91st Giro d'Italia - GT
Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008
Results & report
Stage 16 - Monday, May 26: San Vigilio di Marebbe - Plan de Corones (Individual Time Trial), 12.85km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer
Welcome back, as Cyclingnews' coverage of the Giro d'Italia continues. The torture continues today, as the riders face a grueling 12.85 km climb UP to the Kronplatz – the much dreaded mountain time trial. Who will win, who will just survive – and who will not make the time cut?
The riders were divided into three groups today. The first group started at 10 a.m., and Raffaele Illiano of Saunier Duval had the best time in that group. He covered the tough uphill climb in 44.27.
The second group started at 12:30, and they are now all in. The new leader is Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio, the Mexican riding for CSF Navigare, with a time of 43'22.
The favourites are still to come, of course. The riders are leaving the starting house every minute, but the top 20 will have a three-minute gap. Sylvester Szmyd of Lampre will open that section at 15:31.
The last group of 52 riders started 15 minutes ago. We ought to start getting intermediate results soon.
Jeff in Jasper, Alberta, Canada, wants to know how fellow Canadian Ryder Hesjedal is doing today. Well, he should have no problem with the time limit, as he came in at 44.42, which put him in 12th place among the first 100 riders. Jeff also wants to know if we are picking Sella to take his third win in a row today. We do not make predictions, as our predictions usually are more of a "kiss of death". However, we would not be surprised to see Sella power his way to another win – or to see his legs finally "explode", as Gerolsteiner's Johannes Fröhlinger put it.
This is a nasty climb today. There are a few – a very few – flat meters but mostly it is strictly climbing. The gradient ranges up to 16% and 20%. Near the end, there is a stretch of gravel road, which includes a 24% section. We would not be surprised to see some exhausted riders deciding to walk up this section.
Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step) is passing Christian Vande Velde (Slipstream Chipotle Presented By H30). Vande Velde doesn't think the TT will be too much fun. Garate is followed by a motorbike, which carries a Quick Step helper - no follow cars allowed today!
Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) is out of the saddle while José Rujano Guillen (Caisse d'Epargne) struggles on the gravel section. That looks tough! But at least it's dry.
All riders will have to pass a black flag with white lettering that reads "Big Boss Bosisio". Rujano doesn't really pay attention, though.
Rujano has the best intermediate time, at 21'10. He is more than a minute faster than the previous best.
Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre) is on the start ramp. He starts what is the last downhill of the day. After two metres he is on the climb.
Contador has to be the heavy favourite today, with Bruseghin's name popping up a lot, too, and even Menchov and Simoni getting some mentions.
Rujano reachers the last kilometre. His time is 36'51. That will be a long 1000m.
There are a ton of people. Rujano stomps on the pedals. 400m to go. He will get a new best, if he doesn't collapse first!
250m to go. He is doing sort of a sprint. In slow motion.
There is a reward for all the riders who make it to the finish today: tomorrow is the second rest day. And, boy, will they need it.......
Rujano reaches the Kronplatz, more famous for its skiing, with a new best time of 41'15. Two minutes faster!
There are actually skiers right there! They are checking out the crazy cyclists. The next weirdo up is Andrea Noè (Liquigas), while Voigt reaches the finish area.
Voigt has another 100m. He is out of the saddle. Second! 42.21
The great Eddy Merckx has this to say about today's stage: "It is a very difficult climb here, I know. Riccò, Contador and Sella, normally Riccò and Contador would be the big favourites.. This is for sure a time trial for climbers. I would like to do a stage like this, but short stages like this did not go well for me."
Voigt looks a little spent. No wonder. Bettini is out of the saddle. he is still on the paved road.
Noè has passed Matthew Lloyd. The Aussie can't count on his Aussie champ jersey for additional motivation. Adam Hansen has the honour of being the Down Under time trial master. But if he liked today's route is questionable. He has already finished and fell to the ground after the finish, totally exhausted. Noè and Lloyd are on the gravel part.
Vasili Kiryienka has decided to walk. Not because it is too steep, but because he has trouble with his bike.
Garate storms up. The Spaniard looks good, but his time is already past Voigt's.
Garate comes in 2'24 behind the current leader Rujano. A top 5 for now, but that will surely change soon.
Andreas Klöden starts. He hasn't had a good day yesterday. Either he will try to redeem himself today or just save energy to be able to provide assistance to his leader, Contador. Not only his leader, but *the* leader.
Noè is coming close to the finish and is still better than Rujano, but can he hold?
