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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 15 Live Coverage Part 3
By Staff
Date: 5/25/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 15 Live Coverage Part 3

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 15 Live Coverage Part 3
On the Marmolada

Stage 15 Arabba - Passo Fedaia/Marmolada 153 km
1642 CEST -
Nibali, Baliani, Rodriguez and Perez Cuapio are likely going to be hauled back into the peloton. It seems to be a matter of Sella, now increasing his lead to over 02'40", and the (other?) overall contenders with 7k to go. The race is winding through wonderful landscapes; too bad that no-one in the peloton has the chance to stop and contemplate them.

1643 CEST - Sella's advantage keeps growing. It was 02'50" at the latest check. Finally, the favorite group starts getting reduced but there is not any change of pace yet. Baliani is about to bonk. The Italian was not allowed to drink anything a few minutes ago, and is currently having a hard time staying with the others

Sella with 5km to go. Joaquim Rodriguez gives it a go attacking the ... er... first chase group. Cardenas dropped. Voigt suffers, about to be dropped.

5.5 km to go for the "peloton". They made it to Malga Ciapela, "starting place" of the toughest part of the Marmolada. And the road is starting to take toll on the group, getting slimmer and slimmer. Spezzialetti doing a good job for Di Luca again today. Same pattern as yesterday.

Sella put TWO MINUTES into his closest chasers, and gained on the others too. Pellizotti goes. Di Luca and Ricco close the gap. Bruseghin dropped. But Pellizotti attacks again!  Pozzovivo covers Vandebroeck tries to follow them.

The favorite group is more than 3 minutes behind Sella. Di Luca and Contador ride neck-to-neck. Simoni leads the chase of Pellizotti. The group with the (so-called) best ones is down to about 20 legs - and their respective 10 owners - only. Riccardo Ricco moves to the front of such group. Sella's advantage: over three minutes, and 900 metres, on them.

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4k to go for the frontunner, now taking on a darn steep (12 percent) piece. The favorites look each other over.  Contador lost the last teammate still left with him: Iglinskiy couldn't hold on to the tempo any longer. Di Luca and SImoni in trouble. Di Luca is struggling.

Ricco attacks. Or just picks up the pace at least. Pozzovivo and Contador follows. Pozovivo (Navigare) covers the attack. Gibo is slightly dropped. So is Di Luca Menchov and Pellizotti also followed Ricco.

Ricco attacks and Pozovivo looks ridiculously at his ease. Ricco picks up the pace again. But POZZOVIVO attacks!  Baliani and Nibali have been caught. The NRK commentators are completely incredulous. 5 Navigare riders in the front of the race, more or less.

Gibo can't close down on Ricco, Menchov, Pellizotti and Contador. Ricco tries again. Will third time be the charm? Menchov and Contador follow on his wheel, the others can't. Rodriguez is caught and Contador is dropped.

 Ricco's move number four. And he drops Menchov. Simoni leaves Di Luca behind. Small gaps opened amongst all top riders. Ricco followed by Menchov followed by Contador. Ricco opened up a little gap on Menchov. Gibo is recovering, and about to catch Contador .

1657 CEST - Sella is about 2k from the finish. The steepest piece is over for him. Menchov and Contador have joined forces in the chase after Ricco. Pozzovivo holds on to a small lead over Ricco'. Sella holds on to a HUGE lead: 03'20"

Simoni catching Menchov and Contador, well, almost. Simoni and Di Luca are just a few metres behind Menchov and Contador.

1700 CEST - Only 1700 metres between Sella and the end of his second masterpiece. Ricco put 50 metres or so into Menchov and Contador. Di Luca losing the wheel to Simoni again, but they have eye contact with Contador and Menchov. Gibo gets closer and closer to Menchov and Contador. Di Luca struggles.  Ricco is now 80 metres ahead.

Emanuele Sella is completely surrounded by a wild bunch of screaming fans. Who are getting very annoying. And dangerous.  Sella beats around himself to get rid of the crazy fans. Simoni and Di Luca finally catch up with Menchov and Contador. Gibo and Di Luca caught the two foreigners.

1702 CEST - 1km to go for Sella. Ricco ups the pace again. he leads teammate Pozzovivo by 02'50". Ricco is at 03'06". Contador attacks the 4-man group. Di Luca leads the chase. 

1703 CEST - 800m to go for Sella. HE'S GOING TO WIN THE STAGE. Ricco trying to close the gap on Pozzovivo. But watch out for the Spaniard. Contador is close. And the Maglia Rosa ownership is darn closer. The gaps are small between the favorites.

300m for Sella. He's having a hard time going ahead now. But so what ? Nobody can stop him from taking the glory today. Sella greets his DS as he rides in on the last 100 metres more than 3 minutes ahead of the favorites.

