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89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 11 - Thursday, May 18: Pontedera - Pontedera ITT, 50 km

Live Commentary by Jeff Jones with additional reporting from Anthony Tan

Live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST

12:24 CEST   
A flat, fast individual time test in the birthplace of the Vespa scooter, dedicated to the memory of Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali. Stage 11 heads west to traverse the twisty roads in the centre of Pisa, then heads east with a likely tailwind back to Pontedera for the finish. Basso must show his power here to take major time from his rivals, while Cunego, Di Luca and especially Simoni must try to lose as little time as possible. Jan Ullrich will also try to test his legs in this Thursday time trial.

14:21 CEST   
Welcome to sunny Pontedera, where we are witnessing the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia from the Vespa museum. Today is the second and final time trial of this year's Giro, and it's a perfect one for the power riders like Serguei Gonchar, Jan Ullrich, Mick Rogers, Ivan Basso, Paolo Savoldelli and Jose Enrique Gutierrez. It's hard to pick a winner from these at the moment, but you'd have to say Basso is the favourite, based on his current form.

As noted, it's dead flat and there aren't too many corners in today's time trial. There are three intermediate checks, at 14.5 km, 28 km, and 41.3 km.

The weather is pretty well perfect for time trialling: 24-25 degrees Celsius, and very little wind. We can expect some fast average speeds!

14:48 CEST   
The first rider to leave today at 11:30 was Andoni Aranaga Azkune (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who has the dubious honour of being last on GC. He was followed by Carl Naibo (AG2R Prevoyance) a minute and a half later, and at the moment, 133 riders have left. The last man to do so was Jan Ullrich, so we await with interest his time.

The top five at the finish with 87 riders home are as follows:

1 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Française des Jeux 1.01.10
2 Stef Clement (Ned) Bouygues Telecom 0.18
3 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 0.40
4 Bert Roesems (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 0.50
5 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) AG2R Prevoyance 1.20

14:50 CEST   
The full starting order can be found here. The last 10 riders leave at 2'30 intervals, as follows:

15:52:30 Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team)
15:55:00 Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros-Würth Team)
15:57:30 Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
16:00:00 Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
16:02:30 Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile Team)
16:05:00 Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team)
16:07:30 Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
16:10:00 Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital)
16:12:30 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak Hearing Systems)
16:15:00 Ivan Basso (Team CSC)

14:56 CEST   
Dario Cioni finishes his ride just two seconds shy of Larsson's time of 1'01'10, which is an average speed of over 49 km/h. We'll definitely see the top riders go under the hour today.

14:57 CEST   
Larsson's claim to fame is that he finished fourth in the World time trial championship in 2004, as well as recording the same position in the Swedish TT championship that year.

14:58 CEST   
Bobby Julich (CSC) is normally quite useful against the clock, but he's probably under orders to take it easy today, with the tough stages ahead. His finishing time is 1:04:10, which puts him in 20th spot for the time being.

15:01 CEST   
Julich's (and Basso's) teammate Jens Voigt has just started his ride. He'll be followed by Wim Van Huffel (Davitamon-Lotto).

15:09 CEST   
It will be interesting to see the times that the 'climbers' do today, like Gilberto Simoni, Jose Rujano, Damiano Cunego, and Danilo Di Luca. They won't want to lose more than a minute or two to Basso. The latter is in the rather luxurious position of being one of the best time trialists and the best climber so far. But as we know, things can change.

15:10 CEST   
Slava Ekimov (Discovery) has done a good time. He crosses in 1:01:15, for third best.

15:11 CEST   
Jan Ullrich is under way, and has done the second best time after 14.5 km in 17'36. Marc Wauters holds the best time there at 17'30.

15:13 CEST   
Ullrich takes a swig from his bottle, rests the legs a bit, and continues. He's pedaling at about 90-95 rpm, his usual time trialling cadence.

15:14 CEST   
Charles Wegelius (Liquigas) comes up to the line in a time of 1:04:28, well out of the top 10, but still a respectable 46+ km/h.

15:17 CEST   
Carlos Sastre is also motoring along. Let's see what he does to the first check. In the prologue, he was one of the pacers for Basso.

