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90th Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 12-June 3, 2007

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Stage 17 - Wednesday, May 30: Lienz (Austria) - Monte Zoncolan, 142 km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 13:40 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:50 CEST

13:41 CEST   
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews live coverage for the mother of all stages for this 2007 Giro d'Italia. Today the riders are going to hit a wall that goes by the name of the Monte Zoncolan. It is a 10.1-kilometre beast, averaging 11.9% gradient and with a maximum of 22%, coming at the end of a 142-kilometre stage.

13:42 CEST    25km/117km to go
We already have an escape for the day, it numbers around 10 and went at kilometre 15. We will bring you the names very soon.

13:49 CEST    30km/112km to go
142 riders rolled out this morning, without Aketza Peña (Euskaltel-Euskadi), at 13.05.

At kilometre 15 Eric Berthou (Caisse d'Epargne), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Predictor-Lotto) and Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems) opened up the attacks. They were pulled back at km 22 but that did not stop another move from quickly following. 12 moved free and now have 1'00" at kilometre 30.

13:52 CEST    33km/109km to go
We are leaving Austria and entering Bella Italia!

13:54 CEST   
The gruppetto, with Bettini, has 2'00". Di Luca has just caught back on after stopping for a 'pee-pee.' He passes into Italy now.

14:02 CEST   
The riders confirmed in the escape are
Paolo Bettini (Quickstep-Innergetic)
Addy Engels (Quickstep-Innergetic)
Mauro Facci (Quickstep-Innergetic)
Massimo Codol (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
Carl Naibo (Ag2r Prévoyance)
Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom)
Jussi Veikkanen (Française Des Jeux)
Dario Cioni (Predictor-Lotto)
Mario Aerts (Predictor-Lotto)
Mauricio Ardila Cano (Rabobank)

We are missing two riders of the 12 and we will work to get you their names.

14:08 CEST    36km/106km to go
We are about ready to enter San Candido, where the race will change from its west direction and head south. The gap is now at 2'52" to the peloton being lead by Saunier and Liquigas.

Simoni wins on Zoncolan in 2003
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

14:12 CEST   
This is a a short, sharp stage from Austria back to Italy that finishes atop the fearsome Monte Zoncolan, called the hardest climb in Europe by RAI-TV's Davide Cassani. After a few early climbs where an early break may surely go, the final ascent of Zoncolan is truly terrible. Only 10.1 kilometres long, Zoncolan gains 1203 metres for an average grade of 11.9% with the steepest pitches going straight up at over 20%.

Simoni won on Zoncolan in 2003 wearing the Maglia Rosa ahead of Stefano Garzelli, but on the easier east side. The Ovaro side is like a wall for the central portion from -8 to -2 kilometres. Simoni, the tough Trentino mountain man will try to do it again atop Zoncolan with the help of his Saunier Duval teammates Piepoli and Riccò, but Di Luca will be right there, as will Best Young Rider Andy Schleck. Currently second on GC, Astana's Eddy Mazzoleni will be the rider under the most pressure on stage 17, as he could lose enough time to Schleck and Simoni to slip to fourth on GC, or further down if he has bad legs on the terrifying steep slopes of Monte Zoncolan.

We saw Simoni and Di Luca chatting at the start this morning. They were sitting side-by-side on a bench discussing gear ratios.

14:25 CEST   
We are lucky today, the skies have cleared. The last two days have been terrible and had the bad weather continued it would had been difficult for the riders to climb the stiff gradients of Lo Zoncolan.

The fans are already on this climb, which is dotted with TV screens. There are no cars allowed, this means the teams will be using motorbikes! The organizers feared a car stalling on the climb and blocking the road.

The road closure means we will park our Ferrari at the base of the climb, in Chialina, or maybe in Luincis... We need a spot where it won't get doored. We just had a fresh wax applied this morning, and, well, you know...

If you see men in green on the side of the road those special volunteer alpine army men (we think). We will try to get the exact name for these fellows who will help keep order in finale.

