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90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 15 Live Coverage Part 1
By Staff
Date: 5/27/2007
90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 15 Live Coverage Part 1

90th Giro d'Italia - Stage 15 Live Coverage
The "queen stage" over the Dolomites, with the uphill finish at Tre Cime di Lavaredo coming after a couple more mountain monsters. Today we'll really get to know who's hot and who's not.

courtesy Gazzetta Della Sport
Stage 15 Trento - Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Auranozo 184 km

Ladies and Gentlemen, here come the Dolomites!
Hello everyone, welcome to our live coverage of the 15th and crucial stage in the 90th Giro d'Italia. The Corsa Rosa finds back its best-known and most terrible mountains in the 184 kilometre effort from Trento to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, a helluva stage with a cumulative uphill effort of over 36 kilometres, and the mountain top finish coming at the end of a tough climb covering 7.2 km. (difference in elevation: 547 metres. Average Gradient: 7.6 %. Max. gradient: up to 18%).
But not before our men in the saddle meet the San Pellegrino Pass (distance: 11.8 km; difference in altitude: 753 metres, average gradient: 6.4%; max. gradient: 14%) at km. 93, the Giau (distance: 9.83 km; altitude difference: 922 metres; average gradient: 9.4%; e max. gradient: 14%), then down to the Cortina d’Ampezzo mountain resort, and on the final ascent to the line. The first time the race made it to Cime, on a cold June day back in 1967, the stage was ... nullified because of all riders had been pushed by fans along the route! Commentators for today's race are Fabio in Italy, Bart in the Netherlands and Andy in Great Britain.

But the peloton took redemption the following year, when the race returned on that mountain monster and a certain Belgian rider whose first name was Eddy stamped his authority also there, capturing the jersey that he was going to keep all the way to the final podium. Josè Manuel Fuente "El Tarangu" waved the Spanish flag on the Tre Cime 33 years ago, while Beat Breu made a hit for Switzerland in the 1981 edition, the same day eventual overall winner Battaglin stole the jersey from Silvano Contini's shoulders. But the last time one Giro d'Italia stage climbed such ascent it tasted of Colombian café, with the legendary Luis "Lucho" Herrera taking line honours.

1330 CEST - There are about twenty riders (none of them being a GC threat of course) on a breakaway, two of whom being Paolo Bettini and Totó Commesso, leading the bunch by about five minutes as they are on the San Pellegrino slopes, in not pleasant but not even horrible weather conditions. The guys attacked at km. 21 and opened up a maximum advantage of close to seven minutes as they reached Moena town at the foot of the San Pellegrino, then their margin started to drop.

The first 22 escapees were: Paolo Bettini (Ita), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), David Cañada Gracia (Spa), Marco Marzano (Ita), Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita), Lloyd Mondory (Fra), Pierre Drancourt (Fra), Fortunato Baliani (Ita), Hervé Duclos-Lasalle (Fra), Pietro Caucchioli (Ita), Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr), Aketza Peña (Spa), Lilian Jegou (Fra), Sven Krauss (Ger), Josep Jufre Pou (Spa), Stefano Zanini (Ita), Michael Rasmussen (Den), Christian Kness (Ger), Salvatore Commesso (Ita), Daniele Contrini (Ita), Pavel Brutt (Rus) and Aaron Olson (USA).

But Belohvosciks first, Mondory and Drancourt later, couldn't follow the pace set by the other front runners, such that the breakaway was down to nineteen men.

1345 CEST - The big news of the moment is that Saunier Duval are trying to make things hard for Danilo Di Luca since the opening climb, with Leonardo Piepoli and Riccardo Riccó launching their first attack halfway through the San Pellegrino. Pérez Cuapio and Colombia's Ivan Parra followed the guys, and the quartet have already put about forty seconds into the Gruppo Maglia Rosa.

