BENVENUTI! Welcome to our live coverage of the fourteenth stage of the Giro
d'Italia 2008. Welcome ... to the start of the Giro d'Italia 2008! Basically
all main overall contenders had fun (well, sort of ...) while the sprinters,
stage hunters and exposure-seekers of the peloton were stealing the show all
over the first two weeks. But now that Milano is getting closer, it's about
time for them to burst into spotlight in the upcoming "Mountain Goat
Festival". Misfortunes, disguised as a broken wrist, took the best climber of
the best stage race in the year 2007, also known as Tour de France's polka-dot
jersey winner Juan Mauricio Soler, out of contention a bit too early, but with
names like Alberto Contador and Danilo Di Luca, Andreas Kloeden and Riccardo
Riccò, Gilberto Simoni and Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Savoldelli and Leonardo
Piepoli, Franco Pellizotti and Emanuele Sella still in the bunch, we might
even miss the talented Colombian a little less in the impressive series of
hilly stages we're going to enjoy.
The Climbing Show gets underway today with a first leg-torture of 195
kilometres from Verona (Veneto region of northern Italy) to the top of Alpe di
Pampeago in Trentino-Alto Adige area. Today's parcours has got plenty of
uphill riding in store of course, and the first "real" mountain top finish,
but the final climb to the line isn't the most awful thing around perhaps:
there's also a certain mountain monster called Manghen, a "little thing" of
23.4 kilometres, averaging a gradient of 7.1 percent.
the Mighty Manghen
The first part of the route, from Romeo and Juliet's own Verona to Damiano
Cunego's own Cerro Veronese, is uphill but not that tough. But once the
girini leave the hometown of one of this year's the most excellent
absentees, the road gets narrower, and - after a short descent - the going
gets a little harder, courtesy of a (comparatively) gentle first climb of 8
It may not be going to break the bunch into pieces, but what comes
once the race makes it to Borgo Val Sugana town is a whole different thing:
yes, it's the mighty Manghen. The first 15 kilometres are "easy", but the last
seven thousand meters are steep enough: steadily above ten percent. Selection
WILL be made on its slopes. The summit of the mighty Manghen is 34 km. away
from the finish, but definitely nearer to the next vertical thing, a "small"
effort of 4 kms coming some 16 kilometres from the finish. One more flat piece
and ... there comes the final climb, whose first slopes are gentler, but the
last four kilometres have got 12 percent as average gradient. Let the fun
Alpe di Pampeago has hosted a Giro stage finish three times already: in
1998 - Pavel Tonkov won ahead of Pantani -, in 1999 - Marco "Il Pirata"
Pantani took his revenge - and five years ago, with Gilberto Simoni stamping
his authority and taking a significant step in his second winning Tour of
1350 CEST - We join the stage in
progress about 120k from the finish, with thirteen riders on a breakaway:
* Jure Golcer (Spa - Team LPR -Ballan);
* Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita - Ag2r-La Mondiale));
* Maxim Iglisnkiy (Kaz - Astana);
* Francisco Pérez (Spa - Caisse d'Epargne);
* Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa - Caisse d'Epargne);
* José Rujano (Ven - Caisse d'Epargne);
* Emanuele Sella (Ita - CSF-Navigare);
* Yoann Le Boulanger (Fra - Française des Jeux);
* Charles Wegelius (GBR - Liquigas);
* Paolo Bettini (Ita - Quick Step);
* Christian Vandevelde (USA - Slipstream);
* Jens Voigt (Ger - Team CSC);
* Vasil Kiryienka (Blr - Tinkoff Credits System).
First Maglia Rosa holder Vandevelde, trailing current Maglia Rosa holder
Giovanni Visconti by nine and a half minutes on GC, is the best-place overall
rider in the front group. Needless to say, Visconti's best-known team-mate
Paolo Bettini is not much cooperative in the breakaway; the Cricket mainly
sits at the back of the leading gruppo. He even gave it a go at going
away solo, but didn't continue in his action, and got dropped as he punctured,
but quickly made his way back to the breakaway.
The average speed after two hours of racing was 37.4 kph.
Riccardo Riccò is a more than likely protagonist of today's leg. But
minutes before the start this morning, the "Cobra" confessed that he's not 100
percent fit today. He got a cold that could have some impact on his first
mountain performance. Neverthless the Saunier Duval leader promised that,
should his condition be better later in the stage, he would give it a go at
attacking on the last climb. His hopes for a solo victory remain intact.
