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91st Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008

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Stage 11 - Wednesday, May 21: Urbania - Cesena, 199km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer

14:23 CEST   
Welcome back to today's installment of our trip around Italy. The peloton is going to get a taste of the mountains today, with four ranked climbs as it heads through the home region of the late Marco Pantani. Looking at the 199-km course, it is hard to find a flat stretch of more than a few kilometres. There's going to be a lot of suffering going on today.

14:26 CEST    74km/125km to go
Here's the quick-and-dirty on the momentary situation. We have a group of five -- Laurent Mangel (AG2R), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare), Jussi Veikkanen (Franšaise des Jeux), and Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) ľ with a lead of over eight minutes.

14:29 CEST   
173 riders took to the road at 12:08 this afternoon. We had three more DNS's today: Francesco Bellotti (Barloworld), Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner) and Gert Steurs of Silence-Lotto.

14:32 CEST   
Barloworld reports that Bellotti suffers from seems to be the "in" injury of the moment, a micro-fracture of the elbow. After riding with pain for the last three days, he and the team decided it would be better to get some therapy for the injury.

14:35 CEST   
Steurs has a cyst on a place which makes it very painful for him to sit on a a bike. Gerolsteiner told Cyclingnews that Moletta has dropped out "for private reasons."

14:37 CEST    80km/119km to go
The quintet in the lead has now built its lead up to 9'10.

14:40 CEST   
Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre) and Serguei Klimov (Tinkoff) crashed at km 26. The Italian dropped out of the race a bit later.

Things finally livened up at km 47, as Joaquin Rodriguez of Caisse d'Epargne attacked. Four kilometres later he was joined by Slipstream's David Millar, but they were unable to get away.

14:45 CEST   
At km 42, a group formed which looked to be the group of the day: Laurent Mangel (AG2R), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare), Jussi Veikkanen (Franšaise des Jeux), and Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni). Within ten km they had build up a lead of over two and a half minutes.

Cyclingnews' man on the scene, Gregor Brown, reports that the first part of the race was run in intermittent but very heavy rain.

14:48 CEST   
The peloton decided to let this group go, and the lead grew up to over eight minutes. The group went through the first mountain ranking at San Marino with an 8'05 advantage, in this order: 1) Bertolini, 2) Lastras and 3) Mangel.

14:51 CEST   
Riccardo Ricc˛ (Saunier Duval-Scott) noted, "We will see how the others are working. In the finale I will try something. I will have lots of fans out there, on the same roads where he [Marco Pantani] trained."

14:53 CEST    90km/109km to go
The lead has now grown to 9'20. Bertolini has a mechanical problem.

14:57 CEST   
Three birthdays today. MickaŰl Buffaz (Cofidis) and Mauricio Ardila Cano (Rabobank) are both turning 29. Mark Cavendish(High Road) is now all of 23 years old. Not much chance that the speedy Manxman will celebrate with a win today, though. He is not known for his climbing ability.

14:59 CEST   
Today's stage started in Urbania, which is famous for its ceramics. It also has a mummy cemetrey in the Chiesa dei Morti, or Church of the dead, which displays 18 naturally mummified corpses.

The stage goes through the home region of the late Marco Pantani
Photo: ę Phil O'Connor

15:02 CEST    100km/99km to go
The rain is continuing and it is not terribly warm.

15:10 CEST   
Let's take a look at the escapees. Lastras has been a pro since 1998 and he's always been with the same team (previously known as Banesto). He's won stages in all three major tours. That means he's been with Olano, ZŘlle, Mancebo and Valverde as team leaders, some of the biggest names in the last decade of cycling.

15:15 CEST    103km/96km to go
We have our next two riders to exit the race. Mauricio Soler of Barloworld and Rik Verbrugghe of Cofidis have dropped out. The lead is now 8'45.

15:19 CEST   
Di Luca has attacked on the climb. He is not wasting any time to get time back! Riccardo Ricc˛, Contador and Kl÷den are attentive.