Ullrich is using a solid disc wheel but (surprisingly) not a deep dish front wheel. There's almost no wind, so aerodynamics are important, but obviously he's comfortable with what he's got on today.

Stefan Schumacher finishes in 1:03:52.

15:18 CEST   
Ullrich passes the leaning Tower of Pisa and all its tourist stands, and continues to power along back towards the start in Pontedera.

15:19 CEST   
Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital) is also riding. He's a decent rider against the watch. He finished second in a Giro TT behind Gonchar a few years back.

15:22 CEST   
Ullrich rides alongside the river in Pisa, with plenty of Italians sitting on the walls lazily watching him go by.

Francisco Perez (Caisse d'Epargne) finishes his ride in a decent enough 1:01:55, for sixth so far.

Marco Pinotti has done the best time after 41 km, and is on track to break the hour. Yes, he does it. 59:49! Good time.

15:24 CEST   
Ullrich picks it up a little. He was third at the 28 km check, 17 seconds off the pace of Wauters at that point.

15:27 CEST   
Ullrich's teammate, world champion Michael Rogers, is now under way. He's pedaling at a slightly quicker rate than Ullrich as he heads out through the trees.

15:30 CEST   
Alessandro Vanotti (Milram) finishes in 1'03'21, well outside the top 10.

Rogers is using pretty much the same setup as Ullrich. His Giant has a rear disc wheel, and a semi-deep dish front wheel.

15:35 CEST   
Christian Knees rides up the long finishing straight to end in 1'04'41, for 38th.

Ullrich is continuing to ride at the same tempo, as he goes under 10 km to go. We'll see if Der Kaiser realises a fast time today. It should be much better than his first stage, where he was 80th.

15:37 CEST   
Ullrich has smashed Pinotti's time after 41.5 km, by 40 seconds! So he's obviously picked it up in the last 10 km or so. Yes, now he does have the big gear going.

Scarponi has already lost two minutes at the first check, while Jens Voigt is taking it easy too, losing 2'17 at time check 2 for around 40th position.

15:40 CEST   
Ullrich is working harder now as he executes his trademark fast finish. Interestingly, Pinotti was well out of the top times in the intermediate checks, before the last one.

15:41 CEST   
Ullrich has it in what looks like the 13 on the back, riding well above 50km/h as he nears the finish.

15:43 CEST   
Ullrich takes the corners and hits the finishing straight. Now it's full bore to the end. He will be close to catching Paolo Bettini at the finish.

15:44 CEST   
Ulrich takes the last two corners, and hits the final kilometre. Meanwhile, Bettini is making his way up to the finish at a slightly more leisurely pace, his gold shoes visible from a mile off. He finishes in 1:04:07.

15:45 CEST   
Ullrich has done well, finishing off this time trial in a very strong fashion. His final time: 58'48, over a minute quicker than Pinotti. But probably not a winning time...we'll see.

15:48 CEST   
Manuele Mori comes up to the finish in 1:03:28 for 23rd, over four minutes off the pace.

The top five so far:

1 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile 58.48
2 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 1.01
3 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Française des Jeux 2.22
4 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas 2.24
5 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.27

15:51 CEST   
Andrea Noè (Liquigas) gets under way. He rides off the ramp, chucks it into a bigger gear, and is up to speed.

15:52 CEST   
The next rider to start is Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel), then Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros) and Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval).

Scarponi is at halfway, riding through the ancient streets of Pisa, gaining some shelter from the little wind there is today.

15:53 CEST   
Scarponi is just about to be caught by Mick Rogers. The world champion bears down on him and passes him as they cross the river.

15:55 CEST   
Caruso is on his way now. The TT is not his favourite discipline, but he'll try to limit his losses.

15:56 CEST   
Gilberto Simoni is on the start ramp, looking a little nervous and not particularly happy about riding 50km on the flat. "Give me mountains!"

15:58 CEST   
Simoni sets off to a big cheer, and gets it cranking.

Rujano has lost over 2 minutes at the first time check (14.5 km). That is not good.

Now Di Luca is on the start ramp, after getting his Bianchi polished by a soigneur one last time.

16:01 CEST   
Di Luca clips in, gets the countdown and a big cheer of encouragement from his DS just behind him on the start ramp. He's away!