1706 CEST - Here he comes. Emanuele Sella  IS THE WINNER: 04h53'16" his time. 

Contador has fallen back to his pursuers; Ricco contitnues to push the pace. Ricco trying to close the gap on Pozzovivo. But watch out for the Spaniard. Contador is close. Menchov, Di Luca, Simoni caught Contador and have a small gap (10-15) to Ricco.  Ricco slows down.

 Di Luca and Contador attacks Gibo and Menchov!! And are about to catch Ricco. Contador can't respond. Di Luca drops Contador! Simoni comes from behind and reaches Contador.

Ricco is about to catch Pozzovivo who takes second place. Domenico Pozzovivo is about to complete a legendary 1-2 for CSF -Navigare. Ricco in for third  at 0211. DI Luca in for fourth at 0219.

Simoni and Contador about 15 seconds behind Ricco. at about 03'25". Bruseghin is coming next, Vandenbroeck comes before him. Sella wins the stage. Contador takes the overall lead in the race. Kloeden is the big loser of today's race.

"I dont know what to say. Thank you so much to Baliani, to Perez, to the whole team. Thank you for real, boys" Emanuele Sella said.

Here are the top seven places overall at the end of today's stage:
2. RICCARDO RICCO - at 33"
3. DANILO DI LUCCA - at 55"

4. MARZIO BRUSEGHIN - at 01'18"
 5. DENIS MENCHOV - at 01'20"
6. GILBERTO SIMONI - at 01'26"
7. FRANCO PELLIZOTTI - at 02'27"

Pellizotti lit up today's stage, but moved a bit too early.  Emanuele Sella is about 4 minutes behind on GC at the end of the greatest weekend in his career.

Again, the top 5 finishers in today's stage was as follows:
3. RICCARDO RICCO' - at 02'11"

4. DANILO DI LUCA - at 02'20"
5. GILBERTO SIMONI - at 02'27"

1718 CEST - Bosisio is struggling his way to the finish, over a dozen minutes behind the stage winner.

Navigare's Fortunato Baliani said that he's pleasantly surprised by Sella's accomplishments.

It looks very cold on the summit with the tifosi clad in cold coats and ski caps. I wonder if it will be equally cold tomorrow as well. It could make an already ridiculously tough ITT even worse.

Danilo Di Luca conceded not being as good as he was the past year, but this doesn't mean that the gutsy man from Abruzzo is giving up the battle. Quite the opposite: "My condition is basically the same as in the year 2005. And I'll keep fighting to the end. The race will be a close one until the finish at Milano".

 Di Luca is probably being a little optimistic. From what we've seen so far, there is not really a lot of difference between the favorites in the mountains. The decisive stage will be tomorrow's 12.9 km uphill ITT - and if that doesn't create some reasonable gaps - the final ITT stage to Milano. If Contador does not crash and burn tommorrow, I have difficulty seeing who will be able to take a minute on him in the rest of the race. I'm thinking a minute is what almost everyone - except Bruseghin and Menchov - are going to require on him before the final ITT.

In after-stage interviews Riccardo Ricco kept whining about his ITT misfortunes: "I would be wearing the Maglia today without that fall in the ITT". He can make a point, but as the same time he seems to forget that also Alberto Contador had some problems in this sense.

1741 CEST - The Laughing Group comes in. The all the worst climbers in the Gruppetto are coming to the line, over 35 minutes behind the stage winner.

Alberto Contador may have moved into the overall leadership of the race today, but he wasn't too "all smiles" after the stage. The Spaniard conceded that he's not having the best stage race in his career: "I had a hard time on the Giau, but ate something and recovered. Then my rear wheel broke in the last part of the final climb. Well, after all tomorrow is another day. But I think that Riccò is a stronger rider than myself at the moment".

His team manager Alain Gallopin somehow echoed Alberto's statements: "I am more confident than I was yesterday. We held on today. We went through some hard times on the Giau, but things went fine in the end. It's not going to be easy though: Simoni, Riccò, Di Luca and Menchov are all strong and dangerous challengers to Alberto".

Gilberto Simoni's after-race smile could be a sign that he was not that exhausted at the end of such a demanding stage; "but my legs are exhausted" he admitted. Adding that "I gave it everything I could today. But this is a high-level and tight race; one may try and attack, but can' make much of a gap. I saw that Contador was struggling at some point, but he recovered well later. I am 36 but I keep fighting anyway. I did last year, so why shouldn't I do it this time again? One year can't change everything".

More interviews and team comments to follow in a separate article

Thanks for joining us for the live ticker. Join us tomorrow for the live report of stage 16 the grueling 1.9 kilometer time trial from San Vigilio di Marebbe to the summit of Plan de Corones. The uphill test of over 1000 meters altitude will be a tough contest after two days in the mountains for tired legs. The favorites will be looking to gain some time on the G.C. in the final week of racing.

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