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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 13 - Saturday, May 20: Alessandria - La Thuile, 218 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

13:47 CEST   
Stage 13 is the next real mountain stage of the '06 Giro. The course heads from Alessandria across Piemonte, gradually climbing to Val d'Aosta, then climbing out of Morgex to the Colle S. Carlo at 1951m, before a 7km to finish to the La Thuile ski station. Climbing kid Jose Rujano will test his legs on the ascent, but watch out for daring descender and defending Giro champ Savoldelli to take a dynamic win.

14:26 CEST   
Welcome to the good ship Cyclingnews for our live coverage of the 13th stage of the Giro d'Italia. Today marks the start of a fairly mountainous last week, even if there is only one climb in the 218 km stage. But what a climb it is... The Colle San Carlo is 10.52 km in length and averages a very nasty 9.8%, with maximums of 15%. Although the summit is not quite at the end of the stage, with a descent to the finish, you can be sure that most of the damage will be done on the climb.

Non-starters in Alessandria this morning were Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto, and Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros). McEwen was expected to go home, and although he wanted to stay until Brescia, a light stomach problem caused him to change his mind.

14:36 CEST   
The 110 Gazzetta sprint point today is in Ivrea at km 103, and today's breakaway has already passed it. The results: Benoît Poilvet (CA), Christian Knees (Milram) and Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues).

But we should backtrack first. The stage started at 11:47 with 176 riders. The first hour was run at a crazy average speed of 53.2 km/h, and after two hours, the average was still just under the 50 km/h mark. The old days of piano for four hours are definitely gone, a direct result of the ProTour and the more international flavour of the Giro.

The breakaway took some time to get established, as a result. After 87 km, Benoît Poilvet (CA), Christian Knees (Milram), Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues), Jose Cayetano Julia Cegarra (Caisse d'Epargne), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital), and Jose Serpa (Selle Italia) attacked, and have been steadily gaining time over the peloton since then. The last time check was 5'30 at km 120.

14:37 CEST   
The best placed rider in the break is Marzio Bruseghin, who is 12'50 down in 27th place, so there are no big threats up here.

14:43 CEST    130km/88km to go
The six leaders have pushed their advantage up to 5'48 with 88 km to go, but they'll need a lot more than that to stay away. Bruseghin and Serpa are the best climbers here. Knees goes alright too.

14:57 CEST    145km/73km to go
The leaders start to find it hard going, as the road continues ever upwards. It's not so steep yet, but they've climbed nearly 500m in today's stage. The advantage is more or less stable at 5'18.

15:06 CEST    150km/68km to go
The big peloton rolls along, with the average speed now dropping to 46.6 after three hours. That's a big drop, considering the first two hours were at 50 km/h.

Most of the riders in the bunch are using this opportunity to refuel from their team cars, before the final climb starts.

The day is overcast, and there are clouds covering the mountains. Bruseghin pulls a wind jacket out of his back and puts it on.

15:08 CEST    152km/66km to go
Bruseghin's jacket billows out like a parachute, but he ignores it and rolls through for his turn. The race is heading up a long valley, by a river, towards Aosta.

Gianni Savio gives Serpa some food from the team car.

15:09 CEST   
In the peloton, Di Luca goes back for some food and is paced back on by a teammate. Up front, it's CSC and Saunier Duval leading. Obviously Gilberto Simoni has to make a move today if he's to take back some time on Basso and co.

15:10 CEST   
It is raining and foggy at the finish, which will make the final descent very interesting.

15:12 CEST   
Ivan Basso is carrying a rain jacket in his jersey as well. He's got most of his team in front of him, while three Sauniers, including the chin-damaged Manuele Mori.

A band has struck up a rousing tune at the finish. Again. Maybe they need a viola section to balance the euphoniums.

15:14 CEST    155km/63km to go
The reason for Rogers' abandon was given by T-Mobile. His toothaches have gotten worse, and he now has an infection. Thus, it was decided that he should pull out. The team believes his Tour start will not be in jeopardy.

