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Photo ©: Sirotti

89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 12 - Friday, May 19: Livorno - Sestri Levante, 171 km

Live Commentary by Jeff Jones with additional reporting from Anthony Tan

Live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST

13:02 CEST   
A transitional stage that goes through Alessandro Petacchi's backyard, who will unfortunately be visiting the Giro on crutches. With the steep Passo del Bracco 19km the finish, sprinters may not make it to Sestri Levante together, and a breakaway is likely to make it.

14:29 CEST   
Welcome back to the Giro for the 12th stage between Livorno and Sestri Levante. It's basically a flat one for the first half, but the sprinters will have no joy as the second half is quite hilly. Besides the Passo del Bracco after 147km, there is also a climb up to Biassa after 103 km. The 110 La Gazzetta sprint point is at km 114 today, and is also on an uphill drag.

After Der Kaiser, Jan Ullrich, crushed a few souls during yesterday's TT, and Ivan 'il Terribile' Basso put time into all his major rivals, especially the climbers, the Giro's general classification has some gaping holes in it. Thus, we can expect a breakaway to go clear today like it did in stage 10, although Paolo Bettini's Quick.Step men might be put to work again to try to set up the win for 'Il Grillo'.

14:45 CEST   
Today's stage started at 12:52pm without Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) and Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank).

After 8 km, William Bonnet (Credit Agricole) made the attack that would stick, and was joined by Alberto Ongarato (Team Milram), Wladimir Belli (Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni), Joerg Ludewig (T-Mobile Team), Addy Engels (Quick Step-Innergetic), Jonathan Patrick Mc Carty (Phonak), Mickael Delage (Française des Jeux), Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas), Fortunato Baliani and Emanuele Sella (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom), Joan Horrach Rippoll (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Manuel Beltrán Martinez (Discovery Channel), Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) to make a break of 15.

The group has steadily been gaining ground over the peloton, and has 6'15 after 84 km. It covered 51.1 km in the first hour!

A crash after 10 km took down Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile), Cyrille Monnerais (FDJ), Daniel Navarro (Liberty Seguros), Dario Cioni (Liquigas), and Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel). The latter abandoned the race as a result.

14:48 CEST   
Of the breakaways, Emanuele Sella (Panaria) is the best placed on GC, lying in 22nd position at 11'27 behind the leader. So this six minute gap is not something that CSC has to be concerned with. Maybe the other teams will be though.

14:52 CEST    90km/81km to go
The breakaway reaches Alessandro Petacchi's home town of La Spezia as it travels down the west coast of Italy. It's increased its advantage to 6'45, the biggest lead so far today.

14:57 CEST   
Laiseka has been taken to hospital to assess the damage from the earlier crash. Bad luck for him, as he was aiming for a good GC place in the Giro. He was sitting in 21st position overall.

14:58 CEST    100km/71km to go
The average speed after two hours is a very brisk 49.200 km/h, and the leaders commence the climb up to Biassa with 6'50 over the peloton.

15:04 CEST    101km/70km to go
Belli forces the pace on the climb, and the break is just 3 km from the top, with the gap going up to 7'02.

There were also a couple of sprints today, at Viareggio, won by William Bonnet, and at Marina di Carrara, won by Belli.

15:08 CEST    104km/67km to go
The break reaches the summit of the climb to Biassa with Baliani taking the points ahead of Horrach and Mori.

15:14 CEST    110km/61km to go
The leaders are now on the climb up to Volastra, with Belli leading Horrach and Calcagni. It's quite steep here. Let's see if Delage can take more points for the 110 Gazzetta competition.

15:15 CEST   
Bonnet, who started this break, is going off the back on the climb.

Meanwhile, the peloton is led by Team CSC, protecting Basso. They don't want to give the break too much more time.

15:17 CEST   
Mori now leads the break with 500m to the sprint, and the pace lifts. Delage is still towards the back.

15:19 CEST    114km/57km to go
Calcagni is third in the 110 Gazzetta classification, and he will take some points today. Delage will have to work harder for his, as he's barely able to hold on.

The winner is Horrach from Calcagni, Mori, Belli, and Beltrán. That'll give Calcagni the lead in the classification. Delage and Bonnet are still coming up the hill.

15:20 CEST    115km/56km to go
CSC is doing all the work now, with Lombardi and Sorensen on the front of the bunch. then Blaudzun, Julich, Gustov, Voigt and Basso. Savoldelli and Danielson are right behind, as are Sastre and Cuesta.

15:23 CEST   
Baliani and Sella lead the break now, as the peloton starts to break up on the climb. Guidi and Bramati are dropped from the bunch as a result.