No, 30 seconds and still 450 metres. Here, with the steep climb, it takes a lot longer to climb up the last kilometre. Not sure what happened to his outfit, but his bib shorts are all black on the front, down both sides of his thighs. It looks like the follow moto bike ran over him!
This climb has 13 switchbacks, and they all have names. Stating from number 13 and working our way to number one, they are called: Belloni, Girardengo, Brunero, Binda, Guerra, Valetti, Bartali, Koblet, Coppi, Nencini, Gaul, Anquetil, and Pantani. Hmm, some of those names sound familiar...
Noè has the third best time, 90 seconds slower than Rujano. But he couldn't get past mountain goat Voigt.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) starts. He is out of the saddle immediately. The first part is paved and not as steep, so the riders average more than 20 km/h. Then, however, comes the gravel and the parts that go up to 24 percent. Nibali is 4'44 back in the overall, in 11th place. Ten more riders to go, then. Now, they start in three-minute intervals.
3-2-1- Vai! Emanuele Sella is off. Will he continue his amazing run? He, too, goes out of the sella right away.
The stage ends at the "Kronplatz", and "Kron" means "crown" in German. So it is only fitting that today's stage winner will be named Prince of the Kronplatz, and will be awarded a hand-made bronze crown.
Petrov was 40 seconds behind at the check. He is now shifting down, trying to recover any lost time against Rujano. But it will be tough.
He grabs the bars at the bottom and is out of the saddle. It looks labour intensive, but with the slopes at 24%, that is to be expected.
Pozzovivo is off. He is another one of those CSF riders who have surprised in this Giro.
Petrov looks like he is sprinting, but the time of Rujano has passed. Can he hold Voigt? Another 30 seconds.
Petrov is inside the last 100m. He gives it all. Voigt is faster. But he gets the better of Noè, by one second!
With only one road going up, how can the motor bikes, which follow the riders, get back down? Well, by helicopter of course! Since the RAI helos don't have to do TV from the sky today, they are kept busy that way.
You are no doubt asking yourself, how on earth are the riders going to get back down this climb to the team buses and ultimately their hotels? Well, this is a ski station, so they will just ski down.
But seriously, a ski station has a ski lift to bring the skiers up to the summit, and what goes up, must go down. The cyclists will simply take the lift in St. Vigil, which has been reserved for their exclusive use.
Petrov should be pretty happy. He finished seventh in last year's hilly TT
But here is Sella, who wants to better the Russian. So far, the Italian looks good, but we will have to wait until the intermediate time check. Sella is only eight minutes into the race.
Pellizotti is the next to start. He knows the climb well, but finished behind riders like Di Luca in the spring...
"It is too hard. It is not a normal day. It is impossible," were the words of Gasparotto to Cyclingnews.
Sella's green blends in well with the green meadows. Green meadows and skiers? Yes, there isn't that much snow left. But still, the die-hards find some patches to ski today.
Bettini looks like he just finished a really hard ride. And he did! 44.21 for the little rider from La California.
Off he goes under tremendous cheers! Gilberto Simoni is very popular with the Italian tifosi.
"We will see the same guys as the last couple of days," predicted Rabobank DS Erik Breukink. "Riccò, Simoni, Menchov, Contador. It is hard to tell what their shape in comparison to the others is. That
is what is fun about this Giro. It is an open and unpredictable tour."
Sella opted for short sleeves and weight savings. Pellizotti has a long-sleeve jersey and loves the warmth of it.
Menchov is starting.
Race Director Zomegnan noted it was a way to test the riders' limits and put on a great show for the fans, Gregor Brown tells us.
"Have a look around," said the Italian from Erba to Cyclingnews in Plan de Corones. "This is a countryside that does not exist in the world and cycling races need to exist to show off the countryside. It is too bad there is not sunshine, think if there was sunshine today."
Van den Broeck labours up the climb. He has been the discovery of this Giro. We don't where he trains, as he is from Belgium, with most climbs stop after a few hundred metres. But he certainly hung tough in the last few stages.
Bosisio approaches the finish. He looks to be doing a good time, but won't get past Rujano.
Bosisio is well known now in Italy, thanks to a stage win and the pink jersey. The moto bike behind him carries a whole bike on the back.
Van Den Broeck is 12 minutes into the ride. His cadence looks good, but his shades on the front of his helmet don't serve much of a purpose. He could have left them in the hotel instead...
Leipheimer struggles in. He is outside the top 40.
Bosisio gets a 43'30 and is in the top 10. He, too, looks tired.
Simoni grabs the bars on the brake levers. He looks up. Still so far to go!
Bruseghin is off! Now the favourites are in the mix.
