolo di Crissa, and the Serre Calabresi. The only climb is the fairly gentle Passo di Pietra Spada at 60km, unless you count the ascent to Catanzaro, which is no stranger to the Giro – Luigi Marchisio won here in 1930 and went on to win the overall. Other victors include Nino Defilippis in 1954, Belgian Franz Brands in 1965 and Swede Gosta Pettersson, who defeated some Belgian dude name of Eddy Merckx here in 1972. The stage finishes on the seafront, where we should be treated to another bunch gallop.

  • 02:13 PM: And we’re off

    The peloton is on the road, and Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) is clearly feeling froggy – the Belgian, currently 184th overall at 18:54, has had himself a jump.

  • 02:18 PM: Ciao

    It appears that the peloton – a wee bit the worse for wear after yesterday’s crash-fest – is only too happy to let Verbrugghe go. They’re giving him all the rope he needs and then some.

  • 02:21 PM: The top 10 overall

    While Mr. Verbrugghe is enjoying his moment in the sun, let’s have a look at the other end of the leaderboard going into today’s stage:

    1. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, 11:52:17

    2. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:01

    3. Danilo Di Luca (I), Team L.P.R., at 0:07

    4. Morris Possoni (I), Team High Road, at 0:08

    5. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Liquigas, same time

    6. Nicki Sorensen (Den), CSC, at 0:17

    7. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr), Team High Road, at 0:18

    8. Paolo Savoldelli (I), Team L.P.R., at 0:19

    9. Andrea Noe’ (I), Liquigas, at 0:22

    10. Enrico Gasparotto (I), Barloworld, at 0:25

  • 02:27 PM: Up the Passo di Pietra Spada

    The folks who claim to know about such things tell us that Verbrugghe has built himself a lead of more than eight and a half minutes – and that the average speed for the first hour of the stage has been all of 32.4km/h.

  • 02:30 PM: The rolling wounded

    Riccardo Ricco, who was one of those taken down in yesterday’s pileup, was taken to hospital post-stage to check out the condition of his left hand after voicing his displeasure with stage 3 (“You can’t choose routes like this.”) The Cobra’s Giro will continue, though his strike may have a hitch in its gitalong; he came away with a sprained left index finger and some difficulty holding on to the handlebar. Noting the Cobra’s complaints, Angelo Zomegnan, head of Giro organizer RCS sport, observed: “I think Ricco is just venting. I understand that those racing for the pink jersey have a great responsibility and lots of attention, but we’re on the streets of Sicily, and you have to keep that in mind.”

  • 02:34 PM: You just can’t make some people happy

    Even stage winner Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) was far from complimentary about Monday’s circuit. “I’d prefer not to talk about it as I’d only be too harsh on it. What I will say is that we all saw dangerous roads that suddenly narrowed, with railings along the roadside, and so on and so on,” the 27-year-old groused. He looked pretty pleased about winning it, though.

  • 02:44 PM: While we await news from the front . . .

    . . . here are a few famous Calabrians for your consideration: Murder, Inc.’s Albert Anastasia and Pope John VII (how’s that for a contrast?); mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras (he of the theorem); and fashion designers Gianni and Donatella Versace. Discuss among yourselves.

  • 02:50 PM: Meanwhile, back in the States . . .

    . . . we have some domestic action today with the kickoff to Oregon’s Mt. Hood Cycling Classic.
    The six-day stage race, in its sixth year, gets under way today with a 1.7-mile prologue and one of its best fields ever. Web editor Steve Frothingham has the details here.

  • 02:55 PM: Back in Italy

    Our man Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) is still enjoying a lead of eight minutes and then some.

  • 03:01 PM: Over the Passo di Pietra Spada

    Verbrugghe summited with a 9:20 lead over the peloton, but it’s a long ride in the wind to Catanzaro.

  • 03:05 PM: Back in the bunch

    Team High Road’s Mark Cavendish told the Daily Telegraph that he has set his sights on winning stage 4 as part of his buildup to the Tour de France, though his plans for the day may have changed somewhat after hitting the deck in stage 3. Teammate Bradley Wiggins, meanwhile, says he needs to finish the Giro as part of his buildup to the Olympic Games in Beijing. “Our coach said I have to get all the way round and get the best part of 3600km in my legs,” said Wiggins, who won gold in the Individual pursuit, team pursuit and Madison at the worlds in Manchester.

