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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 14 - Sunday, May 21: Aosta - Domodossola, 223 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

14:31 CEST   
Welcome to our continuing live coverage of the Giro d'Italia, which is now two weeks old. Today's 14th stage is a transitional mountain stage that starts in Aosta, climbs up the Gran San Bernardo (km 29.4), descends to Switzerland, climbs up Passo Sempione (km 176.9) and descends back into Italy for the finish in Domodossola. This stage may be a sleeper, as the long climb up Passo Sempione could create a selection in the gruppo.

The 110 Gazzetta sprint is in Brig (Swi) after 156.9 km.

14:42 CEST    135km/88km to go
Today's stage started at 11:16 with 171 riders. Giovanni Bernaudeau (Bouygues Telecom), Moises Aldape Chavez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), and Vladimir Miholjevic (Liquigas) did not start, and after 13 km, Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) also pulled the pin. The road began climbing straight away, but it wasn't until 2 km from the summit of the Gran San Bernardo that the decisive breakaway went.

11 riders attacked: Francisco Perez Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Fortunato Baliani and Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Cofidis), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-Fondital), Johann Tschopp and Steve Zampieri (Phonak), Raffaele Illiano (Selle Italia) and Iker Flores Galarza (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

The break immediately gained ground on the peloton, and at the summit they already had 50 seconds, with Casar taking the points ahead of Baliani, Laverde, Flores and Illiano. The average speed in the first hour was a pretty quick (considering 1300m of climbing) at 28.6 km/h. After two hours, it was up to 41 km/h, and after three hours, it was 42 km/h. The gap has grown to 8'40 in the meantime.

14:43 CEST   
More abandons today: Andoni Aranaga (Euskaltel-Euskadi) stepped off at km 80, then Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis) crashed after 96 km and pulled out.

14:46 CEST   
Of the breakaways, Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) is the best placed on GC, but is 15'44 behind Basso in 21st place. CSC can afford to give this break 10 minutes.

14:53 CEST    145km/78km to go
It's another spectacular stage today, as we ride through the mountains in the southern part of Switzerland. Most of the time is spent in the valley, of course, save for the two monoliths at each end of the stage profile.

15:08 CEST    156km/67km to go
The 11 leaders are close to the foot of the last climb now, and they have 9'15 over the peloton.

15:11 CEST   
The weather today is somewhat better than yesterday's rain and cold. It's 16-18 degrees Celsius, with a light wind blowing at 7-10 km/h. The humidity is hovering between 55 and 75%.

15:13 CEST   
Two days ago marks the 100th anniversary of the building of the Simplon tunnel, which was constructed on May 19, 1906. The riders still have to go over the top of the Simplon Pass though.

15:18 CEST    161km/62km to go
The leaders are now well on the final climb, as Zampieri and Baliani lead. CSC is setting tempo behind, with Basso climbing out of the saddle.

15:20 CEST    165km/58km to go
The gap has come down from 9'15 to 7'12 as the bunch rides at a steady tempo.

The average after four hours is around 40 km/h.

15:21 CEST   
Ivan Parra, who was involved in a bit of fisticuffs with Steve Zampieri earlier, is no longer with the breakaway.

15:21 CEST   
Ah no, Parra has just rejoined the break.

15:23 CEST    166km/57km to go
Baliani, who is in the front group, is sitting on 158/185 heart rate, which is 85% of his max. They're sitting on 26 km/h, which is quick for this climb.

15:24 CEST   
Zampieri does a turn, then the two Panarias. Tiralongo is up here for Lampre, while there are also two Phonaks, so maybe we'll see some fireworks from Gutierrez and Cunego in the peloton.

15:25 CEST   
Parra is in discussion with his team director, getting a 'turbo bottle' as he struggles to keep the pace with the break. Now Tschopp comes through for his turn.

15:26 CEST    167km/56km to go
Flores attacks! The Euskaltel rider gets a little gap, but he has to work hard for it. The others don't want to chase him yet.

15:29 CEST   
The peloton, still quite big, makes its way up the Simplon Pass with CSC in command. In the front group, Flores has now got a handy lead as he rides over a bridge spanning the river in this valley.

15:32 CEST    169km/54km to go
Flores continues to ride hard, really fighting with his bike to stay ahead of the break.

In the peloton, Gonchar goes back for some assistance from the T-Mobile wagon.

15:36 CEST   
The peloton is now riding over the bridge, some seven minutes behind the break. Bettini is off the back, with a rain jacket stuffed in his pocket. He's not finding it easy, but now he's back on. The wide Sven Krauss is behind him.