Kid White Lightning
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

14:34 CEST   
We have just received word on the other two forming the dirty dozen up the road. Italian Fortunato 'Lucky' Baliani (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) and Basque Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

If you have predictions or thoughts on today's stage, then send them to our email below.

Do you think that Simoni can crack Di Luca today? Can Eddy Mazzo hold on to his second spot, with White Lightning Schleck and Gibo breathing (heavily) down his neck? Can the White Lightning hold of a raging Riccò, who is oh-so close in the Maglia Bianca battle? Finally, will there be time for a gelato stop today?

14:43 CEST    59km/83km to go
The dozen riders have 5'08" in hand. They have just gone over the top of the Passo di Monte Croce di Comelico, 1636m, with 5'02".

From here it is a downhill run to S. Stefano di Cadore, km 77. After that the Giro del Tunnel begins and the run up the unclassified Valico Cima Sappada, km 92.8.

14:50 CEST   
Roberto wrote in to answer our question, "Yes, they are called 'gli alpini' (the Alps men). Truly a tradition in Northern Italy."

Thanks to Gli Alpini for helping 'i ciclisti' today!

14:54 CEST    71km/71km to go
Bettini goes like two men. He seems to be as attacking as the whole Tinkoff team put together. Oleg Tinkov must be wondering why none of his boys are in this move of 12, now at 4'45". Brutt? Totò? Misha?

Here is an update on our DNS and DNFs
DNS Stage 1: Carlos Da Cruz (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 2: Michael Barry (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 3: Adam Hansen (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 3: Andrea Tonti (Quickstep-Innergetic)
DNF Stage 3: Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner)
DNF Stage 3: Graeme Brown (Rabobank)
DNF Stage 4: Ian McLeod (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 5: Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNS Stage 6: Thomas Ziegler (T-Mobile)
DNS Stage 6: Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole)
DNF Stage 6: Leon Van Bon (Rabobank)
DNF Stage 7: Timothy Gudsell (Française Des Jeux)
DNS Stage 8: Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom)
DNF Stage 8: Cyrille Monnerais (Française Des Jeux)
DNF Stage 8: Michael Blaudzun (Team CSC)
DNS Stage 10: Alberto Ongarato (Milram)
DNF Stage 10: Gregory Henderson (T-Mobile)
DNF Stage 10: Juan José Haedo (Team CSC)
DNF Stage 10: José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNF Stage 10: Alexei Markov (Caisse d'Epargne)
DNF Stage 10: Paride Grillo (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare)
DNF Stage 10: Sergio Ghisalberti (Milram)
DNF Stage 10: Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom)
DNF Stage 10: Yohann Gène (Bouygues Telecom)
DNS Stage 11: Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
DNS Stage 12: George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)
DNS Stage 12: Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto)
DNS Stage 12: Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner)
DNS Stage 12: Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
DNF Stage 12: Simone Masciarelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
DNF Stage 12: Gabriele Balducci (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
DNF Stage 12: Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital)
DNF Stage 12: Tim Klinger (Gerolsteiner)
DNF Stage 12: Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole)
DNF Stage 12: Dionisio Galparsoro (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
DNF Stage 12: Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC)
DNF Stage 12: Alexandr Kolobnev (Team CSC)
DNS Stage 13: Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)
DNS Stage 14: Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
DNF Stage 14: Brian Vandborg (Discovery Channel)
DNF Stage 14: Fabio Sabatini (Milram)
DNF Stage 14: Jurgen Van de Walle (Quickstep-Innergetic)
DNF Stage 14: Oliver Zaugg (Gerolsteiner)
DNF Stage 14: Alexandr Arekeev (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
DNF Stage 14: Francesco Bellotti (Crédit Agricole)
DNF Stage 14: Mathieu Heijboer (Cofidis)
DNF Stage 14: Steve Zampieri (Cofidis)
DNF Stage 14: Max Van Heeswijk (Rabobank)
DNF Stage 14: Joseba Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
DNS Stage 15: Wim Van Huffel (Predictor-Lotto)
DNF Stage 15: Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
DNF Stage 15: Serguei Yakovlev (Astana)
DNF Stage 15: Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
DNS Stage 17: Aketza Peña (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

15:14 CEST    83km/59km to go
We are now 83 kilometres into affairs. The group of 12, with World Champion Bettini, is going up the unclassified Valico Cima Sappada, which tops out at 92.8km. The group has 4'55" and after 2 hours of racing the pace is at 42.5, a lot faster than yesterday's tourist pace.

