Monday, May 9, 2011

Giro d'Italia, Stage 2

Stage 2, Sunday 8th May 2011, ALBA – PARMA km 244

207 riders take off at 11:16 am from Alba for the longest stage of the Giro d’Italia.

The entire pink caravan, before the start, paid hommage to Pietro Ferrero. Pietro Ferrero, an avid cyclist who with his brother ran Ferrero, the family-owned producer of Nutella, Tic Tacs, Ferrero Rocher and other sweets sold worldwide, died last month while riding a bicycle in South Africa). He was 47. In his honor was a special "pedalata" with prizes awarded to:

In the first km of the race Sebastian Lang breaks clear and gains ground soon. The German Omega Pharma–Lotto rider has a 4’38” lead at km 16. With 225 km to go: 5’50”. In Montegrosso d’Asti, at km 25, 4’45”. Average speed after one hour: 36,300 kph. In Castello d’Annone (km 35) Lang’s advantage grows: 9’38”. km 41: 13’26”. Km 50: 18’. Average speed after two hours: 40.600 kph. In Tortona (km 82) the peloton chase the escapee with a 19’18” delay (max gap).

Who’s the leader: Sebastian Lang was born in Erfurt (Germany) on September 15, 1979. Professional since 2002, his characteristics are as a chronoman and strong rouleur. His top results: final classification at the 2003 Tour of Denmark and the German Time Trial Championship in 2006.

The HTCc-Highroad riders – the team of the pink jersey Marco Pinotti and Mark Cavendish – set the pace for the whole bunch. In Casteggio, at the feed zone, Lang’s lead is down to 13’50”. Average speed after three hours: 41,600 kph.

In Stradella (km 125) Sebastian Lang still maintains 15’ over the peloton. In this phase the Radioshack, HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervélo riders lead the chase.
With 100 km to go the gap between the break and the bunchgoes down to 12’30”. Upon entering Piacenza, 10’22”. Km 165: 7’35”. Km 176: 5’35”. Km 183: 4’45”. With 50 km to go Lang still maintains a 4’15” lead.

Special Sprint: Salsomaggiore Terme (PR)
Lang passes first through the sprint, anticipating Weylandt and Bakelandts by 3’10”. These latter lead the bunch. Average speed after five hours: 41.400 kph

King of the Mountain – 4th category: Tabiano Castello (PR) [m 315]
Lang wins this KOM conquering thus getting the first Giro d’Italia’s green jersey.

Agnoli and Salerno lead the bunch riding with a 1’20” delay. AS they peloton catches Lang, Giordani counterattacks immediately, followed by Bakelandts, Golas, Marzoli, Vorganov, Righi, Pineau and Rovny. The 8-men break group achieve approx. 30” over the bunch.

The peloton responds right away with the HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervélo riders who set the chasing pace. With 15 km to go, a 22” gap. In the leading group Vorganov crashes. At 10 km, seven riders lead by 9”. At 8 km: the bunch is together again to be ready for a massive sprint . Last km: the HTC-Highroad riders lead the sprint of Mark Cavendish, yet Petacchi anticipates him in the sprint.

Alessandro Petacchi, who moves over into Cavendish's line, crosses the finish line first. Third: Manuel Belletti. Time of the winner: 5h 45’ 40”, at an average speed of 42.352 kph.

Mark Cavendish, looking very unhappy, is given the pink jersey, Maglia Rosa Estathé, by Vittorio Adorni.
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - ISD) is the Maglia Rosso Passione Gruppo Saint-Gobain.
Bjorn Selander (Team Radioshack) is the Maglia Bianca Adecco.
Sebastian Lang (Omega Pharma - Lotto) is the Maglia Verde Banca Mediolanum.

Regarding Petacchi's moves in the sprint Cavendish said, "He swerved to the left, a tactic to block me out, a strategy which has cost me a disqualification in the past. It is not sportsmanlike, it's not regular."

Petacchi responded, "I think I behaved properly, I didn't realize that I swerved. If I did, it was involuntary but I don't think I have to apologize to anybody. I think I can count 27 victories at the Giro (5 were taken away due to disqualification following the salbutamol issue, editor's note) and as I proceed things get harder and harder. I'm 37 and I have many talented opponents. Mark? He'll recuperate in the next couple of days because he's great. If I were him, I would have enjoyed my pink jersey but maybe he's still young and impulsive."

See 'The Inner Ring" for a commentary about the rules of sprinting (here).

For stage 3 perhaps we will see a re-match. The 173 km stage, from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo, has a few small climbs.
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