Savoldelli is on the gravel part.
Di Luca starts. He powers down the ramp and starts like the finish is on the next corner. Hopefully, he can measure himself.
Sella passes the 5km to go sign.
Sella has smashed the intermediate time, by 34 seconds. He is definitely the King of these mountains.
Cárdenas and Savoldelli are approaching the finish line. Savoldelli started three minutes ahead of the Barloworld rider. Cárdenas crosses in 43'05, which is 1'50 off the lead.
Sella is now on the unpaved section, up out of the saddle, working hard.
Riccardo Riccò has now taken off. Can he live up to his big words about his performance in this Giro?
And Contador is underway – all in pink, from his helmet to his shoe covers. Now they are all underway.
Denis Menchov of Rabobank makes his way around one of those switchbacks, constantly going up.
Nibali goes through the intermediate timing as 11th, 1'38 back.
Bruseghin makes his way up now, hoping to win another time trial.
Baliani is now over the finish line. He came in at 42'38, which currently places him 9th.
Astana's Andreas Klöden should be the next one to grind his way up to the finish line.
Sella is happy to have hit a relatively flat section. Klöden crosses in 43'06.
Pink Panther Contador is up out of the saddle, a common sight today.
Sella hits the 1 km marker. We expect a new best time from him in a few minutes.
Not just a new best time, but he should really smash it.
Even for the King of the Mountains, this last km is a long, hard climb.
The Italian fans who are lining the way are cheering Sella on, giving him moral support.
This is truly the longest kilometre in the world today.....
He takes the final curve and can now see the finish line.
The last 100 meters are no easier than any of the others. And it is a new best time, 40'32, which is 43 seconds faster than Rujano.
That time will serve to throw a number of riders out of the race because of the time limit, which is 25% of the best time.
Nine riders still struggling their way up: Pozzovivo, Van Den Broeck, Pellizotti, Simoni, Menchov, Bruseghin, Di Luca, Riccò and Contador.
Contador rides onto a newly paved section of the road. He has yet to face the gravel section, which will be a bit tougher to ride.
Riccò is second best at the intermediate time check, 20'53, which is one second better than Simoni. Meanwhile, Pozzovivo crosses the finish line in third place.
Van Den Broeck is in now. Contador was second fastest at the time check, by 12 seconds.
Here is a major surprise: Franco Pellizotti flies over the finish line with a big smile on his face, and for a good reason – he has a new best time! 40'26, which is 6 seconds faster than Sella.
Simoni is the next, but he won't take the stage today. He grimaces as he climbs out of he saddle on his way up.
No win for him, but he is not far back, at 40'43. That places him currently in third place, 17 seconds down.
Rico is now on the unpaved section, alone in the woods. No fans here, or very few, to root him on.
Some of the fans feel the need to run along beside Riccò. We do not encourage this practice.
Di Lucas looks smooth as he power along on a not-too-steep section.
Menchov grinds his painful way up to the finish.
Contador bobs around from side to side on his bike as he climbs in sitting.
A good time for Menchov, 42.15. He is closely followed by Bruseghin.
Several readers noted that Van Den Broeck has moved to Tuscany. No lack of mountains then for the Belgian mountain goat!
Bruseghin is not as close behind Menchov as we thought He is still on his way up. He comes in at 41'30.
We wish all our American readers a Happy Memorial Day, and can report on two American riders: Vande Velde and Leipheimer are 48th and 49th, almost five minutes back.
Three to go now: Di Luca, Riccò and Contador.
Di Luca is on a steep section, and has already passed Pellizotti's best time. He will lose time today, and it may be over for him.
Di Luca zig zags his way up the 24% section.
He finally makes it to the finish line, puffing and panting, in 7th place, with 42'11.
Riccò and Contador – will one of them take the stage? Will the Maglia Rosa change shoulders?
No, no stage win for Riccò. But he will stay in the circle of the favourites with his time of 40'56.
One man to go – a man battling a broken elbow, toothache, and allergies – but the man who is leading the race.
He is sitting now on a relatively flat section.
He will be close to Pellizotti's time, but it doesn't look like he will beat it.
And he takes fourth place on the stage, with 40'48. He grins as he crosses the finish line, knowing that the pink jersey is a bit more secure on his shoulders now.
He now leads the GC with 41 seconds over Riccò and 1'21 over Simoni. Liquigas is celebrating its 4th stage win of the Giro.
The riders can look down on the snow as they take the ski lift down. We say goodbye to them and to our readers, as we all head off to a rest day. Join us again on Wednesday, when the fun and games start up again!
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