Giro d'Italia - Stage 17 Live Coverage Part 2
Termeno to Plan de Corones, 126 km
1607 CEST - Speaking of the Plan de Corones finish again, race director Angelo Zomegnan expressed all of his disappointment at not being able to get
there, but promised he'll have a go again in the next years. You can be sure that the Plan de
Corones mountain monster will figure in the route of some of the next Giros!
There's a CSC rider with a flat. Hard to tell who it is, but it's not Basso. Nobody stopped and waited for him, so yeah the guy wasn't Ivan for sure. When the
rain capes go on, the numbers get hidden... that make its hard for anyone to tell who is who sometimes.
A Discovery rider got off his bike. Someone soon joining the list of DNFers? Nope, it may be Savoldelli has stopped to put on his heavy weather gear. Oh, another CSC guy with a flat! Once more it was not Basso anyway.
Perhaps the reason behind all those riders stopping for a while was not a
string of flats and mechanicals, but some changes to their bikes, as they do not
need 34x29s and such any longer... now Basso is off the back of the peloton.
He's got a few riders with him. The race isn't "on" yet, so it won't matter.
The TV feed shows 34km left, but it is unclear if that is a reliable figure now.
Yes, the big guns will not have to go up that crazy 26% grade... they will
"only" have a 14% grade now on the final climb, so they won't need the crazy
34x29 climbing gears on their bikes... they can go with the more normal 39x23
and 39x25 gears. It makes a big difference to have the right gears for the
Saunier Duval has narrowed the gap to 01'51" for Cioni and Poilvet.
Damiano Cunego was the latest addition to the riders having bike changes over the last kilometres. In his
case he didn't change his rear wheel only, but his bike as a whole. Small detail: Damiano's new bike doesnt have any number on. So the guys at the
photofinish might have some probs getting his final placing right at the end of the
stage ... He'd better fix that as soon as possible!
The Passo Furcia (m. 1.759) - km. 12 - Gradient: 6.2% is not the Corones, but is not exactly easy either.
1625 CEST - The last gap update says Cioni and Poilvet hold onto a lead of
01'32" at the latest time check.
Oh, the riders have hit a climb! The leaders look to be on that final 11km
uphill section. Or is this just wishful thinking? Well, they're on an uphill
section leading to the final ascent, but still far from the Furcia's first
slopes. The final climb starts easy, and gets harder and steeper the further up
it goes. Still a beast, this is. On this preliminary stretch of road, the
Saunier Duvals are riding with the CSC armada in tow.
1630 CEST - 22.5k to go. Poilvet and Cioni stay clear, but cannot make any further gains over the bunch, the gap being around 01'30" at the last check.
Gilberto Simoni may have a further reason to go for the win, dating back to the
Giro of 2004: the Passo Furcia is the same climb where Damiano Cunego made
the move that eventually earned him the Maglia Rosa two years ago. And Gibo had to let his teammate go and win that day. Cunego could have won the race but
still we think Gibo wasn't that pleased that day. And today's stage could
provide him with a good chance for redemption.
Tour of Belgium Just in: Former mountain biker Maarten Tjalingii (Skil-Shimano)
has won the first stage of the Tour of Belgium.
1637 CEST - Regardless of the skipped climbs, the stage is a tough one. Just ask the guys who already lost contact to the main peloton in this slightly uphill section, among them Sergio Barbero and Aaron Olsen. Simoni's new teammates on Saunier Duval continue to string out the peloton on this terrible stretch of road.
1639 CEST - The race finally found back its original route as they made it to Longera. The Saunier Duval chasing machine cut the gap to Poilvet (on the move for the third time in this Giro) and Cioni to just a minute. Not that the two frontrunners are giving it up in any way, but it will be very hard for them to make it to the (new) line. Appropriately enough, the lead man in the Saunier Duval train has his windbreaker sticking out of his back pocket... it makes him look like a Shark in pursuit of chum. Poilvet and Cioni are down to only 40 seconds advantage now.
1642 CEST - The leaders are just a couple kms away from the foot of the final climb to the (new) finish. They're getting closer to today's "110 Gazzetta" sprint too. Saunier Duval's pace is paying dividends - 34 seconds for the two leaders.
Triki Beltran had a mechanical. It looks like his chain slipped.
10k to go. The top overall contenders are on the font of the bunch already.
Basso, Simoni, Gadret. Raffaele
Illiano attacks! So, even today, we got a Selle Italia rider on the move.
The Neapolitan was the first to sneak off the field as the race is closer to the final climb and the going gets steeper. Gadret's recent
performances have been superb, but his overall position is still relatively poor
- 32nd. Illiano quickly closed down on Cioni and Poilvet. While a few riders are losing contact to the group.
