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88th Giro d'Italia Stage 19 Live Coverage
By Staff
Date: 5/28/2005
88th Giro d'Italia Stage 19 Live Coverage

88th Giro d'Italia - Stage Nineteen
(Savigliano to Sestriere/Olympic Valleys - 190 km.)

Click for larger images. Courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Stage 19 of the 88th Giro d'Italia. THE STAGE. The terrible ride of 190 km. over the western Alps which is going to tell us who's the winner and who are the losers, who's going to wear the most coveted Maglia Rosa of them all, the one just one rider can have the privilege to show in front of the crowd in Milan the last Sunday of the race, and who's going to figure with him on the eventual podium. As well who are the guys whose shoes few would be in today: those who are gonna finish empty-handed after being in contention so many days, and after wasting so many energies in order to get a result they couldn't get.

It's the day all top contenders have to give everything they can, without saving any gasoline, in order to hold onto the overall leader's mantle (in Paolo Savoldelli's case) or take it off from the leader's shoulders (in the case of Gilberto Simoni or - why not? - the likes of José Rujano and Manuel Garate, maybe even Danilo Di Luca ...) And with five riders in the space of a little more than three minutes, this already surprising race, whose two presumed main favorites (Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego) were out of contention for the overall at the beginning of the last week or even earlier, might well have some more surprises in store for us. It's the day the peloton hits the last mountains, even if we already know that - barring a catastrophe - José Rujano is going to wear the green jersey in Milano (and with due respect to Fabian Wegmann and even Jose's fellow south-American Fredy González, the little big climbing machine from Santa Cruz de Mora, Venezuela, is the most-deserving holder of the Maglia Verde since Marco Pantani wore it for the last time before that dramatic day at Madonna di Campiglio back in the month of June 1999, or at least since Pérez Cuapio won the KOM classification in the 2002 event).

And it's day we broadly talked of in the Tour of Italy Special Report we posted after the route was presented back in the days of late January. A report which included the following Stage 19 presentation.

Stage 19 (Saturday - May 28, 2005)

Savigliano to Sestriere/Olympic Valleys (190 km.)

Or the Mountain Man Festival, Fifth and Final Part. Ladies and Gentleman, here’s THE STAGE! At the end of this 190-km. ride from Savigliano to the ski resort climb of Sestriere we’ll know the name of the winner of the 88th Giro d’Italia (again - barring a catastrophe). But before stamping his authority on the race, Mr. Maglia Rosa Wearer has to put in some Herculean efforts on some 60 km. of pure uphill riding which the stage has in store, and are scattered over the last three ascents of the whole 2005 contest. The roads tilts upward only thrice today (and twice on the same ascent, Sestriere, to be climbed both halfway through the stage and at the end), but when it does, it’s damn serious about it. As we wrote in our route presentation, Sestriére is where many of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games skiing competitions are set to take place. And, needless to say, this stage is the best way to pay tribute (and give exposure) to the event. But if Hermann Maier, Bode Miller and their colleagues will go downhill come February 2006, the Corsa Rosa crew is going to be involved in some uphill riding instead …

It all begins in the town of Savigliano; the first 40-50 km. - about half of which on Cuneo province soil, then the peloton gets back into provincia di Torino -, are good for the flatlanders, and perhaps some reckless guy might broke away of the field so early. After traversing the villages of Pinerolo and Villar Perosa (hometown of what is often referred to as “Italy's most powerful clan”, the Agnellis, founders and owners of the nation’s biggest manufacturer and car firm FIAT), the road gets slightly but steadily steeper.

The Waldensian Temple at Pinerolo in an early 20th Century postcard.
Although Italy is an overwhelmingly Catholic nation, there’s also a protestant
minority called Valdesi (Waldensians), mainly based on the hills of western
Piedmont. Courtesy Italo Rossi & Comune di Pinerolo. Click for complete gallery

As the peloton reaches Perosa Argentina, at the beginning of the magnificent Valchisone (Chisone Valley), the gradient goes up to 3-4% for a dozen kilometres, but it’s just after Fenestrelle (elevation 1154m) and its 18th century fortress that the going gets difficult and the real Sestriere climb starts, with three km. at more than 7.5%. Then comes a relatively easier section of some 10 km., but the last 8-10 km. are challenging enough, with the gradient hovering around 5-6%. The Gazzetta dello Sport numbers say it‘s a 22-km., 4.3% difficulty, although after looking at the profile at the bottom of the stage preview, one could think the climb length is much more than this.

Once in the tourist resort of Sestriere for the first time, riders start the descent into Cesana Torinese, difficult and steep, although shorter (11.5 km), than the climb they just crested. Then swing north and continue their downhill riding (at a minor gradient now) into Oulx, Salbeltrand, Susa and Meana di Susa, e.g. until about 45k to the line. But also at the foot of the ascent that might determine the outcome of the whole event, the much talked-about (in Italy, in recent days) Colle delle Finestre, another Giro d’Italia "debutant".

Who’s gonna start the fireworks today? Pic courtesy

It’s a tremendous difficulty of 18.5 km., with a difference in elevation of 1694m; and the average gradient around 9.20%, but the maximum gradient going up to 13-14% in the very first part. And in case such numbers and a look at the climb altimetry in the relative link below were not enough to explain how much of a challenge this mountain monster is, we just could add that, as we explained in our route presentation, part of the ascent is still stranger to the word "asphalt".

Someone said the road will be paved before May, but despite such rumors we think it’s going to stay like this over the next months, thus providing riders and fans with the opportunity of enjoying an incredible hour of epic cycling. As Damiano Cunego pointed out the day the route was unveiled: "We are accustomed to riding on asphalted roads, and rightly so as we are in the 2000s after all, but on that graveled section it would be like getting back to the days of Coppi and Bartali. A very good novelty, that will certainly prove extremely selective". Perhaps he was also influenced by what some of his Lampre-Caffitta teammates, who tested it in the past weeks and were absolutely impressed by its toughness, subsequently told him. And one should take into account the role played by the climatic conditions, that also could be a factor both on the climb and the 10-km. descent afterwards (whose roads are 100% paved anyway).

