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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 19 Live Coverage
 
By Staff
Date: 5/30/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 19 Live Coverage
 

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 19 Live Coverage
Here comes another queen stage. A pan flat thing all over the first half, but when the going gets vertical, it's truly serious about it. Follow the action from Legnano onto today's three climbs. Live. Here. Plus, Tour of Belgium updates.


 Stage 19: Legnano - Presolana-Monte Pora 228 km

Hello everyone, benvenuti to our live coverage of stage 19 in the Giro d'Italia 2008. Welcome to the three days that will change the world. Well, perhaps they wouldn't go that far, but they're definitely going to let us know who's the winner of the 91st edition of Italy's Grand Tour. The "key trilogy" starts with a predominantly flat effort of about 150 kilometres from Legnano city, a place just north-west of Milan known to cycling fans because of the Coppa Bernocchi one-day classic and notably the (former) local bike manufacturer, whose trademark has been taken over by Bianchi (Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali used to ride Legnano bikes, and even wear the jersey of the legendary Legnano team, through many of their winning years ...) to Forno Allione town, not far from Brescia.

One for the sprinters or the "breakaway men" ... if what they found at the end of such trip on the flatlands of Lombardy was the finishing line. It's just too bad (for them) that what they're going to meet is a hat-trick of mountain giants: the long Passo del Vivione (19.8 km; average gradient: 6.9%. We shouldn't expect huge gaps over there. But you never know ...), followed by a tricky descent where Paolo Savodelli - racing on "home roads" today - could make the difference -, the tough Presolana (4.8 km; average gradient: 8.2%. The opening kilometres are particularly demanding...), and the final climb to the finish (spanning over some 6 kilometres, with 6.8% as average gradient. The first half is tougher, the second is about 4-5 percent steep only...), situated at Monte Pora.


Presolana Pass and the Monte Pora.

What is bad to the Bennatis and Cavendishes of the pack could turn out to be soooo good to all those wannabe GC winners who are finally offered the un-missable opportunity to give current race leader Alberto Contador some very hard time in the saddle.

Perhaps the patriotism-based "holy alliance" of proud Italian knights against the "cruel foreign invader" that many Italian journalists (a bit too often playing armchair quarterbacks) have been longing for, and often talking about; and notably blabbering about, these past few days is never going to take place - this is a trade team competition, and they should know it well too... - But the road is not new to temporary pacts and cooperation based on common interests. And the likes of Riccardo Riccò, Gilberto Simoni, Franco Pellizotti and Danilo Di Luca have displayed a lot of grinta during the race. Plus, some move from a certain Emanuele Sella might well prove crucial in determining the race outcome, albeit the guy isn't the main suspect to stand atop the overall podium in Milano come Sunday. So pon cuidado Alberto, be very careful!


Alberto Contador at the finish of stage 18. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

The "Maglia" wearer sounded aware of such dangers as he was interviewed by RAI's Alessandra Di Stefano at the finish yesterday. Despite racing on "enemy soil", Alberto Contador often gets cheers and support from the Italian tifosi, and he sounded quite glad at that: "I'm speechless. Words cannot describe how happy I am at the behaviour of those fans; it's a pleasure for me to be here, I want to thank all those who support me and promise that I'll be back (to the Giro) in the future. I know that Friday is going to be a very tough day for me, because many riders said that they are going to attack; I hope that I'll be strong enough so I can and hold on to the jersey".

Saunier's Team Manager Pietro Algeri sounded confident about the chances of his pupil: "I think there's a high chance that I have got the Giro d'Italia winner in my team. While standing beside Riccardo Riccò these past days I realized how strong and determined he is. But based on past experience I can tell you that to beat guys like Contador is not going to be an easy task"

The word "climb" has been mostly linked to the words "Emanuele" and "Sella" throughout the current Giro d'Italia. So what has the undisputed King of the Mountains got to say about the forthcoming uphill battles? "I'd like to do fine in Saturday's stage, that features legendary ascents like Gavia and Mortirolo, in particular. But this wouldn't stop me from giving it a go Friday if I had the chance to. I know that they have two days on their side to put pressure on Contador, but they'd better start Friday. So, if anyone goes on the move, I hope I'll be strong enough to follow him. In any event, I can say I'm happy at my Giro accomplishments already, I know that I'm one of the few guys in the peloton that can be satisfied and no longer under pressure". Satisfaction is not a synonym for lack of ambition however, and the green jersey wearer admitted that a better overall placing, even a top three spot in Milan, would be truly welcomed.

