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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

89th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 6-28, 2006

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Stage 19 - Friday, May 26: Pordenone - Passo Di San Pellegrino (Dolomiti Stars), 224 km

Complete live report

Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour with additional reporting from Anthony Tan

14:29 CEST   
Welcome back to our coverage of the Giro d’Italia. Today’s stage has been described as the most difficult stage of this years Giro. Starting in Pordenone, it travels north past the 110 Gazzetta sprint in Longarone with the first climb of the day being the Forcella Staulanza, which is 12km long and with a 6.8% average grade. After the descent off the mountain and another climb over Colle San Lucia the course hits the steep Passo Fedaia, followed immediately by Passo Pordoi. Both of these climbs are long and steep with Fedaia almost 14km in length with sections of 18% grade along the way and Pordoi 11km long with an average grade of 6.6%. It then loops back around the heart of the Dolomiti for the difficult ascent to Passo di San Pellegrino, an 18km climb, with an average grade of 6.2% and a max of 15%.

So far today we saw Bettini go for the points at the Gazzetta sprint to try to secure his lead in the Points Classification. Illiano took second in the sprint and then attacked taking 19 riders with him. With him are Garate, Sella, Di Luca and Bettini among others. A small group including Joachim, Dion, Halgand and Gomez Gomez were trailing by a few minutes but they all split up on the first climb. Now we have a group of 19 up front. Halgand managed to make it up to the break, Gomez Gomez is 2 minutes down and Bonnet has been caught by the peloton, which is five minutes down on the leaders.

Over the top of the Forcella Staulanza, Dion and Joachim were still riding solo in no man’s land between the break and the bunch with Dion 2’15” down and Joachim 2’36” down. The break had also split up on the steep section near the top and the peloton is still 5’20” down.

We have an update from our reporter Anthony Tan who is at the top of the final mountain. He says it's a bellissima giornata in the Dolomiti today; in the stark contrast to situation two days ago, which saw the much-anticipated stage to the Plan De Corones cut short. Apart from typically strong mistral winds, the riders aren't expected to encounter any adverse weather, with the current temperature atop the Passo di San Pellegrino 18 degrees Celsius and sunny.

As expected, the tifosi are out in force, with plenty of cyclo-tourists testing themselves on the final 17 kilometre climb of San Pellegrino, causing plenty of headaches for team buses and cars - not to mention journalists trying to get to the sala stampa (press centre)!

14:38 CEST    110km/114km to go
Joachim has caught Dion and they are riding together now a couple of minutes down on the break, which has a little more time on the peloton over the top of the climb.

14:41 CEST   
The riders in the break are climbing Colle San Lucia now before descending the rest of the way down to Caprille at the 122km mark where they start the next climb of the day. No rest for the wicked.

14:47 CEST    116km/108km to go
Dion and Joachim have been caught by the bunch now. It's hard out there with only two and they have a lot of climbing left for the day. In total riders will climb over 4000m in today's stage alone.

14:52 CEST   
After four hours of the racing the average speed for the day so far is 31km/h. This will no doubt be a little less by the end of the day with so many steep climbs to come.

15:01 CEST   
The break has just started the second GPM of the day. Their gap had dropped slightly to 4'41" by the bottom. This climb up Passo Fedaia is 13.3km long and gets quite steep after about 6km with an 18% spike at the 11km mark and a 15% section right near the top.

15:02 CEST    123km/101km to go
Already riders are suffering in the break. Zampieri is falling off the back right now and others a suffering.

15:14 CEST   
Bettini is pushing the pace on the climb. It's so steep and there is a lot of suffering out there today. The break is 2km from the top right now.

15:16 CEST   
In the bunch, CSC is on the front with Basso in about 4th wheel. His teammates Julich and Voigt are both up the road in the break which is staying relatively in tact despite the steepness of the climb.

15:17 CEST   
They are almost above tree line. Bettini is still on the front of the break but it's so steep that he is rocking from side to side trying to get on top of the gear. Elting and Engels have both been dropped.

15:19 CEST   
The gap between the break and the pelton is holding at 4'30" with Bettini making sure they don't lose too much time. The break is down to 14 riders as they reach 1km to go to the top of the climb. Di Luca is just behind Bettini on the front of the peloton. It's a spectacular view up here with this road winding up through the highlands. Spectators line the roads all the way up.

15:21 CEST    135km/89km to go
Baliani is up near the front of the break saying something to Bettini now as they near the top.

15:22 CEST   
They are going past ski lifts near the top. A crazy man with balloons all over him runs alongside Bettini screaming in his ear. That would be welcome I'm sure! Not.

