88th Giro d'Italia - Stage Twelve
(Alleghe to Rovereto - 178 km.)
Click for larger images. Courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport.
Hi everyone, and welcome to our live coverage of Stage 12 of the 88th Giro d'Italia, which takes brand new Maglia Rosa holder Ivan Basso, as well as the rest of the bunch still in the race, from Alleghe to Rovereto over 178 km. The course is tough at the beginning, but gets easier as the race progresses, so that big changes to the overall are not a likely thing today. Because of the route of course, but also as this leg comes sandwiched between yesterday's "epic" stage to Zoldo Alto and two terrible mountain stages awaiting for us (and the riders) over the week-end. So we wouldn't be surprise at seeing another sprint finish, perhaps a small bunch sprint involving members of a successful breakaway, who knows ...
More details about the stage and its parcours can be found in the following preview, taken from our Giro d'Italia 2005 Route special report, which we posted as the race course was unveiled in late January.
Stage 12 (Friday - May 20, 2005)
Alleghe To Rovereto (178 km)
No uphill finish today, but an "easier" leg (some called it a "transition stage"), a warm-up thingy that nevertheless features the difficult Passo San Pellegrino (profile here): a dozen kilometres of climbing (according to the Gazzetta dello Sport at least, a few more according to the Salite.ch website), at an average gradient of 7.85%, with 3 km. steadily above 10%, that lead up to an altitude of 1918m ASL. With the first slopes less than 20 km. into the stage, it comes far too early for having a significant impact on the GC but, as Francesco Moser - who knows this route well - said after the parcours was unveiled, it might have a devastating impact on the hopes for stage victory of many fastmen, although some pundits picked fast guys who can somehow climb well as possible winners. Don't write off a successful breakaway though, or perhaps even a small bunch sprint with the main overall contenders in the front group. Gilberto Simoni gets to his own area of Trentino, but we wouldn't bet on him taking line honors today.
Today's Regional de l'Etape,
Trentino's own Gilberto Simoni,
and his "Aussie" saddle. Courtesy fi'zi:k.
Click for larger image.
Some food for the statistic-addicts: the Belluno province town of Alleghe (where the most popular sport is ice hockey) plays host to a Giro stage start for the second time (the first being in 1975: Alleghe-Stelvio Pass, 186 km. with lots of uphill riding and Spain's Francisco Galdos as winner), while the finish line is no stranger to Rovereto at all: stage winners there were Belgian legend Rik Van Looy in 1959 and future Olympic Champion Pascal Richard of Switzerland just a decade ago.
Live updates from the race
Things got started at 12:50 local time (CEST), as a group of 183 riders rolled out of Alleghe. Among them wasn't Switzerland's Oliver Zaugg of thre "red bird" team Saunier Duval-Prodir. The peloton started their journey towards the first slopes of the San Pellegrino pass at a comparatively slow pace, with no breakaway attempts coming in the first kilometres.
1400 CEST - One hour into the stage, the Girini continue to ride like tourists (maybe even slower), the average speed being a ridiculuous 22.200 kph. It's true that
the San Pellegrino coming so early in the stage doesn't make for a fast start but - still - they could have done better. Maybe the regrouped peloton is too busy contemplating the marvelous landscapes you can find in this hilly area on north-eastern Italy. If that was the case, we couldn't blame them that much. In any event, we are 3k from the top of the ascent, and nothing worthy of particular mention has occurred thus far.
1420 CEST - Something worthy of mention at last ... the San Pellegrino KOM Prime results! To nobody's surprise, Venzuelan José Rujano and Frenchman Patrice Halgand took the top two places over there, with the little big climber of Selle Italia strenghtening his grip on the Maglia Verde (his main goal in the race), and extending his lead over Koldo Gil, Ivan Basso and Halgand himself. There was a kind of "Selle Italia Festival" at the San Pellegrino summit, with two more riders from the Colombian squad (Naples' very own Raffaele Illiano and Colombian Iván Parra) in the top spots - in fact all top four finishers attacked one km. from the summit and built a small gap - while also Paolo Bettini made a (surprise?) appearance in the point-awarding places as he drove the bunch over the top of the climb 44" behind.
