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Giro d'Italia 2009: a summary of the first week

Added: monday 18 May 2009 at 23:32:00
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    Giro d'Italia 2009: a summary of the first weekAfter the start of the Giro d'Italia 2009 from Venice with the team time trial, won by the Columbia High Road team, and the second stage from Jesolo to Trieste won by Alessandro Petacchi, 7 other stages have allowed the riders to get to the spot where they currently enjoy their first rest day in this 100-year Tour of Italy.

    I thought it would be a good idea to present you a summary of the first week of the Tour of Italy 2009 at this first rest day.


    To summarise this first week in just a few words, I could say that the Columbia High Road and LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini teams dominated the race if you only look at the stage wins. In the general ranking, these teams are highly represented as well, but in the top 10 we also find several favourites for the final win, such as Levi Leipheimer (Astana), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Ivan Basso (Liquigas) and Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam). A guy like Damiano Cunego is clearly missing since he's at the 21st place at 3'37".
    Lance ArmstrongWithout a real surprise Lance Armstrong (photo) is lagging far behind in this first grand tour since his comeback in the peloton. The boss detroned?
    Finally, and that's why you won't find many pictures of the stage winners in this article, another conclusion could be that the stage wins very often went to riders who have been suspended (Puerto, Oil for drugs) and made their come back in a relatively small team.

    Third stage - Monday 11 May 2009 - Grado > Valdobbiadene

    A second stage with a relatively flat route this Monday with a start straight north from Grado, direction west to arrive in Valdobbiadene. The stage finished, just like the day before, with a final circuit around the finish city.

    Today's leading group, composed of the Italian riders Giuseppe Palumbo (Acqua e Sapone) and Mauro Facci (Quick Step), the Ukranian Yuriy Krivtsov (photo, AG2R La Mondiale), the Russian Mikhaïl Ignatiev (Katusha) and the German Björn Schröder (Milram), left the peloton at kilometer 6 already. At kilometer 163, at 35 kilometers from the finish, the peloton, led by the Liquigas team, came back on these riders so everything was ready for a massive sprint at the finish.

    Christian Vande VeldeIn the mean time, at kilometer 140, one of the leaders of this Giro, Christian Vande Velde (photo, Garmin Slipstream) fell quite hard and had to abandon. He was transported to the hospital in Conegliano, which communicated about his health situation later in the evening: fracture of the 7th rib on the right side, a thorax injury, an injury on the right pelvis and in the back, several scrapes.

    When the peloton was back together, Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) and Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom) tried to get away from the peloton but they were both taken back. At 10 kilometers from the finish many riders fell, thus delaying about 75% of the peloton including Mark Cavendish (Columbia High Road), who could have won the stage in a sprint, and Denis Menchov (Rabobank), the only leader who lost time due to this fall. Cavendish only had his team mate Edvald Boasson Hagen to help him and thus gave up the chase to finally finish at the 81st place at 1'25" of the winner.

    Tyler FarrarThe winner was the rider who won the sprint which indeed took place at the finish: Alessandro Petacchi of the Irish/Italian team LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini who easily finished before Tyler Farrar (photo, Garmin Slipstream), Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre NGC), Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) and Il Piccolo Principe Damiano Cunego.

    With this second stage victory and the bonus seconds he took with it, Alessandro Petacchi also took the pink jersey as the new leader of the general ranking; this ranking was as follows after this stage:
    1/ Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes - Farnese) - 8h50'06"
    2/ Tyler Farrar (photo, Garmin Slipstream) - +0'08"
    3/ Michael Rogers (Columbia High Road) - +0'18
    4/ Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) - +0'18"
    5/ Lance Armstrong (Astana) - +0'31"

    Fourth stage - Tuesday 12 May 2009 - Padova > San Martino di Castrozza

    The first mountain stage took place between Padova and San Martino di Castrozza. From Padova, the riders first went north to get to the Italian Alps and to finish at the top of the ski station San Martino di Castrozza in the Dolomites. During this stage they also climbed the Passo Croce d'Aune from Pedavena.

