88th Giro d'Italia - Stage Thirteen
(Mezzocorona to Ortisei/Sankt Ulrich - 218 km.)
Or the Mountain Men Festival, Part 2. Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Stage 13 of the 88th Giro d'Italia, the toughest stage in the race, a terrible ride of 218 km. over the Dolomites, starting at Mezzocorona, finishing at the mountain resort of Ortisei/Sankt Ulrich, and featuring as many as five categorized climbs, and the mountain top finish at Ortisei/St. Ullrich. Today's ascents are as follows:
- Passo di Costalunga (Katerpass) - Cat. 2 (km. 71.1)
- Passo di Sella (Sellajoch) - Cat. 1 (km. 106.2)
- Passo di Gardena (Grödnerjoch) - Cat. 2 (km. 117.4)
- Passo delle Erbe (Würzjoch) - Cat. 1 (km. 161)
- Pontives - Cat. 1 (km. 213.8)
The feeding zone is situated around the 130 km. mar k, while the Intergiro comes at Bressanone/Brixen, 31.6 km. from the finish.
It all gets started at "wine town" Mezzocorona, a tiny hamlet in the northern part of the Trento province, making its debut as Giro start town, in the morning hours, and comes to end in the multilingual area of Alto Adige/South Tyrol, where Italian, German and also a minority language named Ladin are spoken. The finish town has got three different names indeed: Ortisei (Italian), Urtijei (Ladin) and, in its German way … Sankt Ulrich. One could joke about organizers picking a place with such a name as (queen) stage finish town as an attempt to bring Jan to the roads of Italy, but we are sure that the T-Mobile superstar, too busy with his build-up for the Tour de France (where he's certainly gonna be a protagonist as always), is not inside the Corsa Rosa field. With so many mountains, and mountain goats of course, rockin' the stage today, only few or no-one should miss him though.
That's what this stage is all about, no? Photographer
But words may not be enough to explain the toughness of this stage, sp we'd better to let maps and altimetries do the talking now. First of all, with the stage profile and map.
Click for larger images. Courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport.
And later on with the altimetries of today's difficulties (descents included, as they could make the gap too, especially with a certain Paolo Savoldelli around ...). Click on the links below to access the profiles.
Live updates from the race
1130 CEST - Things got underway at 10:50 AM local time. 177 riders took the start of today's queen stage. There were also six non-starters though: Stuart O'Grady, Aart Vierhouten, Baden Cooke, Jaan Kirsipuu, but notably two guys: Robbie McEwen and Stefano Garzelli. Few were surprised at seeing the first four riders drop out of the race - Kirsipuu in particular - before the hilly weekend, while some expected the Lotto-Davitamon sprinter to defend his Ciclamino Jersey until Milano. But the Aussie opted for doing what he has always done: going home as the Giro parcours gets tough, and start his build-up for his next challenges (Tour de France, Words. maybe something else...). This time he goes home with three victories under his belt anyway, and goes home not before promising (in quite a decent Italian) he'll be back next year for more wins. With McEwen and most of the so-called "Aussie Sprinting Mafia" dropping out as the race gets tougher, the Ciclamino Jersey moves to the shoulders of Paolo Bettini, though the main suspect to wear it on the podium at Milano is now Alessandro Petacchi, who got back showing who's the boss when it comes to sprinting yesterday afternoon.
Few pundits expected a GC contender such as Stefano Garzelli to pull out of the race, but the man from Varese, suffering from leg problems after he fell during the Pistoia stage a week ago, and having a very bad day in the first mountain stage this past Thursday, realized that his form was poor and continuing in the race would have just made things worse, so opted for stopping and starting his build-up for his next challenges (the biggest one being the Tour de France, that is now part of his plans) too.
The stage got off to a very fast and hectic start, with a flurry of attacks coming since the flag was dropped. About 10 riders made the first break. All of them were chased down by the Team CSC-led peloton by km. 8, but Germany's Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile) managed to stay away. For half a dozen more kilometres at least, then he was reeled in too. But attacks didn't stop: it was the turn of Christophe Kern (Fra - Bouygues Telecom). Ruslan Ivanov (Mol - Domina Vacanze) and Steve Zampieri (Swi - Phonak Hearing Systems) of having a shot at breaking away at km. 15. They didn't succeed though, and also Bram Schmitz failed as he tried again by km. 19.