Looks like Labbe has been shelled from the front group too, leaving: Alberto Ongarato (Team Milram), Wladimir Belli (Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni), Joerg Ludewig (T-Mobile Team), Addy Engels (Quick Step-Innergetic), Jonathan Patrick Mc Carty (Phonak), Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas), Fortunato Baliani and Emanuele Sella (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Joan Horrach Rippoll (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Manuel Beltrán Martinez (Discovery Channel), Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner).

Bobby Julich sets the pace in the bunch, with Lombardi and Sorensen on his wheel.

15:26 CEST    118km/53km to go
Sorensen leads the bunch past the 110 Gazzetta sign at 6'47. It's a pretty small bunch at that. Schumacher is in the caravan, chasing back on.

15:28 CEST   
The road continues to climb after the La Gazzetta sign, so anyone with designs of rejoining the peloton will have to wait for the descent in about 10 km. McEwen is one of those dropped, but he is within striking distance.

At this stage, it does look like the break will stay away, as CSC won't ride any harder than it has to and most of the other times have riders in the break.

15:30 CEST   
Mark Scanlon (AG2R) has abandoned.

15:33 CEST   
Sorensen continues to work on the front of the bunch, and Blaudzun on his wheel probably could do with a slightly lower tempo. But now the climb flattens out (this wasn't even a categorised climb) and Blaudzun can go at his own pace. Matt Hayman is hanging on the back.

15:34 CEST    120km/51km to go
It's foggy towards the top of the climb, even if today is quite a pleasant day for riding: 25 degrees or so with a light SW/SE wind blowing and 50-60% humidity.

15:36 CEST   
Bonnet and Delage are already 1'40 behind the lead group of 12, while Labbe is at 3'10.

15:40 CEST   
Baliani pushes the pace as the road continues to climb into the fog. He has Sella on his wheel. At the back, Horrach signals for his team car, a little urgently. He just needs a bidon. Now it's getting very foggy.

15:44 CEST    125km/46km to go
This is rather a nice section of the Italian coastline, part of the Cinque Terra.

Beltrán is sitting on 145/180 (80% of his max hr) at 40 km/h, as the break starts to descend. Sella is at 144/197 at 56 km/h. Well, they're in the same breakaway :-)

Krauss signals for his team car, and gets a bidon.

15:45 CEST    131km/40km to go
Under 40 km to go, and through a tunnel. The dozen leaders are en route to Levanto, at sea level. Then they will tackle the Passo del Bracco, the last climb of the day.

15:49 CEST   
The peloton is over the top of the climb now, riding through the mist, while the leaders have reached the sunnier section of the descent.

Speaking of descents, the one off the Passo del Bracco is a little tricky. There is a turn about halfway down into a narrow, twisting, steep descent. Look for Paolo Savoldelli to try to take back some time there.

15:51 CEST    137km/34km to go
The leaders are just about at the bottom of the descent, as they twist and turn through Levanto. It starts to climb almost immediately though. They have 6'55 over the CSC led peloton.

15:55 CEST    136km/35km to go
On a beach in Levanto, umbrellas have been arranged to spell out "VV Il Giro"

Krauss is in trouble immediately as the final climb starts. Baliani pushes the pace. Sella and Beltrán are sitting on about 85% of their maximum heart rates.

The gap has grown to 7'04, the biggest of the day.

15:56 CEST    137km/34km to go
Belli asks the group to continue to roll over. Krauss is hanging on, just. He's not really built for this sort of riding. Ludewig is back with him and Horrach.

15:57 CEST   
Pat McCarty takes another turn, looking good. Ongarato is impressive too. He's easily the best sprinter of the group.

16:01 CEST    138km/33km to go
The average after three hours is 44.3 km/h. This climb is 9.5 km, averaging around 6.5%.

Labbe is caught by the bunch.

Baliani is now pushing the tempo, putting Ludewig, Krauss and McCarty out the back.

Sella is sitting on 190/197 (96%) at 29 km/h! Ouch. Baliani explodes, and Sella is left with Belli, Mori, Calcagni, Horrach and a couple of others.

16:05 CEST    139km/32km to go
Krauss and Ludewig make it back to the lead group. Not sure if McCarty does though. Yes, here's the American rider now, fighting hard to rejoin. All together in front, with Baliani working again.

Serguei Gonchar is getting dropped in the peloton. That's a surprise, as we're not really into the climb yet. CSC is setting a hard tempo, but it's not brutal yet. Gonchar moves up again, but he's not good today. The bunch is still quite large.

