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Photo ©: Bettini

91st Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008

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Stage 19 - Friday, May 30: Legnano - Presolana/Monte Pora, 238km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

13:23 CEST   
Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews live coverage of the Giro d'Italia. After a rest day and two very short stages, today the riders face not only a very long stage at 228km, but it is also very, very hilly. The Vivione and the Presolana come after 150km, before the mountain top finish on the Monte Pora. This will be a big chance for those who still are thinking about unseating Contador, who leads Ricc˛ with 41 seconds and Simoni with 1'21.

13:32 CEST    116km/112km to go
Currently, we have a group of seven riders on the front. And we mean really on the front, as their lead is close to 20 minutes! The group contains Steven Cummings (Barloworld), Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Team High Road), Mauro Facci (Quick Step), Gabriele Missaglia (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Nicki S°rensen (Team CSC) and Vasili Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems

13:34 CEST   
The riders gathered in Legnano very early today, as the start for this long stage was at 10:46. Julian Dean, however, decided to sleep in and figured that without any more sprint finishes, there was no point in killing himself. It was very sunny at the start and Ricc˛ was looking to the sky and "hoping that it stays this way." However, looking at the finish area right now, there are a lot of umbrellas. That does not look pleasant for the riders.

13:38 CEST   
The break is entering the Provincia Di Brescia and is extending its lead. Despite the peloton strung out, the gap has gone up to 21 minutes. Kanstantsin Siutsou is not particularly a weak climber, so it'll be interesting to see if the GC contenders are busy enough to watch each other that the break can stay away. This has happened in the last mountain stages, where Sella was let go to secure the green climber's jersey.

13:40 CEST    120km/118km to go
Kiryienka is wearing a black vest, but no arm warmers. Siutsou opted for a white vest, matching his team's colours. It was dry until now, but now the sky's have opened up and it is coming down like there is no tomorrow!

Andy Hampsten knows a thing or two about bad weather. Today's rain is tough but nothing against the snow in 1988
Photo ę: Darcy Kiefel
(Click for larger image)

13:47 CEST   
The peloton is riding a long at a lacklustre pace. Who could blame them with the rain. Absolutely miserable conditions right now, as they are still in the flatlands. Once they start climbing, they will get warm, only to start freezing at the downhills. But why should they complain? Have they talked to Andy Hampsten yet? The US American won the Giro d'Italia in 1988 by surviving the Gavia in a heck of a snow storm. Bob Roll called the chapter in his book "The Day the Big Men Cried."

13:51 CEST    138km/100km to go
The pace today is unbelievable. Things started out 50km/h, like it is some kind of downtown crit. They haven't slowed much yet and after three hours of racing the average is 46km/h!

If they continue like that they all will fall off their bikes totally exhausted by the time they hit the slopes. Or maybe not.

13:58 CEST    143km/95km to go
The gap has extended to 22 minutes, as the break continues its way in Brescia. Soon they will reach the Capo di Ponte, which marks the beginning of the gradual climbing until the real slopes are hit.

14:06 CEST    147km/91km to go
Correction of the formation of the break. In the group of seven there are Giairo Ermeti (LPR Brakes) and Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step), but no Facci, who had initiated an early attempt, but was caught again. Efimkin in fact took the Expo 2015 sprint in Darfo-Boario Terme, after 120km. He was ahead of Kiryienka and Sioutsu.

14:12 CEST   
The peloton finally has enough and starts eating into the advantage. It has come down to 20'40. One of the riders in the peloton is Paolo Savoldelli. He said before the start that "there will be attacks today. Some teams will be trying to make a difference." He specifically pointed to Astana, but of course with having the lead the team of Contador, Leipheimer and Kl÷den are not the ones who need to attack.

Savoldelli added that "I will give my maximum for Danilo," and indicating that his LPR Brakes captain still has a shot at overall victory.

14:19 CEST   
The best placed rider in the break is Danish rider Nicki S°rensen (CSC). With his gap of 33'25, he is very far away from the maglia rosa, even with the lead in the 20-minute range.

