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Giro d'Italia

Giro: Stage 17 — up-to-date coverage from Lennard Zinn

5:41 Caucchioli wins his second stage of this Giro d'Italia. Azevado takes second and Telekom's Jan Ullrich leads the chase group by taking third, 27 seconds later. There will be no change in the overall standings, as both race leader Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) and his nearest challenger, Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) finished in the main group at 39 seconds. Stay tuned for a complete race report, coming up. 5:40p.m. Nearing the finish, the two are being chased by a trio including Jan Ullrich. 5:39 p.m. The two leaders are in San Remo and heading to the finish. While Azevado has been

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By Lennard Zinn

5:41 Caucchioli wins his second stage of this Giro d’Italia. Azevado takes second and Telekom’s Jan Ullrich leads the chase group by taking third, 27 seconds later. There will be no change in the overall standings, as both race leader Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) and his nearest challenger, Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) finished in the main group at 39 seconds. Stay tuned for a complete race report, coming up.

5:40p.m. Nearing the finish, the two are being chased by a trio including Jan Ullrich.

5:39 p.m. The two leaders are in San Remo and heading to the finish. While Azevado has been descending like a wild man, he has not been able to shake Caucchioli. The field is still 35 seconds back.

5:38 p.m. With five kilometers to go, Caucchioli and Azevado have an advantage of 33 seconds over the field.

5:34 p.m. Caucchioli and Azevado are 8km from the finish. With the field still around 30 seconds back, the two may just pull this off.

5:31 p.m.Caucchioli caught. Azevado has done it and caught the leader. The field is 30 seconds back.

5:28Caucchioli — the winner of stage 8 — is still leading, but ONCE’s Jose Azevado is pulling out all the stops in his pursuit. Azevado is now within five seconds of Caucchioli. The pack is 24 seconds back.

5:22ONCE’s Jose Azevado jumped off the front of the field in hot pursuit of Caucchioli and was making good time. On a hard turn, Azevado barely avoided a crash, went off the edge of the road, but resumed his chase.

5:20 p.m. (local time)With 19km to go,Caucchioli is still holding off the field with an advantage of 24 seconds.

5:14 p.m.Caucchioli is flying on his way to the finish. His three pursuers — Buenahora, Leon and Cesar Solaun Solana — have been caught. With 23 km to go, Caucchioli is losing time to the field. Can he hold out? Check back soon.

5:08 Caucchioli continues to hold off his pursuers.

5:03Caucchioli has about 18 seconds on a group of three chasers including Buenahora and Leon. The field is another 25 seconds back. The riders are all on the descent leading to the finish line in San Remo.

4:58 p.m.Pietro Caucchioli has broken away and is about four seconds ahead Kelme’s Francisco Leon. Cantina Tollo’s Danilo Di Luca was in pursuit and found himself joined by Selle Italia’s Herman Buenahora. Buenahora is moving quickly and is moving up on Cauchioli.

4:48 p.m.iBanesto’s Jose Arrieta took the day’s Intergiro sprint.The pace has picked up considerably over the past 30 minutes. There have been several attacks, all reeled in. The big victims of the last half hour have been the sprinters who spent much of the early part of the stage slowing the pace. Interestingly, back with the sprinters now that the pace has quicken is Marco Pantani, the pirate, apparently not climbing as well as he has in the past.

4:39Soon after being reeled back in, Azevedo and Sgambelluri initiated another attack. After building up to nine riders, that break was reeled back in, too. But as the peloton nears the day’s InterGiro the pace is very high. So much for keeping things mellow.

4:31 p.m. Caught. Lunghi was joined by ONCE’s Jose Azevedo, Telekom’s Roberto Sgambelluri and Peter Luttnberger (Taconi-Vini Caldirola). Lunghi was quickly dropped, but then his pursuers were brought back by the Lampre-controlled field.

4:24 p.m. (local time)Passing through San Remo, Lunghi crossed through the start/finish area with a small 26-second advantage before starting up what is the descent of the famous Poggio used in Milan-San Remo.

The average pace over the opeining two hours was a very slow 27.874kph. There is speculation that there is something of an agreement among riders to keep things mellow in anticipation of tomorrow’s huge 230km stage, with its five KOM spots and a mountaintop finish.

4:19Lunghi is still off the front as he and the prsuing field have come back to the Riviera coast of San Remo. He has a lead of nearly 40 seconds and is giving the effort his all.

4:07Colpack-Astro’s Denis Lunghi has jumped off the front, marking the day’s first significant attack. Lunghi is off on his own with a small 12-second gap at this point. Simoni’s Lampre squad is at the head of the group, but there is not much of a chase to speak of.

4:03 p.m. (local time)Heading back to San Remo, the field is still together and the pace remains under 30kph.