15:21 CEST   
Savoldelli, Nibali and Pellizotti have joined the chase.

15:22 CEST   
The peloton is really stretched out, even though the gaps are small. Simoni and Piepoli are near the front as well.

15:23 CEST    105km/94km to go
Di Luca is not able to separate himself from the others, but he is in third position, with his black rain cape. He has got a team-mate at the front now, as the riders go up in the forest. The rain is relentless.

15:24 CEST   
The road is very narrow and the spectators, who seek shelter under their umbrellas, have to wait in the mud. A nice memory for everyone.

15:26 CEST   
Kl÷den is out of the saddle, sitting pretty, but wet, in fourth wheel. The riders are dripping wet.

15:27 CEST   
The riders on the front are turning around to see what damage they have done. The gap has diminished to less than five and a half minutes!

Current race situation

  • - Laurent Mangel (AG2R), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare), Jussi Veikkanen (Franšaise des Jeux), and Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni)
  • Peloton at 5.30

15:28 CEST   
The leaders come over the top of the mountain on the narrow road, zipping up their rain jackets in preparation for the long descent.

15:31 CEST   
Mangel will be a birthday boy tomorrow, when he turns 27. He turned pro with Ag2R in 2005. He can boast of some wins, but nothing recently. He won a stage in the Boucles de la Mayenne in 2005 and a stage in Langkawi in 2006.

15:32 CEST   
Kl÷den rides near the front of the peloton. The mountain points went this way: 1) Bertolini, 2) Lastras, and 3) Dall'Antonia.

15:34 CEST   
LPR leads the way up to the mountaintop. The first group of about 40 riders is only 5'06 behind the five leaders.

Andreas Kl÷den is attentive in this stage, riding close to Di Luca near the front
Photo ę: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:34 CEST   
The next group dribbles across the mountain top about a minute later. Visconti may have been in this group, but it is hard to tell.

15:37 CEST    104km/95km to go
The peloton really fell apart on this climb. They are still coming over the top, singly, in small groups or in a slightly larger group.

15:43 CEST   
Rujano jumps out on the descent and looks to get some time. Visconti came over the mountaintop 7'18 behind the leaders.

15:44 CEST   
Now the riders have to face fog on the descent, making things even more dangerous. This will be a slow descent today.

The first chasing group is 5'25 back, with the pink jersey in a group 7'45 behind.

15:45 CEST   
Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare) and Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) crashed out of the front group on the wet descent. Visconti is almost eight minutes behind. His pink jersey may lose a bit of colour tonight, thanks to the rains.

15:49 CEST   
Both Dall'Antonia and Bertolini make it back to the front group.

15:49 CEST   
We are seeing various riders go down or stand along the side of the road, but with the bad weather and this dangerous descent, we can't tell who is who, or what has happened to who.

15:50 CEST   
Pellizotti is the next to go down. We can only hope that they are all getting up again.

Franco Pellizotti had a technical mishap, while others decided to simply crash on the wet roads
Photo ę: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:53 CEST   
Now we hear that Pellizotti had a defect and that NoŔ was the one who went down. Up front, the five leaders are only loosely together.

15:55 CEST    130km/69km to go
Kl÷den, Di Luca, Ricc˛, Piepoli, Savoldelli, Pellizotti, Nibali, Simoni, Contador, Van Den Broeck, Leipheimer, and Menchov are among those in the leading group. Some of the riders are starting to take their rain jackets off.

15:59 CEST    130km/69km to go
The next climb looms, the Perticara. This one is only Cat. II, but offers a 5.9% average gradient with a max of 10%. It also offers a long and not so steep descent.

The five leaders are 5'40 ahead of the chase group (which also includes World Champion Paolo Bettini), and 7'52 ahead of the Maglia Rosa group.

16:02 CEST   
LPR leads the chase group, with three riders up front.