1400 CEST - The breakaway's advantage dropped exponentially on the San Pellegrino. Nonetheless the 19 fugitives managed to make it to the summit first, with Baliani - a man on a green mission - taking the points from Josep Jufre and the Tinkoff trio of Commesso, Contrini and Pavel Brutt, as well as the rest of the leading group. The Parra/Piepoli/Pérez Cuapio/Riccó quartet followed just a minute three seconds down, thus making impressive gains on the main peloton that came in at 03'43" behind Baliani. Belohvosciks, Mondory and Drancourt were hauled back into the field by the way.

1411 CEST - Josep Jufre Pou (Spa - Predictor-Lotto) attacked the breakaway on the descent into Falcade, with Paolo Bettini (Quick Step-Innergetic) and fellow Italian Marco Marzano (Lampre-Fondital) trying to cover such move.

1418 CEST - The situation is very fluid as the descent split both the lead group and chasing peloton(s). Paolo Bettini and Marco Marzano are still amongst those on the front anyway. And Lilian Jegou, David Canada Gracia and Daniele Contrini are with them.

Leonardo Piepoli and Riccardo Riccó were trailing the leaders by a mere 56 seconds at the latest check, while the Gruppo Maglia Rosa with Di Luca, Simoni, Cunego, Bruseghin, Schleck, Grzelli etc. was a good four minutes adrift at Alleghe (km. 102).

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1430 CEST - Paolo Bettini, Marco Marzano, Lilian Jegou, David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Daniele Contrini were caught by all their previous breakaway companions plus two more guys (Riccó and Piepoli), so that we've got a 21-strong bunch on the front at the moment. Their margin on the main field grew to 04 minutes 27 seconds. But Française Des Jeux's Jegou and Gerolsteiner's Sven Krauss, as well as Hervé Duclos-Lassalle of Cofidis, are struggling to stay with the other escapees.

1430 CEST - Two fresh additions to the "Frontrunners Club": the Latin-American pairing of Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Col - Cofidis) and Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio (Mex - Panaria-Navigare) gained the breakaway, as much as the "red bird" duo of Leo Piepoli and Riccardo Riccó had done earlier.

Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz - Astana) and Rubens Bertogliati (Swi - Saunier Duval-Prodir) were the freshest addition to the list of Giro d'Italia DNFers, both of them pulling out of the race today.

1440 CEST - New Gap update: 19 riders on the lead, Aaron Olson still one of them, as the race went on the Santa Lucia climb. Sven Krauss got dropped and is 45" down on the nineteen leaders, while Lilian Jegou also gave up and is currently trailing them by 01'34". The Di Luca group, with the whole Liquigas team around the GC leader follows at 04'40".

Di Luca and his teammates should better put in some kind of chase soon, as Riccardo Riccó is making plenty of gains on the overall side of the matter; the man from Formigine near Modena was close to seven minutes down on Di Luca at the stage start, and he has more than halved the gap.

1446 CEST - It looks like the gruppo have finally started to chase, as Di Luca & Co. cut the gap down to about 04'20" by the most recent time check.

Samuel Sanchez won the final stage in the Volta a Catalunya, Vladimir Karpets is the final winner.

1500 CEST - David Canada (Saunier Duval) is setting the pace in the break. Ricco and Piepoli are ready to jump on the Giau in a few km. the gap of the break is down to 3.50 while Alicia's green lime Liquigas lads are  setting the pace. The Saunier Duval trio in the front group is pushing hard, towing the breakaway, but the chase set up by Liquigas is starting to bear some fruit. Still, many are waiting for a move from Gibo on the Giau.

David Canada will be sitting down and dropping himself off the back of the breakaway on that tough climb to come, but just once he'll be done with his extraordinary work.  Herve Duclos-Lasalle, Sven Krauss and Pavel Brutt are reeled in by the bunch.

1505 CEST - 48.6 km to go, At the moment Canada Gracia gives no signs of stopping his pace-setting job. But they just hit the ascent, so we'll see.