T-Mobile's main GC man Serguei Gonchar had bad luck yesterday, crashing after 10 km and hurting his back. That cost him his third place on GC, but he is continuing with the race.

15:17 CEST    157km/61km to go
the rain is starting to fall lightly, just a few spots. Liquigas is on the front, helping out CSC and Saunier Duval set the pace.

Bruseghin decides that he doesn't need the rain jacket yet, and puts it away. The gap is still 5'12.

15:19 CEST   
Basso has his rain jacket on though, as he has heard the weather report from up ahead. It's not pretty. It's cold and wet, and seven degrees at the finish.

15:22 CEST   
Bruseghin does another turn, then Bonnaire comes through.

On top of the mountain, it's 3 degrees wit mixed rain and snow. Ouch.

15:29 CEST   
Serpa puts his jacket on now.

Liquigas and Saunier continue to lead the bunch, at a steady/hard tempo.

15:32 CEST   
Some tidbits on today's stage. Just before the riders make the left hand turn onto the climb, they will pass through a little town called Morgex, which is the home of the highest winery in Europe (923m), and produces 'Blanc de Morgex'.

Morgex was actually a coal mine until the 1960s.

15:33 CEST   
Thomas Vaitkus (AG2R) has abandoned, suffering from tendonitis in his knee.

15:36 CEST    170km/48km to go
Cunego sits towards the front of the peloton, not far from a rugged up Danilo Di Luca.

Jan Ullrich is sitting back a bit, with a rain jacket stuffed in his back pocket. Riders now stop for nature breaks en masse.

15:37 CEST   
Now it's Liquigas riding on the front, pegging the leaders back to 4'35. Bobby Julich sits in fourth wheel for CSC, ahead of Blaudzun.

15:40 CEST   
CSC has a couple of soigneurs placed on the side of the road, handing out bidons to its riders. The peloton is now in Aosta, climbing steadily.

Today would have been the 74th birthday of legendary Adriano "The Voice" De Zan, acknowledged as the greatest cycling TV commentator of all time. De Zan died in 2001 of leukaemia.

15:44 CEST    176km/42km to go
The break exits Aosta with a steady 4'35 advantage.

Before the riders reach Morgex, they will pass through Arvier. One the roundabout, there is a monument to Maurice Garin, who was originally from Aosta. Both his Paris-Roubaix victories were won when he held an Italian passport, but then he became a Frenchman. Garin also won the first Tour de France in 1903.

15:46 CEST    178km/40km to go
The break's advantage drops to 4'15 as it continues to ride steadily uphill towards the fog capped mountains. They go under 40 km to go, and the average speed has dropped to just under 45 km/h.

15:50 CEST    181km/37km to go
It's the calm before the storm as the peloton rides through St Pierre. Simoni has his yellow Saunier Duval men on the front, while Di Luca has the green/celeste Liquigas boys there. This is a good climb for Simoni, and good weather for the man from Palu. di Giovo.

The Paolo Savoldelli fan club is enjoying the music at the finish.

15:52 CEST    182km/36km to go
The gap is now under four minutes as the break rides past another ancient castle. Julia does his turn, then the small Jose Serpa.

15:53 CEST   
Another miscellaneous tidbit about today's stage (we're full of them today). The finishing town of La Thuile has some of the best trout fishing in Italy, straight out of Dora la Thuile.

15:55 CEST   
The peloton rides through St Pierre, past the castle at 3'22 behind the breakaways. The old town is spread out in the valley.

15:59 CEST    184km/34km to go
Calcagni has the tempo cranked up on the front of the bunch as it rides up the valley of Aosta alongside the river. The terrain is becoming more barren, with rocky crags looking down on the race as it passes through in a sea of colour. Quelle contrast.

Leonardo Scarselli's heart rate is 137/190 (72% of max) and he's sitting on 39 km/h.

Looks like the Paolo Savoldelli fan club is singing to maybe stop the band from playing again.

