It’s a race organiser’s dream to have the International Cycling Union (UCI) Road World Champion contesting its race, but Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport has it even better: the rainbow-clad Cadel Evans is in the final stages of a bid for the 93rd edition’s title. The cherry on the cake for RCS Sport is that the Australian is engaged in a dual with a local favourite Ivan Basso.
The extraordinary parcours that forms this year’s race has rewarded the organiser and fans alike with an incredible battle, which is nearing its climax. To describe the first 18 stages, or 3,087.3 kilometres of racing, as a preamble would be foolish but it’s the remaining 388 kilometres over three stages that will now decide who goes down in history as the victor of an epic Grand Tour.
Having seen riders like Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) ridden out of the race, then back into it and out again, none of the riders are making predictions heading into the final trio of stages. Sastre is one general classification rider who sits within 5:30 minutes off the lead, along with Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) – all of whom could assume a race winning position if another completely unexpected event were to transpire.
Yet despite Spaniard David Arroyo Duran (Caisse d'Epargne) holding the maglia rosa, much of the attention is on Evans and Basso. Evans held the latter’s wheel for much of the Zoncolan climb on Sunday, but he’ll have to attack the Italian to gain crucial seconds heading into this Sunday’s final time trial.
The time difference of 42 seconds (click here for full general classification) separating Basso from Evans might be marginal, but the remaining stages are epic. In his preview of the course for Cyclingnews, Scarponi used words like ‘horror’, ‘hell’ and ‘bloodbath’ to describe the two remaining mountain stages.
Stage 19: It starts today with a 195 km stage from Brescia to Aprica that includes 4,640 metres of climbing over two mountains. A steep rise into the finish town of Aprica will soften up the peloton before it’s hit by Santa Cristina, which has a maximum gradient of 14 percent, followed by Mortirolo that has an average gradient of 10.3 percent. Click here for full details.
Stage 20: The profile of this 178 km stage mimics a electroencephalograph. Starting in Bormio, riders will cover 6,320m including the historic Passo di Gavia before finishing on the Passa del Tonale. Click here for full details.
Stage 21: The race could be won before the Verona time trial, but more likely it will play a crucial roll despite being a relatively short stage. The lumpy surface includes a rise to 220 metres in the centre of the course before dropping back down to the finish line. Click here for full details.
Closest in recent history?
In the past 20-years the Giro has only been decided by less than 60 seconds on three occasions. While anything could yet happen, many believe this year’s race will fall in that category or even be the closest in two decades.
The 2005 edition was by far the closest of those three editions, with Paolo Savoldelli landing the title with just 28 seconds to spare on Gilberto Simoni. Making that battle even more spectacular was José Rujano who finished in third, but just 45 seconds behind Savoldelli.
Last year’s edition was another close finish, with just 41 seconds the difference. On that occasion race winner Denis Menchov was able to add 21 seconds to his margin over second placed Danilo di Luca on the final time trial, despite the Russian rider crashing his time trial bike on the Roma course.
The third sub 60 second finish was between Miguel Indurain and Piotre Ugrumov back in 1993. It came down to a two horse race that year with Cluadio Chiappucci more than five minutes behind eventual winner, Indurain. The difference between Indurain and Ugrumov was 58 seconds, still not bad after 103 hours 36 minutes and 03 seconds of racing.
Results from the last two decades
|1||Denis Menchov||86:03:11|| |
|2||Danilo Di Luca||0:00:41|| |
|3||Franco Pellizotti||0:01:59|| |
|1||Alberto Contador Velasco||89:56:49|| |
|2||Riccardo Ricco||0:01:57|| |
|3||Marzio Bruseghin||0:02:54|| |
|1||Danilo Di Luca||92:59:39|| |
|2||Andy Schleck||0:01:55|| |
|3||Eddy Mazzoleni||0:02:25|| |
|1||Ivan Basso||91:33:36|| |
|2||José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna||0:09:18|| |
|3||Gilberto Simoni||0:11:59|| |
|1||Paolo Savoldelli||91:25:51|| |
|2||Gilberto Simoni||0:00:28|| |
|3||José Rujano Guillen||0:00:45|| |
|1||Damiano Cunego||88:40:43|| |
|2||Serhiy Honchar||0:02:02|| |
|3||Gilberto Simoni||0:02:05|| |
|1||Gilberto Simoni||89:32:09|| |
|2||Stefano Garzelli||0:07:06|| |
|3||Yaroslav Popovych||0:07:11|| |
|1||Paolo Savoldelli||89:22:42|| |
|2||Tyler Hamilton||0:01:41|| |
|3||Pietro Caucchioli||0:02:12|| |
|1||Gilberto Simoni||89:02:58|| |
|2||Abraham Olano Manzano||0:07:31|| |
|3||Unai Osa Eizaguirre||0:08:37|| |
|1||Stefano Garzelli||98:30:14|| |
|2||Francesco Casagrande||0:01:27|| |
|3||Gilberto Simoni||0:01:33|| |
|1||Ivan Gotti||99:55:56|| |
|2||Paolo Savoldelli||0:03:35|| |
|3||Gilberto Simoni||0:03:36|| |
|1||Marco Pantani||98:48:32|| |
|2||Pavel Tonkov||0:01:33|| |
|3||Giuseppe Guerini||0:06:51|| |
|1||Ivan Gotti||102:53:58|| |
|2||Pavel Tonkov||0:01:27|| |
|3||Giuseppe Guerini||0:07:40|| |
|1||Pavel Tonkov||105:20:23|| |
|2||Enrico Zaina||0:02:43|| |
|3||Abraham Olano Manzano||0:02:57|| |
|1||Tony Rominger||97:39:50|| |
|2||Eugeni Berzin||0:04:13|| |
|3||Piotre Ugrumov||0:04:55|| |
|1||Eugeni Berzin||100:41:21|| |
|2||Marco Pantani||0:02:51|| |
|3||Miguel Indurain Larraya||0:03:23|| |
|1||Miguel Indurain Larraya||98:09:44|| |
|2||Piotre Ugrumov||0:00:58|| |
|3||Claudio Chiappucci||0:05:27|| |
|1||Miguel Indurain Larraya||103:36:08|| |
|2||Claudio Chiappucci||0:05:12|| |
|3||Franco Chioccioli||0:07:16|| |
|1||Franco Chioccioli||99:35:43|| |
|2||Claudio Chiappucci||0:03:48|| |
|3||Massimiliano Lelli||0:06:56|| |
|1||Gianni Bugno||91:51:08|| |
|2||Charly Mottet||0:06:33|| |
|3||Marco Giovannetti||0:09:01|| |