15:22 CEST    92km/50km to go
Quickstep has pulled a number today, with three men in this lead gruppo. They are joined by Massimo and Lucky, who represent teams Acqua and Panaria, the only two non-ProTour teams who are in this move.

Massimo comes from Lecco but spends his time in Tuscany training. The Lecchese started his career with Mapei in 1998 and then had his best year to date in 2000 with Lampre, where he won the Japan Cup and a stage in the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco. After racing for two years (2004-2005) in the services of Alessandro Petacchi at Fassa Bortolo, Codol signed with Tenax-Salmilano in 2006 and Acqua e Sapone in 2007.

Entering into the town of Sappada, the gap is now 4'50". The riders are gearing up for the sprint.

15:24 CEST   
Bettini takes the Garibaldi Sprint in Sappada over Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom) and Massimo Codol (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo).

15:35 CEST    97km/45km to go
Today could be the day for Gibo to follow up on the successes of teammate Leo Piepoli, in Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia, and Riccò, on Tre Cime. Gibo, twice Giro Champion, will call on his men to drive the pace over the Tualis and down to the foot of the Zoncolan. This manoeuvre should put Di Luca into the red before the base of the climb and drop any of Liquigas helpers. Simoni then has to open up his can of pain at the foot of Zoncolan to ensure a proper time gap by the top. Once at the top, he can celebrate with 'gli alpini.'

The gap is now 5'28" as the race enters into the province of Udine.

15:39 CEST   
Saunier and Liquigas are driving hard. 'Litu' Gómez is up at front for Gibo's Saunier, he is getting help from Gorazd Stangelj (Lampre-Fondital).

15:41 CEST    107km/35km to go
15 men are in single file on the front of this Gruppo Maglia Rosa. The gap is 4'45". The front 12 will start the climb of Tualis soon.

15:43 CEST    112km/30km to go
Zabriskie re-enters the group after a small mechanical.

The front men have started the Tualis.

15:46 CEST    112km/30km to go
Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas), the only Friulano in this race, leads the peloton at -30km. He is followed by a long line of yellow Saunier men.

15:47 CEST   
The Gruppo Maglia Rosa starts the Tualis. Parra has a mechanical and his teammate stops to give him his wheel.

Meanwhile, Codol leads the 12 on the climb.

15:48 CEST    115km/27km to go
We have word that it was Mickaël Buffaz (Cofidis) who had a mechanical. So, Colombian Parra is still up at the front of affairs.

15:50 CEST   
Mad Max Codol has his game face on. He keeps driving.

Hubert Dupont (Ag2r Prévoyance) has a rear wheel flat. Also Loyd Mondory (Ag2r Prévoyance)... That was a twofer for Ag2r!

15:52 CEST   
Alessandro Spezialetti (Liquigas) drives the pace. He is joined by teammate, Grandpa Noè. Di Luca is tucked in about fourth wheel.

Parra did have a mechanical. He is now moving back up towards the front.

Dario Cioni leads towards the top of the GPM of Tualis. Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Carl Naibo (Ag2r Prévoyance) are dropped off the move.

15:52 CEST   
Lucky Baliani blasts!

15:55 CEST    116.1km/25.9km to go
Baliani took the GPM of Tualis over Cioni and Codol.

Mayo with your Saunier, Lettuce and Cheese? "yes!" Iban Mayo is about sixth wheel behind the green Liquigas lettuce men.

15:58 CEST   
The gap is 4'30" at the top of Tualis.

"The people see us suffer and thus they love the sport of cycling. This helps lift the sport over the problems [like Basso and Puerto]," said Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) after his win.