The others are:
Kanstantsin Siutsou (Team High Road) at 37.45
Vasili Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems) at 45.30
Gabriele Missaglia (Serramenti PVC) at 1.34.18
Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step) at 1.44.28
Giairo Ermeti (LPR Brakes) at 1.52.11
Steven Cummings (Barloworld) at 2.25.57

14:24 CEST    152km/86km to go
The gap is currently holding at just under 21 minutes, with the rain still coming down and the vests not proving to be too effective. Most riders have opted to put on a full fledged rain jacket.

14:27 CEST   
The high pace means that we are far ahead of the fastest schedule. Paisco should have been passed at 15:02 local time. The break just went through, more than half an hour ahead of time.
We hope that the finish is all set up, otherwise there may be some surprises. In one of the stages last week they were still busy painting the road at the finish with the peloton just half an hour away.

Paisco will mark a slowing in the pace, though. It is at 860m and indicates the beginning of even more climbing, when they hit the road up to Passo del Vivione, which is at 1828m.

14:33 CEST   
Raffaele tells us that "Missaglia rides very, very near the town he lives, Inzago, between Milan and Bergamo today."

No wonder he is in the break. But Raffaele predicts that "However, today we will see Gilberto Simoni lonely in the rain on the finish line."

Simoni or not, one thing is for sure - there will be rain at the finish line!

14:33 CEST   
Who will support Saunier Duval's Riccardo Ricc˛ in the high mountains today and tomorrow? After losing his main mountain goat, Leonardo Piepoli, to a crash in the Dolomites, young Ricc˛ will have weakened support. Saunier DS Matteo Algeri showed a worried faced when asked who would be supporting his young charge. "David Ca˝ada," Algeri suggested to Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown. If Ricc˛ wants to displace Contador, who has support from Kl÷den and Leipheimer, he might need more support.

14:40 CEST   
Tour of Belgium: With the Giro in the mountains, the Tour of Belgium does the same. Only the hills are a little more humane. The Muur de Huy, which features in Flèche Wallone, is one of the worst.
A group of about 15, including Devolder, is currently in the lead, with 42km to go. The gap is 23 seconds.

14:45 CEST   
Jan from Belgium predicts that the Italians will attack today, but Contador will prevail.

This could certainly be true and one rider who confirmed the plan before the stage was Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes), who said "We hope to do something today," but admitted "it is a very tough stage."

Alberto Contador is quietly confident that he can hold on to his overall lead
Photo ę: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

14:49 CEST    158km/80km to go
The average after four hours is 41.7km/h. But the break is now in the tough first climb of the day and is battling the gradient and the weather.

The gap has gone under the 20-minute mark.

14:56 CEST   
One rider who has impressed in this Giro is Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre). He sits in fourth place, two minutes adrift from the lead. And he is a terrific time trialer, having won the stage 10 TT to Urbino. Contador is not particularly slow against the clock, but lost over two minutes in the final TT in the Tour de France last year and over a minute to Cadel Evans. To make up two minutes is a long shot, but you never know after a tiring three weeks!

14:58 CEST   
Missaglia was struggling a bit, but has now re-entered the group. The same cannot be said for Kiryienka, who also had trouble on the climb.

15:01 CEST   
Missaglia will be hoping to help his captain Simoni later, which is why he is trying to get a head start. But having problems already is not a good sign.
Missaglia said before the start: "We ride for Simoni. We still believe in this Giro. Simoni has great form. He has prepared very well for this race. Today and tomorrow will be decisive."

15:04 CEST   
Kiryienka is back in the front group and he may just have dropped back to the team car. He is not looking like someone in trouble. He still has his black vest on, but it's slightly dirty now. The gap is still at 20min.

Even though it is uphill, Siutsou is pushing along in his big ring.

15:09 CEST   
Daniele Pietropolli (LPR Brakes) and Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) attack the peloton! They want to eat into the gap of the front runners as soon as possible and may be afraid that it's already too late to contest for the stage win.
But the peloton quickly reeled them back in.