Then, finally, came the first serious and successful breakaway attempt. Which was started by a Lampreman, Russian Evgeni Petrov, as well as Denmark's Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Poland's Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty Seguros Team) and Spain's Joan Horrach (Illes Balears). They attacked by km. 20, but were caught and passed by Catalan rider Joaquin Rodríguez of the yellow-jerseyed team Saunier Duval-Prodir. Petrov, Baranowski and Horrach were back into the bunch soon, while Rasmussen caught Rodríguez again, and so did Colombian Iván Parra (Selle Italia). Mexican Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio (Panaria-Navigare) and Slovenia's Tadej Valjavec of Phonak. Such that we had a group of five riders leading about half an hour into the stage. This first, very hectic phase was completed as more riders attacked the field and joined the lead group, so that we had up to twenty-five frontrunners by km. 25. But the bunch reacted again, and a couple kilometres later they all were together one more time.
Valjavec and Parra didn't give up the fight and attacked again, this time along with two Spaniards: Saunier's Rubén Lobato Elvira (finally back to the combative attitude he displayed for most of the Tour de Romandie a few weeks ago) and 2002 Vuelta winner Aitor González of the so-called "orange warriors" of Euskaltel-Euskadi, though the latest, poor performances by the Basque team didn't live up to that nickname at all.
They built a first gap of twenty seconds over the field, but few Girini are in the mood to take it easy inside the bunch today, so more riders attacked the bunch and got across to join the leaders: Italians Paolo Bettini, Paolo Tiralongo, Giampaolo Caruso and Francesco Bellotti, Spain’s Joan Horrach and (again) Joaquin Rodriguez, Switzerland’s Steve Zampieri (on the attack again too), Denmark’s Michael Rasmussen and Michael Blaudzun, Germany’s Jan Schaffrath and Venezuelan superstar José Rujano counter-attacked and reached the aforementioned frontrunners.
While Simoni's and Cunego's former domestique Leonardo Bertagnolli, now racing for Cofidis, pulled out of the race in his home region Trentino, and so did Holland's Rabo-boy Steven de Jongh, the Giro d'Italia protagonists continued to give the poor tickerer a very hard time with their attacks and counter-attacks over the next kilometres. About one hour into the stage, we had 21 riders in the lead, the peloton about 40 seconds back, and guys like Zampieri, Garrido, Beloki (!) in between.
After 35km. the following riders were part of the leading group: Paolo Tiralongo (Ita), Ivan Parra (Col), José Rujano (Ven), Francesco Bellotti (Ita), Pietro Caucchioli (Ita, one of the presumed GC contenders, a bit disappointing in the first half of the race, but recently finding back some good legs), Wladimir Belli (Ita), Aitor González (Spa), Sven "Intergiro Man" Krauss (Ger), Joan Horrach (Spa), Giampaolo Caruso (Ita), Andrea "Brontolo" Noé (Ita), Tadej Valjavec (Slo), Paolo Bettini (Ita), José Antonio Garrido Lima (Spa), Michael Rasmussen (Den), Juan Manuel Garate (Spa), Joaquín Rodríguez (Spa), Michael Blaudzun (Den), Matthias Kessler (Ger), Jan Schaffrath (Ger). The peloton was about a minute behind.
So we finally got a serious and solid breakaway group, that extended their advantage over the bunch (where Ivan Basso's CSC teammates were not surprsingly setting the pace) to 01'20" by km. 43 and 03'35" by km. 50.
The peloton didn't make any gains on the first slopes of the Costalunga Pass. Quite the opposite instead, as the gap ballooned to four minutes by km. 56. and 04'44" by km. 60, while German "waterboy" (as in "Gerolsteiner rider" of course) Thomas Ziegler added his name to the list of riders not gracing the Giro d'Italia roads anymore.
As the race progressed over the Costalunga, the gap futher increased to 05'22" by km. 62; but then came a four-man attack: Rujano (a man on a "green" mission, you know ...), Kessler, Rodríguez and Lobato Elvira rode away from the other escapees. Who had no intention to let them go anyway, so that they were pulled back a few minutes later. The front group was together again (apart from Gerolsteiner's Sven Krauss, that got dropped earlier and was already trailing by more than a minute) 3 km. from the top of the Costalunga Pass, with the "Gruppo Maglia rosa" 05'40" back.
While it was the turn of Domina Vacanze's Marco Fertonani, Rabobank's Thorwald Veneberg and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team to enter their names into the list of DNFs, the leading group made it to the top of the Costalunga climb, and - what a surprise - José Rujano won the KOM Prime there, with teammate Iván Parra taking second and Marco Pantani's former domestique Francesco Bellotti, now riding with the Crédit Agricole outfit, filling the remaining top three spot. In the meantime, the white and red jerseys of Team CSC were constantly seen at the front of the bunch, riding tempo on the last slopes of Passo Costalunga.
