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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 Live Coverage
 
By Staff
Date: 5/21/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 Live Coverage
 

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 Live Coverage
Follow the riders as they go up and down the Apennines in what used to be Marco Pantani's "training field", and in what could well be a dangerous stage on the GC side of things.


photo c. Gazetta Della Sport

Stage 11 Urbania - Cesena 199 km

"There is no flat meter today" (Gabriele Bosisio).

Welcome to our live coverage of stage eleven in the 91st Tour of Italy, and best wishes to all Chelsea fans and Manchester United fans out there. Hope we can enjoy some great football in the Champions League final tonight, and may the best team win. But in the meantime, please enjoy a day of great cycling in what is meant to be a potentially tricky journey of 200 kilometres over the Apennines from Urbania - in the Marche region - to Cesena (Romagna area), with a passage through the territory of tiny San Marino, the "most ancient republic of the planet", surrounded by Italian Territory and able to gain respect even from Abraham Lincoln, singing the praises of this small but proud nation and even accepting its honorary citizenship back in the 1860s.

Those in the saddle today are less likely to sing the praises of the San Marino ascent (av. gradient 6.8%), one of the four categorized thingies to be climbed today, while struggling on its slopes. The three other difficulties go under the following names: Monte Carpegna (gradient: 9.9 percent), Perticara (six percent), and the mighty Sorrivoli, a "wall" (Muur, if you like the Flemish version) whose gradients go up to 18 percent. Peschici stage winner Bosisio definitely made a point, didn't he?

The roads that forged Marco Pantani's climbing skills - today's stage is a also a tribute to Il Pirata as the race goes through his "home soil" - might well have an impact on the leaderboard. The same Maglia Rosa holder, Giovanni Visconti, sounded well aware of that this morning, and besides talking of his excellent "race of the truth" into Pesaro ("My performance yesterday was no surprise to me. I wanted to limit my losses and I knew I could. My good performances against the clock make me more determined to work on improving my ITT abilities") said that "yes, the jersey is firmly on my shoulders, but nonetheless I'd better be careful, for in courses like today's it wouldn't take much for a rider to lose it".

Riccardo Riccò, as usual not wasting any opportunity to make his "trademark" bold statements, said he could try and attack Alberto Contador also today. Marzio Bruseghin predicted a (comparatively) small bunch sprint ... unless some significant overall contender has a hard time. In that case, anything could happen. Watch out for Gibo Simoni, that built his overall victory in the Giro 2003 with a triumphal solo ride in a similar stage over the Appennines, without waiting for the Alps and Dolomites to make the difference. Don't rule out a move from Danilo Di Luca either: the proud reigning champion of this contest might well be longing for redemption after yesterday's far from satisfying ITT result.


Monte Carpegna

1330 CEST The action got started few minutes before noon local time (CEST). There were several early attacks, but the high tempo kept by the peloton stopped them from succeeding. Euskaltel finally showed off a little bit as they were driving the pack in the very first portion of the stage, from Urbania into Urbino. AG2R also rushed to the front in order to dictate the pace. Tinkoff's Serguei Klimov (Rus) and Lampre's youngster Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) made the news as they fell at km. 26. The Russian was immediately back in the saddle, the Italian suffered the worst consequences and unfortunately had to drop out of the race.

Three kilometres later it was Joaquín Rodríguez Oliver (Caisse d'Epargne) who made the headlines in a more pleasant way: the Catalan put in a solo attack and took close to twenty seconds out of the gruppo. David Millar was equally active in this early portion of the stage, while Paolo Bettini was busy having some bike problems.

Neither the Spaniard nor the Brit could go too far however. A more serious and solid attack was launched at km. 42 by Rodriguez's teammate/fellow countryman Pablo Lastras García (Spa - Caisse d'Epargne) plus Laurent Mangel (Fra - Ag2r-La Mondiale), Italians Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group-Navigare) and Alessandro Bertolini (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) as well as one of the very few Finns in the bunch, Jussi Veikkanen of Française des Jeux. The five-strong breakaway group opened up a significant advantage of 02'30" in the space of half a dozen kilometres. But the gap ballooned to 05 minutes, 25 seconds at the km. 50 check, and no less than 07'10" by km. 54.

