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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 18 Live Coverage Part 2
By Staff
Date: 5/29/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 18 Live Coverage Part 2
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 18 Live Coverage Part 2
On the Varese Circuit 25 km to go and the attacks are on...

Stage 18 Mendrisio - Varese 147 km
1616 CEST - Trussov manged to join again the others, but the group is down to ten men again, as Rinaldo Nocentini sped off on his own and stepped up his solo chase of Jens Voigt. More Silence-Lotto guys joined the "chase machine" (sort of) in the pack. More skirmishes come in the "Bettini group"; cooperation is no longer the same.

Simon Spilak of Lampre, top ten finisher at Tour of Flanders, one of the youngest guns in the bunch, launched his own attack. Visconti paces Bettini while Voigt's lead slightly came down to 28 seconds. The German is close to the foot of the Ronchi climb.

Jens Voigt of CSC pulls out all the stops on the attack.
Photo 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1623 CEST - Visconti paces Bettini while Voigt's lead slightly came down to 28 seconds. The German is close to the foot of the Ronchi climb. Jens is showing a lot of "grinta". But if chasers were a little more organized, no gutsy attitude from Voigt would be enough. Yes, "IF" we said. But the truth is that it looks enough now: Voigt leads Spilak by 33 seconds, with the Bettini Group a further dozen seconds back.

The chasers need to find back their cooperating antics if they want to stop the mighty German rouleur. Voigt is climbing Ronchi again, while Spilak is being caught by Bettini and the ten other guys. The inexperienced Slovene made a brave, but untimely move. Ardila Cano sets the pace as chasers hit the climb again. And with the going getting vertical one more time, poor Trussov gets dropped once more.

1626 CEST - Bosisio drives the chasing field on the "gentlest" portion of the Ronchi climb. Cardenas gives it a go at attacking. The Colombian has won Tour and Vuelta stages, but is still looking for his first ever Giro d'Italia victory. Visconti closed down on him. Spilak struggles and loses contact to the Bettini group. Voigt is under 20 km from finish. The German holds on to a 40-second advantage. His time losses on the Ronchi were minimal.

Rodriquez leads the chase followed by Bettini, Cardenas, Rabo's Ardila, Bennati and Lazaun. Photo 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1628 CEST - Voigt starts the last lap: 17.4 km to go for the German as he makes it to the line again. The chase group partially broke into pieces, the first ones came 40" behind the leader. Giovanni Visconti seems to have a better condition than his teammate Paolo Bettini. Good news for Felix Cardenas: the pack is trailing by over seven minutes. The Colombian is going to make some significant gains on the GC

1631 CEST - 15k to go. Voigt leads three closest chasers by 37 seconds.  Bosisio, Visconti and Nocentini gained 4 seconds in the space of 2,000 metres. The all-Italian trio are working well together. Bettini and the five others are a dozen seconds behind. Bettini and the five others are a dozen seconds behind.

First chase group, Nocentini, Bosisio and Visconti. Photo 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1634 CEST - Spilak is making his way back to the Bettini Group. The Cricket doesn't have his best ever look in the saddle. No wonder he gave Visconti green light. Voigt is in the penultimate uphill portion. Gabriele Bosisio had a small chain problem, but quickly fixed it and rejoined Nocentini and Visconti. The LPR youngster looks in great shape.

Chances for the trio to close down on Voigt are getting bigger. But watch out for Joaquin Rodriguez. The Spaniard attacked and got across to join the three Italians. Bennati apparently gave up the fight.

1635 CEST - Is the worst over for Jens Voigt? The German took his advantage up to 41 seconds again. Visconti, Bosisio, Nocentini and Rodriguez had to give it everything if they want to keep their options intact.  Paolo Bettini puts in a last, desperate attempt to close the gap. But it's his pride doing the talk now, his legs are speechless ...

1638 CEST - 10k to go for Voigt. Gutsy Paolo caught Rodriguez, but the duo is still far from Bosisio, Visconti and Nocentini. Jens is further ahead...  The solo escape maintains a 38-second lead over his three nearest pursuers, with Bettini and Rodriguez down by a minute. Now the Cricket loses contact to the Spaniard. Bettini has no chances to win today. The bad weather is making things harder to him. Only Visconti. Bosisio and Nocentini keep some hopes to stop Jens the Veteran from winning the stage.