The bunch crested the climb 05'48" behind the leaders, and about four minutes behind Sven Krauss. But Paolo Tiralongo (Panaria), Ivan Parra and José Rujano (Selle Italia), Francesco Bellotti and Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Wladimir Belli (Domina Vacanze), Aitor González (Euskaltel), Joan Horrach (Illes Balears), Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros ), Andrea "Brontolo" Noe' (Liquigas), Tadej Valjavec (Phonak), Paolo Bettini and José Antonio Garrido Lima (Quick Step), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Juan Manuel Garate and Joaquin Rodríguez (Saunier Duval), Michael Blaudzun (Team CSC), Matthias Kessler and Jan Schaffrath (T-Mobile) held onto their lead in the descent afterwards, and their advantage over the pack (that was not riding too hard, as some sprinters previously dropped, like Petacchi and Zabel, could regain the bunch) was still a good 05'40" as the race hit Vigo di Fassa/Vich, one of the main towns in this bilingual - both Italian and Ladin-speaking - area of Trentino (the going gets trilingual on the other side of the upcoming Sella Pass, with German to be added). Speaking of German-speakers, Sven Krauss stayed in between them all, but his gap to the escapees was over two minutes at Vigo (km. 80/138k to go).
The gap went over six minutes a couple kilometres later, while the "DNF" club got two brand new members, one of whom is - better, used to be - a big name of the peloton: Joseba Beloki. In past stages it looked like the Basque was slightly finding back some decent legs, as we saw him with the best ones on some climbs, but things seemingly took a different turn, and unfortunately the Tour de France multiple podium finisher will have to postpone his comeback to the spotlight, and to some decent results, again. It's not a pleasant thing for him, and it's not pleasant for the several fans who enjoyed his performances in the early 2000s - until he had that terrible accident in the Tour 2003- either. But that's cycling, folks ... By the way - the other guy who pulled out of the race is Beloki's fellow countryman David Navas Chica (Illes Balears), often a factor at the Tour of Spain, but not much of a factor on the 88th Giro d'Italia roads.
1330 CEST - As the frontrunners (Paolo Tiralongo, Iván Parra, José Rujano, Francesco Bellotti, Pietro Caucchioli, Wladimir Belli of Domina Vacanze, Aitor González, Joan Horrach, Giampaolo Caruso, Andrea Noé, Tadej Valjavec, Paolo Bettini, José Antonio Garrido Lima, Michael Rasmussen, Juan Manuel Garate, Joaquín Rodríguez, Michael Blaudzun, Matthias Kessler and Jan Schaffrath) hit the first slopes of just another mountain monster, the Sella Pass, after some 100 km. of racing, their advantage over the Gruppo Maglia Rosa (containing Basso as well as all other top overall contenders, and a new member, Sven Krauss, who was eventually captured by the bunch) rose to more than seven and a half minutes. A gap which turned Spain's Juanma Garate, 06'48" down on the General Classification at the stage start, into virtual race leader on the road. He has got close to no chances (better, no chances at all) to keep this "status" all the way to the finishing line, but he'd better "enjoy" it as much as it can. Not that that the efforts he's currently making in the saddle are giving him much room for that anyway ... Garate and his teammate Lobato Elvira and Rodríguez are the most active members in the leading group.
Whose advantage over the main peloton faded to 06'35" 3km. from the top of the Sella Pass, such that Garate (once of Gilberto Simoni's top domestiques, and no doubt the Lampres would need a guy like him in their roster today) had to give back also the "virtual" jersey to Ivan Basso.
1420 CEST - Wonderboy José Rujano continued his "green march" on the way to the King of the Mountain title, as he took first also at the top of the Cat. 1 Sella Pass. Parra and Bellotti traded positions from the previous ascent instead, with the Italian now in second place and the Colombian third. Garate and Pietro Caucchioli made the top 5 spots complete. The bunch came in at 06'15".
1430 CEST - A brief descent of half a dozen minutes or so into South Tyrol territory and ... et voilá, here comes more uphill riding, now going under the nice name of Passo Gardena, or Grödnerjoch as the local German speakers call it. Paolo Tiralongo (Panaria-Navigare), Iván Parra and José "Green" Rujano (Selle Italia), Francesco Bellotti and Pietro Caucchioli (Crédit Agricole), Wladimir Belli (Domina Vacanze), Aitor González (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Joan Horrach (Illes Balears), Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros Team), Andrea "Brontolo" Noé (Liquigas-Bianchi), Tadej Valjavec (Phonak Hearing Systems), Paolo Bettini and José Antonio Garrido Lima (Quick Step), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Juan Manuel Garate, Rubén Lobato Elvira and Joaquin Rodríguez (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Matthias Kessler and Jan Schaffrath (T-Mobile) still keep a consistent lead of more than six minutes over the main bunch.