The climb gets off to a steep start, with just the first kilometre after Susa at a gradient of less than 5%. But then we go up to the maximum gradient section, and soon later to a good 8-9%; from that point to the top of this 33-switchback monster, located in the Orsiera Natural Park, things are not going to change at all, giving riders and their legs no break at all. When at the summit, with still 25k to the line, the girini are not given the opportunity to stop and contemplate the marvelous Alpine landscape either, as they have to tackle the next downhill section, the aforementioned descent into Pourriéres and the "2006 Olympic Town" of Pragelato in the Chisone Valley. And when in town, they have to get ready for the last fireworks of the 88th Tour of Italy, the ascent to the line at Sestriere.

Colle delle Finestre. Courtesy Comune di Fenestrelle. More pics here and here

This second ascent to Sestriere (2034m asl), starting at Pourrieres, is shorter (14.0 km.) than the first, and just a little bit steeper (average grade: 4.5%), but with so many efforts in the legs of the athletes, it could make bigger gaps than the previous one. And write a new page in the saga of epic cycling, which would be added to others written here both in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France books, although most of them on the other side of the climb.

As for the "Corsa Rosa", Eduardo Chozas was the first stage winner in 1991 (stage 13 of the edition later won by Franco "Little Coppi" Chioccioli), when the leg covered a similar route, starting in the same Savigliano, while fellow Spaniard Miguel Indurain wrote his name in the Sestriere winners list in 1993, and Pascal Richard claimed the same accomplishment twelve months later.

1991: The Giro makes its way to Sestriere,
and Eduardo Chozas enters the history books.
Courtesy Eduardo Chozas website.

As for Le Tour de France, a race with a better Italian record here, Fausto Coppi put in one of his legendary performances in the 1952 stage kicking off on French soil (Bourg d’Oisans), and put more than 7 minutes into the stage runner-up, and 10 minutes into Bartali; Chiappucci took line honors after a very impressive breakaway four decades later, while Bjarne Riis attacked in the shortened (due to snow on other climbs) stage of the 1996 edition and captured the yellow jersey, destroying Eugeni Berzin’s overall hopes. And last but not least, in 1999 a certain US rider came and dropped all of his rivals by his wheel on the way to Sestriere, scoring his first mountain stage victory. The first of an extraordinary string of triumphs that were going to earn that certain US rider something like six straight GC wins in the French race …

Detailed profiles of today’s ascents (and descents)

Live updates from the race

The action got started at Savigliano at 1122 AM local time, as all 154 riders thus far in the race rolled out of town. The first guys in the spotlight today weren't the mountain goats though, but German Grischa Niermann (Rabobank) and Australian Mark Renshaw (Francaise des Jeux), who took the prize-awarding sprints at Monasterolo di Savigliano (km. 4.1) and Ruffia (km.6.6) respectively.

Before countinuing with the coverage, we cast a glance at some of today's likely main protagonists ....

The main protagonist of the stage is certainly going to be Paolo Savoldelli, not just because he starts the last effort with the overall leader's mantle firmly on his shoulders. But also as the Discovery Channel leader demonstrated that regularity is one of his strong points. He never put in counter-productive efforts to counter attacks by Simoni and other better climbers, but kept riding at his own pace, and tried to limit his losses, also being very good at that. It looks like he's always been in control of the situation, and should things continue like that, you can bet we're gonna have a winner with a strong bergamasco accent, and huge celebrations at some hamlet of the Bergamo area valleys come Sunday evening. Throughout the past weeks, he's been telling all the time that he didn't came to the Giro with the intention to win the race, that's he's doing much better than expected, and better than other presumed favorites, that it's not up to him to attack etc. etc. But you can be sure that, at this point of the race, Il Falco is not going to settle with second place.

Savoldelli's weak point is his team, in particular each time the road tilts upwards (and it does so much today ...), but the man showed that he's very good at finding other allies. Unexpected ones, like the 5-6 riders he stayed with on the Col di Tenda slopes two days ago, and whose work (which they were doing for themselves, not Paolo) he was very good at benefitting from (such situations are not uncommon in cycling). As well as very expected ones, like the descents he's used to master perfectly. And even if Savoldelli should lose time to his closest pursuers on the first two climbs today, the maestro of downhill riding is going to find plenty of room to make up for that on the way to Sestriere. But such a terrible parcours as today's provides riders with room for them to bonk big style too. And if you bonk on though ascents like these, the efforts taking your toll on your legs (and not just them) may well lessen your downhilling abilities too. So that, even if Paolo remains the main suspect to be wearing some rosa outfit in Milan - three seasons after he beat Tyler Hamilton back in the days of 2002 - we'd better not take his victory for granted too early.

Especially with a tough chief rival such as Gilberto Simoni. Out of the top five riders on the GC, Gibo is arguably the only one who can't be too satisfied with his current result. The 2001 and 2003 overall winner is clearly going for another Maglia Rosa; especially after Basso and Cunego were so unexpectedly taken out of contention, it would be too bad for him to waste this unique opportunity (arguably the last one he's given) to score the hat-trick. At this point of the race, he might represent the only real threat to Savoldelli's second GC win. So we would be very surprised is we didn't see him put in an all-out attack, possibly on the Colle del Finestre, without waiting for the last ascent. Though as he confessed in post-stage interviews Friday, Gibo is well aware of the fact Savoldelli is hanging tough these days, and putting more than two minutes into him today is no easy task. That's why he pointed out that he's not the only guy aiming to topple the current Maglia Rosa holder today, maybe in the hope that his words do not fall on deaf ears, and other riders may cooperate with him; we would not be surprised to see the Lampreman wait for the Rujanos or Bassos of the bunch to make the first move either, just to go with them and work together with them against the current GC leader.

The third possible protagonist of this stage is - needless to say - José Rujano. The great performances put in by this tiny, mighty Venezuelan perhaps surprised also those who already knew him, and were aware of his potential, after seeing him in action at Vuelta al Táchira and Tour de Langkawi. He got the King of the Mountains crown under his belt, and is just one step away from climbing the Milan podium as top three finisher too. But as that other mountain goat Marco Pantani used to say l'appetito vien mangiando (appetite comes with eating). So why not having a shot at the Maglia Rosa? It would take a Herculean effort for sure (and some luck too, of the kind Rujano hasn't enioyed that much in this race - see his Florence "race of the truth" misfortunes for reference), but even if he shouldn't fail in his GC win bid, an all-out attack by Rujano might earn him the only other thing he needs to have his authority completely stamped on this race: a stage victory. His Colombian teammate Ivan Parra got it twice, so why shouldn't he get one at least? In post-race interviews yesterday the man sounded quite confident: "I think that, all things considered, I had a good ride today. And that I can do well in the ascents tomorrow. I think riders not in contention for the overall are going to start the fireworks early in the stage. Then I'll have a go later".