7.8km to go for Voigt now and he is flat out in the hooks putting everything he has. But the chances of the three Italians are getting slimmer and slimmer. The gap was up to 50 seconds at the latest check.  In the meantime Paolo Bettini and Joaquim Rodriguez are being caught by the "Bennati group". But the stage is a matter of four (better, 1+3).

1646 CEST - The one with the wings seems to be wearing a Team CSC jersey now though: Voigt further increased his lead to 52 seconds.

1647 CEST- The Gruppo Maglia Rosa keep losing time (to Felix "I'm gonna make it to the top 10 overall "Cardenas in particular): they are eight minutes back.  Bosisio drives Nocentini on the last uphill thing of the day, with Visconti a couple metres back. That Ronchi thing seems to have the potential to cause some damage at Worlds.

1649 CEST - 1,800 metres to go for the German riding machine.  Aka the upcoming stage winner. Aka Jens Voigt. The Bettini group, featuring seven riders, trails him by almost two minutes atop the Ronchi.  and Visconti gave up the fight; they're 01'10" back, and keeping an eye on each other prior to the sprint for second place.

400m to go for JENS VOIGT ... 300 ... 250 ... He raises his arms in triumph 200m from the finish. He wants to enjoy the win as much as he can. And here he comes:


Vittoria Jens Voigt! Photo 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Bosisio, Nocentini and Visconti battle it out over the runner-up spot. Visconti takes the sprint. Bosisio 3rd, Nocentini 4th. All of them finished over a minute behind Jens Voigt.

Now the sprint for 5th place, Ardila starts, but Bettini covers the move, and then comes Bennati. It's a two-man affair. Bennati takes fifth, Bettini sixth. The two guys shook hands across the line.

Benna picks up a few more points with his fifth place. Paolo Bettini sixth, Cardenas 7th. Photo 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

So, Jens Voigt notched up his second win so far this season. He opened his 2008 account at Criterium International. Nikolay Trusov comes to the line all by himself. he ended up losing five minutes to the stage winner.

1658 CEST - 7:32 the gap, Astana picked up the pace a bit in the last kilometres. The Gruppo is coming. But not Ryder Hesjedal, who fell and is now trying to fix his chain. Levi Leipheimer leads the Astana led peloton.

1700 CEST - The peloton came in, 07'50" behind the winner, and was led home by Lilian Jegou. Contador apparently even gave it a go at the sprint. Felix Cardenas moved up a few places in the overall standings but failed to step into the top ten. The Colombian is sitting in spot number 11 on GC.

After Race Interviews:

Giovanni Visconti gave us some more details about today's stage outcome: "We were taken by surprise by Voigt. When in the breakaway he told us that he wasn't fine today; and we even believed him! So we didn't think that he was going to make it to the line after he attacked. Even if we know how strong he is, and how hard is for anyone to bring him back when he opens some gap. Yes, I think he made a fool of us today".

Gabriele Bosisio confirmed that many a good one (himself) included, were surprised by the display of power put on by the stage winner.

Some Teams CSC managers must have been taken aback too: they thought Jens Voigt was doing something foolish when the mighty German made a effort to get himself into a breakaway with so many world-class riders inside. They couldn't have been more wrong: the German outfoxed them all: "I put in that (solo) attack because I know that you have to strike first in circumstances like this: if you do, nobody would take the initiative and follow your move. My team directors were not too confident, but I made my move because I wanted to get a good result, and I won".

An unfit Paolo Bettini put on one his usual displays of grinta and determination, but his current condition was not good enough for him to take the stage victory he's longing for:

"I suffered all day long, that was a further sign that victory is resisting me. When we made the gap (early in the stage) we looked at each other and laughed: (with all those big names inside) it was like the final part of a World Championship. We were marking each other very strictly, but that's a normal thing with so many top riders in the breakaway. Voigt is accustomed to situations like this, he knows what to do. When he attacked I told (the others) to keep him there and just continue at regular pace. But our "regular pace" in fact helped him take a big advantage. I hope that I can recover and get better by the last stages of this race and the "Bettini Day" (set to take place in Tuscany on June 7-8)".

