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88th Giro d'Italia - PT

Italy, May 7-29, 2005

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Stage 14 - May 22: Egna - Livigno, 210 km

Commentary by Roger Hughes, with additional reporting from John Trevorrow and Tim Maloney

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST

13:53 CEST    97km/113km to go
Good [insert time of day wherever you are] and welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of today's potentially-epic 210 km mountain stage of the Giro.

The story so far: the first of the day's three big climbs, the steep but relatively short Colle del Frassinetto (or Verschneidsjoch if you prefer the German version; this is a strongly bilingual part of Italy) saw an interesting-looking group of 9 riders go clear, including yesterday's stage winner Ivan Parra - a brave move, last year's overall winner Damiano Cunego (presumably sent up the road as a stalking horse/super-domestique for Gilberto Simoni) and green jerseyed José Rujano on the hunt for more mountains points (he took that climb; no surprise there); with three riders there, the Selle Italia team are clearly trying to keep their profile high. They pulled out a maximum lead of 5.30 (making Rujano maglia rosa virtuale, or race leader on the road if you want me to stop talking foreign, for a while) but on the long false flat from Meran/Merano to the foot of the Stelvio - today's main event, the highest point in the race with the traditional prime in memory of Fausto Coppi at the summit) the main field has dragged them back to a smidgeon over two and a half minutes clear; maybe they are a bit more worried by the Selle Italia guys after yesterday's showing.

Leader Paolo Savoldelli said this morning, "I don't have the strongest team in the race. I came here to do well in the Giro, but I didn't come to win. However, I'll still do my best to defend the jersey. Two days ago, Basso was in the jersey, so whoever wants to win has to take it away from me.

The first three hours of the race have been run off at 32.7 kph which is more or less in line with yesterday's pace.

14:14 CEST    105km/105km to go
The lead is still falling by a few seconds per kilometre, now down to 2.15.

We had one non-starter this morning - Nick Gates, to whom we spoke yesterday: "I started yesterday with my chest badly infected, and I had one of the worst days on a bike in my career. I probably shouldn't have started, and I probably should have stopped when I could feel I wasn't going to ride out of it, but I definitely won't be riding tomorrow." Since then, Euskaltel's Aitor González has climbed off; this is not a race the team will be looking back on with particular fondness, I should imagine. We are now approaching the main feed for the day, which may see a few more riders decide not to bother with the 24 km of climbing just up the road now.

14:38 CEST    120km/90km to go
Approaching the foot of the Stelvio now. The three Selle Italia riders are the most active in the lead group, but their lead is still being ground down, and unless there is a big change in the rhythm (which can't be ruled out, of course) they will be caught mid-climb.

Volker Ordowski, Vicente Reynes and Olaf Pollack have decided that discretion is the better part of valour. See you next year, lads.

Happy birthday to Christian Vandevelde (CSC), 29 today.

14:45 CEST   
The weather at the bottom of the Stelvio is dry but overcast, but there has been rain and a bit of sleet two vertical kilometres away.

Old stager Wladimir Belli, another one who was also active in the break yesterday, is the first to lose contact on the roughly 8% slopes, but he gets back on after a bit. The Selle Italia trio are still setting the pace, and the lead is stretching out a little bit again - from 1.05 up to 1.25 again. Discovery Channel have taken up the leading positions in the main bunch (noblesse oblige and all that) with Savoldelli fourth wheel.

There is an absence of wildlife so far, but we are in a national park and there must be something close by somewhere...

14:47 CEST   
Cunego is dropped from the break as is Illiano and then a bigger surprise as Ivan Basso is dropped from the main field; it looks like game over for him.

14:55 CEST   
Basso is ringed by his team-mates who need to keep him to a tempo to minimise his losses, which are already something like 40 seconds. Discovery Channel are still setting the pace that has done the damage.

Ahead, Parra and Rujano have split the front group; Atienza, Osa and Montgomery are those still with them.

CSC's team doctor says that Basso has stomach problems. He is grimacing and his group is starting to look like the autobus for the day. 2.45 behind in the time it's taken to type this bit...

15:02 CEST   
Di Luca is apparently glued to Savoldelli's wheel, with three Discovery jerseys in front of the pink in the approved fashion; Benoît Joachim is towing the train.

Frédéric Bichot has joined the list of retirements.

Montgomery can't hold the leaders' pace and is dropped. Tour stage winner Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel) jumps clear of the main bunch (or what's left of it - maybe sixty or so riders), who are now well onto the interminable series of hairpins that characterise this massive climb..

15:08 CEST   
Lampre have moved up to the front of the main pack en masse, as Cunego has now been caught. Savoldelli is still in fifth wheel, though; just following Simoni instead of Padrnos.

15:14 CEST   
Three of four more hairpins and the leaders will be above the treeline. Laiseka's little escapade comes to an end. Still a cluster of Lampre vests, then Simoni, Savoldelli, Di Luca and Garate.

The temperature at the top of the climb - with some lying snow still on the last few kilometres is around 4°C.

