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90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 Live Coverage
 
By Staff
Date: 5/23/2007
90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 Live Coverage
 

90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 Live
From Fausto Coppi land to the outskirts of Turin, a comparatively easy leg of almost 200 km. And the last royal battle of sprinters before the Alps send many of them on their way back home. Follow the action live here.


Courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage eleven in the 90th Giro d'Italia, going from Serravalle Scrivia to Pinerolo over 198 kilometres, and running entirely on the soil of the Piedmont region (near the Alps in northwestern Italy, not the Appalachian mountains in the U.S. ...). The action get started in the Piedmontese area that provided cycling with Greats of the past like Fausto Coppi and Costante Girardengo, and after taking on a couple uphill sections in its central part, steps into the Cuneo - with the intermediate sprint at Saluzzo town - and Turin areas, on predominantly flat roads. It all should come down to a last clash of sprinters coming before the Alps, and before some of the fastest wheels in the gruppo pack their bags and move to their usual training roads to start their Tour de France build-up.

Wednesday's leg got underway a couple minutes past noon (local time) with 171 guys in the saddle, but Davide Rebellin no longer amongst them. The Corsa Rosa is over for the Gerolsteiner veteran from San Bonificio near Verona, his Giro 2007 bid was definitely less successful than his early Spring campaign. The peloton stayed together for the first twenty miles or so, then a first attack came, courtesy of France's Lilian Jegou (Française Des Jeux) and Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues Telecom). The former won the intermediate sprint at Cremolino, but such move didn't go too far, and the pairing was hauled back into the field a few minutes later.

As soon as they were brought back, a new breakaway attempt made in France was made by another duo: Carl Naibo (AG2R Prevoyance) and Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis). The former gave up soon, but the latter, not new to stealing the show like that, continued in his solo breakaway ways, and rapidly opened up a solid gap on the not chasing peloton, achieving a maximum advantage of over five minutes at the Bubbio time check after about 70 km. The gap basically stayed the same in the next portion of the stage.

David Arroyo of Caisse d'Epargne, now third on the G.C. had a few comments after the race yesterday, “I felt very good in the first kilometres. After that everything went in the right way for our team because we had Alberto Losada in the break. The riders of Liquigas and Lampre controlled the race, and for us that was a good thing. They climbed at a very high rhythm but I could follow them without any problem. I finished the stage in eleventh but I am now the third overall and as a consequence I am very happy with my day.

In the final climb, I felt very good in the first kilometres. In the last two, when the rhythm became suddenly much higher, I preferred to keep my own rhythm even if it was a high one because I wanted to lose as little time as possible. I came in the Giro to realize a good race and do well in the general classification but I never thought to be so well. Now I am the third in the general classification and it is like a dream. It is a fact that I will fight every day to defend that position; but all the same I have to be realistic because great riders like Di Luca, Simoni and Cunego won’t make it easy for me!”

But Mickeal Buffaz quickly regained his gap-making antics, and took his advantage up to seven mins and fifteen secs at Castino and to a good 08'14" at Borgomale (km. 94 / 104 km to go) as the Frenchman hit the first slopes of the Benevello ascent.

Damiano Cunego was happy with his performance, now in 13th at 4:29, spoke optimistically in the teams press report, "My team mates worked in a perfect way, I thank them;I covered the climb with a good pace: the gaps were short, this stage results are not definitive."

15:26 CEST - The ascent and the first chasing efforts from the field apparently took toll on the gap, that quickly dropped to abut five minutes with 100 kilometres to go. 28-year-old Buffaz, who attacked at Acqui Terme town, provided us with some unusual images of a man on a solo breakaway ... that wants to drop out of the race.

It happened a few minutes ago, when Buffaz started to pay the price of his previous efforts ... and stopped for a few minutes. He got off his bike and really looked like he wanted to stop. It took some time, but his team manager eventually persuaded him to get back in the saddle.

So Mickael Buffaz is still away solo. But his gap is down to some three minutes now. The drama above definitely had A LOT to do with today's awfully hot weather conditions, it's very hard to race in such heat. There's "mucho calor" and it's taking toll on the peloton too. The field is not riding hard either.

 The "official speakers" of the bunch keep themselves busy asking for "ghiaccioli" (popsicles) each time they pass through some town. Salvatore Commesso even raided a bar as he was desperately searching for some popsicles ... just to find out the guys there had run out of "ghiaccioli"! Yes, it's darn hot for the tifosi at the bars too!

