Giro d'Italia Stage 7-Three Countries in The Alps-De Luca Leads After 1st Week
The Giro d'Italia completed its first week today, after finishing Stage 7 today that included the cyclist passing through three countries from Austria, climbing 200 km into the Alps through Switzerland for another 100km to summit, then the descent into the Lombardy (Lombardia) region of Italy.
The start in Innsbruck, Austria at 600 meter elevation had the cyclist constantly climbing the Alps for the first 5 hours covering 200km, and then after reaching the 1,800 meter summit in Switzerland the Giro cyclist navigating in the rain and fog under snow-capped mountains headed down 36km passing grey lakes reflecting the grey skies on the way to the foothill town of Chiavenna in the Lombardy region of Italy. Lombardy is best known for its cosmopolitan city Milan and the beautiful lakes region like Como. Wines produced in Lombardy include DOCG sparkling white wine, which like Veneto's DOCG prosecco, is Italy's champagna.
The majestic Alps does play tricks with the weather, which today did not disappoint providing the cyclist dry conditions at the outset, with wet roads followed by rain as the cyclists climbed, before a little fog to go along with the rain at the summit, with the wet weather and terrible visibility continuing in Italy for the wild and crazy 36km descent full of hair pin turns and steep descents, which had the cyclist donning warm cloths while organizers decided to take the times for the overall standings with three kilometers to go because of the wet, slippery conditions.
With 30km the rain slowed when 38 year old and 6 time Giro d'Italia racer Alessandro Bertolini with Maglia Rosa descended hitting speeds up to 45 mph to break away from the pack by 16 seconds as the Giro returned to Italy's Lombardy region.
Lance Armstrong played it safe but did make an appearance at the front of the chase pack for a short time at the summit. At the final Armstrong dropped 18 seconds on Di Luca but remains in 25th place, 4:31 behind the leader. And it was not long after Bertolini led the pack into Italy that Brut and Hunter passed him for the final stretch of Stage 7 through the classic Lombary towns and villages at speeds up to 50 mph to Chiavenna.
5 racers sprinted to the finish, with about 43 seconds separating the leaders from the rest of the pack. As the cyclist approached the finish Bertolini jockeyed to the front a few times before the final spring with 1 km to go into town where thousands of people gathered in Chiavenna to cheer for the Giro d'Italia cyclist.
After close to six hours in the saddle it was Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen who powered away in the final straight to clinch the seventh stage of the 100th anniversary of the Giro d'Italia.
The Team Columbia rider Hagen, second on Thursday, came in ahead of South Africa's Robert Hunter and Russian Pavel Brutt and the two Italians Alessandro Bertolini and Davide Vigano.
The Giro d'Italia overall standings have LPR's Danilo Di Luca, the 2007 champion, keeping the leader's pink jersey at the end of the 244-km stage from Innsbruck in Austria to the Italian town of Chiavenna. Italian Di Luca was part of a large cluster of riders who were 40 seconds behind the leaders at this point. He remains five seconds ahead of Swede Thomas Lovkvist in the overall standings.
Saturday's eighth Giro d'Italia stage route is another long one of 209 km from Morbegno to Bergamo. Bergamo's people are cycling-crazy promising not only great cycling action tomorrow but also fantastic fan participation for Giro d'Italia Stage 8. See stage 8 route map below:
The Giro d'Italia 100th anniversary edition of the race finishes in Rome on May 31.
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