San Pellegrino KOM Prime (Cat.1): Results
1. José Rujano (Ven - Selle Italia-Colombia)
2. Patrice Halgand (Fra - Crédit Agricole)
3. Raffaele Illiano (Ita - Selle Italia-Colombia)
4. Ivan Parra (Col - Selle Italia-Colombia)
5. Paolo Bettini (Ita - Quick Step)
1438 CEST - If it's hard to find someone really surprised at Rujano's mountain prime victory, it might be even more difficult to find someone suprised at seeing him swallowed by the bunch as the road tilts downwards. Having his "green" mission accomplished (one more time) the Venezuelan was back into the peloton early in the descent indeed. And so was Patrice Halgand. Iván Parra and Raffaele Illiano (neither of whom is a particularly good at descending, but both being better descenders than Rujano) stayed clear for some more time, opening a maximum gap of 01'30" by km. 40. The bunch reacted quickly though, and the Selle Italia pair got chased down five kilometres later. So that, on the way to Predazzo, with 133k to go, it was gruppo compatto again.
1456 CEST - The bunch, led by the Fassa Bortolo guys (and that must be for something ...) winded through the towns of Predazzo and Tesero in the Trentino region, with no breakaway attempts worthy of mention coming over the last minutes either. In the meantime, the average speed has "ballooned" to an "impressive" 27.400 km/h after two hours of racing.
1513 CEST - The tourist pace continues under sunny skies - it's pretty unusual to see the peloton proceeding at such a leisurely pace. A mixed bag at the front of the bunch, with maglia rosa Basso in one of the front positions.
A couple of Fassa riders, one of them Gustov, and some CSC teammates are at the front, while Selle Italia's Schnyder is out in front. The peloton has picked up the pace a bit, mostly due to a more downhill section of road, and is a long ribbon snaking through the trees.
Schnyder is pushing it, but his lead is a scant 46".
1527 CEST - The peloton's pace is one that we could keep up with today...the road winds along the mountainside - it's very scenic here and maybe the riders are taking a "tourist" opportunity.
The Swiss Schnyder's lead is now at 1'20". He is working, out of the saddle.
With an eye toward the weekend, it snowed on the Stelvio the day before yesterday, so just as organizers planned an alternate ending the other day due to rain, they will re-route the race as necessary on Sunday. The weather forecast is good for the weekend, but if needed, the race would go through Tubre, in Val Venosta, then over the col del Forno in Switzerland, then back into Italy near Livigno.
1537 CEST - The gap to Schnyder has grown to 1' 30" now. Fassa Bortolo has four men at the front driving it. They must be convinced it will come to a sprint. The rest of the stage is flattish, but looks a bit bumpy from the profile.
1540 CEST - The peloton is hugely strung out on the road, but the pace seems to have raised slightly. Riders stretch and are still taking it very easy. Just under 100 km to go.
Schnyder passes through the town of Cembra, which is near the end of the "descending" portion of today's stage - in another 20 kilometers the parcours becomes fairly flat, though not without its undulations.
1549 CEST - Schnyder's lead up to 1' 55". Still a long way to the finish, though.
1555 CEST - 74km left. Schnyder continues to take advantage of the apathy of the pack. His lead is 2' 10" now.
Simoni has ridden off the front of the pack. The two-time champion is having a go through some tight corners and what not. Now he's sitting up though. Oh, he's pulled over to say hi to some family and friends.
The riders are rolling through some terraced mountainsides, all verdant and green and cultivated. Schnyder is at Lavis now, hammering his buns off. In the pack, Fassa Bortolo is still on point with CSC and the Pink Jersey just behind. In the pack, Di Luca goofs with the camera man and grabs the lens. He's in his all-white ProTour leader getup today.
1603 CEST - 66km left. The peloton is descending down some very tight switchbacks. After this final bit of descent, it's no longer mountainous but just a bit undulating for the rest of the day. There are a couple of Quaranta mountains left, but no Simoni mountains.
It is absolutely beautiful scenery now. The gap has ballooned to 2' 48" for Schnyder. But Fassa doesn't really have the gas down yet.
Well, scientists might say that the reason for Basso taking the Pink yesterday is due to his team colors. A (rather silly) study reported in the Los Angeles Times yesterday said that the color red is the color of champions according to some primatological research. CSC wears some red, so Basso must have looked like a champion; Cunego and Simoni wore red last year when they dominated, but this year they are wearing blue and pink.