By the way - the Gardena is just the third out of five mountain monsters riders have to climb today; the next difficulty is the awful Passo delle Erbe, which, as you may have noticed in the "stage preview" at the beginning of the ticker, is also the so-called "Cima Pantani".
Marco Pantani 1970-2004
Indeed, as riders will make their way to San Martino/Sankt Martin, they have to swing westward to Passo delle Erbe. And to the tribute the Giro pays to Italy's number one rider of the past decade, and one of the greatest climbers (if not THE greatest) ever. In 2004 Giro organizers made the decision to honor the memory of Marco Pantani by giving his name to one of the most difficult race climbs in each edition of the race. The "Montagna Pantani" of the 88th Giro d'Italia is nothing else but the aforementioned Passo delle Erbe (Würzjoch), one of the many climbs that played host to Pantani's great uphill rides. It's a very, very tough ascent, covering 15.2 km. with an average gradient of about 9%., which can really make the gap and prove fundamental in determining both the stage and - to a lesser extent - final overall classifications.
In the meantime, the stage made it to the top of the Gardena Pass, with 19 guys in the lead and the peloton, still led by the CSC boys (veteran Andrea Peron is working particularly hard today, but the fact a sprinter like Giovanni Lombardi was there riding tempo at the front was a sign of the slow pace kept the bunch), seven minutes down. Not that we needed to tell you, as you may have suspected it already, but the little, tiny, big, fantastic climber from Santa Cruz de Mora, Venezuela, came first over the top of this Cat. 2 ascent too. Way to go, Joseito! His teammate Parra came second again, and the great Andrea Noé was third.
The fugitives (among whom is not Michael Blauduzn though) got to the feeding zone at Corvara in Badia (km. 127.4, 90.6k to go) with their lead over the bunch up to 07'12". Some unpleasant news came from the Gardena descent, as Denmark's Mads Christensen (Quick Step) as well as Spain's Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Dauval-Prodir) of Philadelphia racing fame hit the tarmac. The Scandinavian was soon back in the saddle, while the Spaniard was assisted by the medici of the Giro. But unfortunately for him, the fall forced Ventoso to drop out of the race. He was just the 15th daily addition to the list of riders no more in the Giro.
1505 CEST - km. 134/84k to go: The race is on a flat section. Paolo Tiralongo, Iván Parra, José Rujano, Francesco Bellotti, Pietro Caucchioli, Wladimir Belli of Domina Vacanze, Aitor González, Joan Horrach, Giampaolo Caruso, Andrea Noé, Tadej Valjavec, Paolo Bettini, José Antonio Garrido Lima, Michael Rasmussen, Juan Manuel Garate, Joaquín Rodríguez, Rubén Lobato Elvira, Matthias Kessler and Jan Schaffrath brought their lead up to 07'24". And Garate recaptured the status of "virtual race leader on the road".
But it's just the quiet before the storm cause the awful Würzjoch is coming!!
1510 CEST - Both the escapees and the bunch are about to hit the Erbe Pass. expect the firweorks to start in a while!!
1512 CEST - And here come the fireworks indeed!!! As soon as they hit the first slopes of the climb, both Damiano Cunego and Gilberto Simoni attacked!!! Ivan Basso didn't counter their move.
1515 CEST - Cunego is setting the pace and there is no reaction from the bunch. Cunego and Simoni are in tandem, the peloton behind splintering under the pressure. CSC respond - but Basso seems not to be following the wheels! Basso looks unphased, but he's got to get back up there; he's second wheel behind an Illes Balears man.
Ivan is now moving to the front of the Gruppo Maglia Rosa, with two teammtes of his (Schleck and Zabriskie) setting the pace. They are trailing the Gibo/Damiano duo by 18". In the meantime, Garrido Lima, González, Bettini, Bellotti and Schaffrath lost contact to the other fugitives in the front group.
