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GIRO ’05 Stage 4: Bettini Closes Door On Cooke

The road between Giffoni Valle Piana and Frisinone is 197 kilometers and flat…. very flat, with a tricky finish, so another day for the sprinters and possibly another stage finish punch up!

Today’s sprint-fest was nearly ruined by two riders, Cedric Vasseur of Cofidis and Marco Pinotti of Saunier Duval, who went away to relieve the boredom of yet another flat Italian day. Back in the peloton it was like a day off, a lot of chat, a bit of falling off, but not much else. Most of the chat is about Alessandro Petacchi not getting it all his own way, well it’s good to see, but there isn’t much else to talk about.

With 40 kilometers to go the two only had 1 minute 30 seconds lead, and it looked like their time was up out front. The fight had gone out of their ride and they were just rolling along waiting for the inevitable. After nearly 5 hours racing it was Davitamon-Lotto, Fassa Bortolo and CSC doing the riding on the front. Trent Wilson (Selle Italia) jumped past the two as they were being caught at about 30 kilometers to go, this was a bit of a suicide bid, and was fairly pointless, except it shows his jersey on the TV. FdeJ put their whole team on the front for Baden Cooke and to stretch things out, 15 kilometers to go and Phonak had five men out the back with a problem, but not for long until they all crashed again and it was split to pieces.

Fassa Bortolo’s silver train were back to leading out the sprint with 9 kilometers to the finish and the bunch was in two big groups as things were not getting together after the crash. De Luca, McEwan, Bettini and Petacchi had all made it to the front group. Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel) attacked on the little rise on the run in to be chased by Bettini, and was pulled back. Many little attacks went off the front as there was no sprinter’s train and it was much more exciting for the viewers.

A group of five got away in the last kilometers and Bettini jumped and put Cooke into the barriers at 300 meters to the line, Cooke fell and Bettini took the stage. A very unhappy Cooke walked across the line ignoring Bettini’s condolences. There could be a complaint, but this is Italy and Bettini is Italian and in the Pink jersey, so… well surprise, surprise they throw Bettini down to fourth.

Rider Comments – Compiled by Michele Tomasi
• Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Innergetic): “I’m very dissapointed by the decision of the jury. Everybody in the peloton knows that I’m one of the guys who breaks more. As you could see, I did move in the left side, because that’s the way they taught me. I mean, you must close one side, and not keep both right and left opened to any other rider. But I did it slowly, and as you can see, I didn’t check behind. I was just controlling the gear, cause I was putting down, gear after gear, and I got also a little trouble that made jump my rear wheel as you can see very well from the tv. And then, the first thing I did, was to go and check with Baden, cause it’s never nice when a mate crashes”.

• Luca Mazzanti (Panaria-Navigare): “For me it’s a magic year, but I’m just half happy, cause Paolo is a friend, and a team mate in the national team. Today the jury decided it, I didn’t do anything, although I think I merit it for half because I was there. I was keeping my head down and just saw a little contact between those two guys, but I don’t wanna say if Bettini closed too much Cooke or not. Something there must be or the jury wouldn’t have decide in that way”.

• Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo): “It was a flat stage but the finale was hard, at least for me. It was a climb for 53, but it was very fast. I tried to be with the first and so I was together with McEwen and Zabel, but if Bettini won it means it was hard. The first stages are always nervous. The routes are difficult. I’m fine, finer than last year, althought I still didn’t win. Giro is still long and I wait for the next finish at the sprint”.

• Michele Scarponi (Liberty Seguros): “The stage was much more nervous than was expected because the end was very complicated. The team knew since the morning what could happen and my companions have been during the whole race closely together for me. A fall on the last 30 kilometres cut the group, but ahead Caruso, Hruska and me were going. From there I was ahead because the dowhill was very dangerous. I had to be ahead in order that the same thing was not happening to myself as in Tropea. At the sprint I am not very good, but I have been lucky, because almost I fall with Cooke. I have seen him, but did not see what happened, because I saw only that I had ahead, Mazzanti and Cioni. Then I have seen the arrival and, though Bettini is my friend, the disqualification is just. Especially, this gives me confidence because I have had very good legs. The result is not so important, they are only a few seconds. The Giro begins hereinafter. Tomorrow’s stage is very important, because only there will come a group of 30 riders. For me, important things will come with Florencia’s time trial, next Sunday, without forgetting that every day there can be a surprise”.

Stage 4 Results.

1st. L.Mazzanti (PAN) in 5:10:09.
2nd. D.Cioni (LIQ) same time.
3rd. M.Scarponi (LIB) same time.
4th. P.Bettini (QUI) same time.
5th. M.Celestino (DOM) at 2 secs.
6th. F.Pozzato (QUI) at 4 secs.
7th. E.Zabel (T-MOB) same time
8th. D.Di Luca (LIQ) same time

Overall after Stage 4:

1st.P.Bettini (QUI) 20:19:44
2nd. D.Di Luca (LIQ)at 13 secs.
3rd. L.Mazzanti (PAN)at 16 secs.
4th. D.Cioni (LIQ) at 19 secs.
5th. D.Cunego (LAM)at 21 secs.
6th. S.Garzelli (LIQ)at 27 secs.
7th. M.Scarponi (LIB)at 32 secs.
8th. M.Alberto Ardila Cano (DAV)at 36 secs.

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