15:59 CEST   
Cioni and Baliani blast off. Cioni led the attack and Lucky follows. They have a gap of some 10".

16:02 CEST    118km/24km to go
Codol joins the Cioni and Baliani shuffle.

16:04 CEST    122km/20km to go
The trio is flying down this descent towards the base of the Zoncolan. They will need a very, very big gap to hold this to the top of the 10.1-kilometre climb. Cioni has climbing prowess but it would be a big task. With a 7" gap, they are on a De Rosa, Ridley and Colnago.

Liquigas leads the chase.

16:07 CEST   
Dario Cioni (Predictor-Lotto), Fortunato Baliani (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) and Massimo Codol (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) have about seven seconds over
Paolo Bettini (Quickstep-Innergetic), Addy Engels (Quickstep-Innergetic), Mauro Facci (Quickstep-Innergetic), Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom), Jussi Veikkanen (Française Des Jeux), Mario Aerts (Predictor-Lotto), Mauricio Ardila Cano (Rabobank).

Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Carl Naibo (Ag2r Prévoyance) are 33" back from the front two and the Gruppo Maglia Rosa is at 4'22"

16:08 CEST    128km/14km to go
The Zoncolan will start soon. Schleck is moving up the front of the Di Luca gruppo.

16:11 CEST   
We are about ready to start the Zoncolan. This is the big one!

16:12 CEST   
These boys are flying! They are about 40 minutes ahead of schedule.

16:16 CEST    132km/10km to go
This is like Apocalypse Now where Captain Willard reaches the top of the Nung River. We are in Ovaro at -10km and the tifosi are surrounding these roads that will hit 11% at any moment. The horror, the horror! The front three of Codol, Cioni and Baliani start their way to the top.

16:19 CEST   
All cars are being stopped here at the base, including our Ferrari. Liquigas has four men on the front for Di Luca at the base of this monster of rock climb.

The front gruppo has come back together. Codol, Lucky and Cioni are back with their 'buddies.'

16:20 CEST   
Mayo moves to the front. He sets the pace for Simoni.

16:22 CEST   
Bettini goes out the back door.

Cioni seems top be working for Mario Aerts. Remember he is a past winner of Flèche Wallonne.

16:22 CEST   
Mayo lifts the pace another notch.

16:23 CEST    134km/8km to go
It is Mayo, a Liquigas and then 2 Astanas.

16:23 CEST   
They caught Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and are 3'20" back at -8km.

16:24 CEST   
With -7km it will get vertical. Here we go.

16:25 CEST   
Gibo is talking with Leo, they are working on a plan.

16:25 CEST   
Cioni goes solo in the -7km section.

Di Luca sits second wheel in the main gruppo.

16:26 CEST   
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) is keeping the pace. Gibo looks ready to go! He moves to the front.

16:27 CEST    135km/7km to go
Gibo forces the pace at -7km.

16:27 CEST   
It is Gibo, Di Luca, Cunego, Riccò, Schleck, Piepoli...

16:27 CEST   
Gibo has to do it here if he can win the Giro. Di Luca is in and out of his saddle.

16:28 CEST   
Gibo looks over his right to Di Luca. Cunego almost loses his balance.

16:28 CEST   
Garzelli and Mazzoleni are dropped and chasing the GC men.

16:29 CEST   
Gibo, Di Luca, Cunego, Leo, Schleck. Riccò is in difficulty and out the back door.

16:29 CEST    136.2km/5.8km to go
Mazzo digs to get away from Garzelli and co. and rejoin the front GC men. He is in danger of losing his GC spot.

16:30 CEST   
Gibo continues to lead here. Di Luca hangs tough though a right-hand switch-back.

16:31 CEST   
Gibo drops The Killer! Leo Piepoli sits on Di Luca's wheel.

16:32 CEST   
Cunego moves to the front and Piepoli follows. They are at -6km. While the leaders are at -5km.

16:32 CEST   
Gibo has about five metres. He passes Yoann Le Boulanger (Bouygues Telecom). Cunego leads the chase.

