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By Andrew Hood
After a wild and woolly opening four stages, the Giro d’Italia returnedhome Thursday. Riders took a night flight to Cuneo in northwest Italy whilethe caravan drove overnight from France back to home soil. Friday’s 150-kmfifth stage Fassano to Limone Piemonte features the Giro’s first summitfinish, a day that’s sure to reveal who has the legs to fight for the magliarosa.After four flat stages across Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germanyand France, the Giro gets steep with three rated climbs. The first ratedclimb is the Category III Colletto di Rossana at 84 kilometers. It is a2-km climb rising about 660 feet. The Cat. II Colletto del Moro comes at127 km, featuring a narrow, very steep 3-km climb up 1141 feet with gradesas steep as 21 percent with an average incline of 8.9 percent.The final Cat. I push to the finish begins with 14 km left in the stage,with the final 7 km featuring the most difficult sections. The final punchto Limone Piemonte at 4600 feet is on smooth asphalt with an average gradeof 7.7 percent. The narrow roads and steeper grades at Colletto del Morocould prove the decisive moment of the stage. This won’t be stage wherethe Giro is won, but any contenders who lose time here will havea hard time making it up in the final week of the race.The climber’s raceBy the way, despite the fact that the Giro often has equal to or evenmore impressive climbs than the Tour de France, the race for climber’spoints is fought out on a different scale. To begin with, there is no suchthing as an Hors Categorie climb in the Giro. There are simply Cat.I, II and III climbs, the only exception being the “Cima Coppi,”the Giro’s highest climb and those officially designated summit finishes.Furthermore, points awarded are limited to a small number of riders tocrest a climb first. Climber’s points awarded at the Giro d’Italia areas follows:Cat. III – 3, 2, 1
Cat. II – 5, 3, 1
Cat. I – 10, 6, 4, 2, 1
Officially designated summit finishes (Friday’s finish is not designated as a summit finish)- 15, 10, 6, 4, 2
Cima Coppi (This year, Stage 16’s Passo Pordoi at 2239 meters) – 20, 15, 10, 6, 4, 2Hamilton to keep it light on FridayTyler Hamilton, sitting in 21st overall at 52 seconds back, willride a lightweight bike in Friday’s Giro stage. The CSC-Tiscali captainrebounded from a crash in the opening prologue to finish with lead groupin Monday’s finish into Liege. Hamilton said in his online report (see”Charginginto Strasbourg“) that he will be using a special climbing bike onFriday.The Sevilla Saga continuesKelme’s Oscar Sevilla confirmed that Telekom has put out feelersabout signing him if financial troubles continue at the Spanish team, whichowes Sevilla at least $225,000 in back wages.”Many teams have shown an interest in me, especially Telekom, a teamwhich is serious, strong and well organized. But we haven’t spoken enoughdetails to know if they want me for this Tour. I have not spoken to anySpanish team,” Sevilla told the Spanish sports daily MARCA. “I’mgoing to wait a few more days because of my teammates to see if the situationis fixed, although it is certain that the present situation can’t continuefor much longer.”Sevilla added that team officials are scrambling to resolve the situation.”Pepe Quiles, the team owner called me and told me to take it easy,”Sevilla said. “But he has told me that so many times. The ideal for meand my teammates would be to be able to fix everything at least until theend of this season. … Before the end of this month I want to be hereor somewhere else with everything in order.”U.S. juniors making wavesUSA Cycling has a junior squad plying the roads of Europe and they’redoing pretty well. Tyler Farrar (Wanatchee, Wash.), Josh Kerkhof(Ft.Worth,Texas), Steven Cozza( Petaluma, Calif.) and their teammatesearned four top-10 finishes in four races recently in Europe. Farrar ledthe team with a fantastic second-place finish at the Flanders Europe Classicin Belgium and fourth-place at Wortegen-Petegem race also in Belgium.Kerkhof was seventh in the Harbeke Road Race in Belgium while Cozzagrabbed 10th place at the Omloop Der Kempen in Holland. Coach Danny VanHaute and his motivated young team continue to test themselves againstthe top international competitors with the Etappen-Rundfahrt junior racein Germany, May 18-20.We’re bound to see more of these guys in years to come.