The mountains do not look inviting at all. It is raining hard and in fact all the riders in the break have their rain coats on now, even Kiryienka .

15:09 CEST   
The climb is very long - almost 20km. The average gradient is 6.9%, with a maximum of 13%

15:11 CEST   
Everybody is already talking about the downhill, said to be the most dangerous in this year's Giro. Add to that the rain and we just can hope that nobody will crash out of the race today.

Current race situation

  • Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step), Steven Cummings (Barloworld), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Team High Road), Gabriele Missaglia (Serramenti PVC), Nicki S°rensen (Team CSC), Giairo Ermeti (LPR Brakes) , Vasili Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
  • Peloton at 19.45

15:15 CEST   
The information we have right now is that the break is still seven kilometres from the top, so the pace is slower than initially was reported. This would put them currently at the 165km marker.

Steve Cummings (Barloworld) made the break today
Photo ę: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:16 CEST    166km/72km to go
In fact the group just passes the 14km marker. With the climb at 20km total, this now indicates six more km to go to the top, as Cummings is sitting at the back of the group.

15:23 CEST   
Sella, Colom and Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio attack the peloton! Sella is now a danger man, as he is only 4'25 back.

15:25 CEST   
The trio has gained 30 seconds in less than a kilometre! They have another eight km or so to get to the top.

15:28 CEST   
Tour of Belgium: From Peter C in Belgium: In The Tour of Belgium, they reached the finish line for the first time. Unfortunately for some of them, still one lap to go. Stijn Devolder and Greg Van Avermaet definitely the strongest men in the race. A chasing group with Hoste, Ivanov, Tankink and De Waele at 40 seconds.

Devolder and Van Avermaet look good. 11km to go.

Jens Voigt sure showed something yesterday. Can S°rensen equal his team-mate?
Photo ę: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

15:33 CEST    179km/59km to go
The front group is three km from the top.

Marco Postma from the Netherlands writes:
"Just came back from a CSC-employee week following the Giro and what happens? Jens Voigt wins a stage and Nicki Sorensen is in the break for today. Nicki Sorensen and Jens Voigt told us (on a meet and greet with the riders) that they wanted to show something in the last stages. Well, Jens did show something yesterday. The guys said they had a really good example with Jens in the team, Nicki sure shows it now."

So far, everyone in the break still looks decent, considering they have been riding in the rain for a while already. The climb isn't too hard with its seven-percent average, so we will have to wait for the Passo della Presolana to see who can make a difference.

15:37 CEST   
The visibility from the blimp is very much impeded. Even the RAI helicopters, with Gianni Bugno as the captain, cannot fly around right now.

The final climb is only 6.4km long and with an average of 6.7% and a max of 11%, it is not the most difficult. But it comes after more than 220km.

15:39 CEST    185km/53km to go
The break is already over the top now. The order is Kiryienka, ahead of Efimkin and Ermeti. They are now on the cold descent towards Schilpario.

15:41 CEST   
Three riders have lost contact. S°rensen is still with the three that took the mountain points, but Cummings, Missaglia and surprisingly Siutsou are chasing.

15:42 CEST   
In 2004, the race finished on the Presolana in a stage that started off with the Mortirolo.

Garzelli won that day ahead of Simoni, as the two were trying to blow the race open.

The road climb to Presolana started lower down in the valley to make a near-eight kilometre climb to 1300m; the riders climb the same side this year but start from a point higher up, a 4.75km climb.

15:44 CEST   
The group with Contador is now only 16 minutes behind. There is no info on the trio with Sella right now.

15:47 CEST   
The group with Cummings is trying to catch the front group, but it is very difficult. The treacherous descent means they have to be careful. The turns are extremely tight.

The gap has gone up to 1'12.

