What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro Stg 7: Koldo Takes Liberty

Well, the boys were in for a long one today! The stage ran from Grosetto to Pistioa for a total of 211 km. It was a gray day in Italy, but it wasn’t raining and the riders rolled in shorts and short sleeves. One has to believe that Fassa would be doing everything possible to redeem themselves for their lack of performance over the last few days.

The beginning of the stage was marked by a break of 21 riders, including Angel Gomez of Saunier-Duval, the champion of Italy Cristian Moreni riding for Quick.Step, Discovery’s Michael Barry, Charly Wegelius of Liquigas, Domina’s Mirko Celestino, and Koldo Gil of Liberty.

Being that CSC wasn’t represented in the breakaway, Basso ordered his troops to the front to do chase duty. They were joined by Fassa who also had no representative in the front. Matteo Tosatto took a solo crash caused by a broken chain at the back of the peloton, possibly reducing the strength of the Fassa train for the sprint. This happened with about 50 km to go, just before the leaders reached the climb of San Baronto. Koldo Gil took the 2nd category climb, and by this time the leaders were down to a lead of 4:57 from the maximum of around 13 minutes earlier in the day.

With 35 km to go, the break had 4:25 and the peloton was really starting to react. There was one hill left for the day, the Sammomme, which was likely to be the deciding factor in today’s stage. Just before reaching the base of the climb, Steve Zampieri of Phonak attacked out of the breakaway and was quickly followed by Gil and Gomez as CSC continued chasing at the head of the peloton. The Sammome was 6 km with a height of 480 meters and an average grade of 8% and a section at 15%. As the breakaway moved up the hill, it started to split up. Mattias Kessler of Telekom took off, trying to catch the three at the front. The peloton was splitting up too, as the leaders set a pace that some in the back couldn’t maintain.

On the front Zampieri attacked again, this time only Gil could follow. Moments later, Gil attacked and this time it was Zampieri who couldn’t follow. It looked as the Spaniard was going to take the GPM points, his second for the day.

Back in the peloton, Tom Danielson attacked. Unfortunately, this ain’t Georgia, and that lasted just a few seconds. Then Gilberto Simoni attacked and this tore the peloton up. He stayed on the front for quite a while and began reabsorbing the remains of the morning’s break.

Gil was still on the front, but his lead was diminishing. Then, an attack by Cunego! Was the inter-team rivalry starting already!?! They passed a few more of the morning’s leaders as their group diminished more. Di Luca was with them, as well as Basso and Savoldelli. Danielson was behind with Bettini, trying to catch up as they all reached the top of the hill.

On the descent, the roads were still wet from earlier rain and a larger group started to form. Gil was still out front, but he only had 1:15 on the followers who, being lead by Savoldelli, were descending quickly. At the foot of the descent, it was drier and there was a bit of sunshine. Gil had just over a minute with 7 km to go, and it was looking good for hit. He settled into time-trial mode. The chase was dropping time off his lead, but it didn’t look like they would get him. Just after the 1 km to go mark, there was a crash, taking out Liquigas’ Garzelli.

Gil managed to hold ‘em off, and crossed the line 21 seconds before Cunego and DiLuca. The surprise of the day was that Basso and Bettini arrived in the 4th group of what was left of the peloton, 1:46 after Gil. So, once again tomorrow, the Pink Jersey will change hands from Bettini back to DiLuca.

Stage 7: Grosetto to Pistioa (211km)

1 Koldo Gil (Spa) Liberty
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
4 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze
5 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole
6 Sandy Casar (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux
7 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team
8 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto

Overall after stage 7

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
2 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre – 0.26
3 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze – 0.54
4 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
5 Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas – 1.06
6 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team – 1.16
7 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto – 1.19
8 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel – 1.26
9 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC – 1.27
10 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step

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