1506 CEST - Yes, Canada stopped working and left the tempo-setting pleasure to green-jerseyed Leo Piepoli as the first slopes of the Giau came. The first slopes are very, very tough by the way. Bileka, Commesso and Knees off the back as well. it's not Commesso but another Tinkoff rider leading now. The Giro meets the Giau for the fourth time. Fuente came first across the top in 1973, Cardenas in 1989 and Cornier a couple years later.

1507 CEST - Liquigas is doing fine... the Di Luca group (with some 60 riders now) gained over a minute on the breakaway in the section leading to the foot of the Giau climb. The going got vertical for them too.

1509 CEST - The tempo set by Leo Piepoli thinned the front group down to ten men. The Flying Trullo talks to his teammate Riccó, then keeps cranking up the pace again.  With his much younger teammate still following his wheels. Both guys look on top form today. Josep Jufre (Predictor-Lotto) and Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) off the back in the break.  No attacks in the Gruppo Maglia Rosa, but more and more riders are getting dropped. Some 35-40 guys stay with Di Luca.

One of them is Paolo Savoldelli, once more working as a domestique for Eddy Mazzoleni's.  Il Falco is forcing the pace back in the group. Is he setting things up for a move from Mazzoleni? Savolldelli is setting the pace as Bruseghin and Vila dropping off the back just as some others. Still about 15 riders left in that gruppo Di Luca.

In the front group, Piepoli (is giving it everything on the Giau) and Riccó never give up the top two spots, while Perez Cuapio and Rasmussen come next. Baliani is struggling instead. Garzelli off the back too. 10 riders in the chasing group Di Luca... Three less for Danilo as Spezialetti, Wegelius, Nibali were dropped too. But Cunego is left without teammates around ... and Di Luca too!

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1518 CEST Danilo keeps control of the situation (now) however, as he follows the tempo-riding pair of Astana. Arroyo, Gibo and Schleck come next. Sella and Pozzovivo in the gruppo Di Luca too. Both guys with the Panaria outfit. Perez Cuapio, Parra, Ricco and Piepoli are left in front; Rasmussen drops.

Baliani has lost contact to the front group also, as the Giau summit is five kilometres away.  Petrov still hanging in there with Di Luca too.Bileka is caught by the Di Luca group. Riccó replaced Piepoli on the front.  Riccó replaced Piepoli on the front. Parra and Perez Cupio do not lose his wheel (and Piepoli's either) anyway. The leading quartet hold on to a three minute ten second margin on the Di Luca group at the most recent check.

1523 CEST - Acqua & Sapone's Samoilau is trying to help Garzelli limit his losses to the Di Luca group, but it's no easy task at all. The man may be paying for yesterday's stage-winning efforts in such steep (gradient over 10%) portion of the Giau. Bettini, Olson and Contrini were also swallowed up by the Di Luca/Simoni/Cunego/Savoldelli/Mazzoleni bunch. 

It's quite uncommon to see a two-time Giro winner play the part of perfect domestique like that, but Paolo Savoldelli is just doing the right thing in helping his teammate Mazzoleni. Especially after Bruseghin and Patxi Vila lost contact; and they are about to lose some positions on GC at the end of the stage. Bruseghin, Pellizotti and Vila are not far behind as they can see the Mavic car behind the gruppo Maglia Rosa.

1525 CEST - 3.5 km to the KOM of the Giau, One more Saunier is displaying a very fighting attitude, but their efforts could prove pointless as long as Danilo Di Luca keeps control of the situation and Simoni makes no attempt to drop him. Danilo is following the wheels of the Astana duo of Savoldelli and Mazzoleni without any problem. Or so it seems at least ... 