If tiny Sella can be entitled to "think big" and aim for bigger targets Presolana-wise (and Mortirolo-wise), it the same goes NOT with better TTist, but worse "mountain goat", Marzio Bruseghin: "I know that I don't have pure climbing legs. All I can do in the next two stages is defend myself, and struggle as much as I can in order not to get dropped or limit my time losses. I promise that - in case I'm still in contention for a top overall placing Saturday evening - I'll give it everything Sunday, just like I've always done".

We end this "day before interviews" collection with some words from Danilo Di Luca, coming all the way from the Varese finishing line: "We got rain also today (Thursday). I hope that the weather will be better on Friday and Saturday. Tomorrow's (Friday's) is a crucial stage, with the last mountain top finish in the race. And also with the Vivione, which is a long ascent, and the demanding Presolana, so I guess attacks will come before (the final ascent into) Monte Pora. I think each time we're given a chance would be good for an attack, especially if some top rider is having a difficult moment. We've got two stages put at our disposal, we'll try. I know that my condition is not as good as it was the past year; if it was, I wouldn't be sitting in sixth place overall, 02'18" down on GC. But that is not too much of a gap after all, you know, so yes, I think I'll give it a go".

1330 CEST - We join the stage in progress with over one hundred kilometres covered already. And with a wild bunch of seven escapees enjoying an impressive advantage of 18 minutes and 40 seconds over the peloton at the km. 113 check, while racing in the Bergamo province of Lombardy. The seven wonders on the attack are Giairo Ermeti (Ita - Team LPR-Ballan), who started the attack after 53 kilometres, Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr - High Road), his compatriot Vasil Kiryienka (Blr - Tinkoff Credit Systems), Alexander Efimkin (Rus - Quick Step), Gabriele Missaglia (Ita - Serramenti Diquigiovanni-Androni), Nicki Sörensen (Den - Team CSC) and Steven Cummings (GBR - Barloworld).

1337 CEST - 125 km to go for the frontrunners, that took their lead over the field up to unusual heights, even in a race like the current Giro, filled with long "breakaways of the day" since the early stages: Giairo Ermeti, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Vasil Kiryienka, Alexander Efimkin, Gabriele Missaglia, Nicki Sörensen and Steven Cummings are 21 minutes clear of the pack.

The action got started under sunny skies (with Julian Dean no longer in the field) before 11AM this morning, but the Girini found the usual rain returning during their eastward move towards the Bergamo and Brescia areas. It stopped raining a while ago but could return at any time.

Gilberto Simoni got a precious team-mate into the breakaway group, and so did Danilo Di Luca. The five other escapees are arguably aiming for personal glory or (more likely) some ever welcome TV exposure for themselves and their teams.

1345 CEST - The escapees made it to the feed zone, with the pack trailing by 21'40" at the latest check. Besides the aforementioned exposure, his breakaway efforts have earned Alexander Efimkin the victory at today's "Milan Expo 2015 sprint" at Darfo Boario Terme town. The breakaway men covered 138.3 kilometres in the first three hours of racing on the flats, averaging an excellent 46.1 kph.

1355 CEST - The gap went over 22 minutes, while the rain is coming down big time over the finish line.

1405 CEST - We got a seven-man breakaway also in today's Ronde van Belgie (aka Tour of Belgium) stage, which covers 184.5 kilometres from Anthisnes to Flemalle, with several stiff climbs to be tackled. William Walker (Aus - Rabobank), Andy Cappelle (Bel - Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner), Maarten Den Bakker (Hol - Skil-Shimano), Tom Criel (Bel - Cycle Collstrop), Sven Nevens (Bel - Mitsubishi-Jartazi), Luca Celli (Ita - Team LPR Brakes) and Niels Albert (Bel - Palmans Crass) attacked about 40 kilometres into the stage and put over four minutes into the field. Their current lead over the pack, driven by Quick Step is down to 01'50" with 68k to go.