Clearly these scientists have never seen me riding in my old Saeco kit.
...I could wear a big red sail and I still wouldn't be able to climb fast with a strong tailwind.
1610 CEST - So CSC has two men on the front, mixing in with Fassa Bortolo in the chase. The peloton is on flatter valley roads now. Hmmm... they are nearing the Intergiro sprint, and Gerolsteiner has come to the front to lead out Krauss.
Bettini was up there contesting it... he is in 2nd in that competition. Di Biase (Selle Italia) was mixed in there. It looks like a Quick Step teammate got 2nd (to Schnyder, who rolled through 2' 37" ago), Bettini 3rd, Di Biase 4th, Krauss 5th.
Zanini was the Quick Step man in 2nd. He and Bettini are having a laugh now. Bettini was probably like, "Dude, slow down and let me pass you for 2nd next time."
So from the beauty of the verdant mountains to a very hideous train yard. Yeesh. The scenery has taken a turn for the worse in the vally. The temperature is 23 degrees C out on the course today, the humidity at about 46%. That's pretty comfy, really. Much more comfy than the snow-covered monsters that await this weekend.
1619 CEST - The riders have been out for 3h 30' now; they are just cruising along. Much faster now, though, than it was earlier in the stage when the riders were taking a nap on their bikes.
The riders now roll past a nice river in the valley. Lots of crazy folks in funky costumes along the road doing some sort of local jig for the cameras. Sniffing too many trainyard fumes, perhaps?
The peloton is strung out a bit now as they take a bridge across the river. They roll under a freeway that has lots of traffic on it. Hmmm... that will be a distraction for the drivers. "Hey, look, it's Di Luc..." crash. (just kidding...)
1625 CEST - So the gap for Schnyder is back to 2' 10". It looks like CSC and Fassa want it down a bit. Italian champion Moreni (Quick Step) is mixed in near the front. He's got ProTour leader Di Luca on his wheel. Not far away is Pinko Basso. That's a nice collection of jerseys for the Italians right there.
McEwen is still chilling in the middle of the pack with Nick Gates. He lets Fassa do all the work, and then takes advantage of it at the end. Ah, cycling, a study in Darwinism. It all seems like something you'd see on the Discovery Channel. Hey! It all makes sense now... that's why they sponsor a cycling team!
1630 CEST - And on cue, the Italian producers put an image of Paolo "Blue Falcon" Savoldelli on the screen in his Discovery Channel jersey. He is riding comfortably, happy as Ullrich in a pie shop after his victory yesterday. He's had two years of injuries and bad luck under the T-Mobile banner, but that is all behind him now. He's in 2nd on GC at only 18" and looks like the only man capable of going toe-to-toe with Basso on every terrain.
The gap is now only 1' 30" for Schnyder. Looks the the Fassas are done with him being off the front.
Yes, lots of eye candy out there on the podium for the ladies this year. Di Luca, Basso, Savoldelli... Crazy Jane is so overwhelmed she can't even get her fingers to stop trembling long enough to type. Whew, the gap is now only 1' 12". Schnyder is likely soft-pedaling now.
I mentioned Ullrich. It's interesting that he's not in this year's Giro, as the organizers seem to have made the finish tomorrow in his honor: the final brutal climb is called "St. Ulrich."
Wow, Juan Cobo Acebo of Saunier Duval is sporting some knee-high socks that look like support hose a granny would wear to help with the varicose veins.
1641 CEST - In the pack, Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) shares a laugh with Ruben Lobato (Saunier Duval). The peloton seems veeery chill today. Likely they are enjoying the relatively slack pace before the attack of the mountain monsters this weekend.
1643 CEST - Is that a brewski in Matt White's hand? Oh, no, just a water bottle. Rujano's teammate slaps him on his Green Jerseyed back and yells something boastful at the TV cameras about the new climbing star. 40km left.
Schnyder's lead is almost gone. The peloton is moving along, but clearly not that quickly. They are riding along a frontage road of a freeway that has all kinds of traffic. I wonder when the pace will finally get the heart rate up for these guys? They are just noodling and goofing around so far.
Schnyder has been riding hard, but CSC and Fassa could have pulled him back any time. And even now that they're pulling him back, guys are still chatting in the pack. No pain yet.
