Thanks for following our coverage of stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia gheere on Eurosport-Yahoo! Join us tomorrow for more coverage of stage 9.
Sapri - Tropea
Follow the Giro d'Italia live with Eurosport. The Giro d'Italia race starts at 10:40 on 14 May 2011. Find Giro d'Italia results, calendar, standings and table. Get all the info on the teams to watch.
Keep up with top cyclists and big names in Cycling. Fans can read the latest Cycling news headlines, interviews, expert commentary and watch free replays. Don’t miss upcoming Cycling races. Make Eurosport your go-to source for sports online from Cycling to football, tennis, snooker and more. Enjoy live streaming of this season’s top sports competitions.
Petacchi brigns home the field in third. Well, we certainly didn't expect Alberto Contador to go on the attack there. Oscar Gatto takes the stage win, but raising just as many eyebrows will be the signal sent out by Alebrto Contador ahead of tomorrow's stage to Etna.
Oscar Gatto takes the stage win!!! Alberto Contador is second!
Contador's closing, but not fast enough...
Gatto looks to have this one sewn up...he has 50 metres on Contador!
Surely one of the other GC favourites must react to that Contador dig?!?
Contador has gone on the attack after Gatto!!!!
A big attack now from Oscar Gatto of Farnese Vini! Who'll give chase?
The peloton hit the bottom of the dip with just the 700 metre uphill section, followed by the 1300 flat metres to the finish ahead of them. The attacks are likely to come now...AND THE FIRST ONE COMES FROM A LOTTO RIDER, but he can't go clear!
Watch for a move from Sky's Pete Kennaugh after this big effort from his squad...
Sky take it up on the front of the pack now with 4km to go.
Garzelli has made it back to the rear of the peloton after a furious chase!
Garmin are setting a furious pace at the front of the pack now. Are they thinking that Le Mevel could do something here?
Garzelli is doing a brilliant job of getting back, though the commissars might take exception to how close he has been riding behind team cars.
After over 200 kilometres out front, Giordani and Selvaggi are caught!
Stefano Garzelli was one of those fallers, and the rest of his Acqua & Sapone squad have dropped back to help him back to the pack, but he's not going to make it by the finish.
A crash in the pack! Matt Wilson is down, as are a couple of others, including a Geox rider.
Selvaggi and Giordani will know it's over now, as the motorcycles and commissars' cars are coming past them. The gap is now down to just 30 seconds.
The jostling and shouldering for position has begun in earnest in the peloton now. All of the sprinters want to be at the front, but not so far in front that they have to put their nose into the wind.
Well, the gap is beginning to come down rapidly now. With just 15 kilometres left Quickstep have pulled it back to under 1'30.
The average race speed today has been 43.1km/h so far. As I mentioned earlier, it would have been considerably slower than that were it not for a rather kind tailwind.
Lampre have moved to the front now to join HTC and bring this pair back. We're going to have a stage finish contested in glorious sunshine. There were a few fears of rain when the sky clouded over a couple of hours ago, but the sky has cleared once again.
Full credit to Giordani and Selvaggi, who are continuing to work extremely well together. They go through the intermediate sprint with 25km to go. The sprint won't interest them, though - they have the stage win well and truly in their sights. 2'46" the latest split.
Have the likes of HTC and Quickstep misjudged this one? 3'37" with 30 kilometres to go. They certainly need to get a move on if they're to catch this pair.
This is the first time I can remember in this Giro that the Quickstep squad are really working together on the front. Perhaps Francesco Chicchi or Gerald Ciolek could do something on that uphill section near the finish?
Well, Giordani and Selvaggi are still comfortably ahead at the moment. The gap is 4'50" with under 40km to go.
It seemed for a while that tomorrow's stage to Mount Etna could be endangered by the amount of ash in the air due to volcanic activity, but it now looks like all will be able to go ahead as planned. The local airport is open, and the road has been cleaned. "We're keeping tabs on the situation, but for the moment, everything is still going ahead," said race organiser Angelo Zomegnan.
The gap is coming down slowly but surely. 6'10" now, with the Androni Giocatelli team on the front of the pack, closely followed by HTC.
I don't know about you, but I really can't quite see the logic of the organisers in making this stage 217 kilometres long. Given the lack of genuinely flat stages, it's clear the sprinters' teams are going to chase down pretty much any breakaway, so surely a shorter stage (something around the 170km mark) would be more sensible, especially given the overall difficulty and number of tortuous climbs of this year's race. Post your thoughts below!
As is always the case, Alberto Contador is nicely placed within the first 20 riders in the pack, surrounded by a phalanx of Saxo Bank jerseys. His Giro starts tomorrow in earnest.
The average speed of racing since the start of the stage has been a pretty impressive 43.7km/h, though this has been helped by a nice tailwind.
The peloton, and in particular the sprinters teams, seem content to leave this duo out front on a generous leash, perhaps mindful of closing it down too early and leaving themselves open to counter-attacks. 7'20" still the split.
Thanks to his victory yesterday, Bart De Clercq moved to the top of the mountains classification, and is now in the green jersey. He is one point ahead of the Swiss Martin Kohler, and will keep the jersey until tomorrow, as there's not one single hill of note on the parcours today.
Selvaggi and Giordani are continuing to work well out in front, but it's pretty much mission impossible against the peloton, who have now edged the gap down to 7'20".
It's a pretty much perfect day for cycling today. The riders had feared hot temperatures as they made their way south, but it's a very pleasant 22 degrees, with no more than a light breeze.
