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90th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 12-June 3, 2007

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Stage 12 - Thursday, May 24: Scalenghe - Briançon (Francia), 163 km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:40 CEST

14:27 CEST   
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the 163-kilometre stage 12 of the 2007 Giro d'Italia.

The riders departed from Scalenghe early this afternoon at 12.31. Today the Corsa Rosa is taking the riders over the Cima Coppi, the highest climb in the Giro, the Colle dell'Agnello (102.4), and the Col d'Izoard (km 142.2).

14:34 CEST    63km/100km to go
The riders have just passed the 100-kilometre marker. There is a French duo off the front, Christophe Riblon (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom), which has 16'30" in hand. They are only 2.4 km from the Cima Coppi of the Colle dell'Agnello. (See correction below, post '14:44 CEST.'

14:35 CEST   
Today the first major mountains of the 90th Giro d'Italia loom to the west of Torino in the Alps on the Italian/French border. The antipasto is the heavy duty Colle dell'Agnello, a 21.3-kilometre beast that rises to 2744 metres after 102 kilometres of racing. At the summit, the road plunges into France and at the famous road junction in Chateau-Queyras, turns right up the southern face of the evocative Col d'Izoard.

This legendary Tour de France ascent covers 14.2 kilometres at an average of 7.1% and the last few kilometres traverse the picturesque section called the Casse Deserte. Once over the 2360-metre summit, it's a steep descent to finish in Briançon.

14:36 CEST   
A re-cap...
167 riders started this morning, four riders less than yesterday. American George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), Spaniard Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi), German Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) and Australian Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) were non-starters.

Immediately after the start there was an attack by Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r Prévoyance). After thirty minutes of fight he was retaken by the gruppo. This opened up the road for an attack by Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues Telecom). The Frenchman took the sprint in Macello but was brought back by kilometre 10.

Tinkoff took over control of the gruppo and four kilometres later, km 14, there was an attack by Krivtsov's teammate Christophe Riblon (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Drancourt's teammate Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom). The French duo had 1'20" by kilometre 21 and 2'05" one kilometre later.

14:38 CEST   
By the way, it is very hot here, west of Torino. The Cyclingnews Giro d'Italia crew has just returned from a gelateria. I went with the "limone e fragola" gelato.

14:40 CEST   
It is a shame the race is now without captain America, Hincapie. He showed some great legs in the first 11 stages of this race.

Here is an update on the DNSs and DNFs:
DNS Stage 1: Carlos Da Cruz (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 2: Michael Barry (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 3: Adam Hansen (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 3: Andrea Tonti (Quickstep-Innergetic)
DNF Stage 3: Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner)
DNF Stage 3: Graeme Brown (Rabobank)
DNF Stage 4: Ian McLeod (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 5: Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNS Stage 6: Thomas Ziegler (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 6: Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole)
DNF Stage 6: Leon Van Bon (Rabobank)
DNF Stage 7: Timothy Gudsell (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 8: Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom)
DNF Stage 8: Cyrille Monnerais (Française Des Jeux)
DNF Stage 8: Michael Blaudzun (Team CSC)
DNS Stage 10: Alberto Ongarato (Milram)
DNF Stage 10: Gregory Henderson (T-Mobile)
DNF Stage 10: Juan José Haedo (Team CSC)
DNF Stage 10: José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNF Stage 10: Alexei Markov (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNF Stage 10: Paride Grillo (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare)
DNF Stage 10: Sergio Ghisalberti (Milram)
DNF Stage 10: Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom)
DNF Stage 10: Yohann Gène (Bouygues Telecom)
DNS Stage 11: Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
DNS Stage 12: George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)
DNS Stage 12: Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto)
DNS Stage 12: Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner)
DNS Stage 12: Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

14:44 CEST    70.6km/92.4km to go
Sorry, we were 100 kilometres from the finish, and not into the race. The riders passed the Garibaldi sprint in Sampeyre, which was taken by Le Boulanger. The duo has 16'10" in hand and about 30 more kilometres to the Cima Coppi.

14:45 CEST   
We have been racing for two hours, the average speed is 40.200 km/h.

14:48 CEST   
Robert Förster is not Australian but Robbie McEwen is. Both of the sprinters did not take to the line this morning, but Petacchi did.