1541 CEST - 85k to go for Mickeal Buffaz as the Frenchman, born in Switzerland, makes it to Alba town. Alba is also known as the "capital" city of the "tartufo", the white truffle. But truffles it's not exactly what the riders need today. Again, the peloton would welcome popsicles and ice creams in this hot, sultry afternoon. And they need three more things: water, water ... and water.

1547 CEST - Mickeal Buffaz now smiles at the cameras while drinking something from a can. He knows his move is doomed, but enjoys his day in the sun (REALLY in the sun) as long as he can. Still being in the saddle is good enough for the French rider, after the hard and dramatic times he went through a few minutes ago.

1556 GAP UPDATE - The finishing line at Pinerolo is still 75 kilometres away for solo leader Mickeal Buffaz, who benefited from the ... popsicle-seeking attitude of the field, such that his advantage ballooned again to over five minutes to 7:05. The average speed after four hours of racing in the Italian heat is an impressive(ly low) 31 km/h.

Buffaz continues his attack at the front with his hands dangling over the top of his bars as Lampre/Fondital and Liquigas lead the peloton in the not so vigorous chase. A few riders remove their helmets and pour water over their heads to cool down.

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16:13 CEST - gap up to 9:15 to Buffaz as Garzelli goes back to the cars for a mechanical adjustment.  Buffaz's advantage over those 170 tourists in the saddle is going up big style again: it was over nine minutes at the Bra town check (km. 125).

1615 CEST - The peloton is currently driven by the Lampre-Fondital guys. Danilo Napolitano's teammates finally started to put in something similar to a chase. And the peloton's speed dramatically rose to about 45 kph.

Andrea Noé stays comfortably inside the bunch. Before the stage start today he said that he is very proud of being the oldest ever Maglia Rosa wearer, and is truly satisfied with his early Giro accomplishments, his victory in the team TT included.  But he's also aware of the fact he'll not be keeping it for a long time. Not that it would be much of aproblem for the veteran from the Lombard town of Magenta. He knows his role here is that of Danilo Di Luca's top helper, and is ready to play such part in the best way possible.

Similarly to Noè, also Lampre's Marzio Bruseghin is pleasantly surprised at his current overall placing (he's second on GC), but his role doesn't change either. His true "victory" is to help Damiano Cunego conquer the jersey, and will do everything he can for that.

1623 CEST - 141 km, gap 6:15, The peloton finally stopped playing the tourists. Okay, they're not riding their legs off now either, but it looks like they're chasing for real.  And the combination of efforts from Lampre and Milram, as well as the Cofidis rider, Buffaz's misfortunes (the French had a flat) cut the gap down to "only" six minutes and fifteen seconds at km. 141. 5 Tinkoff riders take up a position behind the Lampre riders and the lone Milram leading the pace.

1636 CEST - 48 km to go, The peloton is about to hit the town of Savigliano in the Cunego province. The gap further grew to almost seven minutes. The Cofidis rider Mikael Buffaz has increased his effort to evade the grasp of the peloton.

1640 CEST - Unwelcomed (?) guests made their appearance on Giro roads: cloudy skies - both at the finishing line and on the peloton - and even some rain, now falling on the town of Saluzzo, which the race is about to hit. The margin got back back to its "downhill antics" in the meantime, as it was hovering around six minutes with fifty-five kilometres to go.

1648 CEST - The Italian TV is now showing images of Buffaz's "hard time" on the Benevello ascent. The Frenchman stopped and it was like he just couldn't go ahead any more. Something not so uncommon in cycling. But quite uncommon is the fact it happened to a man on a solo lead, and with a nine-minute advantage on the field. Thankfully his DS succeeded in persuading him to go on, and now Mickeal has definitely left his previous "defaillance" behind. And now Buffaz - who is about to enter Saluzzo town and win today's "Traguardo Garibaldi" prime - looks motivated to stay clear as long as possible.

1653 CEST - Mickael Buffaz got it to Saluzzo, and got a huge applause from the tifosi there. And a well-deserved one. He also got the win at the former Intergiro there. The pelton goes under the 40 km to go banner.  And this time might be the good one; we tend to think the gap is not getting back to his growing ways any more.

