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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 16 Live Coverage
By Staff
Date: 5/26/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 16 Live Coverage

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 16 Live Coverage
It's the day cycling becomes an extreme sport. It's the time many in the saddle can wonder why they chose to become bike racers. It's the Plan de Corones Time Trial!!

Stage 16 San Vigilio di Marebbe - Plan de Corones 12.9 km ITT

Welcome to our live coverage of stage sixteen in the 2008 Giro d'Italia. Today's leg is one of the shortest in this year's race, and with just one climb, but nonetheless many regard it as the most crucial stage of the event. The 13.2-kilometre uphill ITT from the San Vigilio di Marebbe (St. Vigil in Enneberg to the local German-speakers in this area of South Tyrol) ski resort to Plan de Corones (aka Kronplatz) is all-out effort featuring (also) unbelievable gradients that could cause a lot of damage and have a huge impact on the leaderboard.

It doesn't take long for the poor guys in the saddle to get a first taste of what today's leg torture has in store for them. The opening mile may be comparatively easy, they can even ride at 35-40 kph, but the Furcia pass gets steeper after about 2,400 metres, with gradients going up to 10 percent.

The toughest piece of the climb (15 percent) comes about half a dozen kilometres into the stage, but that is far from being today's most difficult challenge; that section could look a picnic compared to what they have to fight at about 5.2 kilometres from the finish, when the ... er, true climb to Plan de Corones/Kronplatz begins: the road gets steeper, but notably gets unpaved.

Legs are given a break (well, sort of...) somewhere in the last few miles, but cycling truly becomes an extreme sport in other portions of the climb, with gradients reaching up to 24 percent in the last thousand metres: a good 34x29 on their bikes is a must ... but so are good walking shoes, just in case ...

One of the spectacular view from the summit.

Once at the finishing line, the Girini get their efforts rewarded with the chance to contemplate one of the most magnificent landscapes in the whole nation. But we severely doubt that they can be in the best possible conditions to enjoy the view ...

Lampre's Marzio Bruseghin tested the route about one month ago, together with many top Italian riders - from Di Luca to Simoni, from Riccò to Pellizotti - and passionate skier (and cyclist) Manfred Moellg, winner the World Cup slalom title. At some point in the ascent Bruseghin (half) jokingly regretted choosing cycling over alpine skiing ("those skiers have it easy. They go downhill in climb like this!"). But we tend to think many of the good ones are going to share Bruseghin's thoughts on the way to Plan de Corones today, and be much more serious than him about it.

Don't be surprised if today's stage winner wears the Maglia Rosa on the eventual podium too. It happened in the year 1981, with Giovanni Battaglin claiming stage honours in "downtown" San Vigilio di Marebbe (and not at Plan de Corones) and later taking the overall title in the race. A stage finish at Kronplatz was part of the Giro d'Italia route two years ago also, but bad weather forced Angelo Zomegnan and associates to shorten the stage and move the finishing line to the Furcia Pass. Leonardo Piepoli came across the line first that day. It's just too bad that, due to yesterday's fall, the Flying Trullo was stripped of the chance to give another display of his climbing abilities.

Bruseghin, Gibo, Danilo, Il Cobra etc. did check the climb anyway; Contador and Kloeden didn't, and this could take toll a on the Astanas and their stage (and overall?) performances.

1517 CEST - We join the stage in progress, several riders having completed their ITT respective challenges already; and an on-form Mexican climber Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio having set the best time to the finish (so far): 43 minutes and 22 seconds.

The current top 10 spots are as follows:
1. PEREZ CUAPIO Julio Alberto MEX CSF 43:22 0:00
2. SPILAK Simon SLO LAM 43:50 0:28
3. NOCENTINI Rinaldo ITA ALM 43:50 0:28
4. DEIGNAN Philip IRL ALM 43:54 0:32
5. MCCARTNEY Jason USA CSC 44:07 0:45
6. SEELDRAYERS Kevin BEL QST 44:08 0:46
7. WEGELIUS Charles GBR LIQ 44:14 0:52
8. OCHOA Carlos José VEN SDA 44:18 0:56
9. ILLIANO Raffaele ITA SDA 44:27 1:05
10. LEVARLET Guillaume FRA FDJ 44:31 1:09

1534 CEST - Lampre's Szmyd is at the startline. José Rujano has been on the road for over 32 minutes, and is currently taking on the unpaved torture up to Plan de Corones.

Jose Rujano climbs, quite a scenic look from the top. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Rujano winds through the crowd as he takes on the last mile on the stage. Rujano comes to the last hundred metres. Some of the crowd are wearing green alpine hats in the cheering crowds behind the rope barriers. The men are from one of the Italian mountain regiments brought in to control the crowds in the final stages of the climb, where it would not have been possible to bring up the necessary length of barriers, the organisers have opted for stakes with ropes. (Thanks Paul )

Here is the Venezuelan, he comes across the line, and sets the best time! The best time BY FAR: 41'15" he bettered Perez Cuapio's time by 02 minutes and 07 seconds: Rujano may not be as good as he was three years ago, but still we welcome his comeback into spotlight. Voigt takes second in 42'21" (01'06" down to Rujano).

"I hope that, one step at a time, I can get back to what I used to be some years ago" Rujano said after crossing the line. The Caisse d'Epargne Venezuelan now lives in the Spanish town of Pamplonna, in pure "Miguel Indurain area".

Gabriele Bosisio started his battle against today's mountain monsters. Not harboring any hopes of stage victory he never thought he needed to check the stage before. "I think that climbing it ONE time is enough to me" the former overall leader said.

