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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 16 - Tuesday, May 23: Rovato - Trento Monte Bondone, 173 km

Complete live report

Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour with additional reporting from Anthony Tan

14:27 CEST   
Welcome back to Cyclingnews and welcome to the Dolomiti. Today we have the first of two consecutive mountaintop finishes to start this final arduous week of racing. Starting in the town of Rovato, the course winds north-west over a GPM climb at Lodrino, over Passo d’Ampola and up to the northern tip of Lago di Garda, past Trento and up to the top of Monte Bondone to finish the day with the first of the big mountains for the week.

Starting the day, Ivan Basso leads the General Classification by 3’27” to José Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak Hearing Systems) with another two minutes on Paolo Salvodelli, who cuurently sits in third place. Basso is feeling good at the moment but knows that with over 175km of climbing remaining over the next six days, anything can happen. He said yesterday, "I've tried to do my best and hope to continue [doing so]. I'm tranquillo, but still have to continue [being strong] till the end - I'll just keep trying to do my best. The last week is bellissima."

14:33 CEST   
After 37km of racing today Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare attacked. He is now on the first GPM of the day in Lodrino and has 2'48" on the peloton.

14:37 CEST    42km/131km to go
Fortunato Baliani (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) is the teammate of Chavez and currently leading the mountains classification. He took the points for second place at the top of the GPM.

14:48 CEST   
The gap between Chavez and the bunch has grown to 3'50". They won't be worried about him at all this early in the race as he's over an hour down on GC.

14:54 CEST   
At only 22 years of age Chavez has quite a few good results under his belt. Last year in Italy he clocked eight victories in Italy and already this year he wont he young riders competition at Giro de Trentino.

14:58 CEST    62km/111km to go
A third of the way into the race now and Rubiano still has 3'52 on the bunch.

15:02 CEST   
The climb at the end of today up Monte Bondone is 17.5km in length. It climbs 1372m over that distance, finishing at 1650m in altitude. The average gradient is 7.9% with a max of 13%. This whole area is Simoni territory as he is from Trentino so he will know the climb well.

15:09 CEST   
It's quite a nice day for riding. Overcast but dry. Thunderstorms are predicted though. Rubiano is out of the saddle up a small rise and then gets back into his rhythm over the top. Back in the peloton Basso looks very relaxed.

15:11 CEST   
The CSC team is setting the tempo on the front with a couple of Saunier Duval riders up there too and Basso is tucked on just behind them. They are not pushing it too hard just yet. Rubiano's gap is still growing and is now at 4'00" but they are making sure the pace is steady and that Basso is sitting safely up near the front.

15:15 CEST   
In the bunch Charles Wegelius (Liquigas) is sitting at 60% of his max with a heart rate of 119, so you can see the pace is nice and easy at this point and the riders are just sitting back preparing for the action later in the day.

15:19 CEST   
Ruben Lobato Elvira from Saunier Duval is doing a lot of the work on the front at this point. It's a big day for Simoni. Being in his local area will give him that little bit extra motivation as well as the fact that he will know the 38 hairpin turns like the back of his hand.

15:24 CEST   
José Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak) has some kind of mechanical so the Phonak team is back in the caravan waiting to pace him back up. The peloton has just reach the next climb of the day which goes over Passo d'Ampola. It's not categorized but it has a few hairpins along the way so it's not easy.

15:27 CEST   
Fortunato Baliani (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) is at 76% of his max with a heartrate of 142 as they go up this climb.

15:32 CEST   
Rubiano Chavez still looks pretty strong but it's really just a matter of time before he gets swallowed up. This is a very important stage for the riders, especially for Simoni so there is not much chance a solo rider will be allowed to stay away.

The terrain is amazing in this part of the world and the climbs are very unique. Most of the climbs have a lot of hairpins making it hard to really get a smooth rhythm. It is also very beautiful. The rock formations are beautiful and you often find yourself riding through gorgeous valleys with huge rock faces alongside.

15:36 CEST   
There is a feed zone at the top of this climb and Rubiano Chavez takes a musette from his team and grabs the bottles and food out of it. Meanwhile he keeps his rhythm and looks very determined.

Back in the bunch, Basso seems to be smiling. He did say this last week was going to be beautiful so where some riders in the bunch are probably dreading these mountains to come, he seems quite happy about it. His CSC team is still on the front setting the pace with a couple of Saunier Duval riders. They are going through the feed zone now too.

15:40 CEST    85km/88km to go
At 85km Rubiano Chavez has just over four minutes on the field. After they go over this pass, they'll descend towards Trento and then it pretty much starts climbing immediately and its all uphill until one last dip at the 155km mark afer which they hit the main climb.