16:34 CEST   
Di Luca looks in difficulty and he is gapped slightly. Gibo catches Mauricio Ardila Cano (Rabobank).

16:35 CEST   
Schleck is looking good. He gets a push from a fan and then the fan is stopped by the local mountain police.

16:36 CEST    137km/5km to go
Di Luca is trying to keep his cool to keep his GC lead. Cioni is still up front, going solo. He is NOW at -5km.

16:36 CEST   
Simoni catches Mauro Facci (Quickstep-Innergetic). Codol will be next. Schleck and Piepoli follow. Then Cunego and then Di Luca further back.

16:37 CEST   
Gibo passes -5km with 1'39" behind Cioni.

16:41 CEST   
Gibo, Schleck and Piepoli, now together, catch Baliani. Di Luca is suffering!

16:43 CEST   
Bettini is now caught. We forgot about the World Champ! Di Luca is trying hard to re-join Kid Cunego.

Up front Leo Piepoli is driving the pace. They are 45" behind a dying Cioni.
Cunego is at 1'05"
Di Luca is at 1'12"

16:44 CEST   
Maglia Rosa Di Luca gets Lucky. He catches Baliani.

16:45 CEST    138km/4km to go
There is a car. Piepoli, Schleck and Gibo are being followed by a Mavic support car.

Cioni is now with Codol.

16:47 CEST    139km/3km to go
Max Codol moves off the front, solo, with -3k. This is unbelievable! The former lead-out man of Petacchi is now leading out this climb.

Di Luca has caught Cunego.

16:47 CEST   
There is a 13.6% section coming up. Codol only has 25" on the chasers.

16:48 CEST   
Cunego and Di Luca are only 20" back from the Simoni gruppo. Simoni will have to do something more to move up the GC.

16:49 CEST   
The gradients are serious here! The Mavic car pulls over. Cioni is dying 1000 deaths. Codol keeps pumping.

16:50 CEST   
Green Machine Piepoli has Codol in his view. Codol will soon be finished off and we will see one of the GC-favourites vie for victory of the stage.

Di Luca keeps a metre behind Kid Cunego.

16:51 CEST    140km/2km to go
Gibo is out of the saddle, on White Lightning Schleck's wheel. They pass the -2km sign and pass Codol.

16:53 CEST   
Green, White and Yellow... Piepoli, Schleck and Simoni lead the race. Codol is holding but he will be jettisoned at any moment.

16:53 CEST   
14" is the gap to Di Luca and Cunego.

16:54 CEST    140.9km/1.1km to go
The front three pass the -1100m sign. Leo still drives the pace.

16:54 CEST   
Schleck is on an amazing ride.

Cunego and Di Luca pass Codol under the 1km banner. They start the tunnel.

16:56 CEST   
Piepoli is a super-domestique. He keeps driving and driving this pace. This climb is so stiff but he does not pull off. He is doing all he can for his teammate. Amazing.

16:56 CEST    141.8km/0.2km to go
Gibo and Leo will try to bury Andy here in the final metres.

16:56 CEST   
Leo fires. Gibo joins at 3:51 of racing.

16:56 CEST   
Gibo tries for a bis.

16:57 CEST   
Gibo moves forward at 25m and then gets the win. Schleck follows. Di Luca escaped Cunego and gets fourth.

16:58 CEST   
Two times up Zoncolan and two times won by Gibo! Simoni won't win the Giro this year but he takes the Zoncolan, an amazing climb. Bravo Gibo.

17:00 CEST   
Riccò and then Bettini come in.

17:05 CEST   
Piepoli went at 200m and then Simoni caught on at 125m. Gibo led though the final bends and over the line. Afterwards the two grabbed hands in celebration. With his actions, Gibo moved up into third overall, behind Schleck, now in second overall. Bravo Andy! Bravo Gibo!

Thanks for joining Cyclingnews today on this amazing ride of Monte Zoncolan. Please see our report page for a full stage review.

Provisional Results

1 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
2 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
3 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
4 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Massimo Codol (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo
7 Julio Pérez (Mex) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
8 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
General classification after stage 17
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir

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