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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 18 - Thursday, May 25: Sillian - Gemona Del Friuli, 210 km

Complete live report

Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour with additional reporting from Anthony Tan

14:33 CEST   
Welcome to stage 18 of the Giro. Today is a somewhat easier day between four tough mountain stage. It is slightly longer at 210km and starts in the town of Sillan before heading into Austria for a short while and back into Italy to finish in Gemona del Friuli. First climb is Monte Croce Carnico, with the steep 7km Cuel di Forcia waiting with 55km to go to Gemona.

So far the riders have gone over the first climb and have completed almost 120km. The early part of the stage saw alot of attacks and currently we have a group of five riders off the front including José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), David Lopez Garcia (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital) and Charles Wegelius (Liquigas). There was a chase group of four riders including Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step-Innergetic), Tadej Valjavec and Francisco J. Vila Errandonea (Lampre-Fondital) and Johann Tschopp (Phonak Hearing Systems) but they have since been caught by the peloton. The lead group now has over five minutes on the field.

14:39 CEST   
After three hours of racing the average speed for the day is 40.5km/h and the gap between the break and the bunch continues to grow. The highest in GC out of the group is Gutierrez Palacios and he is 21 minutes down so there is no urgency to chase the break. It's a good day for the GC riders to rest up a little before the challenge of the Alps coming up over the next two days.

14:44 CEST   
Coming up in about 10km is the Cuel di Forcia. The climb is 7-8km long and is quite steep, averaging over 8%. Sections in the early part of the climb reach a 16% gradient and its gets up to 18% near the top. So this stage is transitional but certainly not easy.

14:45 CEST   
There are a lot of tired legs out there today after two and a half weeks of racing and I don't think anyone was complaining about the changes to yesterday's stage. Basso also said the organisation made the right decision to shorten and cancel parts of the stage.

14:49 CEST   
The riders is the break are going over some small rollers now before the main climb and it won't be long before they reach the base. The gap has come down a little but they still have a 5'40" buffer going into the climb.

14:54 CEST    132km/78km to go
If the break can get over this climb they might be a good chance of staying away but the bunch will still have 60km of relatively flat terrain to chase. We still do have some sprinters in the bunch waiting for that stage win. Olaf Pollack still hasn't managed to get up to we might see T-Mobile chase to bring back to break after the climb. It will depend how Pollack goes over the top.

14:58 CEST   
Two riders didn't finish yesterday's stage. Baguet (Quick Step-Innergetic) and Marc Wauters (Rabobank) both pulled out and already today we have a few abandons. Sergej Yakovlev (Liberty Seguros), Sergio Barbero (Selle Italia), Fabrizio Guidi (Phonak), Peter Mazur (Saunier Duval), John Gadret (AG2R), and Marco Fertonani (Caisse D'Epargne) have all pulled out.

14:59 CEST   
The guys in the break are starting to climb now. Their lead has opened up again a bit to 6'30".

15:12 CEST   
The leaders are climbing well on the KOM and are 3km from the top. They have actually increased their lead and now have 6'55" on the peloton.

15:13 CEST   
Back in the bunch things look pretty relaxed. They are really taking this day as a bit of a rest day. CSC are just looking after Basso and keeping him safe near the front of the group.

15:16 CEST   
Its really steep right now. Schumacher leads the break up this last section which gets up to 18%. They are all still together. They need to stay together to use all the manpower in the final 60km to stay away.

15:18 CEST   
The road is really narrow, almost a footpath as they go slightly downhill before the final 100m up to the top. Schumacher stays on the front over the top and into the descent. The gap is up to seven minutes now.

15:20 CEST   
On the front of the peloton CSC and Saunier Duval lead the way. The bunch is spread right across the road and really not pushing the pace at all. It really is a footpath though this road. Very narrow. It's probably good that they are not taking it to hard as it would be a little dangerous on the downhill.

15:21 CEST   
They are all out of the saddle in the peloton as they reach the really steep part of the climb, but they are going slow enough that no-one will get dropped. Some crazy spectator tried to run alongside them but its so narrow that he nearly tripped an fell into the bunch.

15:22 CEST   
The break started the descent but after a small descent it starts climbing again for a bit. The Gerolsteiner team car is up with Schumacher at the moment. Not much room for the cars on this road.

15:23 CEST   
Simoni is on the front of the peloton in this 18% section now. He rides next to a CSC rider. At the back some of the riders have almost slowed to a stop up this section. It looks like pain!

15:25 CEST   
A few of them would appreciate a little push from the people in the crowd. It still looks cold today although it is dry. Some of them zip up their jerseys to go downhill. The gap as the peloton reaches the summit if 7'17".

15:26 CEST   
Meanwhile the riders in the break are still on the descent on these very narrow roads. It's twisty and quite pretty through this tree covered section but they have to take it fairly easy around the bends as there's not much room for error.