16:02 CEST   
This climb is definitely dryer than the last one and the road is wider, too.

Current race situation

  • Laurent Mangel (AG2R), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare), Jussi Veikkanen (Franšaise des Jeux), and Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni)
  • Group of 21, including Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Riccardo Ricc˛ (Saunier Duval - Scott), Andreas Kl÷den (Astana), Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes), Alberto Contador Velasco (Astana) at 5.45
  • Group with Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) at 7.33

16:05 CEST    124km/75km to go
Bertolini is showing some scrapes and cuts from his crash, and Dall'Antonia has a bleeding elbow.

16:07 CEST   
Baliani of CSF Group and an LPR rider have broken out together, but it is difficult to tell exactly where they are in the scheme of things.

Bertolini is still being doctored by someone hanging out of a team car.

16:09 CEST    132km/67km to go
The LPR rider is Bosisio, and he and Baliani escaped out of the first chasing group.

Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes) is looking good for now
Photo ę: AFP
(Click for larger image)

16:11 CEST    137km/62km to go
LPR has slowed down its chasing work and will let Bosisio pick up some time. He is currently third overall.

16:15 CEST    137km/62km to go
Bosisio and Baliani are now only 2'15 behind the two leaders.

16:16 CEST   
The chasing group, which contains many of the favourites for the overall title, is 2'21 behind the two Italians.

16:20 CEST    139km/60km to go
The first five go over the top of the mountain. Bosisio and Baliani come over 1'04 later. Apparently it has only just occurred to Bosisio that he could take over the Maglia Rosa today, so he is starting to give gas.

16:21 CEST   
The chasing group has definitely shifted down a notch. Meanwhile the five leaders are coping with rain again on the descent.

16:24 CEST   
On the way down, there is the intermediate sprint of the day, on one of the flatter sections of the long descent.

Current race situation

  • Laurent Mangel (AG2R), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare), Jussi Veikkanen (Franšaise des Jeux), and Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni)
  • Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes) and Fortunato Baliani (CSF Group Navigare) at 1.04
  • Group of 21, including Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Riccardo Ricc˛ (Saunier Duval - Scott), Andreas Kl÷den (Astana), Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes), Alberto Contador Velasco (Astana) at 5.45
  • Group with Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) at 7.33

16:27 CEST   
It looks like the Maglia Rosa group has caught up with the first leading group. Quick Step will now pick up the speed to defend its leader. Bosisio and Baliani are now descending in fog, 50 seconds behind the five leaders.

16:29 CEST   
Bosisio is descending slowly, alone. We have no idea what happened to Baliani.

16:30 CEST   
Oops, Bosisio went down in a left hand turn.

16:33 CEST    144km/55km to go
The five in front are doggedly holding on to their lead. They are 42 seconds ahead of Baliani, with the large chasing group 5'44 back. Bosisio is somewhere in between.

16:37 CEST    151km/48km to go
Baliani has nearly caught the five leaders.

16:38 CEST   
Dall'Antonia fell back to catch his team-mate and help him up to the leading group. Liquigas has now joined Quick Step at the head of the chasing group.

Current race situation

  • Laurent Mangel (AG2R), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare), Jussi Veikkanen (Franšaise des Jeux), Fortunato Baliani (CSF Group Navigare) and Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni)
  • Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes) at ?
  • Group of 21, including Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Riccardo Ricc˛ (Saunier Duval - Scott), Andreas Kl÷den (Astana), Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes), Alberto Contador Velasco (Astana) at 5.12
  • Group with Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) at 7.33

16:39 CEST    153km/46km to go
Visconti is safely in the leading group, following his team-mates. It looks to be dry at the moment.

16:41 CEST   
Fortunato Baliani is not only wearing the usual green kit of CSF Group, but also the very distinctive green-and-orange striped arm warmers. We can only say that they are unusual...

16:43 CEST   
it's snack time for the five in front, as they dig into their pockets and pull out power gels and sandwiches.