His Selle Italia Team Manager Gianni "The Prince" Savio sounded confident enough too. The team opted for an "average" wheel instead of the lenticular disc Friday, a choice that might have costed him a dozen seconds or so. But being Rujano such a poor descender, they didn't want him to take any excessive risks on the technical descent into Turin, so that Savio said it was a worthy choice. Speaking of Saturday's Alpine journey, Il Principe, whose career highlights as a coach also include the ITT World title he took with Santiago Botero - as Colombian National Team coach - in 2002, admitted that they're going to have a shot at winning today. And that even if Rujano is a young and still quite unexperienced guy, he has the potential to accomplish some great things. Okay, perhaps it's not going to happen this time, but Rujano certainly has the potential to become the first ever Grand Tour champion from Venezuela in seasons to come.

Juan Manuel Garate might have hit the headlines less than The Falcon, Gibo and Rujano, but he's still there, well in contention for a place on the eventual podium. After three weeks of tough racing, and in such hot weather conditions like this week's, efforts may take their tolls on the man's legs, but don't write him off as one of today's attackers. Two days ago, on the Col di Tenda climb, the Spaniard was able to counter two moves from Simoni and Rujano. And (partially) gave up the fight only as Gibo forced the pace for the third time. Should he have good legs on the Colle delle Finestre, which he considers the real decider of today's stage, and arguably the whole Giro, he might be among those rocking the race today.

1200 CEST - Back to race action now. Besides winning the first two sprints in the stage, Renshaw and Niermann also made the first breakaway of the day, along with Moldovan Ruslan Ivanov of Domina Vacanze. The trio contiuned to increase their advantage in the next kilometres - it ballooned to an impressive 07'00" by the km. 14 check, and rack up victories at prize-awarding sprints. Rabo-Grischa took the prime at Villanova Solaro (km 10.6) and Ivanov finally scored at Torre San Giorgio. (km. 15.6). Then it was the turn of Renshaw again, as the Aussie took the sprint at Moretta (km. 17.6), where the trio extended their lead to ... 08'45"! It looks like only three rider really started the stage today. But you can be sure that things will take a completely different turn as the stage progresses.

The advantage built by Renshaw, Niermann and Ivanov is arguably the fastest-growing ever: their lead went up to something like 11'15" as the trio entered the Turin province of Piedmont - which is going to host the rest of this stage - and hit the town of Villafranca Piemonte (km. 21). We don't know whether what these guys are doing is worth entering in the Guinness Book of Records, but their gains are certainly more then impressive.

1215 CEST - New time gain update; by the km. 25 check (namely with still 165k to go) Ruslan Ivanov, Grischa Niermann and Mark Renshaw extended their lead to 12'25". They took a further 70 seconds out of those 155 tourists (so far) with a backnumber over the past four kilometres.

Speaking of overall contenders, we couldn't help but mentioning Danilo Di Luca too. The man's condition may be fading these days, after he's been going so damn fast for two months. And he might pay for that on today's climbs. But at the moment the Italian is still well in contention for a place on the podium, he would even be sitting in third place on the GC hadn't he been getting a ten-second time penalty at the end of Thursday's stage; something Di Luca did not appreciate, and being the man nothing short of a true fighter, this would just make him even more motivated to do what he's very good at: battle it out until there's any gasoline left. Don't be surprised if you see him acting like that today.

1225 CEST - Advantage update: 27km,. into the race, as they made it to the town of Vigone, Grischa Niermann, Mark Renshaw and Ruslan Ivanov brought their lead over the peloton, currently driven by the unsual combination of CSC flatlanders and Selle Italia's attackers/mountain goats, to nothing less than 13'46". We don't know if this is the fastest-developing gap in the Giro history, but if it isn't, it must certainly come close ...

1230 CEST - One hour into the stage, the three escapees averaged a speed of 44.200 kph.

1235 CEST - Ivanov, Renshaw and Niermann may not be going to win the stage today, but they are certainly making history, as they succeeded in building a lead of 15'35" in the space of just 32 km: that's the advantage they can enjoy at the km. 36 check, and as they broke clear after no more than four kilometres, that's what they have been able to accomplish.

1242 CEST - 40 km. into stage (with 150 km. to go) the gap was up to 16'25", with CSC's Peter Luttenberger and Brian Vandborg, as well as Selle Italia's Russell van Hout, doing the lion's share of the work at the front of the bunch. About five kilometres later, the three fugitives contested another prize-awarding sprint, situated at Pinerolo (home to one of Fausto Coppi's greatest accomplishments ever, as The Campionissimo took a Giro d'Italia stage after a solo breakaway of 190 km.(!!!!) there, back in the days of 1949) and won by the Australian Mark Renshaw.

1250 CEST - The leaders are about to his "Agnellis town" Villar Perosa, with the CSCs and Selle Italias taking turns at the front of the bunch, and the Lampres giving them some small help. They are racing under sunny skies, in temperatures hovering around 20°C. The gap? Latest updates say it was up to 17'05".

1300 CEST - Germany's Niermann, Moldova's Ivanov and Australia's Renshaw are on the way to Perosa Argentina after 60 km. of racing, with 130k to go.

1305 CEST - The gap is not growing that much (at last!). The leading trio gained just seven seconds (their advantage being up to 17'12") over the past ten minutes or so, as the landscape is getting "hillier". And some Lampres moved up front to help the "chase".

CSC driving the .. er (well, sort of ...) = Ivan Basso wants to rock again today! His performances of the past two days showed that his legs fully recovered after his horrible week-end. As Ivan said Thursday and repeated yesterday, to find back the right motivations after all of their GC plans got messed up, and set new targets, was no easy task for either the man himself and the whole team. But it looks like they succeded, didn't they? CSC had a sensational ride Thursday and Ivan just finished off their job on the Col di Tenda slopes, and repeated his great ride twenty-four hours later. The man also said these two wins (his first ever stage victories on Giro d'Italia roads) gave his Tour of Italy a sense.

But with such a great form, why not going for the hat-trick? Any attacks from Ivan on the Colle delle Finestre or earlier could make the stage explode, with Simoni and all other top contenders not arguably following his wheels (trying to at least). Ivan's not going to win the overall, and his Giro d'Italia efforts could take their toll on him in his Tour de France bid, but - still - by staying in the race like that Basso proved he's got what it takes for being a Grand Tour winner. And you can bet he's gonna be a Grand Tour winner, sooner or later.

