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Giro d’Italia 2002 – Stage 7 upates

1:35 p.m.-- Good Morning. Today's stage is the 159-kilometer Circuito Della Versilia, where today's 187 starters cover three laps around a circuit between Viareggio and Lido di Camaiore. We are about 9km into today's stage and the field is still together. 1:55 p.m.-- It's Sunday. Things are bit more relaxed. The peloton has allowed Alessandro Petacchi to roll off the front to see his family. Looking ahead today, the Intergiro is at the 58km mark and climber's points will be awarded on the Colli di Pedona at 88km. Weather conditions are ideal and a nice contrast to yesterday's rain. The

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1:35 p.m.— Good Morning. Today’s stage is the 159-kilometer Circuito Della Versilia, where today’s 187 starters cover three laps around a circuit between Viareggio and Lido di Camaiore.

We are about 9km into today’s stage and the field is still together.

1:55 p.m.— It’s Sunday. Things are bit more relaxed. The peloton has allowed Alessandro Petacchi to roll off the front to see his family.

Looking ahead today, the Intergiro is at the 58km mark and climber’s points will be awarded on the Colli di Pedona at 88km.

Weather conditions are ideal and a nice contrast to yesterday’s rain. The sky is blue and a very light breeze.

2:20 p.m. The peloton is on the slopes of the Colli di Pedona. This time, however, points are not awarded for climbing it. That will happen on the next lap of the circuit — at 88km into today’s 159 stage.

2:30 p.m. No points, no action. The peloton crested the Colli di Pedona fully intact.

Next time, climbers’ points will give at least a few the motivation to break things up.

Today’s Intergiro is coming up at the 58km mark, in about 20km.

2:40 p.m. Working their way through the streets of Viareggio, the riders are near the end of the first lap around the circuit.

The Intergiro is coming up in 10km.

By the way, today’s pace is quite relaxed. The peloton has only covered 31.7 kilometers in the first hour.

3:15 p.m. Ivan Quaranta earned himself a little spare time, taking the Intergiro at 58km.

He beat Phonak’s Massimo Strazzer and Moreno Di Biase (Formaggi-Trentini).

3:35 p.m. The peloton is working its way up the Colli di Pedona for the second time today. This time climber’s points will be awarded for the trip up this 5km climb.

Right now, the field is about 2km from the top.

3:43 p.m. Jose Castelblanco (Colombia-Selle Italia) scooted off the front by himself and earned today’s only KOM prize.

3:48 p.m. The field has broken up.

Dario Cioni (Mapei) and Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo)took the next two climber’s points.

3:56 p.m. We have about 60km to go. The field was split apart into several groups on that last time up the Colli di Pedona.

With one more lap to do, the field is going to have to do the climb one more time. We might see another major split on the last time up, opening a good opportunity for a fairly strong climber to take today’s stage.

4:03p.m. A group of about 11 riders has broken off of the front of the main field. The break started just about when the fractured field was just coming back together after the climb.

With 52km remaining, the lead group has an advantage of 50 seconds.

The group includes Max Sciandri, Rik Verbrugghe and Gianni Faresin (Gerolsteiner).

4:13p.m. The leaders’ advantage is up to 1:12.

Mapei’s Stefano Garzelli appears to have crashed. He has just managed to rejoin the main field.

4:16p.m. The leaders have upped their advantage to 1:41.

The group includes Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio); Cristian Moreni (Alessio); Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo); Gianni Faresin (Gerolsteiner); Maximilian Sciandri (Lampre); Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto); Dario Cioni (Mapei); Oscar Pereira Sio (Phonak); Raphael Schweda (Coast); Denis Lunghi (Colpack).

4:26p.m. We are about 30km from the finish. The 10 leaders are still 1:30 up on the field. They are not gaining or losing much time.

Race radio reports that the average speed for the opening two laps was around 36.9kph. That means that the second lap was quite a bit faster, because that opening round was down around 32kph.

4:32p.m. We have 30km remaining. Telekom is monitoring the break, not allowing it to gain too much time up front and posing a threat to Jens Heppner’s overall lead.

Of those in the lead, Faresin is the best placed, having started the day in 28th place at 5:49.

On another note, Fortunato Baliani(Colombia-Selle Italia) has withdrawn from the race. The Giro is now down to 186 riders.

4:38p.m. With 28km remaining, the leaders are holding on to a lead of around 1:30 to 1:40.

Again, the riders in the break are as follows:Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio)
Cristian Moreni (Alessio)
Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo)
Gianni Faresin (Gerolsteiner)
Maximilian Sciandri (Lampre)
Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto)
Dario Cioni (Mapei)
Oscar Pereira Sio (Phonak)
Raphael Schweda (Coast)
Denis Lunghi (Colpack).

4:42 p.m. The 10 leaders are now just 1:00 ahead of the field. They are approaching the day’s only climb, coming up in about 3km.

Race radio has just announced medical tests for Petacchi, Popovych, Mum and Gigli and the day’s stage winner and overall leader.

Last night, the UCI agreed to the Mapei request to test all of the team’s riders for traces of the diuretic Probenecid. The request was made to address suspicions that Garzelli’s “non-negative” test was possibly the result of sabotage.

4:49 p.m. Verbrugghe is now off the front on his own.

He is climbing nicely and if anyone can power through the closing kilometers on his own it’s Verbrugghe, who won last year’s Giro prologue at a record-setting pace.

4:46 p.m. The leaders are on the hill. Moreni has attacked and has a small gap on the rest of the group. Rik Verbrugghe is chasing.

As the lead group disintegrates, the advantage over the head of the main field is just under one minute.

4:53 p.m. Verbrugghe is now about 30 seconds up on the remnants of the break. He has about 13.5 km to go.

The main field is beginning to absorb some of the break’s stragglers.

4:57 p.m. Verbrugghe is on the descent and holding a good lead over the main field, which has reabsorbed many of the original members of that 10-man break.

He has about 11.5km to go.

5:01 p.m. Verbrugghe is now on the flats and heading toward the finish. He is about 20 seconds ahead a group of four chasers and another 30 up on the main field.

10km to go.

5:04 p.m. Dario Cioni (Mapei) is now on his own, chasing Verbrugghe. He is about 20 seconds behind the Lotto rider.

Another group of six, including Gianni Faresin (Gerolsteiner)and Raphael Schweda (Coast)are another 30 seconds back and the main field is another minute back.

5:07 p.m. Cioni is about to be absorbed by the group behind him.

They are about 40 seconds behind Verbrugghe is just 6.5km from the finish. He is flying through the streets of Versilia.

He looks like he may have this one wrapped up.

5:10 p.m. With less than five km to go, Verbrugghe has an advantage of more than one minute.

5:13 p.m. Verbrugghe is powering through the final kilometers.

He is holding a 48-second advantage with 2.5km to go.

5:16 p.m. Verbrugghe is now on the last kilometer. He is 48 seconds ahead of the pursuers and another 45 seconds ahead of the main field.

5:17 p.m. Verbrugghe wins.

5:16 p.m. Verbrugghe is now on the last kilometer. He is 48 seconds ahead of the pursuers and another 45 seconds ahead of the main field.

After counter-attacking on the slopes of the final climb, Verbrugghe has soloed in for an impressive stage win.

Raphael Schweda (Coast)takes second, 59 seconds later.

Jens Heppner finished with the field and retains the overall lead, 3:33 over Garzelli.

CSC’s Tyler Hamilton, too, finished in the field and remains in 14th place on the overall standings.