At the front it is still Rujano setting the rhythm, with Atienza, Osa and a slightly rocky looking Parra happy enough to be able to follow.

15:26 CEST   
The race convoy is winding up on to the bare slopes now, terrain of scree and scrub. A watery sun is shining, but certainly not enough to cause anyone any problems.

Basso's group is riding at clubrun pace, albeit a fairly good class of clubrun. The contrast with the effort on the face of Patxi Vila, still grinding out the tempo for Simoni, is striking. That could explain why Basso has now lost 10 minutes.

The gap between the four leaders and the gruppo maglia rosa (now 25 or so strong) is steady at around two and a half minutes, and Rujano has not seen any need to oblige his companions to take any turns on the front.

15:35 CEST   
Simoni, Savoldelli and Di Luca are having a contest to see who can look the most grimly determined, although none of their expressions are in the same league as the annoyance on the face of Andrea Peron, back with Basso.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the ProTour, Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) has taken final victory in the Volta a Catalunya.

The leading quartet have now reached the first banks of grubby snow; it's whiter further up, though.

Belli is mopped up by the maglia rosa after a long time in no-man's land. Somewhere behind, Moreni and Bruseghin tangle and end up in a heap on the road. Di Luca passes Savoldelli a bottle, Coppi/Bartali style; should have waited until there was just two of them for the photograph, though.

15:43 CEST   
Savoldelli waves at his team car and has a chat on the batphone. One of his team-mates - who haven't been seen at the front of the group for some while now - drops back to the car to get something for him

The four leaders still a steady 2.20 ahead; Parra is now taking a turn on the front. Atienza has been hanging very tightly on Rujano's wheel; there's a bit of cash to be won up here

500m from the summit, there is a light covering of snow on the road. Atienza moves to the front.

15:47 CEST    146.5km/63.5km to go
Parra takes Rujano off Atienza's wheel and the green jersey takes the Cima Coppi money/points, amidst big crowds who will have been up this rather inhospitable mountain for a fair while to get the good places. Osa is dropped by an insignificant few metres.

Di Luca and Garate lead the maglia rosa group over the top, 2.40 or so down, into a scrum of soigneurs handing up jackets for the long cold descent.

15:56 CEST   
The leaders take the descent fairly steadily, while a steady stream of riders comes over the summit; the race is in bits and pieces. Still waiting for the Basso group, 12 minutes and counting.

16:01 CEST   
Osa is leading the descent, with Rujano, a good climber/bad descender in the traditional mould, trying to follow his line and sometimes succeeding. Parra has dropped back a bit, but gaps can be deceptively small at this speed, although there looks to be a bit of a headwind stopping it from being a really quick descent.

McCartney and Joachim come over the top with a certain amount of crowd assistance. 17 minutes and still no Basso.

16:04 CEST   
Basso comes over 18.40 behind Rujano and the best part of 16 minutes behind Savoldelli; he stops and Bjarne Riis brings him extra clothing from the car before he sets off again.

16:09 CEST    167.5km/42.5km to go
Russian champion Alexandr Kolobnev has set out on a counter-attack on the descent; he's pedalling so it's not that fast, although there are still a few people having a bit of trouble with the bends.

Osa calls up his car 1 km before the Intergiro.

16:15 CEST    168.5km/41.5km to go
Parra leads Rujano, Atienza and then Osa through the Intergiro, in a token sprint, and then it's straight onto a stiff little climb that would undoubtedly be worth a few points on a flatter stage.

A few riders have rejoined the maglia rosa group, bringing it up to 30 or so. Kolobnev is still ahead of them, and Bettini and Moreni have come up from behind and also set off on a counter-attack.

16:29 CEST    177km/33km to go
Over the top of the uncategorised climb, and Kolobnev has been joined by Emanuele Sella. The four leaders are unsurprisingly looking a little ragged and the duo have closed to 1.30 behind the leaders.

In the maglia rosa group Di Luca has two team-mates setting the pace now.

CSC Team Doctor Piet Daneels said that Basso drank a lot of cold water on Friday; which really upset his stomach. He started having problems with the digestion the same evening and had to go to the bathroom quite a few times that night.
Yesterday after the stage, he threw up in the team bus.

16:32 CEST   
To put sporting matters into some perspective, Davitamon-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant has let the Belgian TV know that Mauricio Ardila, unexpectedly in the Basso group, had some really bad news yesterday. Having lost his father years ago in a killing, his stepfather back home in Medellin was also killed yesterday.

16:38 CEST    183km/27km to go
The riders are now on the foot of the day's final climb, the Passo di Foscagno, 15 km of climbing.

Sella is going strongly, and having shed Kolobnev is now within a minute of the leaders. Behind Kolobnev we have Moreni, Valjavec and Sanchez in a second counter-attacking group, while the group with all the remaining favourites does not appear to be coming back, although there's a chance that some attacks will go on this final climb.

Sella has them in sight now

16:41 CEST   
Atienza and Osa briefly drop the two Selle Italia riders, but they are soon back. The chasing groups have all disintegrated; there are four or five individual riders chasing now.