1648 CEST - The riders hit Pomorolo, which is back to the green of vineyards along the sides of the roads. Now they begin to skirt a mountain the easy way... along the valley roads that are flat. Tomorrow, it's straight up and over. And up some more.
1650 CEST - Well, now Schnyder's lead is up to 1' 06" again. The peloton is playing with him, a cruel game like a cat with a cornered mouse. Just like on the Discovery Channel. Hey!
Basso has a placid, stoic expression today that is reminiscent of what you'd see on the statues of ancient Roman generals and noblemen. Or maybe a Buddhist. 35 km to go.
1654 CEST - All right, the Italian race organizers are monkeying with us. Now they say the gap is only 36". Oops, a mechanical for Ruslan Ivanov (Domina Vacanze). He has to stop and get a new tire or something. Maybe a chain problem?
Here is the altimetry for Saturday's Stage 13. Yep, that 218kms of pure climbing pain on tap tomorrow looks absolutely gutting. Rujano will have to go on the attack to keep his mountains lead. And Basso will have another showdown with Simoni, Savoldelli, and perhaps a rejuvinated Cunego. Should be a blast to watch. Unlike the snoozefest today.
1658 CEST - Michael "Take Off" Barry is riding next to the Pink Jersey. He is shepherding his mate Savoldelli, keeping him in the business end of the peloton. The gap is only 19" now. Schnyder's day is over.
The race is so enthralling today that the cameramen and producers are resorting to funky camera angles and shots of oddities along the road to keep things spiced up. Schnyder smiles for the camera.
1701 CEST - 30km left. Schnyder gets picked up by the pack at the 30km sign. So looks like Ivanov just got a bike change. He pulled over under the 30km sign to get it.
So now a chat between a Davitamon rider and a Fassa rider to decide what is going to happen with the leadout for the next 20km. At 10km to go, everything hits the fan. The Fassa and Davitamon first wave just has to get them that far now.
So it looks like this will end up a sprinters' stage. We'll see how those little bumps on the profile turn out... sometimes they are bigger bumps than they appear on paper.
1708 CEST - The pace is up a bit now. The Fassas and Davitamons are stretching it out. Gustov of Fassa and Brandt of Davitamon are the big engines right now.
25km left. Well, the peloton flattens across the road a bit as they hit an uphill. It's not bad, but enough to slow the trains down. The Disco men have Savoldelli right near the front. Barry is in the wind at the front. They are now on a descending section. Now the Fassa and Davitamon express gets rolling again. Moreni seems to have a problem. He's back in the cars.
1712 CEST - McEwen and Petacchi are moving up near the front now. Petacchi is actually on McEwen's wheel right now. Could this be the beginning of a new tactic? Or just chance?
Cofidis and Rabobank have pulled up into the mix at the front. They are parallel to and a bit behind the Fassa/Davitamon express.
The fight for position is starting to happen a bit, especially for the GC men. They are trying to keep up and out of trouble. The sprinters are moving up, but aren't being too earnest about the elbowing yet. 20km left.
1717 CEST - Lampre gets a little GC train going near the front. The riders go through some more vineyards. A FDJeux.com train comes up the left side of the road. They are parallel to the Discovery GC train led by Barry. The Fassa/Davitamon/CSC train is going right up the middle now.
Ooops, another little incline. This looks not too bad, just annoying. Nobody seems interested in attacking.
1721 CEST - CSC has taken over on this incline to try to keep the pace high. Danish champ Blaudzun is on point. The peloton has flattened across the road a bit. Oh, now they are descending and the lines become stretched out again.
Another bridge, another river, another town down. The pace is up and guys on the back are starting to suffer.
CSC is drilling it. Basso is 4th wheel. 15 km to go. It's David "Friskie" Zabriskie leading the CSC train with his awesome time trialing position.
Zabriskie's pressure is blowing guys out the back of the pack. They are all strung out single file at the back and front. There is a little bulge in the middle of the peloton.
1725 CEST - Now the peloton fattens up again on a descent. CSC still in control. FDJeux.com, Fassa Bortolo, T-Mobile, and Gerolsteiner are all waiting in the wings. Now Di Luca comes up to sit on Basso's wheel. He clearly doesn't like or trust this high pace being set by CSC.
