Stage 20 Rovetta - Tirano 224 km
Baliani, Perez Cuapio and Colom see their gap come down steadily. It was
around 03'30" at the latest check. The trio rides through a section of ancient
narrow cobbled streets. The lead trio reached Mazzo di Valtellina, a small town
getting international exposure each time the Giro goes over the Mortirolo. It's
at the foot of the climb. THE climb. The Gavia efforts take it's toll on Pérez
Cuapio. The Mexican loses contact to Baliani and Colom as soon as they hit the
first slopes. Teammate Baliani keeps driving the Spaniard over what can turn out
to be the race decider.
The peloton got to Mazzo di Valtellina too, 03'20" behind the stage
leaders. Just a small flat portion ... and they'll meet Mr. Mortirolo. Who's
definitely NOT Mr.-Nice Guy. At least to 90 percent of the bunch.
1542 CEST - HERE WE GO! The Gibo Armada
drives the Gruppo Maglia Rosa over the first slopes. Bettini is off the back
of the peloton. He's gonna get dropped soon. Alberto Contador sits in sixth
wheel. Sella is in a good position. Di Luca follows his teammate Bosisio. Gibo
looks much better than yesterday. Too bad that the horrible day he had
yesterday took him out of contention for the GC win. Riccardo Ricco stays on
1545 CEST - Toni Colom is stuck on
Fortunato Baliani's rear wheel. Nothing happens in the Gruppo Maglia Rosa,
apart from several riders getting dropped already. Levi Leipheimer stays with
his team leader Contador, so Astana have more than two guys in the gruppo.
It's the "Quiet before the Storm". Ruslan Ivanov drives the peloton
charge, with Levi in second wheel,. Nibali and Savoldelli can't follow the
tempo any longer and get dropped.
Riders fall off the back. Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1549 CEST - Ivanov is done with his
work. It's LPR's time to ride tempo, and Jure Golcer takes over the job. Levi
is no longer on the front of the Gruppo, but Russia's Gusev is. Sella
and Riccò follow two LPR guys. Contador is there too. The summit of this
mountain monster is still 10 kilometres away, but many are struggling big time
already. Morris Possoni got dropped. The gruppo maglia rosa is down to about
17 riders. Pellizotti is the only Liquigas member.
1554 CEST - We are having an ITT (Herzele
- Herzele, 16.7 km) at the Tour of Belgium
today. We'll keep you updated on the stage results.
1555 CEST - Back to Giro. Or is it the
Gibo? Simoni attacks!! Ricco covers his move, and so does Contador. Simoni's
first move didn't prosper, but here comes Sella!! Il Salbaneio tries to get
away while Ricco keeps an eye on Contador. But nobody has been able to make
the gap yet as they climb the one lane mountain road. Levi, Gusev
dropped: the Spaniard lost two teammates. Di Luca doesn't look as well as
yesterday. Marzio Bruseghin is struggling a lot.
1557 CEST - SPAIN ATTACK! Colom puts
some time into Baliani at the front while Rodriguez gives it a go in the
Gruppo Maglia Rosa. Domenico Pozzovivo looks after covering his move. Di Luca
loses a dozen metres to the "gruppo". Pellizotti isn't having a easy
time either. Menchov "comfortably" stays with the best ones. Sella and Riccò
lead their small group, Contador so far able to follow their wheels, but the
top of the climb is over 7 kilometres far from here. Di Luca and Bruseghin try
hard to regain the Sella/Ricco/Contador group. Pellizotti looks a bit more
exhausted than them.
Gibo attacks the group. Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1602 CEST- The Maglia Rosa group slowed
the pace a little, and this allowed Di Luca,. Bruseghin and even Pellizotti to
get back. But GIBO attacks again! And this looks a wicked move. Still,
Riccò counters his move for the second time. Ricco looks like he's looking
forward to making a move anyway. It's a matter of time before he goes. Gibo on
the front agian. But Contador is very attentive now. The road gets steeper,
and Di Luca, Bruseghin, Pellizotti get dropped again. The same goes with
Valjavec the Slovene.
1605 CEST - Perez Cuapio caught by the
Gruppo Maglia Rosa. Ricco finally makes a move. Sella and Contador look up to
the challenge for the moment. Menchov, Gibo lose contact. So do
Pozzovivo and Joaquim Rodriguez. Sella forcing the pace again. And we're just
around the halfway point of the climb.
GUTSY GIBO! His legs may not be the same as in 2001 and 2003, but he knows
how to struggle like no-one else. He's trying hard to regain the little Gruppo
Maglia Rosa. Bruseghin is not giving up his battle either. Colom is doing fine:
the Spaniard frontrunner holds on to a two-minute advantage on the following
sextet: Contador, Ricco, Sella, Pozzovivo, Rodriguez (!!) and Menchov. Gibo
Simoni sits a dozen metres back.
1610 CEST - Di Luca, Van den Broeck,
Pellizotti and Valjavec are reducing the gap to the Gruppo Maglia Rosa. They
also caught and dropped Perez Cuapio. Colom leads Baliani by 40 seconds. And
even extended his advantage over the Contador/Ricco group to 02'13".
Danilo Di Luca can't follow the wheels of Simoni, Bruseghin, Van den Broeck
either. Efforts sustained yesterday are taking toll on him. As soon as Marzio
Bruseghin noticed Di Luca is having a hard time, he picked up the pace again.