14:57 CEST   
'Il Falco Bergamasco' might not give this stage a thumbs up. Savoldelli's thumbnail got damaged in yesterday's finish line crash.

15:00 CEST    88km/75km to go
A Saunier Duval rider leads the race and he is followed by a Liquigas rider.

Le Boulanger is Virtual Maglia Rosa, trailing Noè by 13'27" this morning. Riblon is virtual 69th!

The gap was 15'32" at km 82.

15:02 CEST   
Yoann Le Boulanger is showing signs of wear.

Wow, now Saunier has all of its riders on the front of the chase! Maybe the riders are hungry and racing towards the feed-zone in La Maddalena?

15:04 CEST   
We have passed 2:32' of racing. The fans are lining both sides of the road and cheering the Frenchmen on. Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom) leads Christophe Riblon (Ag2r Prévoyance) up the climb.

15:06 CEST   
The Saunier boys are:
Gilberto Simoni
Rubens Bertogliati
Raivis Belohvosciks
David Cañada
Ángel Gómez Gómez
Manuele Mori
Iban Mayo
Leonardo Piepoli
Riccardo Riccò

15:10 CEST    92km/71km to go
Simoni has been on the podium of the Giro seven times! Two of those were on the top step. At his side is young-gun Riccò. He is riding on an all-white Scott bike. This is the only team with a non-Shimano or non-Campagnolo group.... They use SRAM groups.

15:11 CEST   
"We drive the pace to the top and then take account," said Saunier DS Pietro Algeri. The Bergamasco is not giving away any secrets.

15:13 CEST   
31 year-old Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom) is struggling but he has dropped his companion and will take the Cima Coppi prize. He has 58" on his old partner.

Simoni and Di Luca are pedalling with ease. Mayo is not up front.

15:15 CEST   
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) is leading for Simoni. 'Litu' is pulling off with Cañada. They have done their work.

15:15 CEST   
Parra attacks!

15:16 CEST   
The Colombian is not getting far. Riccò catches him and continues to lead the gruppo.

15:17 CEST   
Simoni's boys are taking this race by the reins. Savoldelli is fading. Di Luca is huffing.

15:18 CEST   
Eddy Mazzoleni is looking back for Savoldelli. Popo has popped. We have 8.5 km to the top. The gruppo is 13'40" back on the front Frenchman.

15:19 CEST    155km/8km to go
Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom) has 1'30" on Christophe Riblon (Ag2r Prévoyance).

15:20 CEST   
It is mountain-man Piepoli, followed by young-gun Riccò and then Gibo leading up this climb.

15:21 CEST   
Luis Felipe Laverde (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) is in difficulty from Saunier's pace making.

15:22 CEST   
Andy Schleck (Team CSC) is followed by Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) a little further back from the front gruppo.

15:22 CEST   
Garzelli and Cunego are there with Simoni and Riccò.

15:22 CEST   
Piepoli has pulled off and we only have around 10 men in this front group.

15:23 CEST   
Correction, Piepoli is still there for Gibo. Riccò is no longer on the front.

Mazzoleni is there too, not waiting for Savoldelli.

15:25 CEST    98km/65km to go
Di Luca in the Maglia Verde follows Simoni, then Cunego and Garzelli, and then Eddy Mazzoleni (Astana).

15:26 CEST   
Our leaders are:
Eddy Mazzoleni (Astana)
Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital)
Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne)
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)
Charles Wegelius (Liquigas)
Andy Schleck (Team CSC)

Wegelius is suffering.

15:26 CEST   
Simone Masciarelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) has abandoned at km 98.

15:28 CEST   
American Zabriskie, Emanuele Sella (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) are following this main group. Off to their left is a long drop but it is big green valley.

Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom) is swerving his way to the top, and into France!

15:32 CEST   
Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff Credit Systems) and Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) are riding together. Further ahead is David Zabriskie (Team CSC), who is riding slightly behind David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), and in front of them is Charles Wegelius (Liquigas) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas).

Up front are now
Eddy Mazzoleni (Astana)
Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital)
Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
Andy Schleck (Team CSC)

15:33 CEST    100km/63km to go
Garzelli and Di Luca are suffering at the back of this group of seven. Cunego is third wheel behind Piepoli and Simoni.