Atienza attacks, and Rujano is definitely looking in a bit of trouble as the other two counter. He almost gets back, but it's too much; he's cooked.

16:46 CEST    185km/25km to go
Sella's momentum seems to have faltered; he's having trouble closing the last 20 seconds of the gap, even on Rujano.

Oddly, it's now Wladimir Belli and Wim Van Nuffel setting the pace in the maglia rosa group; the big names are perhaps more concerned with watching each other than with worrying about the race for the stage.

Sella kicks, picks up Rujano, and brings him back up to the leading trio under the 25 km to go banner.

16:50 CEST    187km/23km to go
Sella tests the lead group, lifting and dropping the pace a bit to see how the more tired riders deal with the break in the rhythm.

16:57 CEST   
But Parra attacks, and Sella looks to be having trouble in going with it, albeit not as much trouble as the other three.

Cunego has taken the lead in the 15-strong maglia rosa group, and Cioni is dropped. British readers may want to know that Charlie Wegelius is in that group still.

Parra is now un uomo solo in comando, alone in the lead in the footsteps of Coppi. Well, sort of. He has 22 seconds lead on the remaining four.

17:02 CEST    190km/20km to go
Valjavec, Sanchez and Kolobnev are still alone in that order between the chasing quartet and the maglia rosa group.

Under the 20 km to go banner Parra's lead has climbed to 47 seconds; this is looking quite good for back to back stage wins, although I wouldn't want to put the mouth on him at this point in the race.

17:10 CEST    195.5km/14.5km to go
The pace in the gruppo maglia rosa is enough to shed weaker rider, but not enough to make any impression on Parra, who is still pulling away from them with a couple of kilometres of the final climb to go (although there's a couple of km of uphill during what would otherwise be the last descent as well.

Valjavec makes it up to the chasing group and goes straight to the front; only Rujano tries to follow.

Parra crests the climb, back up at 2300m asl, straightens up his racing vest and sets out on the descent. He had a bit of a run in with a spectator on the last pitch and took a hand in the face, although I think that it was accident rather than malice.

17:14 CEST   
Valjavec crosses the summit with Rujano still hanging on, and with every incentive not to come through with his team-mate in front and 165 km of breakaway riding in his legs. He is also still a good 2.30 up on the maglia rosa group and in a position to move up to 4th or maybe even 3rd on GC.

The other chasers are all over the shop; Kolobnev is caught by the group just before the summit.

17:17 CEST    200km/10km to go
Parra is out of the saddle again on the last little climb, while back on the straight, dry descent a few minutes behind him, the bunch are clocked at over 100 kph.

17:22 CEST   
Rujano is still hanging on with Valjavec, and they come under the 10km banner 1.40 behind Parra, who has now crested this climb; downhill all the way from here.

Lobato is setting the pace in the maglia rosa group; Simoni attacks and is chased down by Van Huffel and Garate; Di Luca and Savoldelli aren't there, though.

17:24 CEST    204km/6km to go
Van Huffel can't hold on, and Simoni now has only Garate for company. Di Luca is now jumping across the gap. He's made it. Savoldelli is waiting for the descent, or else he's just stuffed.

17:26 CEST   
Di Luca, Garate and Simoni are riding bit and bit with 8 km to go, while Parra is now within a pursuiter's ride of the finish. Savoldelli leads Caucchioli, Karpets and Gonchar in an attempt to close the 20 second gap opened by Simoni's attack.

17:30 CEST    209km/1km to go
Di Luca is trying to sit on his own back wheel on one of the steeper pitches; Savoldelli's group are mopping up ex-chasers as he uses all his technical abilities to bridge that gap

Parra is under the red kite and on his way to take his second stage in as many days. Jersey straightened, kisses blown, two fingers held aloft. He wins.

Valjavec leads Rujano in, and the Venezuelan sportingly (or stuffedly) does not contest the sprint. Osa comes over alone in fourth.

Di Luca leads Simoni, Garate and Sella over the line; Savoldelli finishes 10th and limits his losses to 28 seconds on Simoni; enough to hang on to the pink jersey for today at least. Rujano has strengthened his grasp on the green jersey and moved up from 8th to 5th on GC, a good day's work.

Thanks to you for spending the afternoon (morning, late night) with us in the observation bubble of the Hindenburg IV, and thanks to the Selle Italia team for livening up the day's action. It will be a while yet before all the riders are in; the time limit will be around an hour today and Parra is already opening his spumante while only twenty or so riders have actually crossed the line so far...


1 Ivan Parra (Col) Selle Italia-Colombia                         6.46,33
2 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                       1.50
3 Jose Rujano Guillen (Ven) Selle Italia-Colombia                  
4 Unai Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) Illes Balears                           2.51
5 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                             3.15
6 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 
7 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir             
8 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                  
9 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                  3.42
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team    
11 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                            

General classification after stage 14

1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Tea      67.21.28
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                             0.25
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                              1.48
4 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                     2.11
5 Jose' Rujano Guillen (Ven) Selle Italia-Colombia                  2.18
6 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole                           3.25
7 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                              4.05
8 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                    5.50

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