    That day, the Astana team heard that the UCI is to suspend the team at the end of the month if it does not find new financial resources in the mean time. Indeed, the kazakh team no longer receives anu money from its kazakh sponsors and thus stopped paying its riders and staff a few months ago.

    Jens VoigtOn the sports side we've seen a leading group of six riders which was reduced to three and finally only one rider, Jens Voigt (photo), the German rider of the Saxo Bank team. Solo he tried to to resist until the end, but at only a few kilometers from the finish he was finally taken back in the final climb where the LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini team gave the rhythm. Once they were all back together, the polka dot jersey of best climber of the Tour de France 2007, Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez of the Barloworld team, got away from the peloton at a little bit over 2 kilometers from the finish and he managed to stay ahead until about 50 meters from the finish. When he was taken back so close to his goal, the Columbian rider could do nothing else than watch how the Italian rider Danilo di Luca won the stage before Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) and Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas).

    Thomas LövkvistWith di Luca's victory, the LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini team thus wins its third stage in row after Alessandro Petacchi's wins. The other team which was quite visible this first week of the Tour of Italy, Columbia High Road, however took the pink jersey after this stage: the young Swedish rider Thomas Lövkvist (photo) took the leader's jersey with a 2 seconds gap on Danilo di Luca.

    Here's the top 5 of the general ranking after this stage:
    1/ Thomas Lövkvist (photo, Columbia High Road) - 13h05'28"
    2/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - +0'02"
    3/ Michael Rogers (Columbia High Road) - +0'06"
    4/ Yaroslav Popovych (Astana) - +0'26"
    5/ Levi Leipheimer (Astana) - +0'26"

    Fifth stage - Wednesday 13 May 2009 - San Martino di Castrozza > Alpe di Siusi

    Thomas VoecklerThis stage also started in the ski station San Martino di Castrozza and was yet another mountain stage. This stage went even further north to finish 125 kilometers further at Alpe di Siusi. After a climbing start towards the Passo Rolle, the stage mainly went down until the last climb to the mountain top finish at Alpe di Siusi.

    Denis MenchovAlmost from the start, a group of 7 riders left the peloton. In this group there were riders like Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Giovanni Visconti (ISD) and Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni). Ivan Basso's Liquigas team however decided otherwise, took back the leading group in the final climb and imposed a high rhythm, thus getting rid of some riders at the back of the peloton. The favourites at the head of the peloton couldn't all follow either and in the last kilometer Basso only had riders like Danilo di Luca, Thomas Lövkvist, Levi Leipheimer, Christopher Horner, Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov (photo) with him. In the climbing sprint the Russian rider of the Rabobank team was the fastest and won the stage ahead of Danilo di Luca and Thomas Lövkvist. For Denis Menchov this was the missing stage to complete his trio of stage wins in grand tours after a stage win in the Tour de France in 2006, a stage win (and the final win) in the Vuelta in 2007 and now a stage in the Giro.

    The result was not that satisfying for Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) who lost 47 seconds and Damiano Cunego (Lampre NGC) who finished the stage at 2'39". Lance Armstrong said after the stage that he'd planned to lose 2 minutes in this stage so his result was disappointing as well since he finished at 2'58".

    The Russian leader of the Rabobank team enters the top 5 of the general ranking while Danilo di Luca takes the first place and thus the pink jersey. The general ranking after this stage was as follows:
    1/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 16h20'44"
    2/ Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) - +0'05"
    3/ Michael Rogers (Columbia High Road) - +0'36"
    4/ Levi Leipheimer (Astana) - +0'43"
    5/ Denis Menchov (Rabobank) - +0'50"

    Sixth stage - Thursday 14 May 2009 - Bressanone / Brixen > Mayrhofen (Austria)

    After the two high mountain stages this stage started in Bressanone ... or Brixen (the majority of the population has German as its first language, so this city is more often referred to with its German name Brixen than with its Italian name Bressanone). After the start the riders went eastwards to arrive in Lienz in Austria and get up north through the Felbertauern tunnel before turning west at Mittersill and take the Gerlospass towards Mayrhofen.