Poilvet still holds out to win the sprint, just ahead of Illiano. And
it is Gruppo Esplosoonce again! Poilvet's break bore fruit, courtesy of this "110 Gazzetta" sprint success and of a few points in his bag. One more time
Jan Ullrich showed that such rainy and cold days do not suit him. Big Jan is dropped already! And we're just on the first slopes of the final climb.
Perennial attacker Illiano is only barely out in front, 8 seconds ahead of the pack. The TV images are pixelated and rough... the weather conditions are hampering coverage again. The ascent is breaking the field apart. Only 30 riders left in the main group, CSC and Saunier Duval are still at the front of what is left of the peloton. Danilo Di Luca is struggling for the umpteenth time
in this race. He's finding it very hard to stay with the best of them. The man is having another bad day in this bad (for him) Giro.
1651 CEST - The steepest part of the Furcia is just 1km away. A Lampre rider gets shelled. Bettini is still in the main bunch withi his Ciclamino Jersey. Gibo and Basso stay on the
front of the first group. Pellizotti, Cunego, Gutierrez are all bunched up behind Basso. Di Luca lost several secs to all of them already. A T-Mobile rider ... Kessler?... has attacked off the front of the pack.
Belli, Caruso, Perez Cuapio and Savoldelli are also inside the Gruppo Maglia Rosa
Australia's Davis was the Magenta attacker. But Davis and Illiano are about to get pulled back. The race stepped into the toughest section of the final climb. Under 5k to go. Davis and Illiano were caught at last. An Ag2r rider is just sliding off the back of the group now. While the pace is getting harder for many to hold on, and the peloton comes down to 15-20 guys. "Piccolo" Piepoli is driving the pain at the front of the race now.
He is blowing more and more men out of the back, Piepoli is... his pace is brutal in the peloton. Piepoli did exactly this yesterday, what a handy worker to have on hand. The Flying Trullo is flying again. Savoldelli is starting to have a hard time. Patxi Vila is just off the back after that injection of pace. Garate and Gadret are still near the front of the peloton. Gibo owes a lot
to Piepoli, notably in case Simoni finally gets the win he's still looking for. But victory or not, the good news for Gibo is that he's gonna move up into 3rd overall at the stage end, 'cause Savoldelli is dropped! There goes his 3rd place on GC. Caruso is near the front of the group, which is only 15 strong.
1658 CEST - 4k to go. We're in the
steepest part of the climb, with the gradient going over 10% in the next 3 kms.
The front group is splitting, as Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio sets the pace! GO
LUCKY!! Great to see the little Mexican, nicknamed "Lucky", at the head of the
race, after a torrid few years. Everyone is struggling over there. Caruso is
also near the front of the group, which is only 15 strong. Looks like David Lopez and Sandy Casar are off the back.
But Basso comfortably sits on his whee; Gutierrez sits in third, stuck to Basso's wheel. The front group is down to 7-8 men only. Simoni is right on Gutierrez. Simoni struggling... and Guti attacks!! Basso counters, and so
do Perez Cuapio and Piepoli. Gutierrez is trying for the stage win!
We have four men in the lead at rhe moment! Gibo and Cunego are a little further back
Piepoli is with the Basso and Gutierrez group.
Basso casually took his wheel there, a few pedal strokes and he was up there. Cunego is trying to bridge back up to the Simoni group, but he's struggling. Perez keeps setting the pace, in a very steep (12%) part of the Furcia. But there's still four men ahead. Caruso and Gadret are with Simoni and Pellizotti behind them. The Mexican
Pellizotti's opened up a gap between him and Simoni. Gibo, Caruso and Gadret are still trying to close down the gap. Cunego's slightly behind them.
Well Perez has done what nobody else has been able to do... he has pushed Basso off his wheel! Basso drops to the back of that lead group. Di Luca, Danielson
and Peña in a small bunch further behind. Pellizotti is now trying to bridge up to the Basso group!
1703 CEST - 1.5k to go. Basso is in control of the situation, but he is
struggling like everybody else to keep up with Perez. to close down on the quartet
With this ride, Gutierrez is cementing his podium position further. Pellizzotti He regained the lead group. So now it's Perez, followed by Piepoli, Pellizotti, Basso, and Gutierrez.
Great riding by the "Mad Scientist" The Liquigas rider is the fastest in the leading quintet. But ... he got dropped again. "Goldilocks" Pellizotti goes
to the front, but ... bam! one second later ... he's gone, just like that! And so are Guti and Perez, as now we have ...
... TWO MEN IN THE LEAD WITH 700M TO GO!
BASSO AND PIEPOLI
Basso is off the front with Piepoli!!
Basso wants another win... deja vu all over again, this is!