Bosisio, Kloden and Contador follow the LPR crew. Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1420 CEST - The thirteen escapees have
reached the feed zone at Villa Lagarina. A couple kilometres earlier their
advantage over the field amounted to a good 07 minutes and18 seconds.
1430 CEST - The leaders have covered
103 kilometres already. Still 92k to go. Their advantage over the peloton (now
driven by the Astanas) at Mattarello town hovers around 07'20".
Speaking of Astana, RAI's Alessandra "Queen of Interviews" Di Stefano
captured a few words from Alberto "Baywatch" Contador prior to the stage start
today. Unlike Riccò, the Spaniard is not accustomed to bold statements, and
today's inteview was no exception to the rule. "Baywatch" said that much would
depend on where the fireworks will be started, whether it's on the last
climb or earlier. He thinks Simoni, Di Luca and Riccò will try and attack
today, but also promised that, should he be on a small breakaway with them, he
would not cooperate, for his aim is to keep his team's three leaders, himself
and Kloeden in particular, together or as close as possible to each other.
By the way, "Baywatch" was the nickname given to Contador by Riccardo Riccò.
Any reference to all the "Spanish beach" fuss was purely intentional. Contador
clearly wins the Maglia Eyelash jersey
1440 CEST - New gap update: the peloton
brought their gap tto Jure Golcer (Spa - Team LPR -Ballan), Rinaldo Nocentini
(Ita - Ag2r-La Mondiale), Maxim Iglisnkiy (Kaz - Astana), Francisco Pérez (Spa
- Caisse d'Epargne), Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa - Caisse d'Epargne), José Rujano (Ven
- Caisse d'Epargne), Emanuele Sella (Ita - CSF-Navigare), Yoann Le Boulanger (Fra
- Française des Jeux), Charles Wegelius (GBR - Liquigas), Paolo Bettini (Ita -
Quick Step), Christian Vandevelde (USA - Slipstream), Jens Voigt (Ger - Team
CSC) and Vasil Kiryienka (Blr - Tinkoff Credits System) down to seven minutes.
Saunier Duval and Diquigiovanni are working in the front of the peloton
behind these teams we see quick step with maglia rosa Gio Visconti. The
Belgian Bettini tifosi are out on course in full force. The gap of the
13 is still 7.16 on the break 75 km to go
The G.C. positions of the 13 in front in the GC
are: 16. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Slipstream 9.33 ; 30. Paolo
Bettini (Ita) Quick Step 13.00 ; 33. Yoann Le Boulanger (Fra) Française des
Jeux 13.41; 43. Jure Golcer (Slo) LPR 22.43 ; 44. Emanuele Sella (Ita) CSF
24.22; 46. José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Caisse d'Epargne 25.18; 52. Joaquin
Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 28.42; 54. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Tinkoff
29.34; 71. Francisco Perez Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 40.36; 74. Rinaldo
Nocentini (Ita) AG2R 43.09; 75. Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana 44.22 ; 78. Jens
Voigt (Ger) CSC 46.23 ; 124. Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas 1.20.42
1505 CEST - 114 kilometres into the
stage, the gap is growing again: 07 minutes 35 seconds. nother abandon today:
Lampres Mirco Lorenzetto has packed it in. Oscar Gatto (Gerolsteiner) joins
Lorenzetto. That's the fourth for Gerolsteiner after Moletta was not allowed
to start a few days ago. And today's non start of Rebellin and Forster.
1514 CEST - The current gap is 7'40" -
about 68k from the finish. The race radio just reported that Oscar Gatto (Gerolsteiner)
has dropped out of the race. Won't be much work for the Gerolsteiner masseurs
tonight, as he makes the fifth of their team to leave the Giro.
61.9km left to go - Gap 7'34".
The escapees just went through the Levico Terme spa resort; they could well
make it to the foot of the mighty Manghen with an eight-minute lead over the
pack. The peloton appears to be rather intact so the pace hasn't been
lifted yet. Danilo di Luca is far back in the bunch. Is this a sign for the
Manghen? that he doesn't feel himself strong enough. It wouldn't surprise me
if Bosisio will be their rider for the GC. Astana and Saunier keep riding
tempo on the front of the pack.
Le Boulanger won the Expo 2010 sprint from Francisco Perez and Sella.
