What's Cool In Road Cycling

Giro’08 St.18: Voigt’s Varese Victory!

It’s been a while since Jens Voigt has nailed a stage win in a Grand Tour, but the wait ended this afternoon with a brilliant and typically flat-out ride to the victory. CSC’s German star produced a thunderous solo attack out of an all-star breakaway to score this afternoon’s podium time.

Once he’d made the jump out of a group which featured double World champion Paolo Bettini and ripped a gap of over 30 seconds in just a few pedal strokes, the only question was whether he’d stay upright on a rain-slicked, live action preview of just what lies ahead come the road World Championships this year.

We had two finishing circuits of the corsa for what the elite men and women will race in Varese this September. We also checked out what’s in store for 2009, with the riders rolling out over the course of next year’s Mendrisio Worlds.

We’ve been waiting a long while for a successful Voigt break and we got it in spades today.

Voigt was flying solo today and not even the three-man elite pursuit squad of former maglia rosa holders Giovanni Visconti and Gabriele Bosisio, and Rinaldo Nocentini, could make any time on him. An absolutely blistering ride, and perfectly executed by Voigt, attacking with 35 kms to go.

The first 50kms of the stage were really lumpy with a ‘dirty dozen’ breakaway escaping the peloton. We then had a flatter middle section as they increased their lead, and then a series of leg breakers rolling through the finale to Varese.

The break of the day was stacked for entertainment purposes.

Paolo Bettini was the animatore who got the break of the day rolling, jumping away at about kilometre 9. Once you see the double world champ carrying those rainbow bands up the road so early, you know it’s going to be a good stage.

As well as Il Grillo, the escape had a fascinating make up and mix of names in it: Bosisio from LPR, Visconti (Quick Step); points leader and sprint ace Daniele Bennati (Liquigas); serial Giro attackers Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d’ Epargne) and Alan Perez (Euskaltel); Nocentini (AG2R), Felix Cardenas (Barloworld), Simon Spilak (Lampe), Mauricio Adila (Rabobank), Tinkoff’s Nikolay Trusov ……. and, of course, Voigt.

In fact, if you thought about it ….. Bettini, Visconti, Bennati, Nocentini, Bosisio. Hmmmmm – that wouldn’t be a bad Worlds line-up, eh?

At the halfway mark, the break was still six minutes clear, and pelting through every corner.

Astana did their part today – let the break go, kept the time gap reasonable.

Even as far out as 60kms to go, Astana had the peloton lined out in hot pursuit – no rest day for anyone wanting to hide out in the bunch. On such a bumpy course, after almost three weeks of hard racing, any gaps left today wouldn’t be closed up in a hurry, so total concentration was called for.

It was a damp, grey day out on the road weather-wise, and with the break flying, the finish line was hectic as the road crew frantically pulled up the advertising banners from the road. No need to risk a pile-up in the rain.

Bettini was very active today, but there was no luck for him and a preemptive stage win on his hopeful third Worlds win course.

Morale-wise it was a grey day for the Milram team with the news that it looks like Igor Astarloa has been given the boot for blood test irregularities. Check out Eurotrash for the very latest.

Just approaching the feed zone Voigt had had enough of the company and he zoomed off, opening up a gap as he hit two laps to go on the Worlds circuit. Within a few k’s, he was over 30 seconds ahead, but taking it reeeaaaaaal easy on the tight, slick corners.

There’s something you don’t want to do if you plan on winning a bike race: give Jens Voigt a headstart.

CSC’s German star was driving it in the pouring rain, race face most definitely ‘on’ … all the hallmarks of a classic Voigt breakaway. Nocentini was the first guy to chase Voigt, as Silence-Lotto appeared en masse on the front of the peloton in a curious show of post-McEwen strength.

The group chasing Voigt started to pull itself apart, with rising talent Simon Spilak going solo in pursuit, but his gap to Voigt was already 45 seconds, with Bettini leading the chase on his heels.

More moves to pull Voigt back came from Bosisio and Cardenas, and all the time … Bennati was easily sitting in, looking strong. Over the line for the final 17kms circuit, Voigt’s lead was still 40 seconds.

Visconti, Bosisio, and Nocentini put in a game effort to chase Voigt, but he was loooong gone.

Voigt was gone, and no-one was coming back to him. Visconti, Nocentini and Bosisio chased unsuccessfully and – in that order – rolled over for second to fourth places. Paolo Bettini gave Daniele Bennati a rather friendly/cheeky slap on the arse as they ‘sprinted’ for fifth.

Jens Voigt…what can you say? I’ll say he’s my favorite bike racer.

The peloton trundled home just about eight minutes down, but with Bertie Contador well safe at the head of things. No ground-shaking changes overall today, but tomorrow will be a monster.

As ever, Pez will keep you fully posted with all the action both on and beside the road. Don’t touch that dial!

Stage 18 Provisional Result, Mendrisio – Varese, 147 km
1 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC 3hrs 22’ 45”
2 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) QuickStep + 1’ 07”
3 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r same time
4 Gabriele Bosisio (Ita) LPR same time
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas + 2’04”
6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) QuickStep same time
7 Felix Cardenas (Col) Barloworld same time
8 Alan Perez (Spa) Euskaltel same time
9 Mauricio Ardila (Col) Rabobank same time
10 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d’ Epargne same time

Overall GC After Stage 18
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
2 Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval + 41”
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Diquigiovanni + 1’ 21”
4 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre + 2’ 00”
5 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas + 2’ 05”
6 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR + 2’ 18”
7 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank + 2’ 47”
8 Emmanuele Sella (Ita) CSF Group Navigare + 4’ 25”
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence-Lotto + 4’ 26”
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Group Navigare + 5’ 25”

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