16:07 CEST   
Veikkanen (back with Gonchar) is on 95% of his max, as Di Luca, Bettini, Cunego and another Lampre (Tiralongo) attack. And Simoni. Of course they say that Gonchar was in trouble. Bettini nearly hits a spectator who was waving at the TV camera like a fool. Oops.

CSC brings Basso up to the attackers.

16:08 CEST    140km/31km to go
Tiralongo forces the pace with Di Luca on his wheel, then Cunego and a host of CSCs. This could be bad for Gonchar, but that's about it. 33 km/h. Ouch.

16:09 CEST   
Danielson (5th on GC) is also dropped. That attack might have taken him by surprise. He's towing a second group up to the lead group of 30 or so.

Gustov is back on the front of the bunch with Voigt, Cuesta and Basso.

16:11 CEST    145km/26km to go
Savoldelli is certainly in the front group of the bunch, while Danielson still has to work to chase on.

Gonchar did crash earlier today, so it probably hurt him on this climb.

Sella now sits on 88% of his max, working hard in the breakaway.

16:12 CEST   
Beltrán, also in the break, is sitting on 93% of his max. The leaders still have 6'00 over the bunch.

McCarty isn't in the front group any more. Now Krauss and Calcagni are dropped.

Jan Ullrich looks to be in the front bit of the peloton, or at least the second group. He's sitting well back though.

16:15 CEST    146km/25km to go
The leaders reduce in size, thanks to the work of Baliani, Sella and Belli. We now have: Wladimir Belli (Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni),Fortunato Baliani and Emanuele Sella (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Joan Horrach Rippoll (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Addy Engels (Quick Step-Innergetic) in front. They are 1 km from the summit.

Bonnet and Delage are absorbed by the peloton.

16:16 CEST   
Baliani and Sella lead on the curves towards the top of this climb, as the trees thin out and the mist returns. Engels digs deep to hold onto the back. This is hurting the Dutchman, but he just needs to bite the bars for a bit longer.

16:17 CEST    147km/24km to go
Sella continues to hammer on the front like an energiser bunny. But teammate Baliani takes the sprint points ahead of him, with Mori third.

16:17 CEST   
Ongarato, Ludewig and Beltrán come over at 30 seconds.

16:19 CEST    148km/23km to go
Now we face the tricky descent down to the finish. Baliani lets a gap open, but Engels closes it. The six leaders are still together.

The bunch is sitting 5'52 behind the leaders, and they definitely won't get them.

16:20 CEST    150km/21km to go
The descent hasn't quite begun yet - it's still undulating for a few more km, through the trees, before the drop back down to the coast.

16:21 CEST   
Baliani works hard for his teammate Sella, who is still sitting on 90% of his max at 40 km/h. A group of four with Beltrán, Ongarato, Ludewig and Krauss are chasing at half a minute.

16:22 CEST   
Horrach leaves a gap, with Mori wanting him to close it. Engels and Horrach are doing the least work in the break. Mori has to close it.

16:24 CEST    151km/20km to go
Another gap is created, courtesy of Horrach, who is now last wheel. Sella and Baliani are doing most of the work, now Engels does a turn. Horrach doesn't want to move out of sixth wheel.

The gruppo is at 6'05. Status quo.

16:25 CEST    152km/19km to go
They go under 20 km to go and Belli sits up, looking frustrated. The four chasers are not getting closer, despite the lack of cooperation in the front group. It's 32 seconds.

Engels attacks. Doesn't get far though.

16:27 CEST   
The peloton has regrouped and Ullrich is there at the back, looking comfy. Danielson is certainly back with the front group, but there's no sign of Gonchar.

16:28 CEST    153km/18km to go
Ullrich gives one of the bidon carrying Saunier Duval domestiques a bit of a push to get up to the front of the bunch.

Sella and Mori have attacked in front. Sella is sitting on 90% (179/197) at 48 km/h.

16:29 CEST    153km/18km to go
Sella and Mori get nine seconds, and they put their heads down and go for it. The real descent is about to start.

16:30 CEST    156km/15km to go
Voigt, Gustov and Cuesta are leading Basso in the peloton, with Sastre fifth wheel.

Sella and Mori are under 15 km to go, flying now.

16:31 CEST    157km/14km to go
The peloton is more than 5 km behind the leaders, who are sitting on 68 km/h now. Sella continues to push the pace, then Mori comes through for a turn. They have to keep pedaling, as the descent isn't steep yet.