1551 CEST - Andrea Noé is another more than unlikely stage winner today, but he's worthy of praise for what he's doing in this race, at the age of 39. About 3k to go for the Lombard veteran. Quickstep's Juanma Garate is much closer to the finish. Well, we got at least ONE rider crossing the line ... walking! It's Tinkoff's Vasil Kiriyenka. The Belarusian had serious problems with his rear wheel.

Back down the mountain, Fortunato Baliani leaves the start house. Garate climbed his way to the finish. The Spaniard clocked 43'39". That was the third best time to the line so far, 02'24" behind current leader José Rujano.

1558 CEST - Juan Manuel Garate kicked Italy's Morris Possoni down to spot number five whilst Perez Cuapio stays in the top three places. The Mexican had a hard time ... getting back his talking abilities after he crossed the line. Rujano's time will take some beating - you'd be hard-pushed to find a rider with a lower power-to-weight ratio in this year's race! Perez Cuapio was so exhausted it took a couple minutes for him to start speaking again! We think he's not the only one having problems with that at the finish today.

Andrea Noé coming to the finish. Andrea Noé grinds uphill, a coloured river of fans contrasting against the snow to mark out the distance he has to go. The Liquigas veteran is far from being a threat to Rujano's leadership of course. But hey, he's having a good ride anyway.

1600 CEST - A few hundred metres to go for the Liqui-great. Here he comes. Andrea Noé sets the third best time to the finish (out of 119 finishers so far) On the opposite side of the stage, Vincenzo Nibali just started his own challenge. "Not bad. It was a nice stage, and I had some fun" were Noe's first after-stage words.

Former U23 world road race champ Kanstantsin Sivtsov finished just in front of Noé, practically collapsing into the arms of a helper. There's a close-up to the profile... this isn't a mountain, it's a staircase. Nibali travels through the first section of the course by picturesque mountain meadows with the first wildflowers in bloom, a complete contrast to the cold and snow on the ground on the summit finish.

1604 CEST - Emanuele Sella is in the saddle! Today's profile suits a pure climber like "Il Salbaneo", but the helluva efforts he sustained over the past two winning stages might well took toll on his legs and stage result today.

Giovanni Visconti lost 03'20" to Rujano at the finish. And here comes Evgueni Petrov. The Russian is taking a steeeeeeeeeeeep piece a few hundred metres from the finish. Back to the start line: after Sella, it's time for teammate and fellow mountain goat Domenico Pozzovivo to get his legs going.

1608 CEST - Evgueni Petrov's finishing time: 42'43" The third best time. 01'28" down on Rujano. He beats Noé by a mere, tiny second. Few or no journalists picked Marzio Bruseghin as stage winner today, but some bookmakers have a truly different point of view: according to them, Bruseghin and Contador are the main suspects to triumph atop one of the Giro's most challenging climbs.

José Rujano, Jens Voigt, Evgueni Petrov, Andrea Noé and Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio keep the top 5 spots to the finish at the moment.  Emanuele Sella keeps showing off his climbing style on the Furcia pass slopes. He's been in the saddle for ten minutes already. Gibo will be next at the startline.

Emmanuele Sella on the gravel section. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1615 CEST - Paolo Bettini just reached the finishing line, losing about three minutes to Rujano. 

Giovanni Visconti was quite satisfied with his ITT performance, even if he struggled on the climb: "you just cannot take it easy on a course like this. You just have to push forward and hope that this can come to an end as soon as possible. But it's okay. I hope that I can do fine again in one of the next stages".

Lampre's Mr. Smzyd to the finish, in a time of 43'03" (as opposed to Rujano's 41'15").

1619 CEST - Denis Menchov (Rus - Rabobank), one of three 2007 GT's winners in attendance, is off and running too.

1623 CEST - Danilo Di Luca is in the start gate, ready to roll. As the "Killer" rolls off, Sella is 5 km from the summit. surprise, surprise: he had the best time at halfway point check on the Furcia: 20'36 after 7.5 kms, opposed to Rujano's time of: 21'10" !!!

Savoldelli and Kloeden were losing about two minutes to the green jersey wearer at the same point. Savoldelli is also about to get caught by Felix Cardenas. The Colombian (5th best time at the 7 km check) is having a good performance today. Pozzovivo was losing 50 seconds to Sella at the halfway point check.

1629 CEST - Sella is quickly turning into a Rasmussen figure - the "oh, it's ok to let him go up the road, he's chasing King of the Mountain points" attitude is not going to be used again this Giro. No top five place for the Barloworld rider, as Cardenas scored the sixth best time to the finish: 43'05". He couldn't catch Paolo Savoldelli either.

1630 CEST - Just two riders left at the startline: Riccò and Contador. The former is off and running now. The latter will follow soon. Yes, folks, Alberto Contador is racing too. The clash of giants has started.

Denis Menchov covered 4 kilometres already. CSC's Gustav Erik Larsson was exhausted (to say the least) at the finish: The Swedish National ITT champion had a solid performance though: he clocked 42'44', snatching fourth place (so far), 01'29" behind José Rujano, still leading the bunch of stage finishers.

Jurgen Van den broeck had the fourth time at the half-stage check. He was thrown down to fifth as Franco Pellizotti came and scored the second best time after 7 kms, losing only 22 seconds to unstoppable Emanuele Sella.

1635 CEST - Baliani's finishing time: 43'38"

1637 CEST - Again, the current top places at the finish: José Rujano leads Voigt by 01'06", with Petrov in third at 01'28" and Noé and Larsson sharing fourth place one further second behind. Simoni bettered Pellizotti's halfway time by 4 seconds. Gibo did worse than Sella by 18".  Andreas Kloeden has the eighth "best" time to the finish, 01'51" down on Rujano. Yet another poor performance by the German. Sella is tackling the last part of the route.

Our Live Coverage continues: Stage 16 Part 2

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