16:46 CEST    157km/42km to go
Bosisio has had some materiel problems. He is now over two and half minutes behind the leading group, and will probably be back in the chasing group soon. The leaders are actually riding in sunshine at the moment!

16:49 CEST    159km/40km to go
The leading group is turning on the speed. With a lead of about five minutes, they figure they will probably make it away to the end. Lastras has pulled away slightly on this long descent.

16:50 CEST   
The sun is shining, but the road is still wet and there are lots of hairpin curves on this descent.

16:51 CEST   
Did we say something about sunshine? How silly of us. Thee seem to be raindrops again...

16:52 CEST   
Lastras has apparently decided it is still too far to go alone. He keeps looking back to see where the others are.

16:54 CEST   
Just a few metres and the other five will join Lastras -- in the sunshine again...

16:55 CEST   
Liquigas and Quick Step lead the way down the dangerous wet descent. There is a lot of weaving around the road.

16:56 CEST   
Bettini gets a new wheel and scurries off to join the chase group.

Paolo Bettini had a mechanical and is now chasing back
Photo ę: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

16:57 CEST    164km/35km to go
The leading group hits the next mileage marker. A little further back, Bettini drafts quite happily behind the Quick Step car on his way back. Bosisio is still somewhere alone in the no-mans-land between the leaders and the chasers.

Current race situation

  • Laurent Mangel (AG2R), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare), Jussi Veikkanen (Franšaise des Jeux), Fortunato Baliani (CSF Group Navigare) and Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni)
  • Peloton at 4.55

16:57 CEST    164km/35km to go
The leading group hits the next mileage marker. A little further back, Bettini drafts quite happily behind the Quick Step car on his way back. Bosisio is still somewhere alone in the no-mans-land between the leaders and the chasers.

17:05 CEST   
Whatever was just changed on Bettini's bike needed changing again. He is finding it hard to get up to the leading group with these constant materiel problems.

What do those burning legs in the peloton now have to look forward to? Another climb, of course. This one is only Cat.III, only 250 metres high, and the riders only ride 1.3 km, so it can't be all that bad, right?

Wrong! What else did you expect? "Klein aber gemein," as the Germans say, "short but nasty". Because those 1.2 km go pretty much straight up. The climb features an average gradient of 11.5%, with one section boasting of 18%. Will all the riders make it up on their bikes, or will we see some walking?

17:05 CEST   
Ricc˛ makes his move and jumps out of the following group. Kl÷den, Di Lucas, Contador go with him.

17:07 CEST   
There are eight riders in the di Luca group. They have a decent lead now over the field.

17:10 CEST   
In the group of eight are two LPR riders, plus Kl÷den, Colom, Ricc˛, Di Luca, Van den Broeck and Simoni. They have now been joined by Menchov, Bruseghin, Sella and Savoldelli. Paolo Bettini has made it back to the chasing group, which he is now leading.

17:11 CEST   
Birthday boy Ardila takes off out of the chase group exactly as it catches Bosisio.

17:13 CEST   
Bettini leads a small field containing Visconti up to the Di Luca group.

17:16 CEST   
The leaders must be on the steepest part now. They are having a tough time going up. Dall'Antonia is the only one who doesn't seem to be having trouble. They still have a lead of over three minutes.

Ardila's adventure is over. He slipped out on a hairpin curve.

17:16 CEST   
Another big crash, Pfannberger, Piepoli, Leipheimer, Visconti, Sella among others.

17:18 CEST   
Visconti got up and continued. It is unclear how many of the others were able to continue or not.

17:20 CEST    174km/25km to go
Lastras attacks again. The two CSF riders go with him as they pass under the mountaintop banner.

17:21 CEST   
Bettini has waited for his fallen leader Visconti and helps him up the climb. Piepoli comes along with them.

17:21 CEST   
Ardila is still ahead and is now approaching the mountain top.

