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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 14 Live Coverage
By Staff
Date: 5/24/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 14 Live Coverage

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 14 Live Coverage
It's the first Queen Stage of the year's race!! Follow the Mountain Men Festival as it begins today, on the way to Pampeago. Live Here.

Stage 14 Verona - Alpe de Pampeago/Val di Fiemme 195 km

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 kilometres.

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 begin!

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 Italy bid.

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.
Photo © 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 attacks

"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 Rujano.

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:
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 14 Live Coverage Part 2

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