25 seconds the gap - CSC still at the front of the peloton with Basso back in third place. Cunego is leading Simoni, while behind the CSC domestiques there's Basso, Di Luca (showing great legs to day too) and Savoldelli. And just 15 more riders or so. Ivan looks perfectly in control of the situation anyway. Cunego and Simoni are not scared of blowing the race apart with ambitious moves, but CSC are bringing it back. Liquigas have three riders in the Basso group: Di Luca and the "British duo" of Wegelius and Cioni. No Discovery riders are with Il Falco instead. Cunego and Gibo are still trailing the leading group by 04'45" by the way, with the Basso group some 20 secs further back.
David Zabriskie doing a marvellous job for Basso, he leads the chasing peloton at the minute, chasing Cunego and Simoni. Di Luca moves up next to Basso and has a quick word with the maglia Rosa. Savoldelli is in a great position - if CSC tow him to the top of the climb he could probably bridge to Simoni and Cunego on the descent.
but with the gap to Simoni, Cunego now at 20 seconds, CSC must chase first.
In the breakaway, Ruben Lobato leads Valjavec and Belli as they climb further. And Rujano, Parra, Garate (not virtual race leader anynore) are also there, along with Tiralongo, Caucchioli, Belli, Caruso and Noč. Bettini is some 30" down instead.
1530 CEST - Cunego and Gibo caught Lobato and Rodriguez, but their gap to the leaders is till hovering at 04'45", and their lead to the 17-or-so strong Basso group is no more than 15".
1534 CEST - Worthy of mention is also the presence neopro Domenico Pozzovivo of Panaria in the Gruppo Maglia Rosa. This tiny but talented climber had a good ride two days ago too, and is showing his skills today, again. Cunego and Gibo now trailing the leaders by 04'55", with the Basso group a further 27 secs behind. Basso still looking calm and controlled in the peloton.
Horrach, Kessler and Valjavec are also part of the leading group, but their lead is coming down, and set to come down even more over the next minutes. Now, will another rider attack the Basso group, and try to bridge the gap - or try to catch them on the descent?
Speaking of Panarias, not just young Pozzovivo but also strong Emanuele Sella (at his second season in the pro ranks) is part of the Basso group.
1540 CEST - Gibo and Damiano caught Aitor Gonzalez, but are not making any more significant gains over the Maglia Rosa bunch, that just got an new member: Mirko Celestino of Domina Vacanze. The gutsy Italian regained the wheels of the Basso group.
1541 CEST - Ruben Lobato STILL is part of the leading group, and is seen working hard, setting the pace for his team leader Garate. Green-jerseyed Rujano is on their wheels.
1543 CEST - So we have about a dozen riders in the lead, getting closer to the top of the Passo delle Erbe, with thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands tifosi along the route. The crowds out in force, a lot of pink t-shirts, cycling shirts and pretty girls. The Basso fans have their flags out.
The leaders come to the top of the ascent. And - now that's a surprise - Garate comes first. This time it wasn't Rujano who took the Prime. The Venzuelan came second and Parra third. Still Cunego leads Simoni, Gonzales has hung to their wheels.
Valjavec and Caucchioli followed, Rujano was apparently annoyed at Garate's "winning sprint" - he did nothing to hide it. CSC have reeled Simoni and Cunego in. Great work from CSC; they have shut down the first major attack of the day. So Basso has passed the first challenge for Rosa.
Meanwhile, fans of Emanuele Sella along the route show all of their support for their man with a HUGE banner. The number of fans on this climb is absolutely impressive.
1549 CEST - The Gruppo Maglia Rosa makes it to the top of the ascent, close to six minutes behind the leading bunch. So the leaders have made some gains on the last part of the climb. And with such time gaps, how about the breakaway group making it to the line today? Five hours of racing completed as the Maglia Rosa leaves the crowds behind and starts the descent.
There's just one (easier than the Erbe Pass) climb left, after all... Well, it is a group with excellent riders - Belli, Garate, Noe, etc. - so yes, I think they will make it (just).
1554 CEST - Some skirmishes in the leading group, mainly courtesy of Belli and Garate.
CSC still leading Group Maglia Rosa as we see Gilberto drop back to the team car to get a bottle - and Savoldelli does the same.
1557 CEST - And back in the bunch, Aitor González can't follow the tempo set by the members. While strong Di Luca has a easy time following Basso's wheels. Savoldelli gets his bidons and now works his way back up to the peloton.
1600 CEST - Nothing worthy of mention happening at the moment, on the dusty descent into Bressanone. The twelve leaders continue to work (quite) well together, while 2-3 CSC guys continue to lead the first bunch, which is trailing the leaders by about five minutes.