15:23 CEST   
Out of the riders in the break Di Luca is the best placed on GC in 12th at 18'27, so no need for CSC to panic too much although they would want to make sure the group doesn't get too much time regardless.

15:28 CEST   
This last section is so steep that the last kilometer is taking quite a while. Some very tired looking legs out there. Bettini has led this climb the whole way. He takes a drink now as they go around yet another hairpin turn and gets out of the saddle again.

Back in the field Cuesta leads Basso at the front. Cunego sits next to Gutierrez just behind Basso.

There has been an attack out of the break. It's Baliani and he's going for the GPM points. He was 20 points down at the beginning of the day, but in this stage he has won both GPM's so far and is now equal on points with Basso.

15:30 CEST    136km/88km to go
Garate is determined to go for a stage win today. He rode this stage prior to the Giro. He liked the course and he knew that GC would likely be set by this point in the tour so he decided that he would plan of trying to win this stage. This is why his teammate Bettini is working so hard on the front of the break today.

15:31 CEST   
Actually Baliani has only 41 mountain points, so he is still 5 points behind Basso in the mountain classification and will have to take more points before the day is out to take the lead.

15:35 CEST   
The break is on the descent now. The mountain they just rode over 2057m high and when they look up they can see some spectacular snow covered peaks above them. Such beautiful country up here.

The gap to the peloton has grown to 5'04". After this 15km descent they immediately start to climb again up Passo Pordoi. This is another tough one. 12km long with a 6% average grade with the section at the top the steepest with a 10% section.

15:37 CEST   
All the riders in the break put on vests to descent the mountain as it's not warm up there. The road is really nice on the descent with wide open streets and smooth road, unless yesterday's goat track.

15:38 CEST   
The break has split up a little on the descent with some people able to descend a lot faster than others. They go past nice wooden alpine huts and green fields. It's very pretty.

15:41 CEST   
A few of the riders get into the tuck position on the descent and others stretch their legs to make sure they are not too stiff going into the next climb. They have to keep moving their legs as there is not a lot of flat between the two climbs for them to recover.

15:47 CEST   
The gap is back up at 5'30" now. The bunch is traveling at 67km/h slightly downhill. Basso adjust something on his shoes. Gustov is on the front of the peloton setting the pace in the CSC train.

The break is on the next climb with Bettini back at this team var getting bottles and chatting to the Director. His job might be done now for Garate.

15:49 CEST   
Baliani set the pace in the break now. Engels managed to get back on and is up with Garate.

15:51 CEST   
The riders in the bunch take off their bests again as they are just about to hit the climb too. The fans have been busy in the lead up to today's stage and have painted names almost all the way up these climbs.

15:53 CEST   
It really is beautiful up here with the rocky peaks and snow covered mountains. We also have some blue sky today which is a nice change.

15:54 CEST   
Baliani is still on the front with a pretty good rhythm. They all get out of the saddle now though over a steep section. Behind him are two Lampre riders and his Panaria teammate Jimenez.

15:56 CEST   
They take a wide bend around a mountain lake and then turn left around a steep haripin. Baliani has the break working hard and they are all strung out.

Back in the field the CSC riders still lead. Riders are continually falling off the back with the steady pace of CSC being that little bit too fast.

15:59 CEST   
A small group has been dropped from the break. Bettini is in that group. They are 1'14" down on the break now with the peloton another 5 minutes back.

16:02 CEST   
13 riders left in the front grou with Baliani still leading the way. It's getting steep right now and they are passing a snowy patch on the side of the road. At the top a huge crowd lines the road just above the treeline.

16:07 CEST   
Illiano who was dropped earlier has almost been caught by the peloton.

Di Luca is sitting on the back of the break at the moment. Voigt is in third wheel behind a Lampre rider.

Michael Blaudzun leads the peloton followed by two other CSC riders, with Basso and Sastre behind them. Sastre would be saving his energy to help Basso on the final climb.

16:07 CEST   
Illiano has just been caught by the field. He started the break at the beginning of the day.

16:09 CEST   
Ludewig from T-Mobile is back at his team car getting a jacket and some bottles. Meanwhile the break is at 3km to the top of the climb and it's getting steep.

16:11 CEST    159km/65km to go
65 km remaining in the stage now. When they reach the top of this climb they gradually descend all the way to the 206km mark before starting the final climb of the day.

Matt White is working hard in the peloton. His heartrate is 197, almost at his max. Not nice.

16:12 CEST   
The devil is running alongside the peloton now and he runs past a beatiful white angel on the side of the road.