1657 CEST - 34 km to go, Four minutes fifteen seconds behind Buffaz, the peloton crossed the Traguardo Garibaldi line at Saluzzo. Two Bouygues Telecom and as many Cofidis guys battled it out over second place. 34k to go for Buffaz, while it starts raining over the finish line at Pinerolo. He's not going to make it to the finish anyway. The stage will be likely ending in a bunch sprint, and in a clash of three guys (Napolitano, Petacchi. McEwen) in particular. We'll see how the absence of Petacchi's last leadoutman Alberto Ongarato will affect AleJet's sprint. But also the weather might have some impact on the stage classification.

1705 CEST - Official results from the Traguardo Garibaldi at Saluzzo (38k to go). 1. Buffaz, 2. Crosbie at 04'15", 3. Masciarelli, 4. Drancourt.

The rain is falling big style at the finish now, and the gap is falling big style too: just three minutes for Buffaz with something more than 30 km. yet to be covered.

1708 CEST - The bunch under the 30 km to go banner. The gap is dropping exponentially, going down to just 02'39". Mickael Buffaz is losing about a dozen seconds per kilometre. And things will just go from bad to worse for him in the pancake flat section leading the stage to the finish.  But not matter how brave he can be, Mickael Buffaz will no doubt be brought back well before the last few kilometres. Milram, Lampre and Predictor/Lotto leads the chase. Tinkoff Credit Systems riders behind in sixth position, will they launch one of their last minute serial attacks in the near future?

1713 CEST - 25k to go for Mickeal Buffaz, who have been away for 125 kilometers. Chasers from Milram, Lampre and Lotto-Predictor mix up on the front of the field. The gap is down to a mere hundred seconds as he race is making it into the Turin province of Italy. Quickstep takes the lead and Buffaz doubles his effort to stay away as long as possible.

1718 CEST - His TV exposure will be over soon, but Mickael Buffaz continues his one-man show by smiling at the camera and saluting TV viewers. The strong wind blowing there are not playing into his hands either. But this is not much of a problem to him. He accomplished his mission after all. And stole the spotlight for a long time, also thanks to the "Should I stay or Should I go" show he put in on the Benenevello climb. Our man is now about to enter the town of Cavour in the Torino area. The merciless bunch is set to follow about a minute later.

1728 CEST - Besides the finishing line, it started raining over the peloton, currently going under the 15k to go banner. Buffaz out of the saddle, with the tightly packed peloton led by Lampre and Predictor/Lotto riders. After saluting basically everyone on planet earth (and someone on Mars too) Mickael Buffaz looks like he's longing for the peloton to catch him. But much of the field is not so hungry to bring him back too early just to geta flurry of late attackers.

Today's move put the Frenchman atop the Fuga Gilera standings (the "breakawayman" classification). Good for him indeed. But the next few minutes will be all about the Petaccchis, McEwens, Napolitanos and Hushovds of the field, as well as the guys tasked with getting them into the best position for the sprint.One good piece of news for them: it stopped raining at the line. One bad news for them: the sun wasn't back though, so the roads stays wet and dangerous.

And one strange news: no Tinkoffs on the move today!! So far at least. But don't be surprised to see a late move from Ignatiev, Petrov, Aggiano or someone else from "Team Piscina" (as our colleagues at the excellent cycling4all.com use to call them ...).

1736 CEST - MICKAEL BUFFAZ CAUGHT! Garzelli and some of the Aqua & Sapone lads lead the bunch with a Tinkoff group moving up through the peloton.

1740 CEST- 7 km to go, And many of the sprinters teammates, but also the likes GC leader Andrea Noè, are rushing towards the front of the pack; it's time for the leadout machines to start their pre-sprint job.  7k to go now.

1743 CEST - 5km to go, The Red Army of Acqua & Sapone drive the peloton charge with five kilometres left, while Robbie McEwen is already staying on AleJet's wheel. It's never too early for the Aussie to get stuck to the Italian. But now Robbie changes his tactics and follows two-three domestiques of his as they lead him all the way to the front places of the peloton.

1745 CEST - 4km to go, The Tinkoff move we were waiting for came at last. Its Mikhail Ignatiev that after a first failed attempt, managed to gain some 20-25 metres over the field. His move is going nowhere, but he would get his daily amount of tv exposure.  Much less than what the Tinkoff guys were used to, but still better than nothing.

