May 9, 2005 — Paolo Bettini (Quickstep) began making up for a disappointing season thus far with an awesome show of power in the first stage of the Giro yesterday, winning the stage and taking over the race leader’s pink jersey with a dramatic final-kilometre charge up the final steep incline to the finish.
The 208km stage from Reggio Calabria to Tropea was punctuated by an attack by Leonardo Scarselli (Selle Italia), who was joined by Veneberg (Rabobank), Zanini (Quick.Step) and Krauss (Gerolsteiner). The break gained close to five minutes until the pack — led by Fassa, Quickstep and Davitamon — began to close in. The effort was pursued solo by Veneberg, but after 175km he too was absorbed and the pack was set up for a bunch finish.
Except that Bettini has a final card to play, separating himself on the final climb (15% for 100 metres, just inside the final kilometer flag) to win the stage ahead of a charging Robbie McEwen (Davitamon). With the win, Bettini also secured the overall lead, 12 seconds ahead of McEwen. The other Australian star of the early race, Brett Lancaster (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), lost 14 seconds in the finish and gives up his leader’s jersey after a single day.
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step 5.09.32 (40.318 km/h)
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 0.03
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.04
4 Baden Cooke (Aus) Francaise Des Jeux
5 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team
7 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
8 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
10 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto
GC after Stage 1
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step 5.10.35
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 0.12
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.14
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team 0.22
5 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.25