  • 03:07 PM: TV time

    Verbrugghe is grabbing some eyeballs for his Cofidis sponsor, rocking the red along a heavily wooded descent.

  • 03:08 PM: His lead . . .

    . . . is now 9:39.

  • 03:09 PM: Liquigas leads the bunch

    They have just under 100km to race.

  • 03:14 PM: Looks just like Colorado here . . .

    . . . only with better roads. We’re about two and a half hours into the day’s labors and Verbrugghe has a 10-minute advantage.

  • 03:18 PM: Verbrugghe looks comfy

    He’s down in the drops and cranking out the watts.

  • 03:22 PM: WHile we await news from the road . . .

    . . . the geeks among you might enjoy taking a glance at Lennard Zinn’s latest tech report from the Giro.

  • 03:29 PM: The gap . . .

    . . . appears to be coming down under under some light pressure from Liquigas. About 9:15 now. Plenty of clouds and some standing water alongside the road. At the finish, we see lots of jackets. Could be a dampish finale.

  • 03:32 PM: High Road has contributed a man to the pursuit

    The Liquigas guys are having a snack. Seems like the chase is getting a wee bit more serious.

  • 03:36 PM: Daniele Bennati . . .

    . . . sits right in front of teammate Franco Pellizotti, the former in the ciclamino jersey while Pellizotti enjoys the maglia rosa.

  • 03:37 PM: Lots of arm warmers . . .

    . . . and even the occasional jacket in the bunch. Temps are in the 60s, but as we noted earlier, it’s damp.

  • 03:40 PM: 75km to race

    Our leader will be battling not just the chase, but the coastal breezes on the run-in to Catanzaro.

  • 03:42 PM: The bunch . . .

    . . . has just whipped through the feedzone.

  • 03:43 PM: 9:19 the gap

    . . . that will likely go up a bit now as the bunch decides it’s time to off-load a little fluid.

  • 03:46 PM: 75km to go for Verbrugghe

    His team car has come alongside to provide some Coke (the kind that comes in cans) and moral support.

  • 03:52 PM: Back to business

    After a bite and a whiz the peloton is gradually clocking back in. Ahead, Verbrugghe is still cranking along.

  • 03:56 PM: The gap is going out again . . .

    . . . to 10:50.

  • 03:59 PM: It’s a veritable United Nations up front now

    Milram, High Road and Euskaltel are all contributing to the pursuit.

  • 04:03 PM: Di Luca less than Di Lightful?

    He’s spending an awful lot of time hanging around his team car, occasionally catching the odd tow.

  • 04:05 PM: Bit of a head wind now

    But Verbrugghe just keeps pounding along. His gap: 10:25 after three and a half hours in the saddle.

  • 04:10 PM: And out come the umbrellas

    Mmm, hmm, good. Nothing like racing in a chilly rain. And wind, too! Nothing but a party. . . .

  • 04:20 PM: 45km to go

    Man, it’s nasty out there. And the gap is finally starting to creep downward. It’s 9:40 now.

  • 04:21 PM: Up front

    Verbrugghe is getting a windshield wash and a fill-up from the team car.

  • 04:26 PM: The latest from Down and Out Down Under

    CSC mates Bradley McGee and Stuart O’Grady are both out with busted collarbones, an injury familiar to both men. “I was in super form and I was feeling fantastic,” said McGee. “It was my time to make hay and now I’ve been sat on my arse a little bit. Sitting in the ambulance going to hospital I was not in a good state but as soon as I cleaned up, put a sling on and stood up I thought, ‘Okay, that’s done, let’s move forward.'” O’Grady, meanwhile, says his is “a good break” and expects to be racing again in a couple of weeks. “I’ve busted them all a few times and this one is a good break if you can call it that,” said O’Grady. “I got to the finish on pure adrenalin and then it kicked in, but I should be back training in a few days.”

  • 04:28 PM: Under 40km to go

    And Verbrugghe is still soldiering along in the drops. The bunch just shot under the kite marking 45km to race.

  • 04:29 PM: Back in the bunch

    Liquigas, Euskaltel and Milram are cranking up the volume. Charley Wegelius is out front again, doing a job of work for the race leader.

  • 04:32 PM: 35km to go . . .

    . . . for Verbrugghe.

  • 04:35 PM: 7:05 the gap

    Verbrugghe is finally starting to show some signs of the strain of being out front all day long.

