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91st Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008

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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

14:59 CEST   
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?

15:06 CEST   
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.

15:13 CEST   
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.

15:16 CEST   
The last group of 52 riders started 15 minutes ago. We ought to start getting intermediate results soon.

15:21 CEST   
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.

15:28 CEST   
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.

15:30 CEST   
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!

15:31 CEST   
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.

15:32 CEST   
All riders will have to pass a black flag with white lettering that reads "Big Boss Bosisio". Rujano doesn't really pay attention, though.

15:32 CEST   
Rujano has the best intermediate time, at 21'10. He is more than a minute faster than the previous best.

15:35 CEST   
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.

15:37 CEST   
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.

15:39 CEST   
Rujano reachers the last kilometre. His time is 36'51. That will be a long 1000m.

15:42 CEST   
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!

15:42 CEST   
250m to go. He is doing sort of a sprint. In slow motion.

15:43 CEST   
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.......

15:43 CEST   
Rujano reaches the Kronplatz, more famous for its skiing, with a new best time of 41'15. Two minutes faster!

15:45 CEST   
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.

15:45 CEST   
Voigt has another 100m. He is out of the saddle. Second! 42.21

15:46 CEST   
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."

15:46 CEST   
Voigt looks a little spent. No wonder. Bettini is out of the saddle. he is still on the paved road.

15:50 CEST   
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.

15:53 CEST   
Vasili Kiryienka has decided to walk. Not because it is too steep, but because he has trouble with his bike.

15:55 CEST   
Garate storms up. The Spaniard looks good, but his time is already past Voigt's.

15:56 CEST   
Garate comes in 2'24 behind the current leader Rujano. A top 5 for now, but that will surely change soon.

15:58 CEST   
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.

15:58 CEST   
Noè is coming close to the finish and is still better than Rujano, but can he hold?

16:00 CEST   
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!

16:00 CEST   
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...

16:01 CEST   
Noè has the third best time, 90 seconds slower than Rujano. But he couldn't get past mountain goat Voigt.

16:03 CEST   
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.

16:05 CEST   
3-2-1- Vai! Emanuele Sella is off. Will he continue his amazing run? He, too, goes out of the sella right away.

16:05 CEST   
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.

16:06 CEST   
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.

16:07 CEST   
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.

16:08 CEST   
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.

16:09 CEST   
Petrov is inside the last 100m. He gives it all. Voigt is faster. But he gets the better of Noè, by one second!

16:10 CEST   
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.

16:11 CEST   
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.

16:12 CEST   
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.

16:14 CEST   
Pellizotti is the next to start. He knows the climb well, but finished behind riders like Di Luca in the spring...

16:14 CEST   
"It is too hard. It is not a normal day. It is impossible," were the words of Gasparotto to Cyclingnews.

16:16 CEST   
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.

16:17 CEST   
Off he goes under tremendous cheers! Gilberto Simoni is very popular with the Italian tifosi.

16:17 CEST   
"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."

16:19 CEST   
Sella opted for short sleeves and weight savings. Pellizotti has a long-sleeve jersey and loves the warmth of it.

Menchov is starting.

16:19 CEST   
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."

16:21 CEST   
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.

16:22 CEST   
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.

16:23 CEST   
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.

16:24 CEST   
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.

16:26 CEST   
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.

16:27 CEST   
Sella has smashed the intermediate time, by 34 seconds. He is definitely the King of these mountains.

16:29 CEST   
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.

16:30 CEST   
Sella is now on the unpaved section, up out of the saddle, working hard.

16:31 CEST   
Riccardo Riccò has now taken off. Can he live up to his big words about his performance in this Giro?

16:31 CEST   
And Contador is underway – all in pink, from his helmet to his shoe covers. Now they are all underway.

16:32 CEST   
Denis Menchov of Rabobank makes his way around one of those switchbacks, constantly going up.

16:33 CEST   
Nibali goes through the intermediate timing as 11th, 1'38 back.

16:35 CEST   
Bruseghin makes his way up now, hoping to win another time trial.

16:36 CEST   
Baliani is now over the finish line. He came in at 42'38, which currently places him 9th.

16:37 CEST   
Astana's Andreas Klöden should be the next one to grind his way up to the finish line.

16:38 CEST   
Sella is happy to have hit a relatively flat section. Klöden crosses in 43'06.

16:39 CEST   
Pink Panther Contador is up out of the saddle, a common sight today.

16:40 CEST   
Sella hits the 1 km marker. We expect a new best time from him in a few minutes.

16:41 CEST   
Not just a new best time, but he should really smash it.

16:41 CEST   
Even for the King of the Mountains, this last km is a long, hard climb.

16:43 CEST   
The Italian fans who are lining the way are cheering Sella on, giving him moral support.

16:43 CEST   
This is truly the longest kilometre in the world today.....

16:44 CEST   
He takes the final curve and can now see the finish line.

16:45 CEST   
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.

16:46 CEST   
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.

16:47 CEST   
Nine riders still struggling their way up: Pozzovivo, Van Den Broeck, Pellizotti, Simoni, Menchov, Bruseghin, Di Luca, Riccò and Contador.

16:48 CEST   
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.

16:50 CEST   
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.

16:53 CEST   
Van Den Broeck is in now. Contador was second fastest at the time check, by 12 seconds.

16:55 CEST   
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.

16:56 CEST   
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.

16:57 CEST   
No win for him, but he is not far back, at 40'43. That places him currently in third place, 17 seconds down.

16:57 CEST   
Rico is now on the unpaved section, alone in the woods. No fans here, or very few, to root him on.

16:58 CEST   
Some of the fans feel the need to run along beside Riccò. We do not encourage this practice.

16:59 CEST   
Di Lucas looks smooth as he power along on a not-too-steep section.

17:00 CEST   
Menchov grinds his painful way up to the finish.

17:01 CEST   
Contador bobs around from side to side on his bike as he climbs in sitting.

17:02 CEST   
A good time for Menchov, 42.15. He is closely followed by Bruseghin.

17:02 CEST   
Several readers noted that Van Den Broeck has moved to Tuscany. No lack of mountains then for the Belgian mountain goat!

17:03 CEST   
Bruseghin is not as close behind Menchov as we thought He is still on his way up. He comes in at 41'30.

17:04 CEST   
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.

17:05 CEST   
Three to go now: Di Luca, Riccò and Contador.

17:06 CEST   
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.

17:07 CEST   
Di Luca zig zags his way up the 24% section.

17:07 CEST   
He finally makes it to the finish line, puffing and panting, in 7th place, with 42'11.

17:08 CEST   
Riccò and Contador – will one of them take the stage? Will the Maglia Rosa change shoulders?

17:09 CEST   
No, no stage win for Riccò. But he will stay in the circle of the favourites with his time of 40'56.

17:09 CEST   
One man to go – a man battling a broken elbow, toothache, and allergies – but the man who is leading the race.

17:10 CEST   
He is sitting now on a relatively flat section.

17:11 CEST   
He will be close to Pellizotti's time, but it doesn't look like he will beat it.

17:12 CEST   
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.

17:14 CEST   
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.

17:15 CEST   
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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