15:43 CEST    92km/81km to go
Basso has just stopped with two of his teammates for a nature break. His teammates will help pace him back on so that he wastes as little energy as possible.

15:43 CEST   

15:46 CEST   
Alberto Loddo (Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni) has retired from the race.
In about 40km time we have the 110 Gazzetta sprint of the day. At the moment Mickael Delage (Française des Jeux) is leading that classification.

15:53 CEST   
They are riding along a road that hugs a lake now and it's spectacular. Soon they'll hit the top of another lake called Lago di Garda, another beautiful late. We are not far from Verona where the World Championships took place in 1999 and again in 2004.

15:56 CEST   
By the look of the spectators on the side of the road it's looking a bit cool and it is predicted that the weather is going to close in which won't be pretty. Up front Rubiano Chavez now has 4'45" on the bunch. Ruben Lobato Elvira is still on the front of the peloton for Saunier Duval as they wind down a few more hairpins.

One spectator on the side of the road has a Balaclava on and looks as if he's about to climb Everest. I hope it's not going to be that cold at the top.

15:59 CEST   
So far the average speed of the race is 35km/h. We have another puncture. This time for Inigo Chaurreau Bernardez from AG2R. They are on a descent so he won't take too long to get back on.

16:00 CEST   
Rubiano Cheval is in the tuck position. He has just gone through a small tunnel through the mountain and through the valley you can see Lago di Garda.

16:02 CEST    118km/55km to go
The leader goes through Riva del Garda right now, so only 5km until the 110 Gazzetta sprint.

16:05 CEST   
The gap between Rubiano Chavez and the bunch is coming down again now and is just above 4 minutes. The CSC guys seems to have picked up the pace a little here and the peloton is strung out a bit more than before.

16:09 CEST   
A couple of ladies have a sign for Basso on the side of the road. It sayd "Giro, Magico, Basso." Some young girls with blankets wrapped around them have signs for Simoni.

Rubiano goes through the 110 Gazzetta sprint in the town of Arco. He looks good. He would know that its only a matter of time before the big GC teams put the pressure on before the climb but he's young and it's a good experience for him to be out there.

16:12 CEST   
We now have the Francais de Jeux guys and Quick Step team on the front as the bunch gets to the 110 sprint. Bettini takes the points. The points here count for both the 110 Gazzetta competition and the points classification. Bettini is wearing the points jersey and with second place through that sprint, he takes extra points towards the points classification.

16:14 CEST   
Immediately though, after that sprint. The CSC riders move back up to the front to continue their steady pace setting.

16:17 CEST   
Basso still looks to have that little smile on his face. He looks very comfortable on hte wheel of his teammates as they go through Dro.

More and more spectators wrap blankets around them on the side of the mountain waiting for the action to come through.

16:19 CEST   
Jan Ullrich is sitting near the back of the field taking a drink to keep hydrated for the climb.

16:19 CEST   
Rubiano Chavez is slowly losing time. The latest time gap is 3'15".

16:22 CEST    133km/40km to go
In the bunch Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros) is at 65% of his max, with a heart rate of 121. The road has just started go go slightly uphill again now.

16:25 CEST    133km/40km to go
The leader has just gone under the 40km to go banner, not long now until the real action of the day. The Phonak team sits right in behind CSC at the moment with all team members right up there protecting Gutierrez Cataluna.

16:28 CEST   
As the bunch goes under the 40km banner, the see 3'01" as the time gap. It is just gorgeous here. As they head towards the mountain they look over vineyards and orchards along the way. Very green and picturesque.

16:35 CEST    139km/34km to go
It's still pretty relaxed in the peloton as they go under the 35km mark. Just over 3 minutes is the gap. CSC, Phonak and Saunier Duval all gather near the front in anticipation.

16:37 CEST   
On one side of the road riders have rows and rows of vines and a beautiful little lake and on their left its all green foresty area. A beautiful place to ride even if it is slightly uphill all the way.

Rubiano Chavez is at 30km to go and seems to be struggling a bit on this uphill drag.

16:39 CEST    145km/28km to go
Rubiano Chavez is going to be feeling it tomorrow. It has been a long day for him so far with the toughest part yet to come. Tomorrow's mountain top finish stage is going be tough for him. He is pushing a big gear now and doesn't look as smooth as he did before.

16:42 CEST   
Giovanni Lombardi gets out of the saddle now on the front of the peloton. Its clearly uphill here but just that long uphill drag that feels hard but doesn't look like a hill.

16:44 CEST   
Charly Gaul won this stage in 1956, the first time it visited Monte Bondone. It was horrific weather and he finished is short sleeves, 7'44" in front of the second guy and moved into the lead to eventually win the Giro. It was such a tough day back then that only 43 riders finished. So there is a lot of history to this stage and it is quite a prestigious one to win.