Guido Trentin (Saunier Duval) finishes in 1:03:48 for 34th, past the Vespa museum. Just don't call him Trenti.

Two CSC riders are on the finishing straight together. Voigt is one of them, stomping along. Nicki Sorensen is the other, losing 3 minutes to Voigt. They are not working together, which is a good thing in this case!

16:02 CEST   
Voigt has ridden the second half pretty hard, and finishes in 1:01:00 for third. He probably started easy and then pushed it home to give something for Basso to ride against.

Now Serguei Gonchar sets off. This time trial is made for him.

16:04 CEST   
Paolo Savoldelli is the next to go. He's quite good at this discipline, as he showed in the first stage. But on paper, Basso should be quicker.

16:05 CEST   
Savoldelli goes and sprints up to speed, getting onto the bars quickly.

16:07 CEST   
Now it's Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), the winner of stage 10, who is on the start ramp. He's not the best against the clock, but he's still a powerful rider, and today will be OK for him. He crosses himself, drinks from his bidon, and goes off.

Simoni has the rear disk and very deep dish front wheel happening.

16:09 CEST   
Paolo Savoldelli is riding his Trek Equinox, and he looks to have his Bontrager Aeolus front wheel on. Difficult to tell at this speed :-)

Damiano Cunego is now setting off.

16:12 CEST   
Ivan Basso gets ready in his all pink skinsuit, but white CSC shoe covers. His bike is the Cervelo, with Zipp wheels (deep front, disc on the back).

Savoldelli has found a nice rhythm as he heads out into the countryside. Cunego is using a faster cadence, and also has a good tempo going.

16:14 CEST   
Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) sets off, and he should be able to do a good time today. He's a powerful rider, and got close in the first stage to the win.

Basso is the last rider to go, and he's on the start ramp now. He looks very calm and focused, with that faint smile that he always wears.

The top 10 hasn't changed, with Ullrich still leading with 58'48 ahead of Pinotti and Voigt.

16:15 CEST   
Basso is go!

Meanwhile, Rujano is 3'30 behind at 28 km. He really doesn't like the time trials.

16:16 CEST   
Savoldelli looks super smooth as he keeps his solid rhythm. He's not a fast pedaller, but still maintains a cadence of 100 or so.

Bruseghin finishes his ride in 1:04:45 for eighth best so far.

16:18 CEST   
Jeez, Basso is flying!!

Simoni has already lost 2'09 to Wauters at the first time check (14.5 km), which does not bode well for him. Also, Caruso has lost 3'29 at the same place. That's rather poor.

16:19 CEST   
And Di Luca is 2'02 after 14.5 km. Well, he's close to Simoni, but a long way off Wauters.

16:20 CEST   
Rogers finishes in 1:02:08, off the pace for 13th.

16:21 CEST   
Gonchar is up to 14.5 km in 18'16 (13th). Apparently, the wind is stronger now, and is blowing against the riders on the way out. So we'll see better times on the way home.

16:23 CEST   
Paolo Savoldelli is coming up to the first time check, where the top three are still:

1 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 17.30
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile 0.06
3 Bert Roesems (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 0.07

The number one in the Giro crosses in 18'35, which is 1'05 slower than Wauters. He'd better hope the wind is strong on the way home. But, we'll wait and see what Basso does.

16:24 CEST   
Gonchar has been the best of the GC favourites so far, with 18'16 at 14.5 km. So he is the reference point for the overall.

16:26 CEST   
Axel Merckx (Phonak) ends in 1:05:01, which is 67th. He had a very slow start too, so maybe the wind is playing a role now.

16:27 CEST   
Basso has got a great rhythm going, as Franco Pellizotti comes to the 14.5 km check in 19'34, 2'04 behind Wauters. That's similar to Di Luca.

16:28 CEST   
Unai Osa finishes in 1:08:03, way off the pace. Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) does much better, with a 1:01:40 for eighth.

16:31 CEST   
Cunego is past 14.5 km in 20'08, 2'38 off the pace of Wauters. Well, he's slower than Gibo and Pellizotti at the moment. That's surprising, actually. He's already lost one and a half minutes to Savoldelli.