1350 CEST The most recent "gap update" saw Pablo Lastras García, Laurent Mangel, Tiziano Dall'Antonia, Alessandro Bertolini and Jussi Veikkanen lead the NON-chasing peloton by 08'10" at km. 61, as the five escapees make it onto the soil of the San Marino Republic.

1355 CEST The Fab Five up front are just three kilometres from the San Marino KOM sprint.

1405 CEST Alessandro Bertolini (Ita - Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) took top points at the San Marino climb summit, with Pablo Lastras García (Spa - Caisse d'Epargne) and Laurent Mangel (Fra - Ag2r-La Mondiale) in the remaining top three places. The peloton came in at 07'38". The gap has apparently started its "decline".

1415 CEST Decline we said? hmmm ... maybe we spoke too early. The advantage of Pablo Lastras García, Laurent Mangel, Tiziano Dall'Antonia, Alessandro Bertolini and Jussi Veikkanen found back its growing ways, and amounted to 08 minutes and 15 seconds with 125k to go.

1440 CEST The five escapees took their lead up to new heights: 09 minutes, 10 seconds as they are on the way to the feeding zone and Monte. Ten more seconds (09'20") at Monte Cerignone (km. 90).

Prior to the stage start, Paolo Bettini predicted a significant breakaway would go today, and said he would do his best to be part of it. Unfortunately this time he didn't keep his promises. Paolo Savoldelli also said that this stage may have some big surprises on store.

1450 CEST The first surprises GC-wise might come on the difficult Monte Carpegna, that Pablo Lastras García (Spa), Laurent Mangel (Fra), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita), Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) and Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) are climbing already.

Franco Pellizotti could be one of those riders giving it a go today: the former overall leader was admittedly a bit disappointed with his ITT performance, but is not giving up on his Maglia Rosa bid.

 Legendary soothsayer Gigi Sgarbozza just said the breakaway has got some chances to make it to the line, like 40 percent or so. But added that, in case the escapees were brought back, Paolo Savoldelli could do something good on today's descents.

1506 CEST - Bad news for all Barloworld fans came trough: Juan Mauricio Soler lost his battle against the wrist fracture that marred him since the Sicilian stages. The Colombian climber, polka-dot jersey winner at the last TdF, gave up at km. 95 and pulled out of the race.

1511 CEST - Di Luca's Team LPR-Ballan picked up the pace as the peloton hit Monte Carpegna. The gap to the five leaders went down to eight minutes and 45 seconds.

Well, at least Gigi "cursed" Bruseghin positively yesterday: "Bruseghin? Yes, he won at Oropa, but CANNOT win today. Circumstances are different"   

Andreas Kloeden is strictly marking Di Luca as the peloton stretches out. Some attack could come soon. But watch out for Riccardo Riccò. Il Cobra knows well these roads, he often trains here. The high pace is breaking the peloton apart, with just 7-8 riders now on the front of the field. Di Luca drives them. Van den broeck, Riccò, Kloeden, Simoni, Contador are with him.

Nibali and Pellizotti are slightly behind. Paolo Savoldelli is trying to make his way back into what we could call "first chase group". And the rain succeeded in its bid to make its way back to the race, sigh. Di Luca slowed his pace a little, resulting in more riders joining the "Danilo group", Riccò's number one helper Leonardo Piepoli included. Di Luca has got just one teammate beisde him: Paolo Savoldelli.

Vincenzo Nibali and Franco Pellizotti also made contact with the "Gruppo Danilo". The average speed after three hours of racing was a decent 34.3 kph

1524 CEST - More riders, joined Di Luca and the others on a "gentle" piece of the ascent, taking this group up to over 20 guys. Amongst them were Denis Menchov and notably LPR's Alessandro Spezialetti, who immediately went to the front and got back to his pace-lifting duties. 