16:02 CEST    185km/33km to go
The green and yellow led peloton riders over a bridge and onwards towards the final climb, which starts in about 17 km. The roads are wet here, but it's not raining. The bunch is fairly stretched, but not in one line yet.

16:05 CEST    188km/30km to go
The mountains look pretty imposing and bleak, but the race only goes over one of them today. The chin-bandaged Manuele Mori leads the bunch, unfortunately looking like a yellow-clad Santa Claus. He pulls off from his turn, having reduced the break's advantage to 2'54.

The break goes under 30 km as the peloton rides past the Maurice Garin memorial in Arvier.

16:07 CEST    190km/28km to go
Simoni's men have all fallen away from the front, and it's Di Luca's Liquigas boys now, with CSC always close in the second rank.

At the finish, all the fans have umbrellas out. At least they have music to entertain them in the rain.

16:08 CEST    191km/27km to go
Now some Phonak riders move to the front, but it's just to protect Gutierrez and Pena, not to take over the pace making.

16:09 CEST   
Some heart rate updates:

Scarselli sits on 142/190 (74% of max) at 31 km/h, while Guido Trentin is almost identical, on 142/195 (72% of max).

16:10 CEST    192km/26km to go
The road steepens a bit now, but we haven't hit the main climb yet. There's still a good 7 km to go before then.

16:13 CEST    194km/24km to go
The six leaders: Benoît Poilvet (CA), Christian Knees (Milram), Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues), Jose Cayetano Julia Cegarra (Caisse d'Epargne), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital), and Jose Serpa (Selle Italia). They have just 2'35 of their advantage left, and will get to the foot of the climb with maybe 1'30.

16:13 CEST    195km/23km to go
Basso is now riding senza rain jacket, clad in the maglia rosa. It's not raining at the moment, down here in the valley.

16:14 CEST   
Now the battle for position is beginning, with Rujano's teammates moving him up, then Savoldelli's Discovery teammates. Basso is always near the front.

16:18 CEST    197km/21km to go
The roads are wet again thanks to a recent shower, but the riders won't be feeling the cold yet. Everyone is working pretty hard. White brings Savoldelli near the front of the bunch.

16:20 CEST    198km/20km to go
Garate has also moved up with Bettini not far behind, clad in the purple points jersey. White is now doing a turn with the Liquigas boys next to him, and Danielson on his wheel. 1'42 is the gap. Stangelj and di Luca are there, then Voigt brings Basso up.

16:21 CEST   
Voigt has Basso on his wheel as he hammers on the front of the bunch. White drops off.

Scarselli's heart rate: 159/190 (83% of his max) at 33 km/h. It's getting hard.

16:22 CEST   
The break goes past 20km to go at a much slower pace than the peloton. Left turn, and the climb starts. 10.5 km at 9.8%, see you at the top...

16:22 CEST    199km/19km to go
The leaders ride on wet roads, and it's flat for a bit longer. The peloton is a minute back at the 20 km sign.

16:23 CEST   
Voigt is doing all the work in front of the peloton as the break goes over the bridge over the river, and starts the climb. Bruseghin gets to the front and the break starts to shatter.

16:24 CEST   
Now the peloton is over the river, with Voigt still leading Basso and Sastre. 45 seconds.

16:25 CEST    200km/18km to go
The first riders to attack in the break are Bruseghin and Sella. No surprise there.

In the bunch, it's Cuesta, Di Luca and Efimkin. Di Luca chucks his rain jacket on the side of the road.

Trentin's HR is now 169/195 at 23 km/h.

16:26 CEST   
Cuesta catches the first of the breakaways, Jose Cayetano Julia.

16:27 CEST   
Basso sits in second wheel behind Cuesta, then Gutierrez and Di Luca, Tiralongo(?), Rujano...

All the breakaways have been caught, save for Bruseghin and Serpa, who will get caught soon.

16:28 CEST   
Rujano moves up to third wheel, ready to pounce, but now is not the time. Basso looks good as he sits on Cuesta's wheel. Gibo is in about 10th wheel.

Rujano moves up again, but Cuesta moves to the left and doesn't give him any room.