15:47 CEST   

Current race situation

  • Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step), Nicki S°rensen (Team CSC), Giairo Ermeti (LPR Brakes) and Vasili Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
  • Steven Cummings (Barloworld), Gabriele Missaglia (Serramenti PVC) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Team High Road) at 1.12
  • Emanuele Sella (CSF Group Navigare), Antonio Colom Mas (Astana) and Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (CSF Group Navigare) at 19.15
  • Peloton at 19.45

15:49 CEST   
Up north in the Bayern Rundfahrt (Tour of Bavaria), Gerald Ciolek has won the mass sprint of the third stage to take his second stage win and defend his leader's jersey.

In Belgium it was Greg van Avermaet who won the stage in a two up sprint against Stijn Devolder.

15:51 CEST    183km/45km to go
There are literally little streams running across the street. The front runners pass the 45km to sign. It will be 45 very wet kilometres.

But at least the group of seven is back together now.

15:54 CEST   
Efimkin has a very nice white vest. How did he do that? He exchanged his rain jacket for a nice, new, dry vest.

Contador is leading the peloton. He doesn't want to risk a crash and prefers to stay on the very front, even ahead of his team-mates.

15:56 CEST   
The group of Contador is down to 40 riders. They are currently almost 12km behind the break.

15:59 CEST    198km/40km to go
The break has entered the Provincia Di Bergamo, but the weather isn't any better. The autobus is currently almost 22 minutes behind.

Emanuele Sella tried again today, but his first attempt was quickly answered Photo ę: AFP
(Click for larger image)

16:01 CEST   
The Contador group is a quarter of an hour behind. It includes Sella, who, together with Colom and Cuapio, was already caught by the group on the climb up to the Vivione.

16:04 CEST   
The break passes Azzone. Only two more km of downhill before the climbing starts again.

16:06 CEST    202km/36km to go
Three riders have attacked the Contador group. It could be Di Luca and Savoldelli! They are with a Liquigas rider.

16:08 CEST   
It is indeed Savoldelli and Di Luca, who have some 20 seconds ahead of the others. The Liquigas rider could be Nibali, but he doesn't pull of course.

Astana is leading the chase, naturally. Ricc˛ sits close by at the front, too. Contador is the only one easy to spot, with his pink helmet.

16:11 CEST   
Van Den Broeck and Pellizotti are also there. VDB sits towards the end of the group. The attack has diminished the group a lot. Only a dozen riders left - and that's only the downhill!

Efimkin has attacked the front group.

16:13 CEST   
The gap is now at 30 seconds between the Di Luca and the Contador group.

Efimkin has a lead of 30 seconds over the others in the break.

16:14 CEST   
Savoldelli checks on Di Luca. The latter wears grey knee warmers.

16:18 CEST   
Menchov and Leipheimer are not in the front group. But Contador still has Kl÷den and Colom.

Efimkin is now joined by four others now.

One minute already for Di Luca! This could be his day!

16:20 CEST    208km/30km to go
Van Den Broeck is also in the group. The Di Luca group passes the 35km to go sign. They are 5km behind the front group.

16:25 CEST    211km/27km to go
Three riders are on the front: Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step), Steven Cummings (Barloworld), Nicki S°rensen (Team CSC). Kiryienka dropped back due to a technical problem.

The gap keeps increasing, it is now 1'25 between Di Luca and Contador, Savoldelli is doing all the lead work, while behind Colom and Kl÷den are pulling. Kl÷den still has his rain jacket on, while Colom is in short sleeves.

16:27 CEST   
For the moment it is not raining. This attack of Di Luca was amazing. LPR Brakes certainly didn't have any brakes on in the downhill.

16:28 CEST   
Simeoni cannot hold the pace! That is a surprise. He is some 50m behind, but has the help of Missaglia, who was asked to wait and has now dropped back to his captain.

16:31 CEST    213km/25km to go
The chasers enter Vilminore di Scalve. They go through an arc, as Di Luca gives encouragement to Savoldelli, who has to do all the work now. The Contador group passes the 30km to go sign.

16:32 CEST   
The gap between Di Luca and Contador has dipped below the one-minute mark, while Simoni is trying to get back to the group. He is still close.