16:14 CEST   
The two Panaria riders are on the front of the break with Voigt sitting just behind. They have 3'13" on the Bettini, Julich group at this point. Jiminez is at 88% of his max with a heartrate of 168.

16:17 CEST   
Di Luca is calling for his team car. Probably to get his jacket as they are reaching the top pretty soon. It's all open terrain up here above the treeline and probably a bit windy. One crazy man is on his bike on the side of the road with no shirt and. a horses head mask on his head. This race does attract all types.

16:19 CEST    161.5km/62.5km to go
Baliani is still on the front driving this. He gets the points over the top and takes the lead in the mountains classification. Garate goes over in second place. Now they have to put on their vests again for the descent. It's cold up here and there's still a lot of snow on the ground.

16:21 CEST   
They start the descent with the peloton still climbing. A Saunier Duval rider leads the peloton for this final part of the climb, with CSC behind him.

16:22 CEST   
Illiano has still managed to hang on to the peloton after being in the break all day. Ruben Lobato Elvira from Saunier Duval is really pushing the pace on the climb now.

16:26 CEST   
A joker with his horn runs alongside Elvira honking his horn. Elvira doesn't pay any attention. He riders through the GPM banner and puts on his jacket. As they go through the time gap reads 6'47". Daniel Navarro Garcia (Liberty Seguros) has a problem with his bike. It looks like his jacket got caught in his wheel. He stops to untangle it.

16:30 CEST   
The bunch descends through the town of Arabba. The residents have put a big sign on the sign of the hill to welcome the Giro to their town. Another nice descent here with nice smooth wide roads that wind past Alpine hotels and villages. Now the road lines a beautiful creek and you can hear the running water as you go past.

16:32 CEST   
The road flattens out for a bit soon before descending the rest of the way to Cencenighe Agordino. Bettini's group is still ahead of the peloton and seem to be enjoying the descent, taking it pretty easy.

16:35 CEST   
At the top of San Pelligrino the spectators look a bit cold. A lot of them have ridden up the hill and now sit on the side of the hill with thermal jackets on. Some kids hold up a sign for Basso. It's a pretty cool sight.

16:38 CEST   
The Bettini group is just about to get caught by the peloton.

Up in the break Di Luca is back at his car talking with the DS. It's pretty flat for them right now, but they will come up to the next part of the descent soon.

16:40 CEST   
They are now caught as Elvira leads the bunch past them. Before the start of the stage the Saunier Duval team was interviewed and they said they didn't want to wait until the last climb to attack, but it seems they have waited because this break has been up the road. They now have three riders at the front of the peloton setting the pace.

16:42 CEST   
One of the Lampre riders from the break. It looks like Vila, has stopped for a wheel change. It was a pretty quick change but now he has his hand up again. Something else is wrong. The mechanic leans out the window to fix his break that must have been rubbing. He's off again now chasing the break.

16:44 CEST   
No, he's back at the car again. Something is wrong with his radio now. The mechanic leans out the window and it looks like he's reconnecting the radio to the earpiece.

16:45 CEST   
Saunier Duval has really put on the pace now. They are traveling at 57km/h along this flat section. The CSC guys are sitting in behind them enjoying not having to be on the front for a change.

16:49 CEST   
The riders have been going now for just over six hours now. One of the CSC riders just had a problem with his bike and Basso nearly ran into his back wheel. As he went past he put a hand on his teammates back to help him along.

16:51 CEST    189km/35km to go
Now they are on the second section of the descent. When they get to the bottom of this one they start the final climb of the day. The break still has a six minute buffer on the peloton.

16:53 CEST   
Passo di San Pelligrino is 18km long with an average grade of 6.2%. The final six kilometers is the steepest with an average of 9% and a max of 15%.

16:55 CEST   
Jiminez has a heartrate of 122 down this descent. That is 63% of his max. The view they have is amazing if they happen to look off to their left. There is a beautiful mountain lake alongside the road with more mountain peaks in the background.

16:59 CEST    194km/30km to go
Di Luca is back at this team car yet again. He'd be figuring out his plan for the mountain. 30km to go now and 12km until the start of San Pellegrino.

17:01 CEST   
The three Panaria riders are doing a lot of work on the front as are the Lampre guys. Meanwhile Saunier Duval is hammering down the descent. One of them is going so fast he's dropping his teammates. Perez Cuapio has just crashed on the hairpin. He's up again now though and has to chase back on.

17:02 CEST    197km/27km to go
They are going past the town of Alleghe now which is a gorgeous town on the alpine lake. Daniel Navarro Garcia has fallen off his bike again. He looked like he was pushing it too hard to chase back on.