  • 04:39 PM: Welcome to Catanzaro

    Verbrugghe is on the finishing loop as the peloton hits 35km to race. His margin is down to 6:13, and there’s a climb with 20km to go that is sure to nibble at the old legs after more than four hours off the front.

  • 04:43 PM: Barloworld moving up now

    Everyone wants to deliver their GC/stage-hopefuls to the climb up front.

  • 04:44 PM: Verbrugghe . . .

    . . . is eating like a house full of teen-agers. We suspect that it’s not so much for right now as for tomorrow, when he’ll need to have replenished all the energy he’s burned today.

  • 04:47 PM: Tick, tock

    Just four minutes now, and Verbrugghe is looking a bit toasty out there.

  • 04:50 PM: 25km to go

    Verbrugghe’s shoulders are rocking as the chase closes in.

  • 04:51 PM: 3:25 now

    But Verbrugghe is giving no quarter – in and out of the saddle, he marches on.

  • 04:52 PM: 2:48

    The bunch hits 25km to go.

  • 04:53 PM: And Verbrugghe . . .

    . . . has that look on his face, the old lactic-acid flashback.

  • 04:54 PM: Barloworld driving the chase

    LPR is right behind them.

  • 04:55 PM: Quick Step jumps out front

    Paolo Bettini may be feeling frisky. Danilo Di Luca and Alberto Contador are up there, too.

  • 04:56 PM: Under two minutes

    Just 1:53 from the bunch to our leader.

  • 04:58 PM: Verbrugghe . . .

    . . . is clinging grimly to the lead on this ascent.

  • 04:59 PM: Quick Step’s pace is relentless

    Riders are getting spit out the back one after another as the gap dips to 30 seconds with 20km to race.

  • 05:01 PM: He’s still just out of sight . . .

    . . . on this very narrow climb.

  • 05:01 PM: And then, pow!

    That’s all, folks. Gruppo compatto. Chapeau to Verbrugghe for a valiant effort.

  • 05:02 PM: Over the top we go . . .

    . . . and it’s all downhill from here.

  • 05:05 PM: LPR moves to the front

    Quick Step seems to have decided they won’t be able to keep the sprinters off Bettini. Behind, High Road is driving a chase for Mark Cavendish.

  • 05:06 PM: Di Luca is calling off his dogs

    Just under 15km to race now.

  • 05:09 PM: Kevin Seeldrayers has a go

    No, thanks. Back in the bunch with you.

  • 05:10 PM: And there goes Bettini!

    Zoom!

  • 05:11 PM: Man, this road . . .

    . . . has more kinks than a Hollywood swingers’ club. No soap for Bettini.

  • 05:11 PM: LPR goes back to the front

    Liquigas seems content to spectate in the final kilometers.

  • 05:13 PM: 10km to go

    One long line.

  • 05:15 PM: Erik Zabel’s near the front for Milram

    Tinkoff coming up, with High Road and Gerolsteiner. A lot of guys think they can close this account today.

  • 05:17 PM: Marco Pinotti . . .

    . . . is leading the High Road train.

  • 05:18 PM: Lampre has shouldered its way into the High Road choo-choo

    Five kilometers to race.

  • 05:19 PM: Euskaltel moving forward . . .

    . . . for Koldo Fernandez. Four Ks to go.

  • 05:21 PM: Fabio Baldato on the front

    Chewing on a head wind with 3km to race.

  • 05:21 PM: High Road back to the fore

    2km to go.

  • 05:22 PM: Liquigas hits the front

    Wow, that’s a tight right-hander!

  • 05:23 PM: 1km to go!

    Milram on the front . . .

  • 05:23 PM: Crash! Ten riders left . . .

    . . . to contest the sprint.

  • 05:24 PM: Bennati and Cavendish dueling. . .

    . . . and Cavendish gets it!

  • 05:25 PM: High Road’s Mark Cavendish . . .

    . . . survives another chaotic dash to the line to win the stage. Behind him, the final kilometer looks like a bomb went off at a bicycle swap.

  • 05:27 PM: Nick Nuyens is out

    We’d guess a collarbone. Bad luck for the Cofidis man.

  • 05:28 PM: Looks like Nuyens unclipped

    And you can guess the rest – right in the middle of a bunch sprint. Owie.

  • 05:31 PM: The rest of the podium

    Gerolsteiner’s Robert Forster was second and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) third.

  • 05:37 PM: Pellizotti collects another pink jersey

    And that will do it for today. Thanks for joining us – hope to see you here again tomorrow.