1316 CEST - 70km. into the race / 120 km. to go: Renshaw, Niermann and Ivanov held onto a lead of some 17 minutes (and more than 10 kilometres) over the bunch as the road started to tilt upwards (sligthly, the difference in elevation being 270m over the past 8 kilometres). They are currently winding through the streets of Balma.

1325 CEST - The first uphill kilometres of this stage made the damage: Mark Renshaw (a great TT specialist, but definitely not a climber) lost contact to Ivanov and Niermann, so that we've just two men in the lead. their advantage is starting to come down a bit more seriously, as its' currently hovering around sixteen minutes as they got to Fenestrelle (112k to go). In the meantime, Filippo Pozzato of Quick Step made the headlines by falling to the tarmac, but the biondo from the Veneto region was immediately back in the saddle.

1330 CEST - The situation after two-and-something hours of racing: Ruslan Ivanov (Mol - Domina Vacanze) and Grischa Niermann (Ger - Rabobank) on a breakaway, Mark Renshaw (Aus - Francaise des Jeux) a few seconds back, the (now) chasing peloton, led by the Simoni's, Basso's and Rujano's domestiques, trailing by 16'12", and bringing the gap down slightly but steadily.

Savoldelli's teammates have never been seen at the front of the peloton instead. But who can really blame them for that? Il Falco has got the jersey, and it's his GC rivals that have to make the race today!

1338 CEST - New update from the race: the two leaders are climbing 22km away from the top of the Sestriere, leading Renshaw by 01'35"; the peloton is still more than 15 minutes back.

1345 CEST - As the climb progresses, Niermann and Ivanov extended their lead over Renshaw to 02'43". The peloton is 15'45" back, now winding through the streets of the small, nice town of Fenestrelle.

1350 CEST - km. 90/100k to go (more or less): the sun is high over the mountains of western Piedmont as Rabo-Grischa and Ruslan Ivanov hit the town of Pregnolato (some 10k from the top of the Sestriere, which they are gonna crest for the first time) and took their lead over Mark Renshaw to 03'10". But it took a couple more kilometres for the gap to went over the four-minute mar k, while the bunch stays 15-16 mins behind.

Gibo's and Basso's teammates still drive the chase. The Lampres are helping to make the race harder now. Which is exactly what Gilberto Simoni wants. And needs. Gibo can count on a super-domestique like Damiano Cunego: after having all of his overall hopes dashed in the first real hilly stage, the 2004 winner humbly - but rightly - placed himself at disposal of the man who turned into the team's only leader. It could be the last time that we see Damiano act as a domestique, before he's back to his usual winning ways, but we gotta pay him a huge tribute for that. Both because he's doing it for a man that wasn't too kind to him twelve months ago (to say the least), and as he's not following "advices" from many a good ones in the Italian press.

It was blatant to anyone hearing their comments and interviews to Damiano that many journalists (and perhaps fans alike too) would be happier to see the raising star of Italian cycling have a spectacular comeback - the Ivan Basso way -, rather than see less "mediatic" Simoni win the overall. But Cunego opted for team loyalty, and even sounded a bit annoyed at being steadily asked about when and if he may go for a stage victory. Once more, we have to congratulate him on that. And Simoni should be very grateful to him.

1410 CEST - Frontrunners (or battistrada as the Italians say) Ruslan Ivanov and Grischa Niermann are 5km. from the top of the Sestriere, leading Mark Renshaw by 05'12". The pack is gracing the streets of Pragelato, 15 minutes and 12 seconds adrift.

1420 CEST - Moldova's Ruslan Ivanov and Germany's Grischa Niermann made it to the summit of the Sestriere climb for the first time. The rider from the former Soviet Union took first and Rabo-boy Grischa was second; they were leading the bunch by more than 15 minutes, which is (perhaps less than) their gap to the future stage winner as they are back to this same place late in the afternoon, about three hours from now.

1430 CEST - Australian Mark Renshaw lost about a hundred more seconds in the last couple kilometres of the ascent, and reached the Sestriere summit 06'40" behind his former breakaway companions. The pack is reportedly 2km. from the top of the climb, trailing the leaders by 15'05".

1435 CEST - Niermann and Ivanov already covered the steepest part of the descent into Susa (which is where the the Intergiro prime is located, but notably where the road gets back to its "uphill" mode, and the one-way journey to Colle delle Finestre begins). They just entered the feeding zone at Cesana Torinese. 78k to go for the two leaders.

1440 CEST - The peloton also made their way to the top of Sestriere. At their first passage on the finishing line, they had cut the gap to down to 14'35". Okay, that's not much of an accomplishment, but they're likely to make some more significant gains over the next minutes.

1445 CEST - Mirko Celestino was possibly the most "outstanding" rider (sprinters aside) dropped while climbing Sestriere for the first time. While his teammate Ruslan Ivanov is still away, the Domina Vacanze Classic-type was about four minutes behind the Gruppo Maglia Rosa (the peloton with GC leader Paolo Savoldelli). In the meantime, Mark Rensahw made some gains over Niermann and Ivanov on the downhill section into Cesana Torinese, bringing his gap to the leading pair down to six minutes.

The "Gruppo Maglia Rosa" made their way down to Cesana, with the CSCs (Andrea Peron in particular) setting the pace, and their gap to the two leaders keeps coming down, even if quite slowly for the moment: latest updates say it's 14'15". As the road is not going uphill anymore, Ivanov and Niermann are losing time also to Renshaw: the Aussie brought the gap down to 05'16" as he reached the town of Ulzio/Oulx (km. 121.6/68.4k to go).

1455 CEST - Three kilometres after Cesana (e.g. with 75k left), the bunch had further brought the gap down to 14 minutes.

1500 CEST - Newest update: 62k to go for Ruslan Ivanov and Grischa Niermann who lead Renshaw by 05'20"and the (now more serious about the chase) bunch by 12'30". The strong winds are not much of help to the two frontrunners at the moment. Quite the opposite, we dare to say.

1502 CEST - Team CSC and Lampre keep taking turns at the front of the chasing peloton, The Discovery riders are straight behind their wheels. The escapees are a dozen kilometres away from Susa. Mark Renshaw is in between, currently 06'08" down on Ivanov and Niermann.