15:35 CEST   
Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom) is about 2km from the top, while the Simoni gruppo is about 5 km from the top. Le Boulanger will hit an 11.2% in the final kilometres.

He is suffering here. Snow remains on the side of the road, the clouds have washed away the sunshine but he pushes on...

15:36 CEST   
Garzelli has been dropped.

We are at the top and waiting for the Frenchman. The visibility is zero! It is mythical!

There are only six up front, Piepoli, Simoni, Cunego, Di Luca, Mazzoleni and Schleck.

15:37 CEST    101.5km/61.5km to go
The knight in white, Andy Schleck, is humping along here. 'Moien' Andy!

15:39 CEST   
Piepoli is earning his year's salary. The rider from Puglia is comfortable on this snow covered climb, even though he comes from the south of Italy.

Garzelli follows the group of six by 10".

15:41 CEST    102.4km/60.6km to go
Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom) passes the top, he wins the Cima Coppi and is now in France.

Piepoli, Simoni, Cunego, Di Luca, Mazzoleni and Schleck are 2km from the top.

15:41 CEST   
Cunego is not going anywhere. He is glued to Simoni's wheel.

15:43 CEST   
Gibo will likely have Leo lead up this climb and then he will wait to play his cards on the Izoard.

At -2k to the top:
2'10" to Riccò to the gruppo Simoni.
2'36" to Savoldelli, Laverde

15:43 CEST   
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r Prévoyance) passes the 'Cima' at 2'54" back.

15:46 CEST   
We don't have an update on old-man Noè, however, he is not likely to have his Maglia Rosa tonight.

Garzelli trails about 14" back from this group of six. The boys are taking on food and grabbing their winds vests.

Will Schleck get a white cape? He could tie it around his neck and fly down the mountain side. :)

15:47 CEST   
No, it is a standard-issue CSC jacket (or cape).

6'04" is the gap from the seven (now with 'il Varesino' Garzelli) over the Cima Coppi.

15:49 CEST   
Wegelius, Laverde, Pellizotti, etc passes around 7'50" of the solo Frenchman.

15:50 CEST   
Zabriskie is chasing the group ahead on the descent.

Popo passed 2'30" behind the Simoni gruppo.

Savoldelli passes at 3'30" behind the Simoni gruppo, or 9'30" behind Le Boulanger.

15:52 CEST   
There is a crash. On the descent Wim Van Huffel (Predictor-Lotto) went down with a Caisse rider. They are back up and running.

15:53 CEST    49km/114km to go
The front seven are not waiting for anyone. There is barely a kilometre of flat road before the Col d'Izoard.

That was David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) who crashed with Van Huffel (Predictor-Lotto).

15:55 CEST   
Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) is on his first ever serious Giro climb. He is nearing the top at some 13' after Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom).

15:57 CEST   
The roads are amazing on the backside of the Agnello; Green mountainsides and small windy roads. Experience really comes into play to stay on the road and not take a dive into the abyss. Just ask David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), that was a close call.

15:59 CEST    113.4km/49.6km to go
The riders are heading in a northwest direction, through Fontgillarde. The front seven (Piepoli, Simoni, Cunego, Di Luca, Mazzoleni, Schleck, Garzelli) are 5'28" behind the leader.

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) and Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) are chasing at some 40" behind the gruppo Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas).

16:01 CEST   
Up front, in the group of favourites we have Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Eddy Mazzoleni (Astana), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital), Maglia Bianca Andy Schleck (Team CSC), Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) and Maglia Verde Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas).

16:02 CEST   
Frantisek Rabon (T-Mobile) crosses the top at 21' with Alessandro Petacchi (Milram). Both are stopping for their capes.

16:04 CEST    124.8km/38.2km to go
An update on George Hincapie (Discovery Channel): He is reportedly heading to his home-base in Spain to focus on the upcoming Dauphiné Libéré and then the Tour de France.

We are nearing the town of Chateau-Queyras.

16:05 CEST   
Wim Van Huffel (Predictor-Lotto) and David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) are now chasing with Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) and Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir).

16:07 CEST   
Ivan Parra (Cofidis) is chasing solo on his own. We believe he is right behind the group of seven, who, at -40km, is 5'28" behind Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom).

Yes. Parra is about 30" behind the group of seven.