Such efforts helped chasers gain some three minutes on the five escapees: Pablo Lastras García (Spa - Caisse d'Epargne), Laurent Mangel (Fra - Ag2r-La Mondiale), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita - CSF Group-Navigare), Alessandro Bertolini (Ita - Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) and Jussi Veikkanen (Fin - Française des Jeux).

The breakaway group are about to make it to the top of the ascent. An ascent that played host to one of Eddy Merckx's several masterpieces back in the days of 1972. But also managed to give the world's best ever bike racer some very hard time the following year. The road up this climb is rather narrow. Levi, Contador and Kloeden's Spanish teammate Toni Colom joined his three team leaders into the "Gruppo Di Luca", now up to 22 members. And five more riders might come soon ...

1532 CEST - The 23-strong first chase group (Rujano was the most recent addition) made to the Carpegna summit. They shrank the gap to 05'05". It took some 23 minutes for them to cover the 6-kilometre ascent. Now all you have today is go there and see if you can do better ;). Emanuele Sella was part of the Di Luca group until a while ago, then ... fell at a turn. But he's in the saddle again, trying to regain their wheels.

Giovanni Visconti is not having a great day. The overall leader reached the top of Mount Carpegna over two minutes behind the first chase group. His Maglia Rosa is not yet in jeopardy, but ...

1537 CEST - To nobody's surprise, Paolo Savoldelli drives the Gruppo Di Lucca in the downhill section. Team LPR got also Gabriele Bosisio there, whilst Spezialetti lost contact (and so did tiny climbers Rujano and Pozzovivo). Their deficit to the Danilo group is small, but hard to nullify in such a difficult descent. The Venezuelan, definitely not the best descender in the field, almost fell.

1541 CEST - The Fab Five still away gained something on the descent, taking their advantage up top 05'25". Alex Bertolini won the KOM sprint at Mount Carpegna by the way. Perhaps the five escapees were going a bit TOO fast: both Dall'Antonia and Bertolini fell on the wet, slippery, tricky road.

Leipheimer sits at the back of the group, The rider from the U.S., as well as all other riders in such bunch, are very careful. They are not taking excessive risks. So careful Rujano, Pozzovivo and Spezialetti could catch them and join again the Gruppo Di Luca. Good news for Tiziano Dall'Antonia and Alex Bertolini. Both Italians are in the saddle again. Good news for Paolo Bettini too.

The Cricket lost about a minute to Di Luca and associates on the Carpegna slopes but had a great performance on the descent and regained their wheels. Dall'Antonia got back to the front group, and Bertolini is coming ...

1548 CEST - The next victim of this nasty climb was Franco Pellizotti. But the Liqui-guy didn't suffer any consequences. He's back on the bike. Bertolini re-joined Veikkanen, Lastras, Dall'Antonia and Mangel at the front.  Also Jason McCartney must have hit the tarmac somewhere on the descent. The American bears the signs of his accident on his leg. Nevertheless the CSC rider, together with Davide Rebellin and half a dozen more guys, are not far from the Gruppo di Luca (aka Gruppo Contador, aka Gruppo Simoni, aka Gruppo Kloeden etc.).

One further additions to today's "fallen" riders is Liquigas's Dario Cataldo, the Italian youngster hit his hip.  The "McCartney/Rebellin" group joined Di Luca and the other top overall contenders.

1557 CEST - The Fab Five held on to a lead of close to six minutes on the first chase group. Giovanni Visconti, with Bettini not around to help today, sits a further two minutes adrift. Overall runner-up Matthias Russ is not in the Di Luca group either. But Gabriele Bosisio IS! The young Lombard is doing a helluva Giro, isn't he?

1600 CEST - The Fab Five left the town of Novafeltria behind their backs. The "borderline" between the Marche region and Pantani's Romagna is just five kilometres ahead. Alessandro Bertolini, Jussi Veikkanen, Pablo Lastras, Tiziano Dall'Antonia and Laurent Mangel keep working well with each other.

Our live coverage continues in: Stage 11 Live Coverage 2

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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 11 Live Coverage 2

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