Lampres, Selle Italias and CSCs are riding very hard now, as they brought the gap down to about 10 minutes, gaining about four minutes in the space of twenty kilometres.

1510 CEST - Unfortunately we're not going to see neopro Domenico Pozzovivo test his climbing abilities on Colle delle Finestre: the young rider from the South of Italy fell on a descent two days ago, continued the race, but had to pull out today. His fellow Panariaman and fellow neopro Paride Grillo is one of the few riders dropped from the Gruppo Maglia Rosa instead.

1512 CEST - Gap Update: when at Exilles (58k to go)Ivanov and Niermann extended their advantage over Mark Renshaw to 06'50". The strung out peloton is a further three minutes behind. The Aussie is likely to be pulled back by the bunch before tackling the first slopes of the 45-switchback (13 of which are on unpaved roads) Colle delle Finestre.

Ruslan Ivanov and Grischa Niermann are 3k away from the Intergiro line at Susa. Many riders back in the peloton are going to thier team cars to pick up bottles on the way to Susa and the Colle delle Finestre first slopes. They cut the gap down to nine and a half minutes over the past kilometres however.

1520 CEST - As fully predictable (and predicted), Mark Renshaw is swallowed by the bunch, that also cut the gap to Ivanov and Niermann down to 08'35".

1522 CEST - The two escapees hit the first, damn steep kilometres of Colle delle Finestre. Which already "split" the leading duo. Ruslan Ivanov "forced the pace" (so to speak ...) and dropped the German, that had won the Intergiro at Susa. The pack is still flying on the way to Susa instead.

1526 CEST - Intergiro time for the peloton, with Zanini winning the sprint for third place from Krauss and Bettini. the cricket picked up two points, very useful in his Maglia Ciclamino bid, as now Bettini is leading Petacchi by 22 points.

1528 CEST - The bunch, led by Team CSC, turned to the right and started their trip to Colle delle Finestre. Their gap to Ivanov is 07'46", while Niermann is 22 seconds behind the current leader.

1530 CEST - On the first slopes of the climb, it's Basso's teammates setting the pace again. With all GC contenders slightly behind. Then comes the first attack. By Rujano's teammate Raffaele Illiano. Both Di Luca and Savoldelli are off the back of the bunch. Simoni follows Rujano's lead, Savoldelli in trouble.

The Venezuelan started the fireworks on the ascent, with Gibo on his wheels. Il Falco is keeping his own pace, no teammates around. But that's not a good sign. Illiano setting a very fast pace, Rujano in his wheel, Simoni and Garate behind them, Ivan Basso on the back of the front group.

Basso, Van Huffel, Garate, Di Luca are still with the best ones. Savoldelli is reportedly 15 seconds adrift. Cunego is struggling off the back of the bunch. Illiano had his job done and got dropped.

Cunego got dropped while Vila, Caucchioli, Belli, Fothen, Laiseka, Osa are with Savoldelli, but it's The Falcon that has to do the job now. Gibo and Rujano force the pace again in the main group (that is not the Gruppo Maglia Rosa anymore). Valjavec and Honchar are with Simoni, Rujano and Di Luca too.

Simoni and Garate are former teammates at Lampre, and know each other very well. But we can see that Simoni is very determined today - his spell at the front of the bunch is hurting the legs. Savoldelli is driving the "chasing" group (chasing Rujano and Simoni not front runner Ivanov). He's doing fine anyway, the gap is not increasing: still 15 seconds.

Basso is having hard time staying with the Simoni group instead. Basso dropped, he's about to be swallowed by the "Savoldelli group"; his legs are not the same as Thursday's and yesterday's. The Falcon is apparently in control of things however. The gap stays the same: 15". Savoldelli is keeping cool - he is tapping out a constant pace - Belli, stony faced on his wheel. Savoldelli knows that he can recapture time on the descent so must not panic now. Basso lost the wheels of the Savoldelli group too.

1543 CEST -A complete contrast of styles - Simoni out of the saddle dancing on the pedals, Savoldelli pushing a constant pace. As much as Il Falco is doing the lion's share of the work in the chasing group, Simoni is working hard in his own group. Rujano is on his wheels, but Cunego is not there to help him. Nonetheless, Simoni managed to increase his lead over Savoldelli to 24 seconds. Small gains anyway.

Honchar and Garate hold on, and so does Di Luca, that even moves to the front of the gibo group to help him. And a big surprise (to me any way) is once again the killer Di Luca is up with Simoni - another great battling display from the pit bull terrier of the mountains.

1545 CEST - While The Falcon is apparently annoyed at his 10 "group mates", none of whom - but Caucchioli - is taking turns there. Savoldelli and Caucchioli are doing all the work there. The Simoni group extended their lead to the Savoldelli bunch to half a minute.

Gibo back to the front of his group. Di Luca in second. Parra lost their wheels. Cunego lost contact to the Savoldelli group minutes ago, his form is poor today.

The gap is up: Gibo leading the Falcon by 36" after 6.1 km. of climbing and with 12k of riding uphill on Colle delle Finestra ahead. Savoldelli, totally isolated, the weakness of his team is now all too apparent - had Discovery known what sort of form he would be in, they would have surely sent a stronger squad.

1548 CEST - By the way, Ivanov is still in the lead, with Grischa Niermann in second place.

The loss of Danielson is really hurting right now... the climber was supposed to be with Savoldelli in situations like this, but his knee injury drove him from the race.

1549 CEST - Simoni forces the pace again, and claims a new victim on this 9% steep section. Vladimir Karpets gets dropped. Savoldelli continues to lead his own group instead, with Caucchioli is second place. The gap is up to 44" with 11k of Colle delle Finestre climbing to go. Di Luca and Simoni are giving an exhibition of climbing skills together! The two are soaring up these wall type switchbacks - these men are determined to be on the podium in Milan!

Jose Rujano follows the wheels of these two men. Unai Osa and Patxi Vila, as well as two orange warriors of Euskaltel got dropped.

1552 CEST - Race leader Ivanov currently leads Niermann by 48". With the group further behind.

1553 CEST - Savoldelli lost a few more seconds, his gap to Simoni going up to 50" as they still have to complete the first half of the climb. Simoni, Di Luca, Rujano, Garate, etc., head ever upwards through the wooded slopes, the road incredibly steep, Di Luca and Simoni forcing the pace. Di Luca and Simoni are working well togther. But Rujano is not much of help to them thus far. Savoldelli does still looks quite calm and composed, just keeping a good cadence.