15:38 CEST   
A sprinters bus has already started to form on the climb. Well, it's more of a non-climbers bus, as there are not that many sprinters left today.

Bettini is now next to his teammate Garate, who appears rather irritated. Garate hurls a bidon on the road, where it sprays water everywhere. Not sure what that was about.

15:39 CEST    172km/51km to go
Flores has been caught by the rest of the break.

15:40 CEST    173km/50km to go
A counter attack by Illiano and Tschopp. Flores leads the chase.

15:43 CEST   
The speed drops to 17 km/h as Illiano and Tschopp come back to the break. Baliani's heart rate hasn't dropped: it's 92% of his max now.

15:45 CEST    174km/49km to go
Garate has resumed his place near the front of the peloton, and Bettini is also up there. CSC is setting a controlling tempo. Doesn't look like anyone is interested in attacking the maglia rosa today.

15:47 CEST    175km/48km to go
The gap has gone up to 8'13 again as no-one seems interested in chasing the break. Voigt leads the bunch with Basso in third wheel, doing 18 km/h.

15:49 CEST   
Elmiger drops towards the back of the bunch, but gets a push from his teammate.

Flores and Parra are suffering in front, but the Euskaltel man rejoins the leaders.

15:51 CEST    176km/47km to go
The Simplon Pass averages 6.6% for 20 km, with a maximum of 12%. It's a long, steady climb. It's not particularly technical, and the conditions today are much better than yesterday, i.e. it's dry.

The leaders are close to the summit, just a kilometre or two to go.

15:53 CEST    177km/46km to go
Baliani reaches the top of the Simplon Pass first, and will take the mountains jersey. His heart rate is 97% of max, so he was working for those points. Then he sits up and puts on his jacket, as light drops of rain fall.

15:55 CEST    178km/45km to go
Parra has made it over the climb with the break, and he looks at the snow capped peaks all around him. Also Flores, who has to work a bit harder.

Casar took second on the climb ahead of Tiralongo. Baliani is the new mountains leader.

15:57 CEST    180km/43km to go
The descent is fast and Baliani's HR has dropped to 106/185 as he sits on 80 km/h.

The bunch is still making its way steadily to the top, led all the time by CSC. There are perhaps 80 riders in the peloton now.

16:01 CEST    183km/40km to go
The pace in front continues to be high, with the riders easily sitting on 81 km/h. Now they're up to 96 km/h! Flying!

16:04 CEST    186km/37km to go
The peloton comes over the pass 9'31 behind the break, not looking too bothered.

16:05 CEST    187km/36km to go
The leaders reach a narrower section of the descent, with signalers waving them to take care. They do.

16:06 CEST    188km/35km to go
CSC leads the descent in the bunch, all clad in their black rain jackets. It's still quite dry though, but overcast.

16:08 CEST    193km/30km to go
The kilometres are flying away as the leaders sit on between 80-100 km/h, going under 30 km to go as the bunch goes under 40 km to go.

16:10 CEST    195km/28km to go
Schumacher puts on his arm warmers delicately, as it's not easy at this speed. He's probably the favourite to win the stage, as he can sprint and attack.

16:13 CEST    197km/26km to go
Steve Zampieri (Phonak) tries to take off his jacket at 80 km/h, then gives it to the neutral service car.

16:13 CEST   
Tschopp also takes his jacket off and gives it to the car, the team car in this case.

16:15 CEST    199km/24km to go
Tiralongo gets an extra long turbo bottle and some advice from his team manager as to what to do today. Just win!

16:17 CEST    203km/20km to go
The gap between the leaders and the bunch is still 9'11 or so. Nothing much will change on the descent. The bunch is now under 30 km to go.

Casar should move up to fourth or fifth today, if he can keep this time gap. He started at 15'44.

16:18 CEST    205km/18km to go
The leaders reach an uphill section of the descent. Tiralongo does a steady turn. Plenty of the breakaway riders are signaling for their cars, as they ride through Varzo.

16:21 CEST    207km/16km to go
This descent is not really technical, so it's unlikely that Savoldelli will try to take time out of Basso here.

Another uphill section, as Baliani's heart rate sits on 51% of max at 25 km/h.

16:23 CEST   
The road narrows through another town as the 11 leaders continue to fly towards the bottom. Tiralongo has a chat with Baliani.

16:24 CEST    208km/15km to go
15 km to go, and some more descending. Two Phonaks, two Panarias, and seven others in this lead group. The names again:

Iker Flores Galarza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Francisco Perez Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Fortunato Baliani and Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-Fondital), Johann Tschopp and Steve Zampieri (Phonak), Raffaele Illiano (Selle Italia) and Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Cofidis).