The Lampreman is still hoping for a spot on the Milan podium. The overall win
in the race seems a matter of two men only: Alberto Contador and Riccardo
1617 CEST - Toni Colom doesn't give any
sign of surrender: the Spaniard is under 2 kms from the top of the climb. The
Gruppo Maglia Rosa cut the gap down to a hundred seconds (01'40" that is).
Bruseghin is gaining time on Di Luca, but also on Valjavec and Pellizotti,
while Levi Leipheimer is with Paolo Savoldelli, further behind. Sella leads,
Ricco on his wheel, then Contador and Menchov. Di Luca trails the
Contador group by 45 seconds, Pellizotti and Valjavec by 15".
Colom in the crowds. Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1622 CEST - 1:24 the gap, Toni Colom is
threading his way through two different "walls" made up of fans as he steps
into the last 1000 metres of the Mortirolo. Menchov to the front leading the
group with Sella. Good news for Marzio Bruseghin and his fans all over
the planet: the Lampreman is cutting down his deficit to the Gruppo Contador.
Menchov is driving the pace now as the group lines out up the climb.
The crowd in the last few miles of the climb are absolutely impressive, but
not always behaving. Some silly fan was racing a bit too close on Van den
Broeck, and - as telling him to go away proved a pointless effort - the
Belgian had to play the little Mike Tyson and punch him. The "fan" finally got
it and ran away from VDB.
1627 CEST - Colom crested the Mortirolo.
So did the Gruppo Maglia Rosa 40 seconds back. Baliani was caught. Bruseghin
and Vandenbroeck came some 20 seconds further back. Next over the top were
Pellizotti and Valjavec, with Danilo still behind them. Danilo is
struggling all by himself, some m*r*n pushed him and almost made him fall. Di
Luca lost 01'20" to the Gruppo Maglia Rosa, and about one minute to Bruseghin,
by the top of the climb.
1630 CEST - Joaquim Rodriguez punctured
early into the descent and lost contact to the Contador group. He's now with
Bruseghin and VDB, trying to close down on the race leader. But the Spanish
national champion has a hard time staying with the Italian and the Belgian. Di
Luca is a better descender than Rodriguez, and is giving it everything while
coming down the Mortirolo. He has gained seven seconds on the Contador/Ricco
group in the first few miles. Bruseghin is a good descender too however, and
showing his abilities now. Van den Broeck stays on his wheel. They're about to
get back into the Gruppo.
1635 CEST - 45 kilometres to go. Riders
are on the faaaaaaaaaastest portion of the Mortirolo descent. Thankfully the
road is not wet there. Bruseghin, Rodriguez, Van den Broeck and even
Pellizotti made contact to the Gruppo Maglia Rosa. That is likely to gain yet
another member soon: Colom is apparently waiting for his team leader. Danilo
Di Luca is still chasing all by himself; he's paying the price of being unable
to stay with Franco Pellizotti on the previous ascent. His gap to Contador
(and Bruseghin) is 01'18". Danilo might get some help by Vladimir
Karpets, who's going to catch him soon.
1642 CEST - News from the
Tour of Belgium: Stijn Devolder (Bel - Quick
Step) won the Herzele ITT and also captured the overall leader's black jersey.
More details to follow later today.
1644 CEST - 34.8 km to go. Vladimir
Karpets and Danilo Di Luca are together now, but their time deficit to the ...
Gruppo Bruseghin got even bigger: 01'28". We're six hours into the race now,
Colom is making a fast but cautious descent. Toni Colom is going to be brought
back by the... Gruppo Contador (aka Gruppo Bruseghin).
1647 CEST - Di Luca and Karpets got to
Edolo town, with some good news at last: the gap got back to its falling ways,
they gained 26 seconds in the space of 4 kilometres: it's 01'02" now. But the
Gruppo Maglia Rosa hit the Aprica climb already. And Sella kept forcing the
pace already. Teammate Baliani paid the price of his move and lost contact to
the Gruppo. Colom looks around, waiting for instructions from Contador, but
does nothing. Sella is being let go. Sella opened up some gap. The others look
undecided. Who's going to take up the chase?
Sella opens a gap... and is gone Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
Bruseghin wants to capture third, it looks like. Sella says "grazie" and
quickly puts 15 seconds into his non-chasers. If Bruseghin can take a minute
on Di Luca, he can take care of the rest tomorrow. But what is Ricco going to
do... not much Cobra over him today so far.
1652 CEST - Di Luca and Karpets hit the
Aprica too, but didn't stop themselves from bringing down the gap: it was 55
seconds at the last check. Gibo attacks the Maglia Rosa group and starts his
own chase of Sella. Last gap update on the front: Sella leads Simoni by 13
seconds, Joaquim Rodriguez follows at 40". The Contador/Ricco/Bruseghin group
sits 48 seconds behind.
Sella leads the Maglia Rosa by 45". Simoni (25") and
Rodriguez (35") stay in between. Di Luca stopped making gains on the
Contador/Bruseghin group. The gap fell to the minute. Ricco talks to Bruseghin
and Menchov (saying what?) then moves to the front of the Gruppo.
Ricco responds but finds no help in the chase of Sella.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1657 CEST - New gap: Gibo is just 13
seconds back. But the gruppos deficit to Sella went up to 54 seconds.
Needless to say, Contador isn't riding his legs off in the chase to Sella and
Simoni: a top place from the man in green and Gibo would be truly welcomed, as
it would keep Ricco from getting bonus seconds.
coverage of stage 20 continues in Part 3
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