By Graham Jones
and Barry Boyce

CyclingRevealed Historians



Giro d'Italia Champions
Living and Dead






CyclingRevealed's Giro '07 Perspective

Tappa 7, May 19th, Spoleto to Scarperia, 254 km

15 Turns

Apart from the Category 3 Vallco Croce a Mori climb (13km at 4.5%) with 55km still to go from the summit, this flat stage begs a sprinters drag race at the finish on the Mugello race track. The Mugello circuit is the regular test centre of Ferrari Formula 1, the most famous manufacturer of the MotoGP and the World Superbike.

Mugello F1 race track; 15 turns in 5kms

Originally the Mugello race track was of a different style to others of the period (first race 1914) as it was a road circuit. Today it boasts of being the safest track in the world and it is renowned for its 15 turns in 5kms to challenge racers who typically exceed 200km/h. The last time the Giro finished here was three decades ago when then World Champion Freddy Maertens won. Will Paolo Bettini (the current World Champion) follow in his wheel tracks today?

For the Giro riders it is a long way from Spoleto to the Mugello track. In fact it is the longest stage of this years Giro and thus highly attractive to ‘the long break artists'. Orchestrating the break, which went early, was the Tinkoff team who have featured in every long break thus far in the Giro. This time it was Elio Aggioano who was joined by Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval), Benat Albizuri Aransolo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Fabien Patanchon (Francaise des Jeux).

The maximum that the leaders pulled away from the peloton was 11 minutes. But under beautiful Tuscan sun the sprinters were not letting this rare sprint opportunity disappear up the road. As the Vallco Croce a Mori climb hove into view the Milram, Predictor-Lotto and Quick-Step teams started to rapidly eradicate the breaks advantage. Over the top of the climb Bettini's Quick-Step team were really hammering, perhaps in the hope of dropping Petacchi and McEwen. With 37kms remaining the final remnants of the break were sucked in and spit to the rear of the bunch as Quick-Steps tactics caused a huge split in the bunch. In no time Petacchi and many other sprinters were suddenly in a desperate chase as the gap to the front reached 40 seconds. Everything came back together after a furious effort with Quick-Step hoping that the chase took the sting out of Petacchi, McEwen, Hushovd and company.

The lead out train!! Motorcycles and F1 race cars normally feature at the Mugello track

On to the race track and Salvatore Comesso (Tinkoff of course!) with his distinctive ‘sawn off' jersey sleeves rocketed away and opened up a sizable gap. The bunch hurtled after him doing a great impression of Formula 1 motor racing. Going at about 70km/h Petacchi took it on the line from Hushovd, Bettini and Napolitano. With this second Giro stage win buttoned up, Petacchi looked like his old winning self and now seems to be back to his pre-Giro 06 crash dominance. The Mugello track was absolutely perfect for anyone claiming to be pure sprinter and for Petacchi what better way to re-establish his credentials as he swooped around those 15 turns.

Stage winner Alessandro Petacchi (R) ahead of Bettini (C) and Napoltano (L) ( Image © La Gazetta )

Tomorrow: the first half of the 200 km stage 8 starting from Barberino Di Mugello features hard riding through the Appennini Mountains. Then a fast 100 km on the flat plains of Emilia to Fiorano Modenese. Check back for our perspective on the day's action.


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