15:28 CEST   
A lot of people have commented that it's strange that Gadret has pulled out as he has such good form. We've since heard that he was involved in a crash at the 90km mark and has a suspected broken collarbone.

15:31 CEST   
The break goes around some tight hairpin turns ont he way down the descent. The road not is very well paved and almost dirt in parts. The peloton is all strung out in one line on the descent as it's safer that way.

Things have split up in the break a little bit as Lopez Garcia and Charles Wegelius are a bit slower around the corners on the descent.

15:32 CEST   
Yet another hairpin and the other three break members have opened up quite a gap. It is likely they will wait up a little at the bottom as they need the numbers.

15:34 CEST   
Schumacher is flying down the descent leaving the rest for dead. When they get to the bottom of the hill they have 50km to go. On the way home they have a couple of little pinches that look tough but it's mostly flat.

15:35 CEST   
Schumacher looks to be enjoying this descent but Gutierrez makes a point of overtaking him before one corner.

15:39 CEST   
The descent seems to never end but they must be getting close to the bottom. The break is definitely two groups at the moment with Lopez Garcia and Charles Wegelius still off the back.

15:42 CEST    160km/50km to go
Lopez Garcia and Wegelius have 25" to make up now as they reach the bottom. The leading trio are driving the pace. They have 7'28" to the field and about 50km to ride.

15:43 CEST   
Wegelius and Lopez Garcia are managing to bring back some time. The gap is now 14".

15:45 CEST   
11 seconds now. It looks like they'll make it back on to the front three pretty soon.

15:51 CEST   
The break is back together now and not in a hurry to get organised. They'll have to sort it out soon. Back in the bunch there has been some near crashes on the tight hairpin turns.

Wegelius has a heartrate of 157 in the break. That is 82% of his max.

The view is absolutely gorgeous as the valley opens up. You can see snow peaked mountains in the distance across the green fields. Phonak has a couple of riders on the front of the field setting tempo now as the peloton reaches the bottom of the descent. They are working pretty hard actually. The gap has come down to 7'05".

15:53 CEST   
The peloton is now on a bridge crossing a river. Basso looks comfortable in the bunch on the wheel on one of his teammates and the bunch is really quite strung out with Phonak on the front.

15:59 CEST   
Perhaps Phonak is trying to protect their lead in the teams classification. Liquigas has a rider in the break and they are 9 minutes down on Phonak in the teams classification. The break is finally organised and the gap has opened up a little to 7'14".

16:03 CEST   
Rumour has it that Liberty Seguros has pulled their sponsorship of the team in response to the Manolo Saiz incident. That is bad news for the team members.

16:05 CEST    175km/35km to go
The gap is coming down now. It's 6'22" now. Schumacher is back at his team car picking up a bottle. The guys is the break are still working well together but the Phonak team has really put on the pace behind. The riders in the break go under the 35km to go banner.

16:11 CEST   
Liberty Seguros has pulled the money as of today. Quite a lot of bike riders out of a job now.

The gap is down to 5'03" now and the bunch is traveling at 50km/h along this very flat section of road through the fields.

16:14 CEST    180km/30km to go
The break goes under the 30km to go banner. Schumacher is back at this team car again. He seems a little upset about something. Perhaps the co-operation within the break isn't as good as it could be.

16:17 CEST   
There is another small GPM coming up and the gap is rapidly coming down now. The latest split was 3'44" and it's pretty clear that the break will get caught. They'll have to really get organised to stay away now. A day for the sprinters today it seems.

16:20 CEST   
The riders are going through some very nice roads now through a small village. When they get to the climb it's going to hurt. The grade at the bottom is 18%. It's only a couple of km long, but it will hurt. The break have reached the climb. They are all out of the saddle getting over the steep pinch.

16:22 CEST   
A lot of spectators line the road on the way up. Bruseghin leads the way right now. Ouch - this looks hard. You can pretty much see the whole climb when you're on it and it's not a pretty sight.

16:24 CEST   
They are all staying together in the break but it's still very steep. They are out of the saddle the whole way. Wegelius at is 87% of his max on the climb. Meanwhile the peloton has just reached the bottom. Phonak is on the front with Basso right up there. They are not hammering the climb but already some of the guys at the back are suffering.

16:26 CEST    185km/25km to go
The riders in the break are just reaching the top of the climb. 700m from the top they see the 25km to go banner. Bruseghin leads the break over the top and looks back to make sure everyone is still with him as they start the descent.

16:28 CEST   

16:29 CEST   
The peloton is reaching the top of the climb now. Some of the guys at the back are really hating life on this steep thing! Olaf Pollack is near the back and hurting. We'll see if he can recover for a possible sprint finish.

Bettini is up near the front so perhaps it will be another day for him if this break gets caught.

