McEwen Wins Stage 2 of Giro, Takes Maglia Rosa
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon) has taken the maglia rosa in the Giro d?Italia. He did so by winning a bunch sprint to take Stage 1, a 182-km, pancake-flat run from Catanzaro Lido to Santa Maria del Cedro, in 4:34:47. Isaac Galvez Lopez (Illes Balears) finished second, and Robert Forster (Gerolsteiner) took third.
During the first hour of racing, the pace was pedestrian, with the riders covering only 30 km. At 34 km, however, the action began. Philippe Schnyder (Selle Italia), Freddy Bichot (La Francaise des Jeux), Roy Sentjens (Rabobank), and Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile) sallied off of the front, and Moreno Di Biase (Selle Italia) joined them a few km later. At 71 km, the sextet led the field by 5:35. Fassa Bortolo, Davitamon, Cofidis, and Domina Vacanze then pegged the lead.
After the first two hours of racing, the bunch rode harder. At 111 km, the break led the bunch by 3:00. Eight km later, the lead was down to 2:30. At 135 km, Alberto Lopez de Munain (Euskaltel) touched wheels with another rider and crashed against a barrier. The Spaniard abandoned with facial cuts, broken ribs, and a broken collarbone.
With 22 km remaining, the bunch reeled in the break. Quick Step took over at the front. and CSC took over from them. With three km left, Fassa Bortolo assumed command to set up Alessandro Petacchi. For a change, however, the Italian squad was challenged. La Francaise des Jeux brought Baden Cooke to the front, while Credit Agricole did the honors for Jaan Kirsipuu, who had McEwen on his wheel. Marco Velo and Petacchi (both from Fassa Bortolo) got boxed in, and Kirsipuu took the lead with 250 m left. With 150 m remaining, McEwen came around the Estonian and threw his bike to edge Galvez Lopez.
Petacchi, who finished fourth, cried foul. He accused Kirsipuu and McEwen of collusion. ?In the finale, I was aware of the agreement between Kirsipuu and McEwen to try to put me in difficulty, but what annoyed me the most was the way in which they moved toward the wheels of [Alberto] Ongarato and Velo [both from Fassa Bortolo],? Petacchi said. ? If we end up on the ground at that speed, we do ourselves a lot of damage.?
McEwen, who is sprinting?s equivalent of a street fighter, dismissed Petacchi?s accusation. ?Let?s put it this way,? the Australian said. ?This is not athletics. We are not running in lanes. There is no conspiracy. There was absolutely, positively, no talk of Kirsipuu taking someone out of the way. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and benefited from their clash. You can?t push Jaan Kirsipuu out of the way when you feel like it. He?s like a block of cement. Kirsipuu just kept going, and I stayed in his slipstream, which is pretty big. He?s a big, solid guy?.If you let the Fassa train stay in front until Petacchi moves at 200 m to go, 9.5 times out of 10 he will win.?
Do not weep for Petacchi. He will win his share of stages. In the face of challenges from other teams, however, he will need to work harder.
In the overall, McEwen leads Bettini by 0:08 and Petacchi by 0:22. Stage 3 will change matters. The hilly, 210-km stage from Diamante to Giffoni Valle Piana will feature a climb six km from the finish that should break up the field. Who will win? Bettini? Damiano Cunego (Saeco)? Ivan Basso (CSC)? Check in at Roadcycling.com and find out!