3:53 p.m. The pace is still very moderate, averaging just 26.7kph since the start almost two hours ago. The sprinters are doing their best to keep things slow, with Saeco’s Mario Cipollini, Telekom’s Dario Hondo and Mapei’s Stefano Zanini have been riding up front. The Lampre team of race leader Gilberto Simoni is also up there keeping a reign on things. I rode the Bajardo yesterday and that descent is really rough. Lampre — and the sprinters — have no reason to take a big risk on roads like this.

3:45 p.m. (local time) All back together again after the field crested the Bajardo. Gonzales scooted ahead to take the KOM earlier, but the pace remains quite moderate.

3:30 (local time) The field has crested the Bajardo. KOM leader Fredy Gonzales (Selle Italia-Pacific) lead the group winning the first climber’s points of the day. He was followed by Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio) and Andrea Peron (Fassa Bortolo).

3:22p.m. The field is three kilometers from the top of the Bajardo. We will report back when we hear who wins the first King of the Mountain points of the day.

The official pace for the opening hour today was 29.3kph. 143 riders started today’s stage. As we mentioned earlier, among the missing were Pascal Herve(Alexia)and Riccardo Forconi(Mercatone Uno), both pulled from the race by their teams after the riders failed the recently established EPO test.

3:07p.m. Still together the field has reached the base of the day’s first climb. Passing through Apricale, the road begins to steepen as it moves from an altitude of about 100 meters and begins the 14km climb up the Bajardo, which peaks out at around 900 meters. With grades reaching 10 percent at points, we can expect this “gruppo compacto” to started falling apart soon. Check back and don’t forget to use the Refresh button on your browser!

2:50 p.m. It was announced today that the Mercatone Uno team has pulled Riccardo Forconi from the Giro d’Italia after it was learned that he had failed a drug test. Forconi becomes the second rider to fail the new French-developed urine test for banned substance EPO after Alexia rider Pascal Herve, a Frenchman, was revealed to have tested positive Tuesday.

2:45 p.m. Everyone is still together as the field rolled through the coastal town of Dolce Acqua (nice name, huh?) at the 22km mark. It look as though the field is continuing the tradition of this Giro and starting the day at a very moderate pace, averaging around 34kph. Some days it has been as slow as 30 for the first hour or so. Of course, they’ll more than make up for that in the next couple of hours. Check back and don’t forget to use that Refresh button on your browser when the action kicks in during today’s stage.

2:10 p.m. (local time) — They’re off. The field is rolling west along the beautiful Riviera coastline outside of San Remo. It’s still “gruppo compacto” as they say here. The day’s big challenges, of course, will come as the peloton turns inland and moves up into the coastal hills. That should take place in about 45 minutes to an hour.

One item of interest this morning, by the way, came from race leader Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) who credited his strong performance in the Stage 15 time trial to a man who isn’t even here.

“I have learned a lot from Lance Armstrong,” Simoni said. “For the time trial, I concentrated on my cadence and suppleness, rather than just on power. I never touched my 11.”

So there you have it. Keep checking in. I’ll try to update our report as the day goes on.

1:50 p.m. — We’re nearing the start of Stage 17 of the 2001 Giro d’Italia. It’s a nearly perfect day for a bike race. It’s a beautiful day in San Remo, with temperatures nearing the 80s. The riders all seem relaxed after a rest day and the prospect of a tough, but short day in the saddle today.

I just spoke with Kevin Livingston (Deutsche Telekom) and he says he’s feeling much better after suffering from an upper respiratory ailment.

“It was good to get a little bit of rest, to take it easy in the time trial, followed by an easy day (Stage 16 – Erbusco-Parma) and then a rest day,” Livingston said.

Livingston and team leader Jan Ullrich have been using this Giro to get ready for the Tour de France, so neither has been a big factor in the race, which has really turned into a two-man contest between Lampre’s Gilberto Simoni and Fassa Bortolo’s Dario Frigo.

While today’s stage may be short, it does offer some serious challenges.

The race is scheduled to start in about 15 minutes – 2:05p.m. local time (8:05 a.m. EDT). Today’s stage is the 138km “Circuito dei Fiori” – the circuit of flowers – beginning and ending in the beautiful coastal resort of San Remo, Italy’s main flower market. But the peloton won’t be stopping to smell the roses as it tackles the mountains that lie inland from the Mediterranean coast. After an opening stretch along the Riviera toward the French border, the route heads inland after about an hour of racing, beginning with the Passo di Ghimbegna. After scaling that 898-meter (2946-foot) peak, the racers will drop back down toward the coast, and then begin a counter-clockwise circuit highlighted by the 16km-long ascent of Monte Ceppo. Any adventurous souls who escape on the climb will then face a fast and furious, mostly downhill, 35km back into San Remo.

I’ll be phoning in updates throughout the day, so keep checking back to follow the progress of today’s stage.