16:33 CEST    190km/20km to go
Twenty kilometers to go for the riders in the break now. Before the reach the finish they have one more steep pinch to get over but its nothing like the previous one. The guys in the break seem to have it together now and are working well. They're traveling well on the flat section now.

16:36 CEST   
A Milram rider has a bit of a gap on the field but he didn't really attack, he just took a few hairpin turns a little faster than the bunch. He keeps the pace up as the bunch reach his wheel and strings things out.

The gap is still over three minutes now and the peloton has slowed significantly as they all come off the mountain. It will be tough to bring this break back now.

Benoit Joachim (Discovery) has just attacked the field and livened things up a bit.

16:37 CEST   
A Milram guy led the chase and Joachim has been caught. CSC immediately go to the front with Basso sitting in behind. None of the teams are willing to chase at this point.

16:40 CEST    195km/15km to go
15km to go for the break as they go through a rather large town. Schumacher comes through to do a turn over a cobbled section of road. That would hurt after 200km in a break even though the cobbles are fairly smooth.

16:42 CEST   
Back onto road now for the break. They seem to have stopped working really smoothly together as they are probably each thinking about when they should make their move now. Woah, David Lopez Garcia has chosen now to attack. he has a gap on the group as they goes over the small climb.

16:44 CEST   
He punches it up the hill. It's not long but its steep and it looks painful again. He is in the saddle forcing it. He looks back to see how much of a gap he has. Schumacher is leading the chase but he is dropping the others on the climb. Lopez Garcia has 5 seconds now.

16:46 CEST   
The rest of the break has split up. Schumacher is next, riding solo. Bruseghin and Wegelius are together just making it back up to the wheel of Schumacher. Lopez Garcia has increased his lead on them. He now has 11 seconds and 2'40" on the field.

16:48 CEST   
Lopez goes over the top of the hill solo. The other four break guys have regrouped. Back in the field Fortunato (Panaria) has attacked. Voigt leads the rest of the peloton with Basso on his wheel.

16:49 CEST   
Lopez is on a descent powering away. He looks strong and he still has ten seconds on the rest of the break and 2'47" on the field.

16:50 CEST   
The break is working hard to chase Lopez but Wegelius is sitting on. They are bringing the gap down.

16:52 CEST    203km/7km to go
Less than ten kilometers to go now. CSC is on the front of the field. There is no way the bunch will catch the break now. Lopez is still solo and looks fast. He has 8" on the rest.

16:53 CEST   
He gets out of the saddle to keep on top of the gear as he reaches Gemona. Schumacher has bridged to him solo and goes straight to the front to do a turn!!!

16:54 CEST   
Bruseghin leads the chase out of the other three. Wegelius and Gutierrez look like they can't do anything.

16:56 CEST   
Schumacher leads Lopez. It's slightly uphill here. Bruseghin seems to be bringing it back. It's about five seconds. Gutierrez punches it up a cobbled uphill section and goes straight past the leading two. They hold his wheel though but Lopez gets dropped.

16:57 CEST   
Wegelius is coming back up to Gutierrez, Schumacher and Bruseghin. It's a game of cat and mouse now. Lopez made it back and attacked immediately. He has a gap. Gutierrez chases.

16:58 CEST    207km/3km to go
They all looked at each other and Lopez attacks again from the front and has another gap. Schumacher attacks to try go across but Gutierrez grabs his wheel.

16:58 CEST    208km/2km to go
Only three kilometers to go and its all back together again. Gutierrez attacks and Schumacher grabs his wheel. 2km to go.

16:59 CEST   
They have a gap. Bruseghin is closing it though. Wegelius counters!

17:00 CEST    209km/1km to go
Bruseghin chases but looks around Schumacher comes through. Wegelius might have this.

17:01 CEST   
Bruseghin attacks and makes it back to Wegelius. They are all back together and Wegelius goes again. Schumacher has his wheel as they comes towards the sprint. Bruseghin goes again, Schumacher grabs the wheel again and comes around for the sprint. Bruseghin hangs on for second and Gutierrez third.

17:03 CEST   
Gutierrez actually pipped Bruseghin for second place. What a finish.

17:04 CEST   
The bunch comes in now with Milram leading the way. Bettini sprints for points and takes the win out of the bunch for sixth place. He leads the sprint jersey.


1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                 5.31.33
2 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears     
3 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                               
4 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                              0.02
5 Charles Wegelius (GBr) Liquigas                                         0.07
6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic                               2.43
7 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Team Milram                       
8 Matthew White (Aus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             
9 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems  
10 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                 
11 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Credit Agricole                               
12 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank                                       
13 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone                 
14 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team        
15 Renaud Dion (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance                                  
General classification after stage 18
1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            73.30.47
2 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                  5.43
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                              10.34
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team               10.58
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                        12.30
6 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni              13.00
7 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux                                    14.06
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                    14.48
9 Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems                  16.40
10 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team       17.48

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