May 13, 2005 – Following yesterday’s seizing of the pink jersey by Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) ahead of an in-form but out-of-luck Paolo Bettini (Quickstep), the early part of the Giro d’Italia has become what the early stages of tours often are: a sprinters’ soap opera, where the muscle-bound haggle over intermediate sprints and time bonuses to step into the leader’s jersey, at least for a few days. Today’s short 153km sixth stage, from Viterbo to Marina Di Grosseto, was no exception.
After Bettini had won the Intergiro bonus sprint, giving him a six-second bonus and making him race leader on the road, Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Saunier Duval) attacked and built a quick lead. He was joined by Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Thierry Marichal (Gerolsteiner) and Sascha Urweider (Phonak). Never getting out of sight of the pack, they were eventually reeled in with just over 20km remaining.
With just under 50km to go, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Discovery) crashed lightly with Ruben Lobato Elvira (Saunier). After 20km of chasing, he was able to rejoin the peloton.
Francaise des Jeux led onto the finishing circuit, hoping to steer sprinter Baden Cooke to the finish and make up for crashed hopes in the fourth stage. But activity at the front was high, with Fassa, Liquigas and Telekom all very active in trying to seize control of the front. Then, mayhem: the Fassa train, trying to avenge Bruseghin’s close loss yesterday, overshot an ultra-fast, out-of-the-saddle turn and derailed, hitting the barrier. Out of the confusion, Henk Vogels (Davitamon) decided to attempt a last-kilometre solo effort. For a while his effort seemed convincing as the teams stared each down. Seizing the bull by the horns, Davitamon charged forward with Robbie McEwen in tow and with a tremendous final effort, the Australian took the stage win ahead of Jaan Kirsipuu (CA).
Neither Di Luca nor Bettini made a play for the final sprint time bonus, making Bettini’s measly Intergiro sprint bonus — 6 seconds — the difference between pink and plain.
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon – Lotto 3.37.17
2 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) CrÃ©dit Agricole
3 Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel
4 Isaac Galvez Lopez (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne
5 Henk Vogels (Aus) Davitamon – Lotto
6 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis – Le CrÃ©dit par TÃ©lÃ©phone
7 Thomas Ziegler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
8 Paride Grillo (Ita) Ceramica Panaria
9 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile
GC after Stage 6
1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step 29.58.09
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.03
3 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 0.31
4 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.34
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 0.36