Savoldelli is pushing a 39x21 on the Colle delle Finestre slopes. Ardila, Fothen, Bruseghin, Belli, Zampieri are with him, but only Caucchioli is helping. The gap is up to more than a minute! While Ivanov keeps a lead of 04'50" over the Simoni/Di Luca/Rujano/Garate group. It's so narrow, the Colombia-Selle Italia team car literally squeezes past the Savoldelli group.

1556 CEST - Savoldelli forced the pace in his own group, and as a result three guys got dropped. He looks very motivated.

While it's going to be gravel time soon, also note that while the descent is asphalted, it is very technical and rather narrow.

Di Luca: all in white in the ProTour leader's jersey, on his white FG Bianchi, just a hint of celeste on his helmet, his face ashen with effort and pain.

Savoldelli's "new pace" brought some good results, as latest updates say Il Falco brought the gap down to 53". Fothen, Zampieri, Bruseghin cant hold the tempo set by Savoldelli.

1558 CEST - Ivan Parra drops off the back of the gruppo maglia rosa, just as a Colombian flag comes into shot. Savoldelli still has a minute to spare, and he is calm and collected, pulling the chasing group with Honchar in his slightly bandy-legged climbing style in his wheel. Just 10 riders or so left in the Simoni-Rujano-Di Luca-Garate group. Among them is also Daniel Atienza.

1559 CEST - Savoldelli is going very fine now. He gained a fewe seconds on Simoni, cutting the gap down to 48". While both groups are about to hit the unpaved section.

Now Caucchioli and Ardila are struggling, as only Honchar can hold on to Savoldelli's wheel. Simoni, double winner, out of the saddle. He knows that today he can ride into history, and is looking hugely determined - a man on a mission. Gibo, Di Luca, and Rujano always in the top three places of their 10-man group.

Good work by Discovery Channel - they have put a team helper on the mountain to pass him fresh bottles. Savoldelli's pace is a bit too much for Caucchioli too: only Belli and Ardila could follow the Falcon's wheels.

Caucchioli has blown completely, having to watch in despair as the group in front disappears from his view. But more good news for Savoldelli: his gap to Simoni is down to 41". Look at the road surface! Paris-Roubaix, eat your heart out! The giro is back to unpaved roads for the first time in three decades!

The Simoni/DiLuca/Rujano/Garate group his the unpaved section. Very impressive riding from The Falcon, he is fighting back in superb style.

1604 CEST - Ivanov remains in the lead with 3'28", with Niermann still in between the Moldovan and the Simoni group, which is led by Gibo himself, followed by Di Luca, Rujano and Garate.

Di Luca likes the paves and Muurs of the north and he also likes the stony mountain tracks of Italy!!!

1609 CEST - Christ, how long is this climb? Di Luca and Simoni forcing the pace hard on the steepest section of the ascent. Only Rujano and Valjavec follow. And as a result their lead to Savoldelli increased to 55". Ivanov is losing time after time, his advantage to Gibo and Di Luca down to less than three minutes. Meanwhile, Savoldelli, with Belli and Ardila in his wheel, but not helping, grimly fights on the wicked gravel slopes.

And The Falcon's gap is back over the minute. The four men forge on; with this road surface, it's like going back in time. The Selle Italia-Colombia team car tries to edge past Valjavec to get alongside Rujano. Their gap up to 01'10". The Falcon lost half a minute over the past two kilometres on the unpaved section.

Sean Yates obviously driving the Discovery car as it nearly hits a wall!!! While also Valjavec got dropped. It's just Di Luca, Simoni and Rujano now! And Savoldelli 01'15" behind, with 5k of climbing to go (here).

It's a battle of two trios on the dusty roads of Colle delle Finestre: Di Luca, Simoni and Rujano v. Savoldelli, Ardila and Belli.

Meanwhile, Valjavec and Garate are sandwiched in between. Ivanov struggling; even Niermann is making some gains on him, bringing the gap down to 28". Di Luca - an amazing effort - he is still forcing the pace, Simoni on his wheel, Rujano on his, it looks like the Ardenberg trench but vertical!!!!!! That team car kicking up dust in front of Savoldelli was way uncool.

1613 CEST - New gap update: the Savoldelli trio is 01'22" down on the Simoni trio. Di Luca still pushes the pace in the leading trio - he's been on the front for kilometres!

The Savoldelli group got two new menbers as they caught Rodriguez and Montgomery (former members of the Simoni group). What the hell is the Cofidis team car doing passing the Gruppo Maglia Rosa and kicking up dust?? The gap is 01'35". But the good news for Il Falco is that Honchar is 30" away, so that Belli has no more reasons for not helping them.

1615 CEST - Ivanov is struggling badly. Even Niermann is about to catch him. But the Simoni trio is about to catch them all. This descent should be interesting... Definitely, we know how well Il Falco can swoop downhill. Savoldelli is currently holding onto a lead of just 27 seconds over Simoni. But everyone's going to be pushing it to the limit.

About 3 km. of uphill riding to go. Belli and Ardila both had success in the Tour of Britain - Ardilla won it last year and Belli was best young rider - er, many years ago - he won a Rover (now defunct) car. The Simoni/Di Luca/Rujano trio caught Niermann.

Belli lost contact to Savoldelli and Ardila, but only as a result of the action of a fan who pushed Savoldelli. An unwanted help, and Savoldelli is not going to be sanctioned for that.

1619 CEST - Ivanov caught and dropped after nearly 170km away. Three men in the lead: Simoni, Di Luca, Rujano. And Savoldelli 01'53" behind. So that Il Falco holds a lead of 16" (bonus seconds aside) with 30k to go. Di Luca, Simoni and Rujano are out of the woods; they pass Ivanov and head ever further upwards on the stony trail.

Belli lost some more seconds to Savoldelli and Ardila. Still Di Luca, the hard man of the vertical pave, setting the pace. It's going to come down to that tricky descent and the tough kilometres of uphill to Sestriere.

In the front trio, Di Luca never stops riding tempo. Rujano never stops sitting in third place. Savoldelli dropped Ardila, but his gap to the leading trio is up to two minutes!! Come to think of it, Rujano's home roads can't exactly be perfectly smooth...

