Giro06 St.13: A Cold Day, But Hot Action!

It’s the start of the much-feared last week, this is when the action is going to get really hot, and this time next week we should know what’s what. The race is not over till…and the large boned woman is going to be on song this week!

Today’s stage is from Alessandria to La Thuile (216 km), Alessandria is at 95 meters altitude and the course climbs all the way to Colle San Carlo at 1951 meters high then drops down 6 kilometres to the finish at La Thuile, which is 500 meters lower.

Easy enough until the finish, right?

The climb of Colle San Carlo is a nice one, average steepness of 10% for more than 10 kilometres through the village of Arpy at 7.5 kilometres and has ramps of more than 15% in places; the Giro was here in 1962 and 1973. Robbie McEwen will not be visiting the finish as he went home this morning with an upset stomach.

That’s not very nice.

The weather has not been too good for the riders today, cool and a bit of rain, arm warmers and jackets all round. Six riders got away early hoping to get enough time to stay in front, at 80 kilometres to go they had 6 minutes lead but with 30 to go they only had 3 minutes and there is colder weather at the top.

Today’s break had no chance of survival, as the GC teams had big plans for the finale.

The six escapees, Benoit Poilvet (CA), Chris Knees (Milram), Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues), Jose Cayetano Julia Cegarra (Caisse d’Epargne), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital), and Jose Serpa (Selle Italia) were being chased mostly by Saunier Duval, Liquigas and CSC a bit, but mostly Liquigas as Di Luca says he’s feeling better today.

The rain was getting heavier as the race got higher, Discovery’s Matt White as well as CSC’s Jens Voigt moved to the front to tow along the chasers bringing the group back to a minute’s advantage at the start of the climb with just over four and a half hours of racing under their belts.

Jose Rujano showed some fire early on, but didn’t get far, and after being caught – abandoned – then wrecked on the descent and had to be helicoptered to the hospital. Talk about a bad day.

The break was being passed one by one as Rujano (Selle Italia) attacks of the front to catch teammate from the break Serpa to ride together. The main group is in tatters, Basso is safe but Savoldelli, Danielson and Cunego are distanced.

Paolo Savoldelli held onto his 3rd Place overall today, but his chances of holding on through the next week look slim.

Up front Basso has Sastre for company along with Simoni, Piepoli (Saunier Duval), Gutierrez (Phonak), Caruso and Scarponi (Liberty) not far behind and the caught Rujano.

Basso attacks near the top taking Simoni and Piepoli with him, Simoni can’t hold on, so it’s Basso and Piepoli followed by Simoni and Gutierrez within a minute and the others out of sight.

Gilberto Simoni rode a solid race today, finishing 4th on the day and hopping up to 5th overall.

At the top Piepoli and Basso had 1 minute 24 seconds over Gutierrez and Simoni, Piepoli took more chances on the slippery, shiny roads on the descent and soon left Basso behind, this was not important as all he other stars had lost BIG time on the way up.

Basso and Piepoli put serious time into everyone on the climb, but it was Piepoli that rode the descent like a winning lottery ticket was waiting for him at the bottom.

Piepoli took the win at La Thuile by 43 seconds over Basso, next in was Gutierrez and Simoni then Pelizotti, Scarponi and Surprise package; Gadret (Ag2r), Savoldelli and Cunego made up time on the descent, but Basso had put good time into everyone (again).

A cold horrible finish with snow in the distance, a horrible day for all except Basso and Piepoli, it looks like Basso can do what he wants, when he wants and there is much more to come.

An amazing descent after a spectacular climb earned 34-year-old Piepoli the biggest win of his career.

Rider Comments Courtesy Michele Tomasi

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval): “I must thank my captain, Simoni, because he gave me the chance to try to stay with Basso and win the stage. I was afraid because if I didn’t win…I was expecting some kicks in my ass (laugh)! But I did it and it’s great!”