Yes, and this conjures up images of the La Thuile stage
1707 CEST - 500M to go. The stage is a
two-man affair; Piepoli takes the lead, Basso keeping on his wheel.
A two man affair, but this isn't Brokeback Mountain... Both are very motivated to win today. And get their second success in the 2006 Giro.
Here comes the sprint. Piepoli on the front
PIEPOLI LAUNCHES ... and wins. In fact, there was no real sprint between the two but ....
IS THE WINNER!
Perez comes in at 23".
Gutierrez only lost 15" to Basso... he's going to get 2nd in Milano for sure now.
Simoni at 50"
Gadret came in earlier, 37" back... great ride for him. Gibo officially moved up to the podium
spots today. He gained 40 secs on Savoldelli; Simoni will be up into 3rd on GC
for sure, as ...
... Savoldelli is towed across the line by Rubiera. Il
Falco finished at 01'30". No sign of Danielson again.
Riders limp across the line in ones and twos. A horrible day on the bike in terrible weather, but it would have been worse if they hadn't shortened the
stage. Despite his unhappiness at the race being shortened, I suspect Saunier Duval director Algeri will be happy with the results. Casar had a good day too -
after taking almost 8 minutes in the Stage 14 break, he is riding solidly enough for a top 10 finish. Another great stage win, a man in podium position... not a
bad day at al
1 Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval)
2 Ivan Basso (CSC)
3 Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) at 13"
4 Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) 21"
5 Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Panaria-Navigare) 28"
6 John Gadret (Ag2r Prevoyance) 39"
7 Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) 42"
8 Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) 48"
9 Sergio Ghisalberti (Team Milram) 1'00"
10 Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros-Wurth)
11 Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux) 1'15"
12 Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step-Innergetic)
Another brilliant ride for French Cyclocross Champ "Gadfly" Gadret... he's
raising the hopes of France once again.
1717 CEST - The Flying Trullo is having an incredible Giro. After a decade in the pro ranks without any good performance
on the Tour of Italy roads, Leonardo Piepoli scored TWICE in less than a week. One could just regret that his pollen allegry kept the little big mountain got
from Apulia far from the Giro for so many years. Indeed, though spending most of
his years with Banesto may have hampered his ability to ride the Giro.
Piepoli is a past winner of the Baby Giro in fact; he was tenth overall in the Giro itself in 2000. Lying sixteenth before today, he should move into
fourteenth if not higher. Piepoli won the Baby Giro in 1994. But didn't deliver as expected when he became a pro; this Giro he got his redemption.
1721 CEST - The Big "Gruppetto" with all the sprinters (if any left) crossed the line almost a dozen minutes behind Basso
and the Flying Trullo. Only Gutierrez is within 10 minutes of Basso now, at 5'34". Yes, this is the worst grand tour spanking we've seen for a few years now. Even without this Corones finish though, it's been one of the worst Grand
Tour parcours too.
On the podium, Basso tries to pull his Pink Jersey on over a big cold-weather coat... it's a struggle, but he gets it on finally, and then the Maglia Verde also as he leads the mountains competition. Basso's trying on all the jerseys. No, that green one makes you look fat, Ivan.
Is Basso now leader in the Points competition as well? We'll see... bring back the Intergiro I say, I'd like to see him win that. Seriously though, I do miss the Intergiro - the combination classification is now the Blue jersey competition. The "110 Gazzetta" just doesn't really compare. Sure, it was no institution but had been in the Giro for almost 20 years.
The worst part for many riders is probably that they still have two more stages of ass-whupping coming to them from Basso in the mountains this week.
1730 CEST - Unlike some of his
colleagues, CSC's boss Bjarne Riis shared
the decision to shorten the stage "It was a pity that
we couldn't get to the summit, as this would have made for a great stage for
sure. But organizers have to make the best decisions for the riders, you know.
And I think they did today".
After-race comments from Ivan Basso,
"I don't think I would have won the stage in case of a
finish at Plan de Corones as planned. Piepoli is a pure climber, and steep
climbs like that are more suitable to him. I'm used to ride Corones as planned.
Piepoli is a pure climber, and steep climbs like that are more suitable to him.
I'm used to ride better on easier slopes, but as I'm on form, I can do well also
in such tough ascents in this period. I suffered because of the cold today, and
because of the temperature changes: a few days ago we were racing in
temperatures over 30°C, and today it was below zero. The road to Milano? Well,
I'm happy and serene now, but there's still three tough stages left, and it
wouldn't take more than a bad day for me to lose everything; I still have to be
Thanks for joining us today... more rider interviews to come shortly in a
separate article ....As well full official results
Join us again
tomorrow for the live report.
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Full official results, more rider interviews and
photos to follow.