1622 CEST - Savoldelli dropped Ardila, but his gap to the leading trio is up to two minutes!! And when it comes to the GC, the gap is just nine seconds! So the Di Luca-Rujano truce won't last the stage. 1625 CEST - The three leaders are 2k from the top of the climb. Ardila regained Savoldelli's wheels. They all have been riding on the climb for close to an hour. Di Luca, a hard man, setting a hard pace, snow still in pockets on the mountainside, and at the top of the mountain the fans are looking down on the drama in the thousands. Ardila comes through; finally an ally of some kind for Savoldelli. Savoldelli lost five seconds to Honchar in the past minutes. But at momemt ... the gap is 02'12"! Gilberto Simoni is the Virtual GC leader of the race!

This is also thanks to Danilo Di Luca's work. What this guy is doing today is impressive! And is this rutted punishment ever going to end?

The entire mountain is a huge theatre of cycling tifosi - watching in awe as Di Luca, Simoni and Rujano press on, but for some, joy, for others sadness, as we see two very sad-looking Discovery fans on the mountainside. But Savoldelli will not give up the Maglia Rosa without a massive battle. Di Luca is only 55 secs down to Savoldelli on GC now, and not far from a top three spot. So that the man is working for himself rather than Simoni.

1630 CEST - Indeed Fabio, the possibility that the maglia rosa will end the day in fourth overall - off the podium - can't be forgotten.

Ardila and Savoldelli are 1k away from the top of the climb; they caught Atienza. And brought the gap down to 02'08"!! Yep, The Falcon is NOT giving up the fight at all! It's gonna be a close battle - for ALL top 4 contenders to the end.

Ruslan Ivanov was caught and dropped by Savoldelli and Ardila Cano. 1631 CEST - Di Luca, Simoni and Rujano reached the top of the Colle delle Finestre. Di Luca leads the group over the top of the climb, and now the clock begins to tick. Savoldelli riding hard on the last slopes of the climb. Honchar and van Huffel are in between.

The crowd showing huge support for Il Falco (too). Garate and Valjavec got the top of the climb 01'10" behind the leaders. Then came Honchar and Van Huffel at about two minutes It's a wall of people, quite remarkable, on this remarkable climb. Here comes the Falcon. At 02'20". With Ardila and Atienza. He's 11" down on Simoni on GC, but here comes "his" descent. The descent will be crucial - it's only about eight kilometres long, by my reckoning. But this climb is going to go into Giro folklore, no doubt about that.

1636 CEST - Il Falco has to give it all on the descent, and should the trio catch Honchar, he would get some extra, very welcomed help. After 4km. of descending, the gap stays more or less the same : 02'23". Simoni's leading the front trio on a not-too-steep section of the descent, while Savoldelli is about to catch Honchar. Ardila follows him. The Lampre car nearly takes out Rujano as it passes on the narrow descent - "Oops, we wiped out one of our closest rivals."

First expected time gains by The Falcon on the descent: 02'15"! Ardila is helping him. And both are about to catch Honchar. At the moment Savoldelli is 07" down on GC to Simoni (time bonuses aside). Savoldelli is, unsurprisingly on the front, careering downhill for all he's worth. Ardila and Savoldelli caught Honchar! Long beautiful grey ribbon of road, the three leaders - Di Luca, Simoni and Rujano; behind Savoldelli descending, er, like a falcon, is sweeping up the stragglers in between. With less than 20k to go.

1640 CEST - Ardila gives Savoldelli a helping hand on the descent, with a meaty push - very generous of the Colombian, as he must know of the predicament the maglia rosa finds himself in. Savoldelli could get a good group to work with him on that final climb... Honchar will help him chase. Rujano's doing fine on the descent, staying ahead of Di Luca and easily followng Simoni's wheel. Savoldelli's back with the jersey on his shoulders, as he brought the gap down to 02'05" on the descent!

Honchar has a hard time following Savoldelli's wheel. The gap is 02'03" - Il Falco gained two more seconds on Gibo, with Garate and Valjavec always in between.

The Lotto duo of Ardila and Van Huffel, as well as Honchar, still following Savoldelli's pace.

1643 CEST - Rujano runs wide on a tight corner, but regains his composure and sprints out of the corner to get back up to Simoni and Di Luca. Savoldelli must be careful not too overcook the descent in his efforts to ragain time; there are patches of "green" tarmac which can be very slippy. The Falcon is not pushing as hard as he could, 'cause he wants Ardila, Van Huffel, and especially Honchar, to stay with him! They could be of MUCH help to him over the last kilometres of the stage.

1645 CEST - GAP UPDATE: some 15k to go for the leading trio, that just hit the final climb. Valjavec and Garate are 01'15" behind, Savoldelli and his three breakaway mates at 02'00". You know, Rujano is position to win this Giro with an attack on this final climb... Every village a mass of faces, but for sure they will see the riders but not for long, as the cyclists hit maximum speed on the descent. BIG SURPRISE - DI LUCA HAVING CRAMPS!! He's dropped behind Simoni and Rujano!

As soon as they hit the final ascent, Di Luca couldn't follow the two leaders!

The Savoldelli group brought the gap down to 01'53". They gained half a minute in the descent! Di Luca! Oh no. It has been a marvelous ride by the Killer - but it is ending in pain and misery as the legs will onger do what Di Luca's brain is telling them.

Both Van Huffel and Ardila are giving Savoldelli a huge help. Di Luca has overcome his cramps! He's just a dozen seconds behind Simoni and Rujano. The Venezuelan is finally starting to help Gibo. The first part of the ascent is not that steep. Good for Savoldelli.

Their group is about to catch Garate and Valjavec too, but on the road a team car takes out a camera moto. Rujano is only a few seconds up on Di Luca in the overall... he'll want to increase that gap. The Falcon is going to find even more "teammates" - and he did. Garate and Valjavec are part of the Savoldelli group. That is a sextet.

Di Luca stays 11" behind Simoni and Rujano. This is a double-edged sword for Savoldelli - doing more work on the front of the chase group means he'll reduce the gap, but he'll therefore be more tired for the climb up to Sestriere.

1652 CEST - It's Rujano setting the pace now, Simoni might well be happy if Di Luca caught them again. But Rujano may not agree. Di Luca fights back! He has recovered and has started a desperate fight back, but he will have to make a supreme effort to catch Simoni and Rujano.

The six chasers are working well together, and Savoldelli made more gains on the leading duo, courtesy of his new "teammates". With 10k to go, the gap is 01'36".