    Guillaume BonnafondThe leading group formed in the morning by the French rider Guillaume Bonnafond (photo, AG2R La Mondiale), the Italian rider Oscar Gatto (ISD), the Danish rider Kasper Klostergaard (Saxo Bank), the White-Russian rider Vasil Kyrienka (Caisse d'Epargne) and the Italian Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) lost its coherence when the last one attacked at the foot of the Col de Hochkrimml. Vasil Kyrienka was the only rider who was able to follow him but at 9 kilometers from the finish he had cramps and was obliged to let the Italian continue alone.

    Despite the fact that the sprinter teams almost came back on Michele Scarponi, they finally didn't have enough riders upfront to do so and the Italian rider thus easily won this stage ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia High Road), second in a sprint, Allan Davis (Quick Step) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha).

    Scarponi, who already won Tirreno Adriatico earlier this season, thus showed that he's in perfect shape after his comeback from a two year break because of his role in the Puerto case. No changes in the general ranking after this stage with exactly the same time gaps in the top 5.

    Seventh stage - Friday 15 May 2009 - Innsbruck (Austria) > Chiavenna

    Another hilly stage took the riders back from Innsbruck in Austria through Switzerland to Chiavenna just after the border in Italy. Just before the finish, the riders had to climb the Passo Maloja before the final descent towards the finish in Chiavenna.

    After the possible suspension announced by the UCI three days earlier, the Astana riders, except the Kazakh Andrey Zeits, decided to wipe the Astana logo from their shirts. Johan Bruyneel, the team's manager explained that the riders have received only two months of salary in 2009 before he added I hope this change in the shirt will make them react.Edvald Boasson HagenThis is our way to say that we are professionals, doing good work. I already received the first reactions from Kazakhstan since last night but those are only words. There's still some steps to take before things will change.

    Concerning the race, due to the rain, the wind and the fog, the time for the general ranking was taken at 3 kilometers from the finish in Chiavenna. Indeed, the weather made the final part of this stage down the descent of the Passo Maloja quite dangerous.

    This weather was already beneficial for the young rider Edvald Boasson Hagen (photo, Columbia High Road) at Ghent-Wevelgem in April and this Friday it again allowed him to win the sprint. He was part of a small leading group which was formed just after the top of the Passo Maloja. He was accompanied by Robert Hunter (Barloworld), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Davide Vigano (Fuji Servetto) and Alessandro Bertolini (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni). Hunter and Brutt took respectively the second and third place.

    Again no changes in the general ranking with still the same time gaps in the top 5.

    Eighth stage - Saturday 16 May 2009 - Morbegno > Bergamo

    After the start from Morbegno and a big part of the stage next to the Como lake the riders climbed the Culmine di San Pietro before their descent towards Bergamo. After about 115 kilometers they arrived on a circuit with the Colle del Gallo which led them back to Bergamo and the finish line after 211 kilometers on their bike.

    In this stage, the Spanish rider Pedro Horillo of the Rabobank team fell in the descent of the Col de San Pietro and finished in the ravine 60 meters below. The rider of the Dutch team was evacuated by helicopter and suffers from a heavy cranial injury and a chest injury as well as several fractures. The latest news is that an operation of his broken leg went fine on Sunday night. He's still at intensive care in the hospital of Bergamo and his doctor has declared that he will be able to get a normal life again and most probably also get back on a bike, but not as a professional rider.

    Otherwise, the stage had a 10 rider leading group: Johann Tschopp (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Serge Pauwels (Cervélo TestTeam), Jelle Vanendert (Silence Lotto), Carlos José Ochoa (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni), Evgeni Petrov (Katusha), Eduard Vorganov (Xacobeo Galicia), David Lopez Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne), Hector Gonzalez Bazea (Fuji Servetto), Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) and Giovanni Visconti (ISD). On the Colle del Gallo this leading group was taken back by a group led by Damiano Cunego (Lampre NGC) and including Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) and David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Michael Rogers and Edvald Boasson Hagen of Columbia High Road and Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer of Astana.
    Kanstantsin SiutsouHowever, the peloton slowly came back on them as well before Kanstantsin Siutsou (photo, Columbia High Road) decided to attack and this attack allowed him to win the stage. The pink jersey, Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini), decided to accellerate as well but he never completely came back on the White-Russian. He finished third and thus took some bonus seconds again. The previous day's winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen, takes the second place: a third stage victory for Columbia High Road in this Tour of Italy while taking the first and second spot in this stage.

