Bettini takes first stage and Giro lead

Paolo Bettini takes advantage of a very late climb on the Giro's first road stage to upset Fassa Bor

Paolo Bettini takes advantage of a very late climb on the Giro's first road stage to upset Fassa Bor

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Brett Lancaster's tenure of the maglia rosa was always likely to be brief given that most of the riders in the Giro were within just a handful of seconds of him going into today's first road stage, and that turned out to be the case. Although the Fassa Bortolo train did all it could to set up Alessandro Petacchi for the stage win, none of the Fassa riders could respond when Paolo Bettini attacked on the 15% slopes of a 400-metre-long hill in the last kilometre.

As the Quick Step rider gave it all he had, Petacchi tried to respond, but it was Australian Robbie McEwen, who was quickest to counter Bettini's assault. But even the Queenslander couldn't get back on terms with Bettini, who claimed not only his first win of the season after several weeks of illness, but also his first ever win in the Giro. The success also carried Bettini into the maglia rosa at Lancaster's expense.

The first break of the Giro was made after 15km by a quartet of riders - Leonardo Scarselli (Colombia-Selle Italia), Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Stefano Zanini (Quick Step) and Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank) - and they gained an advantage of 11 minutes before the peloton began to respond. Veneberg was the last of the quartet to be picked up, just inside the 20k to go banner, and from there Fassa imposed an iron hand on any other attempted escapades until Bettini chose his moment.

Bettini's late move caused some obvious splits in the bunch behind, with Ivan Basso the main loser as he came in five seconds down on Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni, Paolo Savoldelli, Stefano Garzelli and Serhiy Honchar.

Monday's stage into Santa Maria del Cedro should prove more to the liking of the sprinters as the only categorised climb comes soon after the start in Catanzaro, and from there the going is basically flat.

Stage 1, Reggio Calabria-Tropea

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 208km in 5.09.32 (40.32kph)
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
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
7 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
8 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
10 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Davitamon-Lotto
11 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel
12 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita

14 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
15 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze
20 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC 0.09
46 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Panaria 0.14

Overall

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 5.10.35
2 McEwen 0.12
3 Petacchi 0.14
4 Savoldelli 0.22
5 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.25
6 Cunego
7 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step
8 Cooke
9 Di Luca
10 Garate 0.26
11 Garzelli 0.27

16 Simoni 0.29
17 Honchar
24 Lancaster 0.31
27 Basso 0.32

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