Today's test on the route of the next Road World Championships also helped him realize that "this is a very demanding course, with very few places to recover and make up for previous losses. The group will be stretched out on the descent, and the two uphill pieces will take toll after being covered several times. I think you have to be in great form in order to do fine here, but those who will are going to make the difference for real".

Daniele Bennati missed stage victory, but didn't lose his smile: "This is the last week of a very tough race, and apparently easy stages can get hard because of a lack of energy. I couldn't win in the end, there were stronger riders and better climbers than me in the breakaway. But I'm happy: I managed to get in the breakaway on a climb, and you need to have good legs to do that. And I got some useful points for my cyclamen jersey bid. Now I'll try to defend myself on the next ascents, and hopefully celebrate in Milan".

The podium ceremonies are underway with Emmanuele Sella getting his umpteenth maglia verde. Contador signs autographs for the fans on his way to the stage to receive his leaders jersey. No changes in the maglias of the Giro today.

Stage 18 Results
Mendrisio - Varese
147 km - 3:22:46 - 42,314 km/h

1 VOIGT Jens GER CSC 3:22:46 0:00 20"
2 VISCONTI Giovanni ITA QST 3:23:53 1:07 12"
3 NOCENTINI Rinaldo ITA ALM 3:23:53 1:07 8"

4 BOSISIO Gabriele ITA LPR 3:23:53 1:07
5 BENNATI Daniele ITA LIQ 3:24:50 2:04 6"
6 BETTINI Paolo ITA QST 3:24:50 2:04 2"
7 CARDENAS Felix Rafael COL BAR 3:24:50 2:04
8 PEREZ LEZAUN Alan ESP EUS 3:24:50 2:04 4"
9 ARDILA CANO Mauricio A. COL RAB 3:24:50 2:04
10 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin ESP GCE 3:24:52 2:06
11 SPILAK Simon SLO LAM 3:26:27 3:41
12 TRUSSOV Nikolai RUS TCS 3:28:05 5:19
13 JEGOU Lilian FRA FDJ 3:30:37 7:51
14 CONTADOR Alberto ESP AST 3:30:37 7:51

General Classification After Stage 18
1 CONTADOR Alberto ESP AST 75:45:17 0:00
2 RICCO' Riccardo ITA SDV 75:45:58 0:41
3 SIMONI Gilberto ITA SDA 75:46:38 1:21

4 BRUSEGHIN Marzio ITA LAM 75:47:17 2:00
5 PELLIZOTTI Franco ITA LIQ 75:47:22 2:05
6 DI LUCA Danilo ITA LPR 75:47:35 2:18
7 MENCHOV Denis RUS RAB 75:48:04 2:47
8 SELLA Emanuele ITA CSF 75:49:42 4:25
9 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen BEL SIL 75:49:43 4:26
10 POZZOVIVO Domenico ITA CSF 75:50:42 5:25
11 CARDENAS Felix Rafael COL BAR 75:50:54 5:37

Thanks for joining us for the live coverage today.

Join us tomorrow for the penultimate mountain man festival stage 19: Legnano - Presolana-Monte Pora 228 km. Which should be a decisive stage before the final two days that will decide the winner of the 2008 Giro. The stage has three climbs in the final after 140 kilometers of rolling terrain the gravity tests begin with the 19.8 km Passo del Vivione a climb to 1828 meters  with a 6.9% average grade with max sections of 13% with the summit at 172.6 km.

The second climb of the day is the Passo Della Presolano; a 4.8 km climb with the summit only 11 km from the finish. The torturous climb averages almost 9% with sections of 16%. A quick descent and the summit finish follows on the 6.4 km climb of the Monte Pora. The average gradient of 6.8% will test the riders legs after over 200 km of riding with sections of 11% as they approach the summit finish. Sure to be a dramatic stage where anything can happen to shake up the general classification.

Full results, Interviews and Photos to come...

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