16:28 CEST   
Serpa drops Bruseghin as Rujano finally attacks.

16:31 CEST    203.5km/14.5km to go
Rujano catches Serpa and rides with him for a bit, with Bruseghin just off their wheels. The peloton is led by the impassive Iñigo Cuesta. No panic here.

Rujano gets paced by Serpa, before the latter blows a gasket and lets Rujano go.

Ullrich has been dropped (no surprise), as has Sella.

16:32 CEST    204km/14km to go
Rujano keeps going at 19 km/h as Sastre takes over in the peloton, which is down to less than 20 riders. Savoldelli is in difficulty already.

16:32 CEST   
Savoldelli is just riding at his own tempo, not suffering yet, but having to let the Basso group get a bit of a lead.

16:33 CEST   
Rujano is caught again by the Basso group.

Savoldelli is with Danielson, who will do the job as pacer again.

16:34 CEST    205km/13km to go
Cunego isn't with the Basso group either! There are perhaps eight riders left with the maglia rosa, including Gibo, Gutierrez and Rujano.

16:36 CEST   
The lead group: Basso, Sastre (CSC), Gutierrez (Phonak), Simoni, Piepoli (Saunier), Rujano (Selle Italia), Caruso, Scarponi (Liberty).

Simoni can move himself up a bit today, as most of the top GC riders have been shelled.

16:38 CEST    206km/12km to go
Basso has made his move off the front now, with Simoni and Piepoli, leaving the rest of the front group at 15 seconds.

Cunego, Di Luca, Pellizotti and Savoldelli have been dropped.

16:41 CEST   
And after 4.5 km of climbing, Basso has attacked Simoni and Piepoli, and is alone. Piepoli was able to hang on to him for a little longer. Gutierrez is at 8 seconds.

16:43 CEST   
Basso and Piepoli are back together, with Simoni at 18 seconds, Gutierrez chasing at 25 seconds. Di Luca is already at 50 seconds, and Savoldelli is already at a minute.

16:44 CEST   
Bettini is with Savoldelli now, at 1'30. Il Falco's descending skills might not save him today.

16:45 CEST    207km/11km to go
It's still raining at the finish, albeit lightly. Basso and Piepoli lead Simoni and Gutierrez by about 20 seconds, with Scarponi, Caruso (Liberty), Rujano (Selle) a bit further back, then Cunego (Lampre), Belli, Gadret and Pellizotti in another group, then Di Luca, then Savoldelli's group.

16:49 CEST    208km/10km to go
Basso continues to set the tempo, and it's doing damage. Gibo is still at 40 seconds, then there's a group with Perez Cuapio, Gadret, Scarponi, Gutierrez, Rujano, Belli at 48 seconds. At 1'00, there are Cunego and Caruso, then Di Luca at 1'30, then Savoldelli and Danielson at 2'10.

This mountain has exploded the race. But it's not over yet. There's still a descent.

16:51 CEST   
Don't try this at home, kids:

Basso (CSC), Piepoli (Saunier)
Simoni (Saunier) at 0'48
Gutierrez (Phonak) at 0'55
Scarponi (Liberty), Belli, Rujano (Selle Italia), Gadret (AG2R), Pellizotti (Liquigas) at 1'10
Caruso (Liberty), Cunego (Lampre) at 1'40
Di Luca, Savoldelli, Danielson at 2'10

16:52 CEST   
Well, once again, Ivan Basso is doing a lot of damage to the rest, as they get to 10 km to go. Piepoli is sitting on the maglia rosa's wheel, then there's Simoni in third at 50 seconds.

16:55 CEST    209km/9km to go
Gutierrez has caught Simoni again, but they're 1'15 behind the two leaders, who are 1 km from the summit of the Colle san Carlo.