16:33 CEST    158km/13km to go
No sign of Baliani, Belli, Engels and Horrach, who are chasing Sella and Mori. Ah, they're 13 seconds behind. The Beltrán group is 28 seconds behind the leaders.

16:33 CEST   
The descent is quite easy at the moment, and Sella continues to sit on 90% of his max at 71%.

16:36 CEST    161km/10km to go
The leaders go under 10 km to go, working to the max. Sella asks Mori for a bidon after he just threw his into the valley. He gets it, drinks, and throws it into the valley.

16:36 CEST    162km/9km to go
9 km to go, and the descent will start to get tricky soon. They're still on the good roads now.

16:37 CEST    163km/8km to go
15 seconds and 53 seconds are the gaps to the two chasing groups at the moment. The bunch is at 6'30.

16:38 CEST   
Engels leads the first chasing group, then Belli and Horrach.

Oh dear, Sella and Mori crash into the barriers. Mori is worse off, but now he's back. They are passed by the chase group. Ouch, that hurt.

16:40 CEST    165km/6km to go
The leaders are now together again, with six riders. Amazing that Sella and Mori weren't hurt worse than that. Mori pulled his foot out first, then just brushed against the barrier, slipping down, Armstrong style, into the next bit of the descent. Sella hit the barrier full on, but got back and remounted, but didn't cut the course.

Mori is still in front!

16:41 CEST   
Jeez, Mori crashes again with Sella. This is just not their day. Both of them are up again, chasing the remaining four. Mori crashed first again. These corners are really sharp.

16:42 CEST    168km/3km to go
The leaders: Wladimir Belli (Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni), Fortunato Baliani (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Joan Horrach Rippoll (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Addy Engels (Quick Step-Innergetic).

Mori and Sella are chasing them at 10 seconds. Both of them crashed twice on the descent. Of course Baliani isn't working much in front.

16:43 CEST   
Baliani rolls through for a soft turn. Marking Engels now. The other two might be able to come back. Belli rolls through, softly. The others look back for the luckless Sella and Mori. They'll be having nightmares about corners now.

16:44 CEST    169km/2km to go
The bunch had better take it easy...

Engels attacks, as he has to. But everyone marks him. Belli counters.

16:45 CEST   
Baliani reacts after Belli. He can't wait for Sella now. Engels and Horrach are stranded. Baliani gives it full gas to catch Belli, and he gets him.

16:45 CEST    170km/1km to go
Engels and Horrach have to work hard to get the two leaders back, but they should do it. Depends on how they will work in front. They don't. All together.

16:46 CEST   
Four leaders coming up to 1 km to go and Engels attacks. But Baliani and the rest mark him. Mori and Sella are almost back on too.

16:46 CEST   
Horrach counters! Big attack, and that might be it.

16:47 CEST   
Horrach gets a 50m gap and the rest stop chasing. But now there are five in pursuit. Caisse d'Epargne scores!

16:47 CEST    171km/0km to go
Joan Horrach celebrates as Engels takes second ahead of Sella, Mori, Baliani and Belli. Great finish.

16:52 CEST   
Krauss beats Ongarato for seventh, then Ludewig and Beltrán. Calcagni rolls across for 11th, then McCarty at 2'36. The peloton seems to have made it down the descent intact. Gonchar is not there, but Kessler and Ullrich are.

16:55 CEST   
The bunch rolls in at 7'02, led by Bettini and Delage. That's going to move Sella up the GC to fourth, depending on when Gonchar comes in.

17:01 CEST   
Gonchar has lost at least four minutes, so he's out of the top 10 on GC. Bad luck for the Ukrainian, who crashed earlier today and rode a great time trial yesterday.

But the honours of the day go to Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne), who has given his team a much needed victory after coming close on a few occasions. The biggest change on GC was that Emanuele Sella moved up from 22nd to 4th, while Gonchar moved from third to a fair way down. Gonchar is 13'40 behind the winner, thus has lost 6'40 to the GC men today.

17:05 CEST   
Belli also moved himself up to fifth on GC, while Beltrán will also climb up the rankings.

That's all from us from a very eventful transition stage. Tomorrow, the high mountains...


1 Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears           3.55.53
2 Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step-Innergetic                                0.05
3 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                         
4 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                         
5 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                
6 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni        
7 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                         1.03
8 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Team Milram                                
9 Joerg Ludewig (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                 
10 Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team   
11 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Liquigas                                       2.25 
12 Jonathan Patrick Mc Carty (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems                2.35

General classification after stage 12

1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                          44.31.52
2 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                2.48
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team              3.26
4 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                         4.21
5 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni             5.31
6 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                 5.38

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