The Dolomites National Park is a thing of rare beauty... jagged peaks and wooded slopes, grassy meadows and peace - apart from the hum of the wheels of the peloton.
Belli, his face seems carved from dolomite stone - the old man of the climbers sit poker-faced behind Garate, his former teammate from last year with Lampre. The two riders rode the race in tandem last year and fate has thrust them together again.
1605 CEST - Zabriskie leads the Basso group, Basso on his wheel. Then comes Schleck and "best of the rest" with Danilo Di Luca, sitting in fourth place of the main bunch. This is a fine piece of riding by Zabriskie...Basso, with Di Luca still on his wheel, Savoldelli on his shoulder, Cioni just behind waiting for the next attack.
1606 CEST - While back in the leading group we can find two Siclian riders: Paolo Tiralongo and Giampaolo Caruso, who curiously come from the same town: Avola, near Siracusa, in the south-eastern part of the island.
Basso is on the small chain ring, spinning very comfortably, Di Luca more like a pit bull terrier on wheels than a clssic style.
Paolo Bettini stays in between the dozen leaders and the Basso group; along with him are Francesco Bellotti and T-Mobile's Jan Schaffrath.
1613 CEST - Gap update: 05'28". That's the advantage Rujano, Garate, Noé, Caucchioli and the other eight fugitives hold over the Gruppo Maglia Rosa, while still on the descent into Bressanone (Brixen for the local German-speakers). Di Luca and Cioni have most to lose if the gap remains the same: they will be hoping that CSC keep up their excellent work at the front of the chasers.
1619 CEST - About 40 km. left, 6 km to the end of the descent, as they tackle a dizzy descent through giant fir trees.
1620 CEST - Bellotti and Bettini dropped Schaffrath on the descent, but their gap to the dozen leaders remain a good 02'40". A gap they are more than unlikely to close down. The German is a further 13 seconds back. The leaders are 1 km. from the Intergiro - the Gruppo Maglia Rosa is 05'12" back.
Good for Garate, who would move up eight places into fourth overall with such a lead. And also Caucchioli would make some significant gains.
1624 CEST - Some 30k to go. And the leaders have made it to Bressanone, while their closest chasers are about to get to the end of the descent too. Yes, 30 km to go as Belli drops back for drinks - he looks very determined.
All the town is out to greet the giants of the road as Belli takes the Intergiro.
1630 CEST - The Basso peloton made it to Bressanone too, their gap remains a little bit under five minutes. They are about to catch Schaffrath, Bettini and Bellotti though.
And in the following, flat section before the final climb, they are likely to make some time gains on the frontrunners too, mainly courtesy of David Zabriskie's TTing abilities.
1633 CEST - They are starting to make some first gains indeed, the gap being down to 04'30" now. But that might not be enough for all current leaders to be caught before the finishing line.
Bettini and Co. are caught by the peloton; he pats Di Luca on the back in encouragement as the peloton speeds by. Bettini drops in behind Di Luca and the Liquigas riders Cioni and Wegelius. With climbers like Garate, Rujano, Belli and Parra in the front group, some of the escapees might well go for the line honors today.
1638 CEST - Belli drops back to the team car again for more drinks and a look at the pink altimetry map all riders carry, while time-gaining machine David Zabriskie continues to do his great job, and the gaps come down much more seriously in the last few minutes. The peloton spins past flowing rivers and neat vineyards.
1640 CEST - 20 kilometres to go. The peloton one long line behind the CSC derny... It contains about 40 members now, among whom are Russia's Kolobnev and Italy's Bellotti. 3'25'' the gap. 20k to the line, and 5k to the next time the road goes uphill. Not just Zabriskie, but also Schleck is flying on the flats for CSC.
Lobato has done excellent work for Garate today - he is still at the front of the escapees, but the climber is no pace setter compared to Zabriskie and Schleck for CSC - both big diesels.
Now Garate picks up the pace - the escapees might start to attack each other soon. Savoldelli looks comfy. He has a drink and a snack before the final climb.
1645 CEST - Just to remind you, the current frontrunners (who are 11, not 12) are: Paolo Tiralongo (Panaria-Navigare), Iván Parra and José Rujano (Selle Italia-Colombia), Pietro Caucchioli (Crédit Agricole), Wladimir Belli (Domina Vacanze), Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros Team), Andrea Noe' (Liquigas-Bianchi), Tadej Valjavec (Phonak Hearing Systems), Juan Manuel Garate and Rubén Lobato Elvira (Saunier Duval-Prodir), and Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile).