1655 CEST - If he wins the race, Savoldelli and Discovery Channel will be indebted to riders like Van Huffel, Ardila and Honchar, who are bringing down the deficit with their chasing efforts. Haven't seen a grand tour this tight on the final big climb since the Armstrong "fan-bag" incident in 2003... The Falcon is keeping the jersey by 33", time bonsues aside. The stage winner gets 20 bonus seconds.

Rujano and Simoni have their destiny in their own hands - the two great climbers are facing the final battle, against each other and against the hard chasing Savoldelli and friends. 9k to go for Simoni and Rujano. Di Luca is 18" back.

1656 CEST - Gap update: The Savoldelli sextet is 01'30" down - they gained six seconds ove the last 1,000m. Rujano does some work now, trying to distance himself from Di Luca, as the Liquigas man is now only 14" down.

Savoldelli sits in third place in the chasing sextet as they are about to hit the steepest part of the final climb. 7km to go for Simoni and Rujano. Rujano and Simoni dancing out of the saddle; they must make one final effort. Whatever happens, Savoldelli has ridden a brilliant race with minimal help in the mountains.

This is with no help from his teammates, but he found a huge help form other teams (as is often the case in cycling). 6k of uphill riding to go. The average gradient there is about 6-7%. Di Luca is 25" back, while Savoldelli's group has reduced the gap to 1'24" - and he still lies in third wheel!

1700 CEST - Savoldelli moves up to the front of his group to sat the pace. The gap starts increasing again: 01'30". Rujano and Simoni gained six seconds on The Falcon over the last 1,000m. Yep, it's gonna be a close race.

Now the Venezuelan leads Simoni under the 5km to go banner. Di Luca still in between. His gap is up to 32" though. Rujano pushing hard now. Even Gibo seems to have a hard time following him.

But Savoldelli is back to making gains: 01'24". RUJANO ATTACKS!!! AND DROPS SIMONI!!!

1704 CEST - Simoni just lowered the pace for a few moments, dowsing himself with water and the tiny Rujano got out of the saddle and powered away! The race is so close, simoni digs deep but Rujano is disappearing from his view!! The Venezuelan took a few metres out of the Italian - he saved his legs on the Colle delle Finestre and now can speed off on his own.

RUJANO ON HIS OWN! IN THE LEAD, FLYING TO HIS FIRST STAGE VICTORY! Now, another unlikely scenario! Can Jose Rujano win overall - at the start of the day he was 51 seconds behind Simoni! Simoni is 8 second down.

Di Luca at 55". Are there enough kilometres left? Is Rujano still sufficiently strong? Unfortunately this could not be. The Savoldelli group is 01'35" behind. Rujano is out of the saddle, Simoni is desperately trying to find some reserves, Savoldelli still in pink, but his efforts must not diminish. Vicious, these Venezuelan mountain smurfs...

It might be very, very hard for Rujano to close down the three-minute gap he had on Savoldelli at the stage start, but still he may have a shot at taking second place.

1710 CEST - 2K to go for Rujano. His lead over Gibo is a good 23". His second place might be in danger. Ardila is still on the front for Savoldelli. It's Van Huffel, not Ardila Cano.

Rujano's gap over Savoldelli is going up to; 01'53". Bonus seconds could be crucial - Ardila stands to gain an extra eight seconds on Simoni by that. So in the eleventh hour, an Australian-Italian alliance... after so much conflict between the nations, they have finally made peace. 1k to go for Rujano. It's Garate doing the job for Savoldelli now. Gibo lost 4 more secs to Rujano.

1714 CEST - Rujano flying to a sensational victory!! Oh wait, Van Huffel is Belgian, not Australian... so no peace after all. But 800m for the little big climber from Santa Cruz de Mora. It's going to be a legendary victory for Venezuela - an amazing ride which ranks him alongside the giants of the road. 500m...RUJANO... here he comes ... 100M...JOSEEEEEEEEEEEEEE RUJANO WINS THE STAGE!!

Chalk up another win for the non-ProTour teams... Savoldelli should win the overall. Simoni digs deep, through a wall of dust. Simoni crosses at 25", he has preserved second place at least. Then comes Di Luca. What a brave effort! In third place; his gap being 01'35". The terrier of the vertical pave finishes fourth overall. Here comes the "Savoldelli domestiques" group - Garate just clips ahead at 1'53". Il Falco finishes at 1'55" AND PAOLO SAVOLDELLI WINS THE GIRO!!

Savoldelli is the Champion. He held onto a lead of thirty seconds. He took seventh in the stage, behind Garate, Van Huffel and Honchar. Savoldelli, Rujano, Di Luca and van Huffel have been the revelations of this year's amazing edition of the Giro.

A great day's racing, and as we would expect, a race not only of heroes but also of great debate - could Savoldelli have regained that time without the help of the Lotto duo of Ardila and Van Huffel? This will be discussed long into the night as the tifosi regain their breath. For sure Savoldelli has ridden a great ride today - never losing nerve when the pressure was on. And I'd imagine Ardila and van Huffel will be on Discovery Channel's Christmas card list after this.

Little falcon dolls with Pink Jerseys in their beaks are being waved by the fans at the top. And the tifosi have someone new/old to celebrate - and this time it's a "real" win for Savoldelli; his job was made considerably easier in 2002 when Simoni, Garzelli and Casagrande all dropped out for various offences. Savoldelli's been taking lessons from Armstrong in the poker face... he actually seemed to be smiling in the last 5k!

Simoni and Di Luca went down guns blazing, and Rujano has been magnificent. So a great race for the fans, high drama and excitement, on neary every stage, the Giro has set a very hard standard for France and Spain to match.

Ah, little Rujano has no problem with the champagne! See that, Paolo? Danilo?

Where was Van Huffel on GC? Fifteenth or sixteenth. So he'll climb up quite a few places then. No surprise there.

Well, what a day. See you back here tomorrow for the final ride into Milano. Thanks to you, the readers, for joining us, and thanks to Fabio, podofdonny, Andy McGrath and Locutus for their terrific commentary of today's stage.

Today's results and classifications here, brief results below.

Top Three Stage Results

1. Josè Rujano
2. Gilberto Simoni 26"
3. Danilo Di Luca 1'35"

General Classification Unofficial

1. Paolo Savoldelli
2. Gilberto Simoni 28"
3. Jose Rujano 45"
4. Danilo Di Luca 2'42"
5. Juan Manuel Garate 3'11"
6. Serhiy Honchar
7. Vladimir Karpets

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