16:46 CEST   
There has been a crash in the bunch. Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole) was in the crash which is a shame for them. He has a teammate with him to help him back up.

16:47 CEST   
Two Euskaltel riders were also in the crash. One of them is Albizuri. They are all back on their bikes after bike changes and wheel changes and chasing back on.

16:49 CEST    148km/25km to go
The gap has fallen significantly and now sits at 1'22". It's only a matter of time now. Rubiano Chavez keeps drinking and eating to make sure he can recover as much as possible for the climb and for tomorrow. The pace in the peloton has picked up in the peloton as they get closer to the climb. Only 25km to go in the race and the real climb starts in less than 8km.

16:51 CEST   
Ivan Mayoz was the other Euskaltel rider in the crash.

The gap is less than a minute now. Rubiano Chavez looks at a little card to see how long he has to go before the climb.

16:52 CEST   
The Credit Agricole guys have just made it back onto the back of the peloton after the crash.

16:53 CEST   
The pace is high in the peloton now and they go up the side to get Halgand further up towards the front. The peloton can see Rubiano now and he looks back to see them coming. 14 seconds is the gap.

16:54 CEST   
After four hours of racing the average speed is 26.5km/h. Bobby Julich is on the front of the peloton as they catch Rubiano. They go through another mountain tunnel.

16:55 CEST   
Rubiano will suffer now after being away for 112km solo. Under 20km to go now up this amazing mountain. Not long until the real climb starts.

16:56 CEST   
They have one small dip before it starts going up. The CSC boys are driving the pace down the hill at the moment. They have it strung out.

16:57 CEST   
Now they come to a sharp turn in the road and the climb starts. CSC has 4 riders up there with Basso. Bettini comes to the front as does Jan Ullrich.

16:58 CEST   
Ruben Lobato Elvira (Saunier Duval) has pulled away from the front after doing so much work on the front today. His job is done for the day.

16:59 CEST   
Caruso is at 98% of his max already but up front Basso is out of the saddle and looks confortable.

17:00 CEST   
The bunch has splintered already with riders getting dropped and trying to find their own rhythm to make it to the top in one piece.
Voigt is on the front, then Gustov and Cuesta ahead of Basso, then Sastre and Gutierrez behind him. The pace is really on already around these haripins with CSC just driving it.

17:01 CEST   
Guttierrez sits on the wheel of Basso. Belli is up there too.

17:02 CEST   
Serpa is also up there ahead of Di Luca, Cunego, Simoni, Savodelli. We have an attack. It's Jose Serpa. He has a huge gap already.

17:04 CEST   
He sits back down now and finds his rhythm. CSC don't panic but keep their tempo on the front of that lead group. He has about nine seconds at this point. It's very steep here. He has to get out of the saddle to find his rhythm. He comes up to the 15km to go banner

17:05 CEST    158km/15km to go
It's very very early. A lot of climb and a lot of hairpins to go.

17:06 CEST   
On the front of the main chase group is Cuesta. Jan is not in this front group, but his teammate Scott Davis is.

17:07 CEST   
Basso is in second wheel on another steeper pinch. Most of the guys in the front group get out of the saddle to get on top of the gears. Basso is seated and looks relaxed. They are getting closer to Serpa again now.

17:10 CEST   
Serpa looks back and realises that he is getting caught. Cuesta leads the bunch past him with Basso on his wheel. There looks to be 25 riders left in the front group.

17:11 CEST   
Ullrich is about 20 seconds back in a big gear as always. Piepoli has hit the front of the group and gets out of the saddle to pick up the pace. He looks back to see how everybody is feeling. Basso looks good. Simoni is in about 5th wheel.

17:12 CEST   
Piepoli has blown this group apart with his surge in pace. salvodelli is in trouble, so is Di Luca. Cunego has been dropped!

17:13 CEST   
Sastre, Basso, Simoni, Guttierez are all still in there. Selle is there too.

17:14 CEST   
Only about ten riders left up front now. Basso, Sastre, Piepoli, Simoni, Gutierrez, Belli, Perez Cuapio, Gadret are all in there.

17:15 CEST   
Caruso and David Lopez are also in there. Caruso's heart rate is 184.

17:17 CEST   
Sella, Pena and Pellizotti are chasing the lead group. They are 18 seconds ahead of Savodelli's group. Fran Perez has just reached the front group again.

17:18 CEST   
Rubiera is leading Savodelli's group to chase him back on. Danielson doesn't seem to be there.

17:19 CEST   
In the group with Savoldelli and Rubiera are Sella (Panaria), Pena (Phonak) and Pellizotti (Liquigas), Garate (Quick.Step) and Noe (Liquigas).

