Today was the textbook breakaway stage at way over 200kms long, with two sizeable climbs spaced about 140kms apart. Anyone lucky enough to get into an escape would know that if the breakaway would work together and get over the last mountain, it was a long downhill to the finish. The Giro’s heads of state took the day off as a long-suffering domestique got a day in the sun.
Well, not exactly in the sun, as it was another chilly day for arm warmers and gillets, and Ivan Basso was obliged to keep the maglia rosa under wraps, buried in a regulation CSC black jacket. The peloton was definitely in a ‘transitional mountain stage’ mindset and in no mood to waste energy ahead of the final week.
The field took it easy up the San Bernardo, giving the break all the chance they needed over the top.
The first climb of the day was the Gran San Bernardo, and the move formed near the top – Laverde and Baliani (Panaria); Perez (Caisse d’Epargne); Casar (FDJ); Flores (Euskaltel); Tiralongo (Lampre); Parra (Cofidis); Tschopp and Zampieri (Phonak); Illiano (Selle Italia); and erstwhile maglia rosa, Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner).
The peloton showed precisely zero interest, and off they went for the day, over the top of the San Bernardo and plunging down into Switzerland and on up the Passo del Sempione which peaked over 40kms from the finish.
It was a good break that headed into Switzerland to the cheers of a healthy crowd.
The lead was almost 10 minutes as the escapees went over the top of the Passo del Sempione, and although the pelton did speed up, there was simply no way they were coming back up to the leaders.
Today just goes to show that if you work, keep your head down and suffer, just occasionally you get a chance to grab the headlines. The day’s one-armed victory salute was triumphantly brandished by the little-known Luis Laverde from the Ceramica Panaria team, scoring only his second pro win. The first was in the Settimana Lombardia back in 2003, so that shows he’s a guy that spends most of his time trying to get others into winning positions.
Ivan Parra (Cofidis) had a couple of attempts to sneak away late on, but he didn’t have enough in the legs to repeat his Giro heroics of last year.
As the breakaway group splintered on the final run-in to Domodossola, Laverde accompanied Franciso Perez as he attacked at 5kms to go. The Colombian cleverly got the Caisse d’Epargne leader to do the bulk of the donkey work before diving past for the win.
Luis Laverde did his Panaria team proud and gave them that elusive win.
Laverde looked a little non-plussed to be on the podium, and seemed especially bemused with his strange crystal pyramid trophy which he sheepishly waved at the fans before gleefully grabbing the champagne. Thankfully, even though he hasn’t had too much practice with the victory juice, he knew what to do.
Liquigas came to the front towards the final few kilometres – doing some work for Di Luca and Pellizotti and their GC positions – but they were hardly going flat out and it was more of a Sunday group ride down the finishing straight. The time gap meant that Casar had catapulted himself up to 6th overall.
In the last 100 metres, Bettini grabbed a couple of points in the ‘sprint’ for umpteenth place.
Ultimately, a great day for the Continental Tour Ceramica Panaria squad, with a big, big Giro stage win – expect a return invitation in the post directly, gentlemen. They did the hard work of getting two men in the break of the day, then finished things off.
There won’t be too much eye contact going on at the Phonak hotel tonight, though – if you get two men into an 11-rider breakaway that comes in over 7 minutes ahead of the peloton in a Grand Tour and you finish 9th and 10th, you don’t have much reason to feel good.
Lots more abandons today, with Michael Rogers among those to call it a day. Also, Staf Schierlinckx, Andoni Aranaga, Vladimir Miholjevic and Gio Bernadeau. When things turn nasty later this week, there will be a lot more names leaving the party before Milan.
Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Aosta – Domodossola 223 km
1 Luis Felipe Laverde (Col) Panaria 5hrs 27’ 05”
2 Francisco Perez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne same
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre + 7”
4 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner same
5 Rafaele Illiano (Ita) Selle Italia same
6 Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Panaria same
7 Sandy Casar (Fra) Francaise des Jeux same
8 Iker Flores (Spa) Euskaltel same
9 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Phonak same
10 Johann Tschopp (Swi) Phonak same
Giro d’Italia Overall GC After Stage 14
1 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC 55hrs 28’ 25”
2 Jose E Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak + 3’ 27”
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel + 5’ 30”
4 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Selle Italia + 7’ 35”
5 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier-Duval + 8’ 00”
6 Sandy Casar (Fra) Francaise des Jeux + 8’ 01”
7 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas + 8’ 14”
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel + 8’ 35”
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre + 8’ 58”
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas + 10’ 36”