16:27 CEST    210km/13km to go
Blaudzun is working in the peloton as it goes under 20 km to go. Then Julich, Gustov, Voigt and Basso. The rest seem content to have an easier day, despite the climbs. Everyone was probably a bit shellshocked after yesterday.

16:28 CEST   
The gap is shrinking a bit now, and it's 8'33. Casar will still move up a long way on GC, but maybe not as high as fourth any more.

16:28 CEST    211km/12km to go
Basso is enjoying things today, as he and his team are very much in control of the situation.

16:29 CEST   
Baliani does a hard turn, and asks the rest of the break to keep rolling.

The bunch rides past a pink-clad brass band.

16:30 CEST    213km/10km to go
10 km to go now, and the attacks will probably start soon. It's a gamble, because every one of these 11 has the possibility to win today.

16:31 CEST    214km/9km to go
The break descends through Crevoladossola, and has another five km of descent left.

16:32 CEST    215km/8km to go
Schumacher rolls through, then Perez. Schumacher is probably hoping it'll stay together for a sprint, but he has to be ready to follow any of the attacks.

16:32 CEST   
Parra makes the first attack, and Casar gets his wheel.

16:32 CEST   
Not a bad attack at the 8km mark, but it didn't last long.

16:33 CEST    216km/7km to go
Parra pulls off and the pace slows. Who will be next to attack?

16:34 CEST    217km/6km to go
Casar takes it easy and Tschopp rolls through with Zampieri, as Schumacher is reluctant.

16:34 CEST   
Schumacher pedals through now, not wanting to be on the front. Then Parra attacks through a tunnel, with Casar again on his wheel. Then the rest.

16:35 CEST    218km/5km to go
Flores attacks from last wheel, but is marked by Zampieri and the rest of the break. Everyone looks pretty knackered. Perez Sanchez is next to go from last wheel. Better.

16:37 CEST   
Perez Sanchez gets a bit of a gap just before the 5 km mark, then is joined by Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez.

16:37 CEST    219km/4km to go
Sanchez and Laverde have about 5 seconds, and are really going for it. Laverde is not working. Schumacher chases.

16:38 CEST    220km/3km to go
Illiano does a turn in the chase, then Casar. But they'll have to really work for it now. Perez and Laverde have got 10 seconds.

16:39 CEST    220.5km/2.5km to go
It looks like one of these two will win. Perez is doing a huge turn.
Schumacher tries to jump, but is marked. Baliani performs stopping work in the chase group.

16:40 CEST    221km/2km to go
Eight seconds with 2 km to go, and Laverde is sitting on again. Now Perez forces him through for a turn.

16:40 CEST   
Perez attacks on a light cobbled section, but he can't drop Laverde. The others are coming back.

16:41 CEST    222km/1km to go
Perez takes a right hander and knows he will have to work for it. Still five seconds, but the pace has gone out of the chase.

16:41 CEST    222km/1km to go
The two leaders sit side by side, with Laverde slightly behind. They slow a bit as they go under 1 km to go. This will be close.

16:42 CEST   
Laverde finally does a turn with 900m to go. The chasers are coming...

But Perez does another turn at 700m.

16:43 CEST    223km/0km to go
Perez looks back and sees Laverde, then a gap to the chasers, led by Casar. 250m, 200m, and Perez Sanchez jumps, but it's Laverde who gets him easily. Tiralongo third ahead of Schumacher.

16:47 CEST   
Liquigas is now working in the peloton to stop Casar from moving up too many places on GC.

Interesting finish that. Perez looked to be the stronger of the two, but he didn't have a great sprint in him. He hit out at 200m to go and Laverde got around him, in a smaller gear, very quickly.

16:51 CEST   
The peloton comes in at 7'44, led by Bettini and Lorenzetto. So Casar will be sixth (I think).

That's all from us in Domodossola. We'll be back tomorrow for the sprinters stage between Mergozzo and Brescia, over 189 km.


1 Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Col) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare           5.27.05
2 Francisco Perez Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears          
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                    0.07
4 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                   
5 Raffaele Illiano (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni          
6 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                      
7 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux                                   
8 Iker Flores Galarza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                          
9 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                            
10 Johann Tschopp (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                            
11 Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Col) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone      
12 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic                               7.44
13 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Team Milram                      

General classification after stage 14
1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            55.28.25
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 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux                                     8.01
7 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                         8.14
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                   8.35
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                     8.58
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                          10.36  


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