16:55 CEST   
The situation now:

Basso (CSC), Piepoli (Saunier)
Gutierrez (Phonak), Simoni (Saunier) at 1'15
Scarponi (Liberty), Perez Cuapio 1'50
Gadret (AG2R), Pellizotti (Liquigas) at 1'55
Belli, Rujano (Selle Italia), at 2'00
Caruso (Liberty), Cunego (Lampre) at 2'05
Di Luca, Savoldelli, Danielson at 2'45

16:56 CEST    210km/8km to go
Basso leads all the way towards the summit, as a sodden supporter chases him for a bit. Piepoli looks good on his wheel. He's the only rider who was able to stay with the CSC man today. Now Gutierrez is attacking Simoni, but no dice.

16:57 CEST   
Basso reaches the top of the climb first, as Simoni fights hard to keep with Gutierrez, who is pedaling a big gear.

16:58 CEST   
Simoni gets his rain vest out and tries to put it on while going up hill.

Piepoli went for the points there, but Basso might have got him. The descent starts and Basso is very very careful, while Piepoli isn't.

16:59 CEST    211km/7km to go
Basso is super careful on the descent as the first chasers come up at 1'24, with Gutierrez third then Simoni.

Piepoli has opened up a gap. Basso is not going to even bother chasing the suicidal Saunier man.

17:00 CEST   
Scarponi and Perez Cuapio are next at 2'00. Basso is picking up speed, but taking it gingerly on the wet corners. He has all the time in the world.

17:02 CEST    214km/4km to go
Basso continues his slow run down the mountain as Cunego and Perez Sanchez pass over the top at 2'46.

17:03 CEST    215km/3km to go
Savoldelli and Di Luca were over the top at 3'10.

Gutierrez has opened up a small gap on Simoni, and they are definitely going quicker than Basso. But they haven't caught him yet.

Basso is 22 seconds behind Piepoli.

17:04 CEST    216km/2km to go
Basso is pedaling now as the descent gets a bit easier. Another corner, and he brakes, takes it steady, and is now 35 seconds behind the leader Piepoli. But on the straights, he picks it up.

17:05 CEST   
The rest of the front riders are making their way down the descent now, into La Thuile.

Basso pedals in his biggest gear, still keeping over a minute's gap over Simoni and Gutierrez. That's not bad at all.

17:06 CEST    217km/1km to go
The worst of the descent is over, as Piepoli flies under 2 km to go. Basso should take second, while Gutierrez and Simoni are working together to reduce the gap to Basso.

17:07 CEST   
Basso slows around another dangerous corner, as Piepoli goes inside the final kilometre. He will win the stage, taking the final corners (basically a U turn) very carefully.

17:07 CEST    218km/0km to go
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval) wins the stage into La Thuile with a handy gap over Ivan Basso. He's delighted with the victory, which was not easy in these conditions.

17:09 CEST   
Basso comes across after yet another great and smart ride at 43 seconds. He stayed on the bike, and that's what counts.

Gutierrez leads Simoni up to the line, and pummels him in the sprint at 1'18. They picked up about 50 seconds on Basso on the descent.

17:13 CEST   
Scarponi leads the next group at 2'08, with Pellizotti, Gadret and Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio. Then Cunego beats Savoldelli for ninth at 2'36. Basso has done it again, put time into all his rivals.

17:19 CEST   
Gutierrez is now second on GC at 3'27, then Savoldelli at 5'30. Belli is doing well for Selle Italia at 7'35 in fourth, then Gibo at 8'00, ahead of Pellizotti, Danielson, and Cunego. Serious damage, and there have only been two big mountains in the Giro.

Jan Ullrich comes in a group at 10'00, and we shall leave you on that note. Another mountain stage tomorrow, between Aosta and Domodossola. 223 km, two big climbs, and a downhill finish.


1 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                           5.21.12
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                                0.44
3 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                  1.19
4 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                             
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                        2.08
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                         
7 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance                                        2.12
8 Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mex) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare               2.17
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                     2.36
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 
11 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                
12 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni             

General classification after stage 13
1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            49.53.36
2 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                  3.27
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                5.30
4 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni               7.35
5 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                               8.00
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                         8.14
7 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                   8.35
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                     8.58


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