 The Tinkoff guys was quickly swallowed by the field. and now its all about the "batlle of the elbows". And nitably the battle over Petacchis wheel between Napolitano and McEwen. Robbie's fellow Aussie Lancaster will be the last leadoutman for Alejet

Robbie's fellow Aussie Lancaster will be the last leadoutman for Alejet. Dean tries to anticpate the sprint. But he cant go far. So its a bunch sprint. With three protagonists: Petacchi. McEwen and Balducci

The three guys made it to the line together, and none of them raised his hands! Photofinish needed we think! As unfortunately there was another massive pileup over the line, with some 20 guys caught up in it.

OKAY ITS OFFICIAL NOW: ALESSANDRO PETACCHI WON THE STAGE

 Gabriele Balducci second, Robbie McEwen third, Thor Hushvod fourth.

And after the first 12-15 riders, there was a "festival" of cyclists slipping over the wet roads ... one Tinkoff rider fell first, and fell in front of Paolo Bettini, that couldn't avoid hitting the tarmac again. also Yaroslav Popovych fell, and so did one Euskaltel rider, who's the one bearing the worst consequences.

Yet another spectacular and dramatic massive fall in this Giro.Which Chechu Rubiera commented as follows: "I've never seen something like that before!" We can just be glad that the overwhelming majoritiy of the riders involved came out unhurt. The damage could have been much worse.

This dramatic event might have overshadowed a bit Alessandro Petacchi's 22nd Giro stage victory. But after getting an excellent leadout from Lancaster, Alejet put forth a superb sprint and took a deserved victory. Not an easy one, as he got stiff opposition from both Gabriele Balducci and Robbie McEwen. But the Italian prevailed in the end.

Andrea Noè also "slipped across the line" but retained the jersey. Liquigas adds another Maglia Rosa to this years collection at the 90th Giro as Andrea Noe accepts his second leaders jersey on the podium.

The final sprint was something in between cycling (Petacchi, McEwen, Balducci and the other top place finishers) and bobsleds (Bettini, Popovych, Noé and some other riders amongst whom Euskaltel's Gonzalez, who sustained the worst consequences and ended up into an ambulance).

Official Result Stage 11
1 PETACCHI Alessandro ITA MRM 5:46:59 0:00 20"
2 BALDUCCI Gabriele ITA ASA 5:46:59 0:00 12"
3 MC EWEN Robbie AUS PRL 5:46:59 0:00 8"

4 HUSHOVD Thor NOR C.A 5:46:59 0:00
5 NAPOLITANO Danilo ITA LAM 5:46:59 0:00
6 FURLAN Angelo ITA C.A 5:46:59 0:00
7 FERNANDEZ Koldo ESP EUS 5:46:59 0:00
8 USAU Aliaksandr BLR A2R 5:46:59 0:00
9 FORSTER Robert GER GST 5:46:59 0:00
10 GASPAROTTO Enrico ITA LIQ 5:46:59 0:00

Paolo Bettini thankfully avoided hitting his back again. He might well be at the start tomorrow. Robbie McEwen will not be in the saddle instead. While Alessandro Petacchi, besides thanking his teammates and confessed how glad he was that he didn't fall today (he got injured and had to drop out of the Giro on similarly wet roads the past year ...) confessed that he'll make a decision about weather to continue or not later today.

Petacchi collects his Maglia Ciclamino jersey where he has a commanding lead in the sprints competition. Danilo Diluca follows on the podium to slip into his Maglia Verde jersey as the leader in the Climbers competition.

Official General Classification top ten
1 NOE' Andrea ITA LIQ 51:53:08 0:00
2 BRUSEGHIN Marzio ITA LAM 51:54:16 1:08
3 ARROYO DURAN David ESP GCE 51:54:23 1:15

4 VILA ERRANDONEA Francisco J. ESP LAM 51:54:46 1:38
5 PETROV Evgeni RUS TCS 51:54:56 1:48
6 SELLA Emanuele ITA PAN 51:55:12 2:04
7 YAKOVLEV Serguei KAZ AST 51:55:14 2:06
8 DI LUCA Danilo ITA LIQ 51:56:06 2:58
9 PINOTTI Marco ITA TMO 51:56:19 3:11
10 RUBIERA VIGIL José Luis ESP DSC 51:56:30 3:22

Thanks for joining us for the stage 11 live coverage today. Coverage will start earlier tomorrow, watch for an update here. Have a great day and a good ride.

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