Is that Team CSC with two riders at the front? That is a surprise. The
leaders are at the foot of the mighty Manghen. CSC bring their GC rider Chris
Sörensen to the front. Well, Chris has not been too impressive so far (he has
completely failed to hang on when the favorites have moved), so it will be
interesting to see if today's mountains suit him better.
The gap has fallen to 7'10" - Recent words from Gilberto Simoni: "A new
kind of Giro starts Saturday. I want to thank Davide Rebellin for picking me
as his main favorite. Favorable predictions are not enough though, we'll see
what happens the next days. everyone has been looking forward to those climbs
as the race kicked off. No we'll get to know who's stronger and who has to
struggle a little to keep his hopes to win the race. I think I am as strong as
in the early stages, but I saw someone in the peloton is losing strength".
Worthy of mention is the fact Leonardo Piepoli changed his bike a few
minutes ago. Is Il Trullo Volante getting ready to launch a Manghen attack?
With Rujano up front, Caisse are in a perfect position to win the stage.
David Canada Garcia helped Piepoli regain the bunch.
The peloton is about to make it to the the first slopes of the mighty
Manghen too. Rujano looks very light in the pedals. The bunch is on the
Manghen - Diquigiovanni setting the pace, riders are dropping off the back of
the bunch already. Liquigas are strategically placed in the pack right behind
the Diquigiovanni and SD squads.
1540 CEST - Rujano the tiny climber
from Venezuela is back to making the headlines in a mountain stage after three
years, after his overall podium performance in the days of 2005. Today's leg
is an important test for the man from Santa Cruz de la More, whose current
condition and options are unknown even to his team manager - and perhaps even
to José himself.
We can be happy that the weather looks as if it will hold today. With any
luck, there will be no wet and slippery descents today. Illiano, Sutton and "lanterne
black" Capecchi were amongst the first victims of the Manghen slopes.
Di Luca's LPR Brakes crew comes to the front to chase the break.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
The Killer has made his way to the front of the peloton.. And Piepoli
changed his bike again!! Francisco Perez. looks as if he will drop any moment
now. His days work is about done.
50k to go ... and 16k to the top of the
mighty Manghen. The reason behind all the
Piepoli fuss: Il Trullo had some brake problems to his first riding thing, so
he changed it just to have it back once the probs were fixed. The gap is down
to 6.35 as we see a pony doing relieving him self, you could say, the horses
are anxiously awaiting the peloton... I would say they couldn't care less
about the race.
Zabel is still up there maybe they await him remember Ghent-Wevelgem of a
few years ago. 12 riders in front as Francisco Perez drops off the break after
his work is done. Sella attacks in the break. In the bunch it's Cardenas who
"Basso. Un Giro senza Te é un giro senza Re" ("Basso. A Giro without you is
a Giro without its King"). That's the way some fans of the 2006 Giro winner
chose to show their support to the ... upcoming Liquigas rider.
In the meantime Danny Pate, Mark Cavedish and a few others lost contact to
the peloton. Golcer and Rujano are not able to follow. Sella is gone, but
where is Rujano? Cardenas is caught by the bunch too, Rodriguez trailing
1553 CEST - Emmanuele Sella's gap on
the bunch is down to 5.50 Will Sella's move bear fruit? The Manghen summits is
still over 14 kilometres away. One more "The Salbaneo" showed that he just
can't wait. Perhaps the other fugitives, who quickly lost a minute to the
peloton, were going too slow for him.
He is riding a great rhythm though. The pack was beginning to gain time, so
if he wants the mountain points, this was the time to go. Danilo Di Luca is
losing some teammates on the Manghen slopes. The Astanas are having less
problems than the LPR guys in following the tempo set by Gibo's royal
lieutenants.Bertolini doing an impressive job in the pack today.
Overall leader Giovanni Visconti is not having a hard time either. Paolo
Bettini is not around to help him today, but another classy riders such as
Juanma "the Iron Man from Irun" is. Vincenzo Nibali follow the wheels of
Liquigas' co-leader Franco Pellizotti. Sella has created a solid gap on the
rest of the breakaway. Sella has 12 seconds on Golcer and 30 seconds on the
others of the former break The pack is still about 60 riders strong so the
pace isn't that high.
Our live coverage continues in:
d'Italia - Stage 14 Live Coverage Part 2
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