17:23 CEST   
Savoldelli attacks and gets over the climb ahead of the others in his group. He is in the Di Luca bunch.

17:24 CEST   
This group is about 3'00 minutes back. Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano is a good 2'00 behind the leaders.

17:26 CEST   
There are only four in front now, Lastras, Dall'Antonia, Bertolini and Baliani.

17:27 CEST   
They are followed by a group of 10 which includes Pellizotti, Kl÷den, Piepoli, Rebellin, Savoldelli and Ricc˛.

17:29 CEST    179km/20km to go
Visconti is now over 5 minutes back. He seems to be favouring his left wrist.

17:29 CEST   
There are now 17 in that chasing group, including Di Luca and Contador.

17:31 CEST    179km/20km to go
Visconti has apparently caught up with the favourites group.

17:34 CEST   
The chasing group has grown again, and contains about 30 riders. They are over 4 minutes back.

17:35 CEST    184km/15km to go
The field goes under the 15 km marker, while the leading four cross the finish line for the first time. They now have an 11 km loop to ride.

17:36 CEST   
Visconti is not in the chasing group, but about a minute behind.

17:38 CEST   
At the 15 km mark, the di Luca group was 4 minutes back, and the Maglia Rosa was 5'05 behind.

17:39 CEST   
That famous climber Erik Zabel is also in the Di Luca group.

17:40 CEST   
The di Luca group goes over the finish line 4'11 behind the 4 leaders Veikkanen and Mangel are still in between.

17:42 CEST    191km/8km to go
The four leaders are now facing the last significant climb of the day, even though it is not a ranked climb. Then they have about 4 or 5 flat kilometres. Will one of them try to get away?

17:43 CEST   
Dall'Antonia can't keep up on the climb. The other three grind their way up. with Bertolini leading the way.

17:44 CEST   
Bertolini pulls slightly away.

17:44 CEST    193km/6km to go
Now the three are all together again. They are all looking at one another, as if they are wondering who will jump first.

17:45 CEST   
Bertolini picks up the speed, but the other two follow.

17:47 CEST   
There are probably 40-50 riders in the chasing group, including Visconti. High Road's Marco Pinotti takes off from the front of the group, looking to pick up a few seconds.

Baliani and Lastras have a short conversation, but it looks like Lastras is saying "no".

17:48 CEST   
The three leaders are headed down now. Pinotti is back in the roup. Di Lucas leads the way up.

17:49 CEST    196km/3km to go
The three are still together. Are they really going to wait and sprint it out?

17:49 CEST   
They have enough time to make up their minds, the field is 4 minutes back.

17:50 CEST   
Lastras goes for it, but the other two are paying attention and go with him immediately.

17:51 CEST    198km/1km to go
They keep looking at one another. No one is willing to take the risk.

17:52 CEST    198km/1km to go
Baliani leads the way under the 1 km mark. Lastras continues to lurk behind.

Baliani crashes! Bertolini uses it to take off and Lastras can't react quickly enough.

17:53 CEST   
Bertolini takes it about 10 seconds ahead of Lastras. Baliani makes it over, too, with Dall'Antonia coming in about 20 seconds later.

17:54 CEST   
Certainly not the ending that anyone would have expected or hoped for, certainly not Baliani.

We are still waiting on the fast-moving chasing field.

17:55 CEST   
The field is strung out single file as they tear their way to the finish line.

17:56 CEST   
Now they head down the home stretch, with Liquigas leading the way. Bennati, Zabel, Rebellin, are all near the front.

17:57 CEST   
Bennati takes the sprint of the field, followed by Zabel.

17:59 CEST   
That was it for today. Tomorrow will be a totally different stage -- just as flat as this one was hilly. Join us then for a look at what the sprinters can do.

Provisional results

1 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli
2 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
3 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) CSF Group Navigare
4 Laurent Mangel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Franšaise des Jeux

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