1647 CEST - 15 km to go. Six hours of racing, as Basso opens the rear brake a little for the climb. Still Zabriskie and Schleck powering the peloton forward.
1650 CEST - Gap update: 03'15". 13.8 km to go, one kilometre to the start of the last climb.
1651 CEST - Here come the first slopes of the last climb. And here comes Rujano, who moves back to the front of the leading bunch as the road goes uphill again. And this is no surprise, after all the job he's done for his leader Juanma Garate on the flats earlier. Lobato is the first rider to lose contact. The peloton goes through the tunnel as Caucchioli attacks the escapees. But the Italian doesn't make the gap.
The Gruppo Maglia Rosa also hits the climb. RUJANO ATTACKS! What a move by the Venezuelan, but Caucchioli and Garate countered and brought him back. Parra counters. Basso now leads the main bunch, Savoldelli and Sella on his wheels. Pozzovivo still is with the best ones too.
Parra opened a small gap of 8" over the other escapees.
1656 CEST - Zabriskie is back to the front of Basso group, setting the pace. Cunego is in 5th-6th place in this group. 10 k to go for Parra. Schleck still with Basso at the front of the peloton; Basso must be delighted with his team today.
Parra continues in his action, while nobody dares to attack the Basso group, though they are not going too fast.
9k to go - Parra still leads Rujano, Caucchioli, Valjavec and Garate by 08", with the other (former) leaders further behind.
1659 CEST - The gap is nine seconds now. Schleck still tapping tempo at the front of the group maglia Rosa. But Cunego and Simoni told Patxi Vila to move to the front of the Gruppo Maglia Rosa in order to raise the pace.
1700 CEST - 8k to go - 4k to the top of the ascent. Parra still leading his four chasers by a slim margin, while the Gruppo Maglia Rosa is 03'50" back and with the Lampres finally forcing the pace. No more teammates with Basso after Schleck got dropped.
Basso finally isolated - Lampre must make their move soon. But there's still many riders in the Maglia Rosa group, Di Luca and Il Falco included, of course.
1703 CEST - Parra hits the steepest part of the climb: the next 10 km. have an average gradient of more than 9-10%. But the four chasers are on his heels. Valjavec is dropped by the three chasers at the front of the race. So it's just THREE chasers (Caucchioli, Garate, Rujano) now.
While Patxi Vila is riding veeeery hard back in the main bunch. Cunego and Simoni are on his wheels, but Basso is on their wheels.
1705 CEST - Gap update: Parra is leading the Gruppo Maglia Rosa by 04'32". The main bunch is about to hit the steepest part of the ascent too. 6 km to go. And Gibo and Cunego are talking. Planning an attack?
But the first attack comes from a man in orange. It's Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez. AND HERE COMES GIBO'S ATTACK! Savoldelli responds.
Basso cannot react! Only Il Falco could follow Gibo's wheels. Basso is struggling off the back of the bunch instead.
1709 CEST - Seems Ivan doesn't have the legs today - he looks in trouble - he is having problems following the wheels as Savoldelli increases the pace at the front! Savoldelli and Simoni are working well together. Il Falco might well take the jersey today.
Savoldelli DROPS Gibo! Il Falco is soaring like an eagle up this climb while Basso keeps losing time. Basso is with three other riders. But none of them is a teammate of this. Not good for him.
1711 CEST - 6k to go for Ivan. Ardila Cano and Cioni are with him. Basso digging deep while Parra continues to lead up front. Gap Update: Il Falco managed to build a 40-second lead on Basso already!
He's flying to the jersey. Parra past the KOM sign. 4K to go for the Colombian. He's having a helluva race. But so is Savoldelli.
Savoldelli out of the saddle, has made his move; he is riding for the Maglia Rosa, Simoni behind him. Il Falco leads Gibo by 15 seconds. Then comes Di Luca, then Sella and a few others (Cunego included). Basso is much more behind them.
1717 CEST - 3k to go for Parra. Savoldelli's lead over Basso rose to a minute! 4 and something km. to go for Il Falco. Meanwhile, Di Luca is having a great day - he is catching Simoni, while Basso continues to lose time. He's been dropped even by Atienza.
Il Falco picks up and drops Tiralongo. Di Luca and Simoni together now and Di Luca leads gilberto through the KOM point with 4 km to go.
1716 CEST - Parra keeps a lead of a dozen seconds on Rujano, Garate and Caucchioli. Savoldelli is 03'55" behind. Di Luca and Simoni some 20 further secs back.
Last km for the Colombian.