Gutierrez is better, in 18'26 at 56 seconds slower than Wauters. He's slower than Gonchar, but not much.

16:31 CEST   
Cunego is sitting on 50km/h at the moment as he fights the slight headwind. That's a good sign for him. It's never easy to do 50 km/h into a headwind.

16:34 CEST   
And now, the maglia rosa of Ivan Basso (Team CSC) passes the 14.5 km check, the last rider to do so today. His time is 18'11, which is the best of the favourites, and is the 12th best so far. He's put 5 seconds into Gonchar, 30 seconds into Savoldelli, two minutes into Cunego, 1'30 into Pellizotti, 15 seconds into Gutierrez, and about 1'20 into Gibo and Di Luca.

16:38 CEST   
At the second time check after 28 km, Simoni is past at 3'12 behind Wauters, then Gonchar comes through just 1'02 behind the best time, having just caught and passed Di Luca. The Liquigas man is at 3'38 off the best.

Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) is ending his ride in Pontedera.

16:39 CEST   
Savoldelli crosses the bridge over the Arno river in Pisa, hits the gutter as he swings left back onto the other bank. He passes the 28 km check in 34'58, 1'32 behind Wauters, and 30 seconds slower than Gonchar.

16:40 CEST   
Gutierrez has just passed Cunego. That can't be good for the morale.

16:40 CEST   
Well it's probably good for Quique's morale :-) That means Cunego has lost 2'30 to his rival before halfway!

16:42 CEST   
Wauters, who set the best time checks in the opening half, is holding down 10th on the provisional standings at the moment.

Cunego is now picking up his game, not letting Gutierrez get too far away.

16:43 CEST   
A Lampre and a Credit Agricole rider come up to the finishing straight together, trying not to use each other's draft. It's Szmyd and Halgand.

16:45 CEST   
Halgand finishes in 1:04:18, while Szmyd comes across a few seconds later.

Cunego rides past the leaning tower of Pisa, and doesn't even look up at the view. He's more concerned with not letting Jose E. Gutierrez out of his sights.

16:47 CEST   
Pellizotti and Di Luca are past the second time check, at over three minutes behind Wauters respectively. Now Gutierrez comes through in 34'46, just 1'20 behind Wauters. Then Cunego in 37'25, nearly four minutes slower(!)

16:48 CEST   
Victor Pena finishes off in 1:01:49, which just puts him in the top 10.

16:49 CEST   
Here comes Ivan Basso, up to the second time check in 34'24, which is 58 seconds slower than Wauters. That is the best of the favourites, four seconds better than Gonchar, still 30 seconds quicker than Savoldelli, and three minutes better than Cunego. Ouch.

16:50 CEST   
Basso, Gonchar and Gutierrez look to be the only riders who can win the stage today, but Ullrich still has a handy lead over them going into the final half.

16:52 CEST   
Here comes Tom Danielson, who we haven't seen yet today. He is on the finishing straight and is on track for a top 10.

16:53 CEST   
Gonchar is past time check three in the third best time, 1'06 behind Ullrich. Hmm, he only has 9 km to make that up. Not enough, methinks. So maybe the wind isn't really helping on the way home.

Danielson finishes in 1:01:23 for 7th. Quite good from the Disco rider.

16:57 CEST   
Di Luca passes time check three a whopping 4'34 behind Ullrich. Then Savoldelli comes through just 1'30 behind, for fifth. That's a good performance from the Discovery captain. He won't lose much to Basso today.

17:00 CEST   
Simoni has done a good ride today, and will limit his losses to Basso. He'll be better than most of the other climbers too, probably the fourth best of the GC riders. His finishing time is 1:03:09, 4'21 behind Ullrich.

17:01 CEST   
Gonchar comes up to the finishing straight, having passed Caruso. He won't beat Ullrich though.

Pellizotti comes past 41.5 km 4'16 slower than Ullrich, who looks to be the winner today. Impressive!

17:02 CEST   
Gonchar finishes in 59'57, just under the hour. So it looks like only Basso can beat Ullrich now, and that's unlikely.