16:08 CEST   
With all the food and bottles he is grabbing (for really long periods) from the team car he should catch the seven in no time at all.

16:11 CEST   
At -40km, from the front duo it was 5'28" to the group of seven and 8'30" to the Riccò group of four.

16:16 CEST    128km/35km to go
We are in Casse Deserte and that means that the Col d'Izoard has started! Will Simoni turn this party out? Will Di Luca go for the Kill? Stay tuned!

16:18 CEST   
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r Prévoyance) is going to get caught by this group of seven.
There are six men and one Luxemburger on the wheel of the Frenchman. As far as we know, Schleck does not speak Italian.

16:19 CEST   
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r Prévoyance) is caught. How long can he stay with this group of seven?

16:20 CEST    131km/32km to go
Piepoli attacks at kilometre 131!

16:22 CEST   
It is a slight descent here. Leo has split the group. Mazzoleni and Garzelli are chasing.

Simoni went and Schleck was right on his wheel. But Gibo sat up. It has made a group of five; Cunego, Schleck, Di Luca, Piepoli and Simoni.

16:23 CEST   
Mazzoleni chases back on, followed by 'Il Varesino' Garzelli. His head is bobbing.

16:24 CEST   
It is Piepoli followed by Gibo, Cunego, Di Luca, Schleck, Mazzoleni and Garzelli.

16:27 CEST    133km/30km to go
The front seven have passed passes -30km, Christophe Riblon (Ag2r Prévoyance) is now about 1'00" back.

It is likely that the winner of the 2007 Giro will be one of these seven.

16:28 CEST   
The lone Frenchman now has 3'00" on the gruppo Simoni.

16:30 CEST   
Garzelli is dropped again.

16:33 CEST   
Piepoli drops off. He leaves Gibo on his own.

16:34 CEST    135km/28km to go
There is now Mazzoleni, Di Luca, Cunego, Schleck...

Gibo Attacks!

16:35 CEST   
Cunego is right on Simoni. Simoni attacked from the rear. Cunego knows his old captain's trick.

Group of five: Simoni now leads Cunego, Di Luca, Schleck and Mazzoleni.

16:35 CEST   
Simoni goes again!

16:35 CEST   
Di Luca chases with Cunego on his wheel. Then Mazzoleni and Schleck.

16:36 CEST   
Schleck looks smooth even though his face is contorted!

16:38 CEST   
The five are now 1'15" behind Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom). Garzelli is 40" back. We are not sure on the where-abouts of Leo Piepoli.

16:39 CEST    136km/27km to go
We are in the 8th kilometre of this beast. There is the climb's max grade here, 14%!

Di Luca now leads in his Maglia Verde. Simoni, Schleck, Cunego and Mazzoleni follow.

16:41 CEST    138km/25km to go
Garzelli is humping along this climb.

Popo is WAY back, at 4'00" from this front group. He can forget about winning the 2007 Corsa Rosa.

16:42 CEST   
Schleck is talking to Mazzoleni. They pass under the -25km barrier. The gradient here is 8.5 to 8%.

The Frenchman has 40".

16:42 CEST   
Gibo rides up the right side of the road. Di Luca close the gap but no one else can react.

16:43 CEST   
Mazzoleni comes to terms and hitches on. Cunego is in difficulty but chases. -4.5km to the top.

16:43 CEST   
It is Simoni, Di Luca, Mazzoleni, Schleck being chased by Cunego.

16:45 CEST   
Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom) is caught at -3200m to the top! Cunego is still in difficulty while Gibo drives the pace.

16:47 CEST    139.2km/23.8km to go
There is rain falling with -3km to the top. The clouds are covering the top of the climb of the Col d'Izoard. There will be another section of 14% near the top, 12.15 kilometres into the climb.

16:48 CEST   
Di Luca drives the front of this group. Cunego is off the back with Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom). Following Di Luca, in the rain, is Schleck, Gibo and Mazzoleni.

16:49 CEST   
Cunego is now on his own, about 10" back.

16:52 CEST   
Cunego has clawed his way back up to the front four. There are now five here. How does Eddy M. do it? He seems huge compared to these other pocket-rockets. Gibo is a mean-descender and might try to put Di Luca into difficulty on the descent.