While Savoldelli extends his lead to Basso to 01'05". 700m for Parra, 600m, 500m, Parra is going to win! Marcus Fothen is with Basso and Cioni - what a great race the youngster is having. 100 m...here he comes! Ivan Parra is the winner!!!!!
The Colombian takes out a photo of his wife and kisses it with emotion. Garate wins the sprint for second place at 21". Then Rujano third and Caucchoili fourth.
1720 CEST - What a race by the Selle Italias! Here comes Valjavec in fifth place, 01'45" behind the winner. Il Falco enters the last km. Flying to the jersey, which he's finally going to recapture...
Here comes Matthias Kessler, now Savoldelli, Simoni and simoni chases hard. Il Falco is getting closer to the line, but Simoni and Di Luca are close to him. Belli finishes, then comes Savoldelli at 03'59". Gibo and Di Luca seven seconds later.
1724 CEST - Then came Bruseghin, Selle, Gontchar, Noč, Cunego and Pozzovivo. And here comes Basso, alone and isolated, 01'08" behind Savoldelli.
So this race has more twists and turns than the Ttelvio - a new race leader in Savoldelli, Simoni and Di Luca showing great form, while Basso had a very time over the last climb today, but managed to limit his losses in the last four, flatter kms. Basso - his reign in Pink short lived, has he the courage to fight back now? He's still well in contention.
Savoldelli has 50'' advantage on GC, then Basso and then Di Luca - the pit bull put in another battling performance.
2'16'' for Simoni while Garate moves well up to 5th spot.
All credit to the Selle Italia Colombia team - as a wild card team they have showed up many ProTour teams for their battling Giro. Parra is so happy on the podium...
But if Ivan Parra is celebrating, Ivan Basso and team will be looking at where things went wrong (though he is still well in contention), and Savoldelli has "Discovered" great form again. Basso, having limited his losses today, might prove the right move at the end of the Giro.
Indeed - but his weakness today will encourage attacks on the Stelvio - particular suiting Savoldelli with his awesome descending skills.
1733 CEST - Hmmm, first post-stage rumors say that Basso wasn't fit today - talk of stomach problems. We'll see if we can find out more.
1737 CEST - Paolo Bettini all smiles on the podium, his Ciclamino Jersey on. Will he fight off attacks from Petacchi and keep it all the way to Milano?
By the way, Riis has confirmed that Ivan Basso had (maybe still has) stomach problems today.
Thanks to our great commentators Fabio, Andy McGrath and podofdonny. Please join us right here tomorrow, for another grueling mountain stage!
Top 25 Stage Results
1 Parra Ivan Col Clm 6:31:34
2 Garate Juan Manuel Esp Sdv 0:23
3 Rujano Guillen Jose' Ven Clm 0:23
4 Caucchioli Pietro Ita C.a 0:27
5 Valjavec Tadej Slo Pho 1:46
6 Kessler Matthias Ger Tmo 2:57
7 Caruso Giampaolo Ita Lst 3:03
8 Belli Wladimir Ita Dom 3:48
9 Savoldelli Paolo Ita Dsc 4:00
10 Simoni Gilberto Ita Lam 4:07
11 Di Luca Danilo Ita Liq 4:07
12 Bruseghin Marzio Ita Fas 4:38
13 Sella Emanuele Ita Pan 4:38
14 Honchar Serhiy Ukr Dom 4:38
15 Cunego Damiano Ita Lam 4:38
16 Karpets Vladimir Rus Iba 4:38
17 Noe' Andrea Ita Liq 4:38
18 Osa Eizaguirre Unai Esp Iba 4:38
19 Pozzovivo Domenico Ita Pan 4:38
20 Fothen Markus Ger Gst 4:59
21 Basso Ivan Ita Csc 5:08
22 Cioni Dario David Ita Liq 5:10
23 Sanchez Gonzalez Samuel Esp Eus 5:14
24 Atienza Urendez Daniel Esp Cof 5:23
25 Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto Col Dvl 5:41
General Classification after Stage 13
1 Savoldelli Paolo Ita Dsc 60:31:12
2 Basso Ivan Ita Csc 0:50
3 Di Luca Danilo Ita Liq 0:53
4 Simoni Gilberto Ita Lam 2:16
5 Garate Juan Manuel Esp Sdv 2:39
6 Caucchioli Pietro Ita C.a 3:25
7 Honchar Serhiy Ukr Dom 4:05
8 Rujano Guillen Jose' Ven Clm 4:23
9 Bruseghin Marzio Ita Fas 4:54
10 Cioni Dario David Ita Liq 6:17