Hmmm wait, Di Luca slipped down to ninth place in his group. But maybe he did it on purpose, just to move behind Simoni, so that an attack from Gibo wouldn't take him by surprise! Cuapio is joking with the devil. He takes his long fork or trident and waved it at el Diablo; and gave it back to him; he is joking while Ricco and Piepoli are setting the pace   

1530 CEST - Another (slightly) bad news for Di Luca: the lead quartet got back to their time-gaining antics, as the gap rises again to 03'28" at the latest check. The snowcapped peaks of the Dolomites rise in the distance over the riders shoulders.

Attack of Di Luca! Schleck is following, all of the above at 2.7 km from the top of the climb. Cunego, Mazzoleni and Simoni are following too. Di Luca's move resulted in his group being down to five guys only. And Paolo Savodelli isn't one of them, looks like a panic attack. The same holder of the overall leader's mantle replaced the Falcon as pace-setter in his group.

1535 CEST - Di Luca prolly thinks "if I go myself than I'm not off the back at the top of the Giau as the others go on".  Riccó and Piepoli ride neck-to-neck in the last thousand metres of the Giau mountain monster. The finishing line is under 40 kilometres away. Parra struggles to stay with the, Perez Cuapio's legs look much better. But Di Luca's move also helped him and other four guys cut the gap down to 02'45" to the front quartet.

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1536 CEST - Di Luca might have aimed at putting some time into Savoldelli in order to avoid a dangerous move from the Falcon on the descent. A move Simoni would have followed easier while Danilo, who's a worse descender than Gibo, could have had a hard time staying with them. But that's no longer the case anyway.

1537 CEST - Riccó (class of 1983) and Piepoli (class of 1971) are about to crest. Perez Cuapio (easily) and Parra (not easily at all) still follows them. Piepoli takes the KOM points on the Giau and is the new leader in the KOM ranking. Ivan Parra had some chain problems at the start of the descent; everything has been fixed, but still he's a poor descender, and expected to lose contact to the others while coming down the Giau.

1540 CEST - 300m to the summit,  for the chasing quintet with Di Luca still driving them. 50m ... 10 ... here they are. The gap is down to 2.25. And that's good news for the Liquigas team (as well as GC) leader. Savoldelli came in next at 50" from the Di Luca group. Petrov and Pozzovivo are with him.

1543 CEST - As predictable - and predicted - Ivan Parra the Colombian has lost some time to Riccó, Piepoli and Perez Cuapio in the early part of the descent. Perez is no Savoldelli, okay, but he improved his downhill skills a lot lately.

1546 CEST - Perez Cuapio is not Savoldelli we said ... and not even Riccó or Piepoli: the Mexican was dropped by the Red Bird duo too. Stefano Garzelli reportedly bonked big style, as his gap to the Gruppo Maglia Rosa growing exponentially to five (f-i-v-e-) minutes!

A belated Happy Birthday to "Young Lens" Daily Peloton photographer Deore Lily Atalanta Trevisanut who celebrated her 20th birthday yesterday. BUON COMPLEANNO!

1549 CEST - 30 km to go, Marzio Bruseghin was two minutes down on Di Luca, Gibo, Cunego, Schleck and Mazzoleni at the Giau summit instead, with Il Falco in between. Savoldelli is back in the gruppo Di Luca; what an awesome descent by Il Falco. He gained 50 seconds in the space of six kilometres only! Spain's Jufre and Arroyo have also regained the wheels of the Di Luca group, now up to eight men.

Di Luca, Cunego, Mazzoleni - that drove the bunch for most of the descent- Schleck and Simoni made some significant losses also to the frontrunners, as the gap to Riccó and Piepoli rose to three minutes as the lead duo is about to make it to Cortina town. Sorry, lead TRIO. Perez re-joined the Saunier pair! The finish is 23.4 kilometres away for them, and 15 of them are climbing ones.

Di Luca took a smart attitude on the downhill section, not taking any unnecessary risks. The descent is over for his eight-strong group too. Savoldelli is towing the group, with Mazzoleni following and the others some 15-20 metres behind.

The Live coverage of stage 15 continues: Part 2
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