McEwen is visible about 15th wheel. A Liquigas/Lampre train comes up parallel to the CSC train now.
1727 CEST - Lots of GC chest thumping going on right now. The sprinters' teams have yet to reassert themselves. 10 km to go.
Well now it's Discovery coming to the point with Savoldelli in tow. Is there some bad corner or something ahead that has the GC men spooked?
The peloton is rolling through a beautiful, tree-lined part of the valley now. CSC is on point with Discovery right behind them.
Joachim now comes to the point to drive it. He's a powerhouse. The pace is blistering, and the sprinters teams seem unusually passive for 8km left.
Is the finish a bit more uphill than it looks on paper? The way the GC leaders are positioning themselves and the sprinters are sitting back, it would seem so.
Quick Step now brings Bettini to the front. Baranowski comes to the fore for Liberty Seguros. Setting up Beloki for the sprint again? Ahem.
1732 CEST - 6km left.
1733 CEST - Cofidis, T-Mobile, some more familiar teams are now driving it. FDJeux.com and Rabobank are in there. Now the long Fassa train comes up. 5km left now, and Fassa is trying to take over, finally.
The Fassa train puts the hammer seriously and truly down.
1735 CEST - Velo's heart rate is 166, 92% of his max. Zabel, Cooke, McEwen, Murn, Kirsipuu, all seem to be elbow-throwing for position as usual behind the Fassa train now.
Cadamuro of Domina Vacanze is in good position today. Bettini is still mixed up in there. Zabel and Bettini are right on Petacchi. 2km left.
1737 CEST - Grillo gets a leadout to Petacchi's wheel, where he scrums for position. Velo is still on point. Final kilometer. Murn has jumped.
Now he's just leading the pack to the line. They are trying to disrupt the Fassa leadout. Here it comes up the right side of the road. The sprint is all crazy, but Petacchi wins it easily.
The Fassa train reasserted itself in the final 600 meters. Grillo tried to jump early, and Petacchi jumped over to his wheel. Petacchi then blew by him and won by two bike lengths. Galvez looks to have come in 3rd. That was the Petacchi dominance we've gotten used to, but which has been lacking this Giro. It looked easy when Petacchi brought the hammer.
Galvez has been up there consistently in this race. He's a good sprinter, and a great fantasy team rider. He's always in the top ten on a sprint, it seems, and usually top five.
So the sprinters get another playday between the mountain finish yesterday and the mountain finish tomorrow. Wonder if McEwen will still stick around...
Forster gave another good day for the Gerolsteiners. Who knows, after this mountain weekend some of the "lesser" sprinters like Forster and Galvez might be able to take a flat stage.
Clerc of Phonak was 8th, and he's been another consistent finisher in the sprints. Now Petacchi takes to the stage, having made the score 2-3 in his battle with McEwen.
And yeah, baby, Petacchi knows what to do with that champagne (he studied under Cipollini, you know). Were you watching, Ivan and Paolo? That's how it's done.
The crowd gets a champagne shower from Petacchi, and up comes Basso for his pink shirt - he looks like he's going to cry, holds it back.
He smooches the models, and now, the champagne. He smirks as he gets the bottle... he's struggling. DOH! The crowd is jeering! He can't do it! Dude, take some lessons. Cipo is in the Liquigas team car, man. Call him up! Oh heh! Basso finally gets the champagne open and showers the crowd! The Italian producers give a replay for us.
McEwen is still in the Points Jersey lead. He is 7 points up on Bettini, 20 up on Di Luca. And they play some cheesy power chord guitar solo for McEwen. Why? Petacchi is up to 4th, 22 points behind McEwen.
The tiny Rujano is now 20 points up in the Mountains competition. He looks like a middle-schooler hanging out with the high school cheerleading squad up on that stage... he is so small and has such a young face.
Krauss still has the Intergiro lead. At least Krauss is taller than the stage models! And wrapping up the classifications today, Davitamon-Lotto leads the Trofeo Super Team competition while Liquigas-Bianchi continues in the Trofeo Fast Team competition.
Now, this weekend. Epic stages. If you haven't looked yet, here is the altimetry for Saturday's Stage 13:
And here is Sunday's Stage 14 altimetry:
Make sure to join us for live coverage both days, right here at the Daily Peloton! The day's full results to come, and thanks for joining us today.