Lots more teams doing their share of work at the front of the pack now. BMC are there, along with the Rabobank squad of Maglia Rosa Pieter Weening.
8'20" the latest split.
The peloton is a little more string out along the road right now as the tempo continues to increase bit by bit.
The scenery on this eighth stage is truly stunning. The parcours really hugs the Tyrrhenian coastline all the way to the finish in Tropea. More spectacular scenery will be on view tomorrow, though of a very different nature.
An interesting quote to come from Bart De Clercq yesterday was that he only took up competitive cycling at the age of 22. "I did athletics, track athletics, until I was forced to stop through injury," he said. Given that he won't celebrate his 25th birthday until August, it's clear to see his potential in cycling is big.
Even five days after his death, tributes are still being made to Wouter Weylandt. In Sapri this morning a parade was organised with children wearing red, yellow and black t-shirts - the colours of the Belgian flag. "Ciao Wouter" was the writing on the t-shirts, and messages of support are also visible by the roadsides on every stage.
Giordani and Selvaggi enter the feeding zone at Paola.
And it continues to fall! 8'20" now the latest split.
The gap is beginning to edge its way down now under the work of the HTC squad, or are Giordani and Selvaggi beginning to tire? Either way, the lead is cut to 9'05".
It's still HTC who are at the head of the pack, keen to ensure they give Mark Cavendish the chance to claim his first stage win of this year's Giro, though the Manxman will need to ensure he doesn't lose position on that 700 metre uphill section that comes 2km from the finish.
The peloton is continuing to leave this two-man break on a leash of 10'20".
Following the UCI dopng index published yesterday by L'Equipe, a number of riders have decided to make a formal complaint towards the UCI, Belgian website Sporza was informed by Paul de Geyter, who is an agent to a number of riders. "We want the honour of these riders to be restored, and aredemanding appropriate damages," De Geyter commented.
The last time the Giro passed through Tropea, back in 2005, the stage winner was a certain Paolo Bettini. The Tuscam took off with his customary kick in the final stages, to improve what had been a difficult season for him until then. Things continued to get better for the Italian towards the end of the season, as he picked up another win at the Vuelta and then won the Tour of Lombardy.
Two pretenders to the Maglia Rosa gained valuable time bonuses yesterday. Michele Scarponi picked up 12 seconds for finishing second, while Roman Kreuziger finished third and picked up eight seconds. "I'm happy with my performance," the Czech said yesterday. "I was strong and the team is starting to work well. I think we can expect some good things from Astana at this Giro."
Rabobank's Pieter Weening is spending his third day in the Maglia Rosa, after putting in a fine effort to finish yesterday's stage with the lead group, and only a fall or a minor disaster will prevent him from preserving the jersey today too. Tomorrow's stage to Etna will be a very different affair, though the Dutchman is in optimistic mood: "If the favourites continue to look at eachother like they're doing now, then I might be able to keep it," he said.
If you missed yesterday's rather entertaining stage finish, in which Bart de Clercq bravely held off a motoring peloton by a hair's breadth, then do take a look at it
HTC and Quickstep have moved to the front of the peloton to keep the gap at a steady ten minutes. To be fair, with just two men up the road, they're able to take it fairly easy, though I'd be suprised if we don't see a few counter-attacks from the peloton as the kilometres tick down.
The Colombian Fabio Duarte has just stepped off his bike! His Giro is over.
The gap seems to have stabilised at around the 10'15" mark as we pass the picturesque Calabrian town of Scalea.
If, like me, you're fascinated by how professional teams go about ensuring their riders have everything they need for something as incredibly arduous as a grand tour, why not have a peep at our video here:
Leonardo Giordani is one of the veterans of the peloton. Now 34, the Italian began his career at Fassa Bortolo, though has since spent the majority of his career at smaller Italian team, like Naturino, Flaminia and De Nardi. He is still to record a victory as a professional.
Selvaggi and Giordani have built up their lead to a sizeable 10'15" over the pack now. They're all set for a pretty long day out front the way things look, which will please the sponsors.
Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil) tried his luck with an attack yesterday, but was unable to get clear of the peloton, and eventually missed the break. The 26-year-old has one victory to his name, which goes back to the Tour of Tuscany in 2007. He's now in his fifth team in five years since turning pro.
The stage may appear pre-destined as one for the sprinters, and indeed that'll probably be the case, but that's not to say the the "puncheurs" of the peloton won't have a say. The last three kilometres aren't as easy as they seem. There's a descent of around a kilometre first of all, before the road then kicks upwards slightly for around about 700 metres, at a gradient of 7.5%, though the remaining 1300 metres are then flat again.
Our two leaders are continuing to build up their advantage over the pack, which is now at 3'15".
Leonardo Giordani (Farnese Vini) and Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil) are the first two riders to attack, and it seems like the peloton is quite happy to let them go. Their advantage is increasing pretty rapidly.
The stage start was given at 11:42 this morning, with 194 riders taking to the start line. All eyes were firmly on Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish on the starter's podium during the signing-in ceremony this morning. The veteran Italian and young Manxman are the two big favourites for the stage win today.
Finally after slogging themselves up reasonably arduous climbs into stage finishes over the last few says, the fast men of the peloton move back into the limelight on this pancake-flat 217 kilometre stage slong the Tyrrhenian coast.
Welcome to Eurosport-Yahoo!'s live text coverage of stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia from Sapri to Tropea.