17:04 CEST    199km/25km to go
The peloton goes under the 30km to go banner now. The time gap is 5'38. At the same time the lead group goes under the 25km banner so they are 7km to the base of the climb.

17:09 CEST   
Saunier Duval still has three riders on the front hammering away.
Woah, almost a disaster in the bunch now as a soigneur from one of the teams tries to feed from the middle of the road. Not only did he nearly get run over but he nearly caused a huge crash. Everyone stayed up though so it's all ok.

17:11 CEST    204km/20km to go
20km to go now as the break rides closer to the bottom of the climb. The peloton is still 5km behind them and have just gone under the 25km to go banner. Saunier Duval is chasing hard. They did leave it quite late to start chasing this if they want to win the stage. It's a long steep climb but there are some good climbers in the break.

17:13 CEST    206km/18km to go
The break is now in the town of Cencenighe Agordino which marks the end of any downhill they have today. It's pretty much all uphill from here.

17:14 CEST   
Jan Ullrich is at the back of the peloton stretching his back. Saunier Duval still man the front trying to bring back as much time as they can by the bottom of the mountain. Bettini looks pretty relaxed and is chatting away to Moletta from Gerolsteiner.

17:16 CEST   
20km to go for the peloton. Ullrich is getting further and further back. Rumour has it that he won't finish this stage. He's back at his team car chatting to Rudy Pevenage.

The gap is 5'36" as the break starts to climb.

17:18 CEST   
The riders in the break are still swapping off turns on the front. A couple of them look to be suffering at the back though. Bettini sits up and drops himself from the peloton. Time for him to take it easy for the day.

17:19 CEST   
Garate's face is a picture of concentration. He wants to win this one and now its crunch time. He leads the break right now and a Panaria rider rolls through to do a turn. It's not all that steep yet.

17:22 CEST    209km/15km to go
Jens Voigt his on the back of the group as they go under the 15km to go banner. Now its looks a little steeper. Guido Trentin is on the front of the peloton setting the pace. The climbers have all moved up close to the front now. Simoni is up there next to Gutierrez. They are just behind Basso and the rest of the CSC guys.

The gap is coming down a little. It's 5'10" now.

17:25 CEST   
Baliani is back on the front of the break. He looks back to see how the others are feeling. His teammate Cuapio, back in the peloton, who crashed twice on the descent now gets a new bike for the climb.

17:26 CEST   
Gianpaolo Caruso of Liberty Seguros, currently sitting in 13th place on gc, 18'49" behind Maglia Rosa Ivan Basso explained before the start of Stage 19 that "This is not a great moment for our team; our sponsor Liberty Seguros has abandoned us, but we will hang tough and finish the Giro."

17:27 CEST   
Valjavec has attacked the break. He has a good gap and he looks back to check it out. He's out of the saddle getting on top of the gear. Not much reaction from the rest of the break.

17:28 CEST   
Voigt attacks now and catches the rest of the break by surprise. He has almost made it up to Valjavec.

17:30 CEST   
Now Parra goes and Vila goes with him. They are together now chasing Voigt and Valjavec.

17:31 CEST    214km/10km to go
Back in the field Belli is the first of the GC riders to get dropped. He was 6th on GC after yesterday's stage. Ten kilometers to go for the break.

17:32 CEST   
Valjavec and Voigt already have about 40 seconds to the rest of the break with Vila and Parra sitting in between. Di Luca has been dropped from the break.

17:33 CEST   
Piepoli and Cuapio have a gap on the peloton with CSC setting the pace in chase and they have caught them again now.

17:35 CEST   
Vila has dropped Parra up front and is closing the gap on Voigt and Valjavec.

The field is on a flatter section of the climb at the moment. Basso is right up on his teammate's wheel with Gutierrez sitting right behind him.

17:36 CEST   
Valjavec sets the pace up front with Voigt on his wheel. Garate has caught Parra and is passing him on his way to catch Vila.

17:38 CEST   
Valjavec is working hard up front. Garate has caught Vila and Vila grabs his wheel as he goes past. It's getting steeper here. Back in the field Piepoli leads with Simoni on his wheel. Cunego sits on Simoni's wheel with Gutierrez right there and Basso just behind. They go around a hairpin turn. It's totally strung out in the bunch and it's starting to split up.

17:39 CEST   
Garate caught the front pair and Valjavec attacks again. He's not going to make it easy for Garate.

Back in the field only about eight riders can stay on the wheel of Piepoli. He does it again for his team camptain.

