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Giro Stg 14: Parra Takes His Second In A Row!

The incredible Ivan Parra of Selle-Italia Colombia won his second stage in a row, Stage 14, a 210 km mountain stage between Egna and Livigno while Savoldelli narrowly kept his overall lead.

The first attack of the day which looked promising consisted of nine riders and contained Cunego, Rujano, and Parra. If that isn’t a serious group, I don’t know what is ! They made their move on the Colle del Frassinetto, where Rujano took a few more points to firmly secure his green jersey. The group got a lead of about five and a half minutes, but by the foot of the Stelvio they were down to two and some change.

Today’s stage saw the return of the Stelvio to the Giro for the first time since 1994.

The famous Stelvio, in all its glory, took many people out of contention. One of those was Basso, who couldn’t keep up with the pace due to his ongoing struggle with stomach problems got worse overnight instead of the hoped for better. If Basso doesn’t pull out this evening, he’ll have three solid days to recover before the race returns to the big mountains and the final crucial set of three stages in the Italian Alps. Basso is definitely out of contention, but he can surely get a stage, maybe two, even all three of those final days before the finish in Milano.

During the long ascent of the Stelvio, Cunego and several others were dropped from the break, as the South Americans from Selle-Italia climbed like mountain goats. Current third place Di Luca stayed solidly just behind Savoldelli, putting him in position to move from third to second tonight. Before the top of climb, the Disco train caught back up with Cunego, who jumped in with his teammates at the front of the peloton. At the summit, in a bit of snow, Rujano took the points, plus the special prime traditionally offered there. His group only contained three others at this point, his teammate Parra, Cofidis’ Atienza, and Unai Osa of Illes Balears. The peloton passed the summit 2:40 later, led by Di Luca and Garate.

At the bottom of the descent was an Intergiro sprint. The Russian national champion, Alex Kolobnev, decided he was going to try and take the points left-over by the breakaway. He attacked out on the descent, just minutes after Basso finally passed over the summit 18:40 behind Rujano and 16 minutes behind Savoldelli. Kolobnev was successful. He was soon after joined by Emanuele Sella of Panaria. Sella stayed with him for a while, then attacked on an uphill. Sella then did an incredible solo time trial to try and catch up with the breakaway on the last real climb of the day. Before he could, Atienza attacked several times in a row, finally doing enough to drop Rujano, although not Parra or Osa. It looked as if Rujano paid dearly for all his hard work earlier in the day. A few kilometers from the summit, Sella passed Rujano who jumped on his wheel and got a tow back to the lead three.

Meanwhile in the peloton, Savoldelli, Cunego, Simoni, and Di Luca were ascending with enough speed to really string out the diminished peloton. However, if Il Falco didn’t hurry, a certain Venezuelan was going to trade his green jersey for pink tonight ! They passed the 25 km to go mark just over three minutes after the five guys up front. At the summit, Sella looked like he really wanted the points. Rujano was staying vigilant, but it was Atienza who finally jumped. He didn’t get far, as it was Parra who attacked after they caught him. Sella followed, but couldn’t keep the pace.

The peloton by this time was down to about 15 riders, and was being led by last year’s Giro winner, Damiano Cunego. The Lampre-Caffita train led by Cunego, was picking up assorted dropped riders from the day long break, however Kolobnev was still in between as well as a few others. Cunego stayed on the front for a long time, doing a great deal of work. Would Simoni be attacking soon ?

At the summit, Parra passed the line alone and with a good lead, after almost being knocked off his bike by some crazy spectator. Behind him Phonak’s Valjavec, who had long been riding behind, finally caught up with the break and rode right through. Rujano stuck to his wheel. Osa, Sella and Atienza suffered behind, crossing about 2 minutes after Parra. The next rider to cross the summit was Sanchez of Euskaltel who had been sitting in no man’s land for a long time. He was about 3 minutes back. Just before the summit, Cunego’s group passed Kolobnev, who managed to jump on the back. Cunego’s group crossed the summit about 4 minutes behind Parra, and started into the descent.

On the last little hill of the day, Simoni finally attacked. Savoldelli wasn’t the one who jumped on his wheel, but the unlikely yet impressive Wim Van Huffel of Davitamon. Cunego was off the back by this point, after his hard work, and then the peloton shattered. Van Huffel couldn’t stay, but Di Luca was doing his best to catch up to Simoni and the one rider on his wheel, Garate. Di Luca caught them, and the three of the them pushed on over the summit. Savoldelli was trying to chase with Karpets and Caucchioli. It was downhill for the final eight kilometers. Would Savoldelli retake them on the descent ?

At the front of the race, Ivan Parra, the tiny Colombian, took his second consecutive Giro stage victory, holding up two fingers as he crossed the line. If there had been any question about the choice of Selle-Italia as a wild card team, it was certainly gone now. 1:50 later, Valjavec and Rujano crossed the line, and for the second day in a row, Rujano was third on the stage. 3:15 was the time of Di Luca et al, and Savoldelli came in at 3:43, after not really taking any time back on the descent.

Preview Of Coming Action
The next three days should provide a needed breather for the 160 remaining riders in the field.

Tomorrow’s stage is a mostly downhill run into Lissone. The race will climb out of Livigno and head due south past Lake Como and finish just north of Milano in Lissone. Unfortunately for the riders, they won’t be heading into Milano just yet – still five stages to go. The stage looks to be perfectly suited for the return of Ale-Jet’s Silver Train, and most likely a third stage win now that Robbie McEwen has bid the Giro adieu.

Tuesday will be the Giro’s second and final rest day, and a needed one at that. This rest day could be just what the ailing Ivan Basso needs to regain his health and bring down the thunder in the final few stages.

Stage 14
1 Ivan Parra (Col) Selle Italia-Colombia
2 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems
3 Jose Rujano Guillen (Ven) Selle Italia-Colombia
4 Unai Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) Illes Balears
5 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
6 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
7 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
8 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare
9 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel-Pro Cycling Team

Overall after stage 14
1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel – 67.21.28
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi – 0.25
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita – 1.48
4 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir – 2.11
5 Jose’ Rujano Guillen (Ven) Selle Italia-Colombia – 2.18
6 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole – 3.25
7 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze – 4.05
8 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare – 5.50

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