16:34 CEST   
Ruslan Ivanov (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) is hanging on what looks like Denis Menchov. The Russian missed the move and is trying to get back up to the front. There is a CSF rider also hanging on. It is Domenico Pozzovivo

16:36 CEST    218km/20km to go
Kiryienka is back with the front after his mechanical.

16:36 CEST   

Current race situation

  • Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step), Steven Cummings (Barloworld), Nicki S°rensen (Team CSC) and Vasili Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
  • Giairo Ermeti (LPR Brakes) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Team High Road) at ?
  • Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes), Paolo Savoldelli (LPR Brakes) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) at 9'15
  • Alberto Contador Velasco (Astana), Antonio Colom Mas (Astana), Andreas Kl÷den (Astana), Emanuele Sella (CSF Group Navigare), Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Riccardo Ricc˛ (Saunier Duval - Scott), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Silence - Lotto) and Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) at 9.50

16:38 CEST   
Kl÷den has gotten rid of his jacket. But more bad news for the Astanas. LPR Brakes has now Ermeti to help with the lead work. He has waited for the group to come up.

16:39 CEST   
The Contador group has swelled up and is now 14 strong. The last gap was a little more than a minute, as they ride through Teveno.

16:43 CEST   
Pellizotti is in fourth wheel right now and takes a sip of his bottle. He can profit from the work by Astana, who cannot afford to let Di Luca go too far. The Italian is 2'18 behind on GC.

Kiryienka gets more assistance to his bike. He has had a lot of problems with his machine. The gets back to the front in time to eat something, before the hill starts. The Presolana climb is starting.

16:44 CEST    223km/15km to go
Savoldelli passes the house of his mom!!! There is a big banner out. But no time for him to stop for a chat. The LPR Brakes team is instead trying to win this year's Giro with an incredible attack.

16:46 CEST   
Simoni is in the front group with two team-mates. Menchov has caught up, too. All the favourites are still there.

16:48 CEST   
Kiryienka's problem seem to be fixed. He attacked the front group and leads up to the Presolana.

16:49 CEST   
Kiryienka still has some nine minutes over the Di Luca group. Efimkin is chasing behind, but is already 30 seconds behind.

16:52 CEST   
Kiryienka is 4.5km ahead, but currently going 15km/h. The riders behind are still on the flat parts and go 44km/h...

But that will change soon, as they hit the uphill, too.

Vola Falco! was the sign at Savoldelli mom's house. He has now done his job and can't help Di Luca anymore. Neither can Ermeti, so Di Luca, with Nibali on his wheel, has to do it himself. But the gap is 1'45!

16:54 CEST   
Di Luca is putting even more power on the pedals and now drops Nibali!

Kl÷den leads the chasers, with Sella and Pellizotti close by. 1'53 now!

16:56 CEST    225km/13km to go
One fan is trying to keep up with Kiryienka, but the Tinkoff rider is too fast.

Di Luca is out of the saddle and tries to increase his lead even more. He is looking good so far, but now has to do it all himself, while Contador has saved his energy so far.

16:58 CEST    227km/11km to go
Kiryienka crests the top of the Presolana. He has now a short descent before the final 6km climb to the finish at the Monte Pora.

Nibali is 100m behind Di Luca and tries to get back to him.

16:59 CEST   
Savoldelli is caught by the Contador group. The gap is still 1'50.

17:00 CEST   
Efimkin and Cummings pass the top. They have survived so far, but can they get to the finish before the chasers?

17:01 CEST   
Simoni is losing contact again. Cßrdenas drops back, too. The group is thinning again from its original 14.

Di Luca is one km from the top. The tifosi are going crazy!

17:04 CEST   
2'03! The gap has increased as the chasers go over the top. Kl÷den, Contador, Ricc˛, Sella, Pellizotti, Van Den Broeck, Bruseghin, Menchov. All the favourites are there.

17:06 CEST    231km/7km to go
Now Di Luca has 2'15, with Nibali trying to catch back up with is compatriot.

They are 6'50 behind Kiryienka, who looks to win the stage.