    After the stage, Siutsou (there's some discussion on how to write his name: some people say it should be Sivtsov, but since Google puts the spelling Siutsou [with about 33,600 results] way ahead of Sivtsov [2,440 results], I'll continue to write it here as Siutsou) explained the secret on how he won this stage: I live at 25 kilometers from Bergamo, the stage almost passed my front door. I know this roads by heart and I knew this was the right time to attack. My directeur sportif told me to stop, he thought I wouldn't be able to continue till the end, but finally let me go.

    The bonus seconds gave some changes in the top 5 of the general ranking but it still contained the same names:
    1/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 33h13'35"
    2/ Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) - +0'13"
    3/ Michael Rogers (Columbia High Road) - +0'44"
    4/ Levi Leipheimer (Astana) - +0'51"
    5/ Denis Menchov (Rabobank) - +0'58"

    Ninth stage - Sunday 17 May 2009 - Milano Show 100

    This stage was quite special: it was created to celebrate the 100 years of the Giro d'Italia with a circuit in Milan which was to be done 10 times. The start was at the Piazza Castello and the finish close to the Piazzale Loreto where the first Giro d'Italia started in 1909. It was also a tribute to the city of Milan where the Gazetta dello Sport, the newspaper which organises the Tour of Italy, has its head offices.

    Markus FothenBefore the stage, the French sports newspaper L'Equipe talked about a tortuous and sometimes dangerous circuit and this circuit finally was the reason why what should have become a big show finally ended up as a flop ... In the first round, Markus Fothen (photo, Milram) and Serafain Martinez Acevedo (Xacobeo Galicia) fell and because of the circuit which was seen as too dangerous by the riders, they asked the organisation not to take into account the time gaps at the finish. The organisation accepted this but at the 5th crossing of the finish line the riders stopped anyway. Through their spokesman Danilo di Luca, the current pink jersey, explained the people why they were riding so slowly and didn't do the show which was so expected.
    Mark CavendishFinally they continued anyway and during the last tour the race came almost back to normal and a massive sprint was perfectly prepared, just like last Sunday when he finally didn't win, by Edvald Boasson Hagen (who celebrated his birthday and the Norvegian national holiday!) and Mark Renshaw for Mark Cavendish (photo). Cav won the stage easily this time and thus took his 9th victory of the 2009 season (without counting the team time trial) and the 42th of his carreer. This was also the 4th victory for his team in this Giro (of which 3 consecutively).
    Allan Davis (Quick Step) took the second place ahead of Tyler Farrar (Garmin Slipstream).

    After the stage, the director of the organisation, Angelo Zomegnan said he was unhappy with the riders' attitude: I don't agree with the riders' attitude and I will tell them personally later this evening. I agreed with them to not take into account the time gaps. That was a simple question of common sense after what happened yesterday (Pedro Horrillo falling). The riders suddenly think a circuit they've taken a lot before now is dangerous. Should we cancel all races which are potentially dangerous? Should the Amstel Gold Race no longer be organised?

    The rest day

    Today was the first rest day for the riders of the Giro d'Italia 2009. During this rest day the Liquigas, Astana, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, Garmin Slipstream, ISD and Barloworld teams were submitted to a doping check by the UCI.