1412 CEST - Back to Giro d'Italia action: Giairo Ermeti (Ita - Team LPR-Ballan), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr - High Road), Vasil Kiryienka (Blr - Tinkoff Credit Systems), Alexander Efimkin (Rus - Quick Step), Gabriele Missaglia (Ita - Serramenti Diquigiovanni-Androni), Nicki Sörensen (Den - Team CSC) and Steven Cummings (GBR - Barloworld) have reached the foot of the first climb of the day, Passo Vivione. Their advantage over the pack is going to come down on its slopes, but it's gonna be hard for Contador and associates to make up for the current 21-minute deficit. And not just on the way to the Vivione summit (in this case it would be simply impossible...), but even by the finishing line.

We remind you that the top ten places overall at the start line today were as follows:
1. CONTADOR Alberto SPA AST - 75h45'17" (Maglia Rosa)
2. RICCO' Riccardo ITA SDV - at 41" (Maglia Bianca U24)
3. SIMONI Gilberto ITA SDA - at 01'21"
4. BRUSEGHIN Marzio ITA LAM - at 02'00"
5. PELLIZOTTI Franco ITA LIQ - at 02'05"
6. DI LUCA Danilo ITA LPR - at 02'18"
7. MENCHOV Denis RUS - at 02'47"
8. SELLA Emanuele ITA CSF - at 04'25" (Maglia Verde KOM
9. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen BEL SIL - at 04'26"
10. POZZOVIVO Domenico ITA CSF - at 05'25"

1420 CEST - Tour of Belgium update: the advantage of William Walker (Aus - Rabobank), Andy Cappelle (Bel - Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner), Maarten Den Bakker (Hol - Skil-Shimano), Tom Criel (Bel - Cycle Collstrop), Sven Nevens (Bel - Mitsubishi-Jartazi), Luca Celli (Ita - Team LPR Brakes) and Niels Albert (Bel - Palmans Crass) fell under 40 seconds as the distance to the line fell under 60 kilometres. Unlike their Giro d'Italia colleagues the Ronde escapees look like they are going to be reeled in soon.

Niels Albert realized that, and sped off on his own on the steep Muur de Huy. All seven attackers were caught, but the Muur partially split the field, with Stijn Devolder (Bel - Quick Step) on the move and first at the top of the climb.

1430 CEST - Giairo Ermeti, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Vasil Kiryienka, Alexander Efimkin, Gabriele Missaglia, Nicki Sörensen and Steven Cummings stay in the lead at the Giro. Their advantage had slightly dropped to 20'40" at the most recent check.

1440 CEST - Efforts from the Astanas at the front of the pack bore some fruit: the gap came down to ... er ... only about 19 minutes with 75 kilomtres (but plenty of uphill riding) to go. The lead group is climbing the Vivione.

1445 CEST - The Huy slopes broke the peloton into smaller groups at the Tour of Belgium. The race is over the Cote d'Amay. The situation is still fluid, with Belgium's Stijn Devolder, Sven Nys, Greg Van Avermaet, Fabian De Waele, Bart Scheirlinckx, Sven Nevens and Sven Renders as well as Holland's Robert Gesink, Bram Tankink and Koen De Kort, Russia's Serguei Ivanov, Italy's Mirko Selvaggi and Salvatore Commesso plus Spain's Carlos Barredo opening up a small gap with 43k to go.

1450 CEST - To the Giro again: Vasil Kiriyenka drives the seven-man group on the Vivione. But it could be thinned down to a few less guys as Gabriele Missaglia is struggling.

1500 CEST - News from the Tour of Belgium: a front quartet formed, containing Serguei Ivanov (Rus), Bram Tankink (Hol), Fabian De Waele (Bel) and Salvatore Commesso (Ita). But their advantage over the closest chasers is very small with about 30k remaining.

1505 CEST - Gabriele Missaglia was dropped by the front group - now down to six men - at the Giro. The Astana driven gruppo hit the Vivione too, but their time deficit to Giairo Ermeti, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Vasil Kiryienka, Alexander Efimkin, Gabriele Missaglia, Nicki Sörensen and Steven Cummings hovers at 20 minutes.