17:08 CEST    233km/5km to go
Di Luca has eight to go. He is 3km behind Kiryienka. Di Luca is so eager to start the final climb that in the left hand turn he almost crashes.

17:10 CEST   
There is no info what the gap of Kiryienka is on Efimkin and Cummings. But it looks as if the Tinkoff rider will prevail. The team car is with him, so the gap must be fairly big.

17:11 CEST   
Kl÷den leads the chasers through Bratto. They will now start the last climb and Ricc˛ takes off his vest and throws it away. That'll make a nice souvenir.

17:12 CEST   
Cßrdenas and Simoni are distanced. They will try to just limit the losses.

Sella takes off his vest too, but gives it to his team car. He drops all the way back to the end.

17:14 CEST    235km/3km to go
The gap is still 2'15, so Di Luca is only three seconds from taking the GC lead. What a ride! The Contador group passes the 6km to go sign.

17:14 CEST   
Di Luca is about 1km ahead. He passes the 5km to go sign.

17:15 CEST   
Contador has his shades on the back of his jersey. Kl÷den still does the lead work. Simoni is about a minute behind the Contador group.

17:15 CEST   
Attack by Contador!

17:16 CEST   
Now the Spaniard wants to get back the time. Ricc˛, Pellizotti, Menchov, VDB, Sella are there.

Bruseghin loses contact.

17:17 CEST   
Bruseghin is only 50m behind and he fights back.

But Sella is the next to go.

17:18 CEST   
Now VDB has a hard time with the pace. He is gapped by some 50m.

17:18 CEST    236km/2km to go
Pozzovivo is still there, too, for the CSF team.

Kiryienka is close to the finish.

17:19 CEST   
Ricc˛ goes! He gets a gap on the others.

17:19 CEST   
Sella counters, Contador tries to go with him.

17:20 CEST   
4km to go for Ricc˛. He gets the gap! Sella can't close it. Contador gets back to Sella.

17:21 CEST   
Pellizotti moves up. Ricc˛ has already 200m on the chasers. Pozzovivo and Menchov are now with Contador and Sella.

17:22 CEST    237km/1km to go
Kiryienka enters the last km! He will get a stage win and hopefully a new bike.

17:22 CEST   
Ricc˛ has three to go. Di Luca is at the 2km to go sign.

17:23 CEST   
Kiryienka takes the win after a brilliant solo effort

17:24 CEST   
Van Den Broeck has fought back to the Contador group! Chapeau.

1700m left for Di Luca. Will he sleep in pink tonight?

17:25 CEST   
Ricc˛ is out of the saddle. He looks strong! Maybe it will be Ricc˛ in pink tonight. It will be close!

17:26 CEST   
Ricc˛ storms by Siutsou!

17:26 CEST   
Now Pellizotti forces the pace.

Di Luca enters the flamme rouge. He has 1'20 on Ricc˛ and 1'55 on Contador group.

17:27 CEST   
Ricc˛ has his mouth wide open. At some point Di Luca got rid of his knee warmers, but he still has his black gloves. 600m for him.

17:28 CEST   
Di Luca passes Efimkin!

17:28 CEST   
Di Luca passed Efimkin in the last couple of hundred metres. He is 4'40 behind the winner.

17:29 CEST   
Now Cummings gets to the finish. He was still on the road earlier.

Ricc˛ gets home 1'07 behind Di Luca.

17:30 CEST   
The group behind sprints. Contador is spent, he drops back to the end of the group.

17:30 CEST   
They get to the finish. Has he lost pink?

17:31 CEST   
Four seconds! Contador keeps pink!

17:32 CEST   
Ricc˛ is disappointed, but he is now only four seconds behind. Tomorrow is another day!

17:37 CEST   
While Simoni has reached the finishing straight, already over 11min behind the winner, the GC is closer than one can dream. Contador has now 4 seconds over Ricc˛, who was not happy, and 21 seconds over Di Luca. Bravissimo!

That should be an exciting day tomorrow and then there is the time trial on Sunday. This Giro is far from over.

Thanks for joining us and see you tomorrow.

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