Ivan Basso (CSC): “I just went up the climb at my own pace, and I think I’ve done a good race; I’m satisfied with it. I suffered in the cold weather, and on the descent I didn’t want to take any risks, but as I said, I’m glad with how the stage went.”

-I just went up the climb at my own pace…yeah, guess you did. Usually people say that when they’ve been dropped, not when they drop everyone.

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval): “I’m very happy for Piepoli’s victory! This morning I told him ‘don’t mind me, and just go with the leaders, and try to win the stage!’ I was afraid over the other mountain stage, when he showed very good form, but he stayed behind with me, thus losing the chance to play his own cards. As for me, I went up at my own speed, and now, it’s getting almost impossible to beat Basso.

To stop him…you should perhaps shoot his legs (laugh)! That’s the only way to block him! Seriously, it seems difficult…although I went up in the overall ranking, I’m even farther from the Pink Jersey. We’ll have some very tough stages in the next days, with more than just one climb, so let’s see how it goes there. With a man like Piepoli as my teammate, we’ll try to do something.”

Damiano Cunego (Lampre): “It was very hard. It wasn’t so bad as it looked at first, but it has been a tough stage, plus the weather didn’t make it any easier. I tried to defend myself, but now the gap is too big to try to win this Giro. It has been a negative day but…we need patience. Everyday something different happens, but now it’s going to be hard to ride for 2nd Place.”

-Hey Damiano, imagine what everyone thought at the Tour for the last 7 years…riding for 2nd Place ain’t such a bad thing.

Delgado: “Basso is really riding so well, he almost seems to have already won this Giro, and it appears that the others just can’t keep his pace. As for Gutierrez, he’s a surprise for everybody! He’s not a climber, and he wasn’t expecting to be where he is. But he’s gaining a lot of morale, and having a good moment of form so…perhaps he can fight for a podium place!”

Ivan Gotti: “I’m thinking that the reason for these latest results from Basso are because Basso is a world class rider. I mean, he rode the Tour, and placed in the Top Ten of the Tour many times in the last years (not to mention the podium 3rd and 2nd the last two years), and this year he’s going to try to win it. He has the engine to do it.

What about the others? They are good riders, yeah, but for the Giro, not for the Tour. What have they done in the Tour? Almost nothing. So, perhaps this is the main difference between Basso and the other guys.”

-Yeah, perhaps that’s the difference. Of course it’s the difference! No one else but Basso and a few others could climb with Armstrong over the past few years – Armstrong was the best climber on the planet in July – if you can climb with Armstrong, you can win the Vuelta or the Giro. If you can keep Armstrong within reason in the TT’s and climb with him – you better believe you have a chance at winning any of the three. Ta daaaa, that’s Basso!

Gianni Savio (DS Selle Italia): “At 3 kms from the finish line, the DS Bellini saw Rujano on one side of the road, and he was saying that he was feeling bad, and wasn’t able to contine. It was very close to the finish, but he didn’t want to go on.

That was very strange, also because today he said that he wanted to try to win the race, as he attacked, but perhaps too early. Then…he wasn’t able to keep the pace of the best. Anyway, it’s very strange acting, very mysterious.”

–Today the riders most of the riders used a 39×25 gearing – Danilo Di Luca used a 39×26.

Stage 13 Results
1st Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) in 5.21.12
2nd Ivan Basso (CSC) at 0.44
3rd Josй E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak) at 1.19
4th Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) same
5th Michele Scarponi (Liberty Seguros) at 2.08
6th Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) same
7th John Gadret (Ag2r) at 2.12
8th Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Panaria) at 2.17
9th Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) at 2.36
10th Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) same.

Overall After Stage 13
1st Ivan Basso (CSC) in 49.53.36
2nd Josй E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak) at 3.27
3rd Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) at 5.30
4th Wladimir Belli (Selle Italia) at 7.35
5th Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) at 8.00
6th Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) at 8.14
7th Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) at 8.35
8th Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) at 8.58
9th Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) at 10.36
10th Victor Hugo Peсa Grisales (Phonak) at 11.12