17:40 CEST   
Voigt closes the gap to Valjevec and Garate attacks now. He is solo and gets out of the saddle to get his rhythm.

17:42 CEST   
Voigt chases and has dropped Valjavec. He has closed the gap to Garate. He's having an amazing ride. They go around yet another hairpin. Garate sets the pace again. He gets out of the saddle on this steep part. Voigt is still on his wheel.

17:43 CEST   
back in the peloton Piepoli still leads. Only Basso, Simoni, Gutierrez, Pena, Perez Cuapio, Caruso and Cunego remain up there. Behind Danielson is trying to get Savoldelli back up to the group.

17:44 CEST    219km/5km to go
5km to go now and the latest time gap is 3'50". This is going to be an amazing chase to the finish. Voigt hits the front. He is working hard and you can see the suffering but it has to be said that he is one of the toughest riders out there.

17:46 CEST   
Now Garate rolls through. He looks up to see where the next hairpin leads. It's steep here and you can see their legs crying out in pain. Simoni takes over at the front of the GC group and Pena gets dropped. Piepoli is still there and comes back to the front. For a moment he looked like he was getting dropped, but he is amazing.

17:46 CEST   

17:47 CEST   
Simoni comes though again. Basso is on his wheel. Gutierrez is suffering. Cunego has to go around him. They are going under the 5km banner. Only Basso remains on the wheel of Simoni now. Cunego tried to close the gap.

17:48 CEST    220km/4km to go
4km to the finish for the leaders. They are on the steepest part of the climb. That last kilometer seemed very long!!!

17:49 CEST   
Simoni is still pushing the pace with Basso on his wheel. Cunego can't quite get to them but he's out of the saddle giving it everything. Gutierrez is really siffering behind.

One spectator nearly knocked Cunego off his bike. It's just crazy up on these mountains.

17:49 CEST   
Gutierrez is really fighting. He is not losing that much. He still has them in sight but he just can't do anything more.

17:51 CEST   
Simoni and Basso are catching Baliani now and they ride straight past. Up front Garate and Voigt are still hammering away. Garate leads the way.

Ullrich has dropped out. Apparently he has back problems.

17:53 CEST   
The gap is 2'45". It's really steep now. Voigt still on Garate's wheel.

Behind Basso leads Simoni. Cunego still hasn't been able to get up to them but like Gutierrez, he can still see them.

17:54 CEST   
Simoni comes past Basso again. He is out of the saddle as they ride through a really thick crowd. It's amazing that they can even ride through this.

Up front Garate pushes the pace.

17:54 CEST   
Simoni and Basso reach the 3km to go sign. It doesn't look like they will catch them now.

17:55 CEST    222.5km/1.5km to go
Garate still leads and Voigt is still with him. Only 1500m to go.

17:56 CEST   
Voigt talks to his director in the radio.

Basso comes though and leads Simoni.

17:57 CEST    223km/1km to go
Garate and Voigt go under the 1km to go banner. They have made it. It's just a race between the two of them now.

17:58 CEST   
Voigt is pushing a big gear here, he rides alongside Garate. Garate gets out of the saddle, 600m to go.

18:00 CEST   
The crowd is amazing up here. Cunego still chases Basso and Simoni solo.

Garate still leads up front. 400m to go after 224 km of racing. Garate goes ahead. Voigt doesn't contest the sprint. Garate takes the win and rides across the road and points back at Voigt thanking him.

18:01 CEST   
Vila rides solo to take third place.

18:03 CEST   
Vila finishes 1'26" down on the lead pair. Simoni and Basso go past some more of the original break members as they reach the 300, to go mark.

Selle and Parra cross the line together just before Simoni and Basso comes through. Gutierrez catches Cunego on the line. He only lost 25" to Simoni.

18:06 CEST   
The rest of the break and peloton come through in dribs and drabs.

Thanks for tuning in to stage 19. We'll be back tomorrow for the penultimate stage and yet another day in the mountains.


1 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Quick Step-Innergetic                       7.13.36
2 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                               0.04
3 Francisco J. Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Fondital                      1.21
4 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Lampre-Fondital                                    1.55
5 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare                          2.06
6 Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Col) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone         
7 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                              2.15
8 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            
9 Johann Tschopp (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                         
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                          
11 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                2.38
12 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 

General classification after stage 19

1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                           70.46.38
2 José E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                 6.07      
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                             10.34
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team              12.59 
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                   15.13 
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                       15.26
7 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux                                   16.07
8 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Quick Step-Innergetic                         16.40
9 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni             17.23
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas                                         18.31

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