'The Killer' is looking like the real danger man in this gruppo. He is likely to exchange his Verde for a Rosa at the end of this stage.... "Vediamo!"

16:52 CEST    141.2km/21.8km to go
Di Luca Fires!

16:53 CEST   
"Stop Di Luca, you're KILLING me!!" Gibo is on the chase, marked by Schleck and Mazzoleni. Kid Cunego is out the back door.

16:54 CEST   
Di Luca put on a long-sleeved jersey before putting in that attack. He probably plans on keeping this up on the descent. And yes, it is a long-sleeved Maglia Verde.

He leads over the top. Simoni, Schleck and Mazzoleni follow at 15".

16:55 CEST    142.2km/20.8km to go
Gibo may slap Danilo around when he catches him.

Next over is Cunego.

Garzelli still has 200m to climb.

16:59 CEST   
Simoni is catching 'The Killer.' Expect some ugly stares.

16:59 CEST    146.5km/16.5km to go
Di Luca is using every metre of the road. Simoni joins, followed by Schleck, Cunego and Mazzoleni.

17:00 CEST   
Paolo Savoldelli (Astana) passes Izoard at nearly 5'40" back.

17:00 CEST   
Popo passes at 6'38".

17:02 CEST    149km/14km to go
Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) is 1'40" back -15km.

17:04 CEST   
Simoni is fuelling up for this finale.

The final five kilometres is down from 1400 metres to 1212m. at -1.5km. Then it is an uphill rise to the finish in Briançon, with a max of 14% at 330m to go.

17:05 CEST   
The finish seems to suit Di Luca. He has a tremendous kick on these stiff uphill finishes. Cunego does too, but he seems cooked!

17:08 CEST    156km/7km to go
Garzelli is 1'54" back on this front group of five. Garzelli is handing back his cape to ... the official's car.

Riccò's group is at -10km.

17:09 CEST   
Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital) was hoping to take the maglia rosa but it won't happen. The Rosa looks to be going to 31 year-old Di Luca.

17:10 CEST    158km/5km to go
Bergamasco Mazzoleni leads on this descent. We are close to five kilometres to go.

17:10 CEST   
Look out for Schleck to vie for stage victory at this point.

17:10 CEST   
Gibo will likely play cool and just focus on the next mountain stage.

17:11 CEST    159km/4km to go
Di Luca is dropping to the back.

17:12 CEST    160km/3km to go
It is Schleck, Mazzoleni, Simoni, Cunego and then Di Luca.

17:12 CEST   
Mazzoleni seems to be a dark-horse.

17:14 CEST   
We are close to the base of the final run uphill.

17:14 CEST    162km/1km to go
The final kick has begun.

17:14 CEST   
Gibo leads Cunego. The pace is slowing.

17:14 CEST   
Mazzoleni in third, Di Luca and then Schleck.

17:15 CEST   
Di Luca is the danger-man.

17:15 CEST   
-500m Di Luca launches!

17:15 CEST   
Schleck follows the rider from Abruzzo.

17:15 CEST   
Then Gibo. Gibo is digging....

17:16 CEST   
Di Luca slows and Gibo joins.

17:16 CEST   
These are some tight medieval streets.

17:17 CEST   
Di Luca attacked at -800m, sorry.

But he goes again here at -300m.

17:17 CEST   
Gibo follows on the pavé and then Schleck.

17:17 CEST   
Gibo is catching...

17:17 CEST   
Di Luca takes it.
Then Simoni.

17:18 CEST   
Mazzoleni follows and then Cunego.

17:20 CEST   
Di Luca pumped it up the tifosi-lined medieval streets.

Garzelli is now in the same area and chasing.

Di Luca gets the Maglia Rosa.

17:21 CEST   
If Di Luca continues like this he will win the 2007 Giro. But this race is long.

17:23 CEST   
Yoann Le Boulanger (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital)
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
Patxi Vila (Lampre-Fondital)

...Follow after Garzelli

17:39 CEST   
What a barn-burner of a stage. Di Luca profited from Saunier's efforts on day's mythical climbs.

Thanks for joining Cyclingnews today. Please check back for a complete report, results and quotes from the race favourites.

Provisional Results

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
4 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Astana
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo
General classification after stage 12
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas

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