    It was also the day of comments on what has happened yesterday and on the disappointment of Angelo Zomegnan:
    Gilberto Simoni- Ivan Basso of the Liquigas team apologised by saying I think that after all what's happened yesterday, everyone has thought a lot about it. Tomorrow, the peloton will be ready to give a new show. What happened? Sometimes, the nerves take the lead and decisions taken during the race might not always be justified.
    We must recognise that when we spoke about the dangers with the organisers, they have listed to us and answered us. No one is really personally responsible for what has happened. We must apologise and that's all
    . Yesterday however he was still able to explain the reasons behind what happened: Several riders fell at the end of the first tour. The group was afraid. During the race it's difficult to take a decision. We shouldn't forget that all riders contributed to the show since the start
    - Gilberto Simoni (photo, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) did not completely agree with him: We can not accept everything just like that. Fourteen riders broke a wheel in the first round. We are at the Tour of Italy, not at Paris-Roubaix. We all agreed
    Michael Rogers- Michael Rogers (photo) explained which were the problems with the circuit of the Milano Show: cars parked on nthe road, people walking on the circuit, tramways ...
    - Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) explained: For me and for the other riders, the circuit was dangerous. Initially we asked for the time gaps not to be taken into account in the general ranking and that was accepted so I would like to thank the organisers for that. But the sprinters told us: "you got what we wanted, we didn't". So we stopped to explain the spectators whu the stage was going so slow; he also explained that a tribute to Pedro Horillo was planned but finally didn't take place: When we left again for the final rounds we decided to let the whole Rabobank team finish first. But in cycling it's always the same: one rider goes ahead anyway, another one wants to be ahead of him, et cetera. Not everyone keeps his word

    Without really naming him specifically, Angelo Zomegnan now seems to regret all the work he has done to get Lance Armstrong in the Tour of Italy 2009. Indeed, he thinks that the American rider initiated this movement: The circuit asked for a rider to be explosive, to get out of their seat, and some of them are not that young anymore and apparently didn't want to do that. It seems as if their legs are shorter but their tongue got even longer. Even when someone asked him whether he meant the Texan he said: I never pronounce the name of people who disappointed me, just like I never pronounce the name of women who turned me down.

    What is to come ...

    Tomorrow, the longest stage of this Giro will start in Cuneo, where the 16th stage Cuneo > Jausiers of the Tour de France 2008 also started on 22 July 2008. While this stage was planned to briefly visit France the route of this stage has been changed and will now quite directly go towards Pinerolo before doing a local circuit around this city. Finally this stage is a 262 kilometer long stage.

    After that stage the riders will have to do a mountain stage, a very selective and long individual time trial, two plain stages, a hilly stage and a final plain stage before the next rest day next Tuesday (the 26th).

    > Click here to see the complete route of the Giro d'Italia 2009

    The rankings

    The Tour of Italy 2009 pink jerseyThe general ranking
    No changes in the general ranking due to the decision not to take into account the time gaps at the end of this last stage:
    1/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 33h13'35"
    2/ Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) - +0'13"
    3/ Michael Rogers (Columbia High Road) - +0'44"
    4/ Levi Leipheimer (Astana) - +0'51"
    5/ Denis Menchov (Rabobank) - +0'58"

    Classification by points
    1/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 72 points
    2/ Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia High Road) - 65 points
    3/ Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 54 points
    4/ Tyler Farrar (Garmin Slipstream) - 41 points
    5/ Allan Davis (Quick Step) - 38 points

    Classification of the best climber
    1/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 25 points
    2/ Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) - 15 points
    3/ Denis Menchov (Rabobank) - 15 points
    4/ Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) - 13 points
    5/ Carlos Jose' Ochoa (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) - 11 points

    Classification of best young rider
    1/ Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) - 37h30'01"
    2/ Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step) - +2'44"
    3/ Jackson Rodriguez (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) - +4'05"
    4/ Francesco Masciarelli (Acqua e Sapone) - +5'13"
    5/ Christopher Froome (Barloworld) - +5'47"

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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Comments

Currently 4 comments!
  1. Superbe article ! Et jolies photos ;-)
    Vraiment un très joli résumé de cette première semaine.
    Vivement la suivante.

    | Martin | tuesday 19 May 2009 at 0:45:15

  2. Un magnifique reportage de la première semaine du Giro. Un grand merci

    | Derivière | tuesday 19 May 2009 at 20:16:21

  3. Merci à vous pour vos messages :-). Ça me met la pression pour écrire un bel article sur la deuxième semaine du Giro !! ;-)

    | Thomas Vergouwen | saturday 23 May 2009 at 13:28:20

  4. ben hevige fan van de raboploeg deels om de renners en hun uitslagen en deels omdat mijn broer verzorger is bij jullie ploeg namelijk luc.proficiat voor jullie behaalde resultaten en nog veel overwinningen toe gewenst.

    | mertens | tuesday 26 May 2009 at 23:41:15

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