Giro06 St.15: Now It’s Bettini The Bunch Sprinter

The route from Mergozzo to Brescia was made for the sprinters, trouble is they have all gone home, there are still some here to contest the pan flat 189 kilometers, but could a small group breakaway stay away? Nup.

Early action in much nicer weather than we’ve had over the weekend, four riders get off the front, Christophe Edaleine (Credit Agricole), Ivan Mayoz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Gustav Larsson (Francaise des Jeux) and Gabriele Missaglia (Selle Italia) soon had a lead of 5 minutes after 80 kilometres. The bunch was being towed along by Quick-Step for points leader Paolo Bettini and T-Mobile for sprinter Pollack. Last time we were here in Brescia, Mario Cipollini won an exciting stage finish in 2002.

The break got going early and stayed away till its appointed time late in the race.

A few riders didn’t start this morning amongst them Staf Schierlinckx of Cofidis who crashed badly yesterday (broken collar bone, fingers, among other uncomfortable injuries) and Axel Merckx who also didn’t turn up for the action, the race is now down to 167 men.

The race passed ever so close to Milano today, but unfortunately for the riders, they have 6 arduous days ahead of them before they can finish in Milano.

Only bit of action to report was that Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) went up the road to meet with his family and friends, a quick kiss and he was off again, nice to see this sort of thing still happens in modern cycling, next we will be going back to the days of the “gregario’s” raiding bars for drinks.

The four riders were working well together, behind Milram were now lending a hand with the half-hearted chase with 40 kilometres to Brescia the leaders had 3 minutes and it was looking like a matter of time before they were caught. 20 to the finish and they only had a minute and a half lead, Bettini looks keen and cool at the same time as he rolls along behind the dark blue, light blue and pink train.

Ten kilometres to the finish and the group was in sight and caught with 8 kilometres left and the race was going at 57 kph in one long thin line, Kuyckx (Lotto) tried to get off the front but was nullified by Garate (Quick-Step) and Belgian Champ Serge Baguet kept the speed high. Big Jan also did a long turn and then it was the turn of Milram to do the work with four riders.

Paolo Bettini finally got his elusive stage win at the 2006 Giro.

Forster started the action, Bettini, Pollack and Loddo come round and lunge for the line. Another close one that Bettini thinks he has got in the bag again, this time he is right and the win goes to the Olympic Champion. All stars came in safely to fight in the mountains for the rest of the week.

He looks almost sheepish on the podium next to a very enthusiastic podium girl.

Today was a day to go out on your bike instead of watching the Giro on TV, but I guess if you are reading this now you had the good sense to do that, I’m off out on my bike now, it won’t be as fast as today’s stage, although I should be able to stay awake during it!

Preview Of The Fun To Come On Tuesday
Tomorrow the race heads into the mountains – for real. There have been two other ‘mountain’ stages so far, but from here on in, it’s big-time. Tomorrow’s stage finishes atop the colossal Monte Bondone in Trento – Gilberto Simoni’s home.

The Bondone measures a whopping 17.5 km long, gaining 1372 meters at an average grade of 7.9%. Time losses/gains could be very significant, but definitely not as huge as they will be the next day on the Plan De Corones. Of course, the man to watch will be Basso – look for him to convincingly take the stage win tomorrow and then ride defensively the rest of the Giro.

Stage 15 Results
1st Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) in 4.15.42
2nd Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile) all same 3rd Robert Forster (Gerolsteiner)
4th Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto)
5th Axel Maximiliano Richeze (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare)
6th Fabrizio Guidi (Phonak)
7th Leonardo Duque (Cofidis)
8th Alberto Loddo (Selle Italia)

Overall After Stage 15
1st Ivan Basso (CSC) in 59.44.07
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 Sandy Casar (Franзaise des Jeux) at 8.01
7th Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) at 8.14
8th Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) at 8.35
9th Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital)at 8.58
10th Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) at 10.36