17:20 CEST   
At the front though, Simoni just surged a little but now he has moved aside. Sastre comes through to set the pace again. He is doing an amazing job.

17:21 CEST   
In the group with Basso and Sastre (CSC) are Piepoli, Simoni (Saunier), Gutierrez (Phonak), Perez Cuapio (Panaria), Gadret (AG2R).

Cunego looks to be really suffering back in his group.

17:22 CEST   
We have another move from Piepoli with Simoni on his wheel. Basso doesn't react immediately but gradually moves up onto the wheel.

17:23 CEST   
Basso has hit the front now and only Simoni cn go with him. Guttierez has been dropped. Piepoli is back with Guttierrez, he has done his job for Simoni.

17:24 CEST   
Basso just looking so comfortable the whole time. He didn't panic about any of the surges and just kept his rhythm. He now leads Simoni. They already have 1'05 to Savodelli's group.

17:26 CEST   
Di Luca is 1'34" back from the leaders. Up front Basso has gapped Simonu. Guttierez is chasing hard with Piepoli on his wheel.

17:27 CEST   
Basso looks back and sees that he has dropped Simoni. He is flying and already has 8 seconds on Simoni.

17:28 CEST   
Guttierrez and Piepoli are now 20 seconds behind Basso now. Basso gets out of the saddle for the first time as he rounds a hairpin. He gets back on top of the gear and sits again. He looks good, but also determined to take as much time as he can.

17:30 CEST    168km/5km to go
Basso passes under the 5km to go banner. Already he has 33 seconds on Simoni.

17:31 CEST   
Guttierez still fighting behind with Piepoli on his wheel. They are 49" back now.

17:32 CEST   
Basso wipes the sweat off his brow and eats a gel of some kind. He knows that there is only 5km to go but you need to keep your energy stores on a climb like this and also he'd be thinking off tomorrow and the next five days.

17:34 CEST   
Guttierrez is rocking from side to side on his bike. It's steep here.

Up front Basso is out of the saddle again looking great. He has 48 seconds now to Simoni and 1'03" to Guttierrez and Piepoli.

17:36 CEST   
Another hairpin turn. One of 38 hairpins on this climb.
Belli is 2'00" back at this point with the Savoldelli group behind him.
Simoni definitely has some fans on this climb. A guy with a huge Italian flag runs alongside him now.

17:38 CEST    171km/2km to go
Cunego has lost 3'20" seconds already. Basso is still very relaxed. He looks up the mountain. The crowds are starting to get very big here. Bikes scattered all over the grass on the side of the road from all the spectators who have ridden up ahead of the stage. Only 2km left for Basso.

17:40 CEST   
Simoni has about 14 seconds of Guttierrez now but Guttierrez seems to be suffering a lot more.

17:41 CEST    172km/1km to go
Basso goes under the 1km to go banner. The atmosphere is great up here. The crowd is huge and the roads are painted all the way up. Basso has a smile on his face now.

17:41 CEST   
Some madmen run alongside Simoni again.

17:42 CEST   
Simoni goes under the 1km to go as Basso reaches the 300m to go line. An amazing ride from Basso.

17:44 CEST   
He still pedals his fast cadence all the way to the line and puts his hands in the air. Simoni still driving it very hard. He has also put in a fantastic ride. He gets out of the saddle for the last 200m and rounds the bend to see the finish line. He crosses the line 1'17" down. We'll have to see how much time he has on Savoldelli.

17:45 CEST   
Guttierrez made up some time and crossed the line ten seconds down on Simoni.

17:47 CEST   
Gadret finishes next in front of Cross champion. Perez Cuapio. Bello comes over in seventh place. Savoldelli comes over the line and it looks like he might just hold on to third on GC for today.

17:48 CEST   
Cunego finishes with two teammates 4'30" down.

17:49 CEST   
Savoldelli hangs on to third on GC by 17 seconds on Simoni.

17:50 CEST   
Tom Danielson comes in 7'02" down.

17:52 CEST   
Ullrich finished in 30th place about five minutes down.

Thanks for tuning in. We'll be back tomorrow with another brutal mountain stage that finishes in Plan De Corones.


1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                             4.51.30
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                               1.27
3 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                              1.38
4 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                  
5 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance                                        2.40
6 Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mex) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare               2.45
7 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni               3.11
8 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                         3.30
9 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                         
10 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                            
11 Francisco Perez Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears          
12 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team           
13 Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems                 
14 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Liquigas                                          

General classification after stage 16

1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            64.35.17
2 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                  5.24
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                9.17
4 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                               9.34
5 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni              11.07
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                        11.59
7 Sandy Casar (Fra) Francaise des Jeux                                    12.40
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                    13.55
9 Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems                  14.59
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                          15.18

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