1505 CEST - Gabriele Missaglia was dropped by the front group - now down to six men - at the Giro. The Astana driven gruppo hit the Vivione too, but their time deficit to Giairo Ermeti, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Vasil Kiryienka, Alexander Efimkin, Gabriele Missaglia, Nicki Sörensen and Steven Cummings hovers at 20 minutes.

1510 CEST - Di Luca's domestique Gabriele Pietropolli and a lieutenant of Franco Pellizotti's launched a small attack on the field in the opening part of the Vivione, but the Astanas were very attentive and quickly covered their potentially dangerous move. The pouring rain is annoying the girini on this climb too. The fugitives are around the halfway point of the climb. Track specialist Cummings is the one having the hardest time in the lead sextet.

1512 CEST - Stijn Devolder attacks again at the Tour of Belgium, with the finishing line 19 kms away. The race made it to the line for the first time. Attacks and counter-attacks come all the time here.

1520 CEST - The Giro d'Italia front runners are getting closer to the Vivione summit, which is only 5 kms away. The peloton is trailing by close to 18 and a half minutes. Nothing is happening yet on the GC side of things, and perhaps the current adverse weather is no stranger to the lack of moves in the field.

1524 CEST - Here comes the first attack on the Vivione, featuring Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mex), Toni Colom (Spa) and .... EMANUELE SELLA (Ita) !!! It took eight kilometres for the CSF-Navigare pairing and one of Contador's top domestiques to make the first move. The trio quickly opened up a 30-second lead on the field.

1530 CEST - Tour of Belgium update: Stijn Devolder (Bel - Quikc Step) and Greg Van Avermaet (Bel - Silence-Lotto) are covering the last lap of the final circuit. They lead their nearest chase group by close to 50 seconds with 9 kilometres left.

1535 CEST - Giro d'Italia update: the frontrunners are just 2 km. from the KOM sprint, but also down to four men (Giairo Ermeti, Kanstantsin Sioutsou, Alexander Efimkin and Nicki Sörensen) as Kiriyenka and Cummings got dropped - Missaglia had lost contact earlier. Emanuele Sella, Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio and Toni Colom were brought back into the field. No way they are leaving "Il Salbaneo" go just like they did on the Dolomites. And no way any other rivals of Alberto Contador gave the Maglia Verde a helping hand.

1538 CEST - Kiryienka beat Efimkin at the Vivione mountain sprint, Ermeti snatched third place with Sørensen coming in fourth a few seconds back. Sioutsou came in one minute behind.

1540 CEST - Stijn Devolder (Bel - Quick Step) and Greg Van Avermaet (Bel - Silence-Lotto) reached the last two kilometres in the stage at Tour of Belgium. Their 53 second-advantage is not giving any hope to any other riders. Line honours are a two-man affair.

Stijn Devolder paces his breakaway companion under the flambe rouge. The last kilometre is quite uphill.

1545 CEST - Greg Van Avermaet (Bel - Silence-Lotto) pipped Stijn Devolder to the line and claimed the stage in Belgium. The man also captured the overall leader's black jersey.

Serguei Ivanov (Rus) beat Bart De Waele (Bel) and Serguei Lagutin (Uzb) in the three-man sprint for third place at 55 seconds;

Holland's Bram Tankink (6th), Italy's Salvatore Commesso (7th), Belgium's Leif Hoste (8th), Holland's Maarten Tjallingil (9th) and Italy's Luca Celli (10th) came in next over a minute behind.

1555 CEST - More details about today's Tour of Belgium stage will come later, but now let's get back to the wet and slippery roads at Giro d'Italia, with some significant news: the Seven Wonders on the front regrouped again on the Vivione descent!! The pouring rain strongly "advised" Kiryienka, Efimkin, Ermeti and Sørensen to take it easy and be careful in the downhill portion. Cummings, Missaglia and Sivtsov took advantage of it.

And Alberto Contador drives the Gruppo Maglia Rosa over the top of the climb, about 16 minutes back. Paolo Bettini couldn't follow the tempo of the peloton in the last slopes, but he's about to regain the Contador group. The overall leader lost Bazayev, Iglinsky and Gusev on the ascent, and some teammates of Danilo Di Luca (Spezialetti included) got dropped too.

Our live coverage continues in: Stage 19 Live Part 2

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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 19 Live Coverage Part 2

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