Friday, 21 May 2010

The day the bunch gave up the chase

Following yesterdays comments by Landis, many people including Radioshack, BMC, and Lance Armstrong himself, have hit out in response to the unsubstantiated remarks, Armstrong was forced to abandon his Tour of California after sustaining injuries to his elbow and cheek. Meanwhile back in Italy, several riders including Garmin-Transitions Millar pulled out of the Giro as they themselves faced their own trials in their battle to perform in the epic race that the Giro was turning into.

With breakaways of 56 riders, failed chase-downs and near punch ups, the Giro has been proving to be dramatically challenging earlier statements that the Tour of California was second only to the Tour de France in the race calender. Evans saw himself fined for "unseemly behaviour" while his team was criticised for its lack of strength overall.

Today's stage from Porto Recanti to Cesenatico (223km)contained two climbs of the second category: Perticara (665m) and Barbotto (514m). With 17 riders including Wyss (BMC), Bertogliati (AND), Grivko (AST)Kriit (COF), Belletti (AND), Mayoz (EUS), Meyer (GRM), Marzano (LAM), Lang (OLO), Facci (QST), Stamsnijder (RAB), Henderson (SKY)Lewis (THR), Horrach (KAT), Klimov (KAT) and Voss (MRM)in a breakaway with a lead that grew to as much as 9.38 minutes, the pelaton was forced to work hard to chase down escapees once again.

By 80km, Liquigas had lead the pelaton well to bring the time gap down to a little over 8 minutes as they approached the first climb, and the sense of an imminent attack from inside the breakaway was almost palatable. The attack was expected to come from within the 17 man breakaway, but it was Vladimir Karpets from Katusha who attacked, pushing away from the main bunch in a solo bid to catch the group up ahead as it made its way up the first long climb. Liquigas worked hard to bring the pelaton forward, reducing the time gap to 5.36 mins by 20km to go to the finish, but left Karpets to work alone somewhere between the chasers and the escapees.

With 10km to go, Caisse d'Epargne came to the front of the bunch to take over from Liquigas, but the leading group managed to clock up a few extra minutes over the pelaton. With a gap of 7 minutes, the pelaton gave up their effort to regroup with the leading escapes, leaving Karpets a lone rider in between. Soon he was joined by Meyer (GRM) and with 6km to go the original 17 were scattered, with Meyer moving up to join the 4 leaders of the breakaway. With 3km to go Meyer attacked to bring Bellite and Henderson, who had jumped with Lewis and Facci in the final KM back. But as the line came into sight, Bellite, born and raised in this region of Italy, jumped again over Lewis to take the stage, in an emotional win for the Italian, the 2nd Italian victory in as many days. Henderson (SKY) finished 2nd with Mayoz (FOT) Voss (MRM)and Lang (OLO) coming 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively. No changes occurred in the top of GC; Karpets having made his solo attempt to win back some time clocked 2,25 minutes over the GC contenders, finishing 5.01 minutes down on the stage winner, with the pelaton crossing the line 7.26 down.

Tomorrow's stage from Ferrara to Asolo will prove a difficult race for the riders with a big climb up Monte Grappe, which is sure to break up the bunch, if not separate any of the GC contenders, as the descent into Asolo is sure to see the bunch regroup with the leaders. Colnago-CSF Inox team leader Domenico Pozzovivo is sure to make a bid for glory, but if the last few days are anything to go by, nothing is certain in this race.

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