The top 10 at the moment:

1 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile 58.48
2 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 1.01
3 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile 1.09
4 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 2.12
5 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Française des Jeux 2.22
6 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas 2.24
7 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 2.27
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 2.35
9 Stef Clement (Ned) Bouygues Telecom 2.40
10 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 2.52

17:03 CEST   
Di Luca punches his way up the finishing straight to end in 1:04:01 for 51st, as Savoldelli hits the last km.

17:05 CEST   
Cunego is past 41.5 km five minutes slower than Ullrich. Well, the German might do it today, it looks like. But Basso is just 38 seconds behind him at km 41.5!!

Savoldelli ends in 1:00:07 for fourth.

17:06 CEST   
Basso is the only rider who can beat Der Kaiser today. He needs to take back 38 seconds in 8.5 km. Tricky... Whatever happens, he will put time into all his GC rivals today.

17:07 CEST   
Basso looks lightning quick while Cunego is definitely suffering, now riding a much bigger gear than he was at the start.

17:08 CEST   
Cunego keeps his 50 km/h speed up, but it's not enough today. Basso is now at 5 km to go, sitting on 54 km/h.

17:09 CEST   
There are going to be some serious gaps on the GC today. Very serious. Cunego will lose four minutes, as will Gibo, Di Luca, Pellizotti... Gonchar and Gutierrez will limit their losses to about a minute, while Savoldelli might lose that too.

17:11 CEST   
Pellizotti rides up the long finishing straight, keeping his rhythm, but still losing over four minutes to Ullrich. His final time is 1:03:47.

Basso has caught Cunego(!). That's five minutes...

17:12 CEST   
The maglia rosa bears down on Cunego with 2 km to go, putting in a little sprint. He hasn't quite caught him yet, but he probably will. Yep, over the bridge and under the railway.

17:12 CEST   
Basso waits until under the bridge, then powers past Cunego with 1 km to go.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez finishes in 1:00:30 for fifth. Decent ride.

17:14 CEST   
Basso puts a five seconds into Cunego in the final 500m, and comes across to take second in the stage in a time of 59'15. Cunego finishes in 1:04:22.

Jan Ullrich wins the time trial!!

17:23 CEST   
As Jan Ullrich opens his first bottle of bubbly for the season on the podium, looking quite satisfied with himself for winning today, we can assess the damage on the general classification. Ivan Basso increased his lead to 2'48 over Jose E. Gutierrez, and to 3'24 over Serguei Gonchar. Paolo Savoldelli is in fourth at 3'26, then Danielson up from 10th to 5th at 5'38, then Pellizotti (6'37), Pena (6'54), Cunego (6'54), Simoni (7'13), Di Luca (7'33) and in 14th Rujano at 9'19.

Well, they've all got a few mountains coming up to try to take back that time, but the real problem is that Ivan Basso is also the best climber at the moment.


17:24 CEST   
And that's where we leave you today, after a slightly surprising result in the flat time trial in Pontedera. Ullrich's stage 1 time trial position was 80th. He's improved a bit in the last week and a half.

Until tomorrow's hilly transitional stage, ciao!


km 14.5
1 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank                                         17.30
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile                                           0.06
3 Bert Roesems (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                   0.07
12 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC                                                0.41
14 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile                                      0.43
km 28
1 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank                                         33.26
2 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas                                         
3 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile                                           0.17
10 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC                                                0.58
11 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile                                      1.02
km 41.5
1 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile                                
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC                                                 0.38
3 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                             0.40
4 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile                                       1.06
6 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel                             1.30
Finish - km 50
1 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile                                           58.48
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC                                                  0.27
3 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                              1.01
4 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile                                        1.09
5 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel                              1.19
6 Jose E. Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak                                        1.42
7 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                             2.12
8 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Française des Jeux                          2.22
9 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas                                      2.24
10 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          2.27
11 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel                                2.35
12 Stef Clement (Ned) Bouygues Telecom                                  2.40

General classification after stage 11

1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                         40.28.56
2 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems               2.48
3 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile Team                                   3.24
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             3.26
5 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                5.38
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                      6.37
7 Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems                6.54
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital  
9 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                            7.13
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                        7.33
14 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni      9.19

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