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After a well-deserved rest day, the Giro d'Italia starts up again, and with a real doozey of a stage. Today the riders face a mountain time trial, only 12.9km, but those are tough ones. After climbing to the Passo Furcia, they take off on dirt road over sections of up to 24 percent gradient. Most of the riders will simply be trying to survive today on the Plan de Corones.
Hello and welcome back to the Giro! The final week gets tough from the get-go today, as the riders will agonizingly grind their way up to the Passo Furcia and then the Plan de Corones. It will undoubtedly be a lot more fun for those of us watching than it will be for them.
The first batch of riders has already finished, and the last to go is the one with the best time: Damien Monier of Cofidis. He is currently leading with a time of 44:15.
The peloton has been divided into three groups, and as we said, the first group is finished. After an hour-and-a-half break, the next group is ready to start soon. Kalle Kriit, also of Cofidis, will be the first at 12:50.
Good news! The sun is shining, and the temperature at the top is about 10° Celsius.
The “Time trial to the clouds” is what the CN preview called this stage.
Plenty of riders will have spent a nervy rest day contemplating this extraordinary mountain time trial. It starts easy enough, ramps up towards the Passo Furcia, then takes off on a hard-packed dirt road towards the summit. Sections of 20 and 24 per cent slow riders to walking pace and ensure the massive crowds can clearly see the toll it takes on them.
Back in 2008, 152 riders started the stage. Six were eliminated for being out-of-time: Ravis Belohvosciks, Mathew Hayman, Paolo Bossoni, Christopher Sutton, Lander Aperribay, and Thomas Fothen. The last time to make the cut was plus 10:19, and the first time to be cut was plus 10:92.
Hayman and Sutton are the only two of that batch who are in the race this year. No doubt they will hope to not repeat their performances of two years ago.
Cyclingnews' Stephen Farrand tells us that the time limit is 25 percent of the winner's time, which is actually a very generous limit.
The winning time in 2008 was 40:26. Assuming the time today is a flat 40:00 (because that is the easiest number of us to work with), we add 25 percent or ten minutes to that for the time limit. And that means that anyone over 50 minutes would have problems.
We already have a few riders who will have to worry about their continued participation in the Giro, if it works out that way:
51 REDA Francesco ITA QST 50:46 6:31
52 FOTHEN Markus GER MRM 50:57 6:42
53 CAPELLI Ermanno ITA FOT 52:14 7:59
It will be a while before Kriit comes in to the finish, but we will of course let you know when he does.
Gilberto Simoni has just put in a best time at the intermediate time check. Can he hold it until the end?
The Giro went up here two years ago, on a memorable day. The winning time was 40.26 – how will that compare to today's time?
All of the second group has taken to the road now, and the first have even arrived at the top. Simoni put in a good time, but still finished only second, 12 seconds behind Monier.
The third and final batch of riders will start at 15:10, with Vasil Kiryienka of Caisse d'Epargne kicking things off.
We won't have a repeat of the top five finishers from 2008 here today, that's for sure. Let's take a look at them:
1 Franco Pellizotti – currently suspended and awaiting a hearing on doping charges under the biological passport programme
2 Emanuele Sella – currently serving a two-year suspension for EPO-CERA
3 Gilberto Simoni – riding the race for Lampre, currently 92nd, 2:02.23 down
4 Alberto Contador – not riding the race this year
5 Riccardo Riccò – not invited
Here are some details for today's stage:
Vertical climb: 1,080m
Highest point: 2,273m
Terrain: High mountain
Category: Individual Time Trial
This won't be the riders' first experience with non-paved roads in this Giro. Who can possibly have forgotten the infamous “mud battle” of stage seven? Cadel Evans was the winner then, with Alexandre Vinokourov moving into the pink jersey.
At least the weather is better today!
Meanwhile, we have some changes at the top of the leaderboard. Both David Moncoutie (Cofidis) and Sylvester Szmyd have bettered Monier. Szmyd is currently leading with a time of 43:40.
This is a very narrow road, right? And things are hard enough for the riders making their way up, without having to look out for finished riders making their way down, right? How to solve this problem?
Easy! This is a ski area. The riders who have finished simply jump on the ski lift and are transported back to the bottom and the team bus.
All of the second group of riders has now arrived at the top. The next rider doesn't go off for another 30 minutes, so we will take a short break until then.
And here we are back again, just in time to kick off the final group of riders.
We have a beautiful blue sky and lots of spectators today.
We now see Dan Martin of Garmin-Transitions zipping along. He only started 7 minutes ago, so he hasn't gotten to the fun part of the course yet.
Filippo Pozzato crosses himself before he takes off.
Things are nice and green at the bottom of the course, but up top we see some funny white stuff --- isn't winter over yet?
The Giro was supposed to come up here on a regular stage in 2006, but it was snowed out. No doubt a number of riders were hoping for that same fate today. No such luck.
Pozzato passes under the 10km marker.
Martin is still working his way up, looking pretty good so far. No idea what his time is, though.
There actually are a few flat – or flattish – metres hiding on the course today, but they are far and few between.
Martin is doing quite well, he is only one second down at the intermediate time check.
Martin has now moved to the not so fun section. Things are getting narrower and steeper -- and we hate to tell him, but it just gets worse.
Pieter Weening of Rabobank is the next to go.
The dirt road surface where Martin is now looks fairly rough.
Here's what HTC-Columbia DS Tristan Hoffman had to say about the rest day and today's very definitely not rest day: The riders had a bit of time to relax and rebuild their energy. Marco Pinotti went out to see the steep Time Trial climb we have tomorrow and the rest of the team did a 30km ride before massage a rest time in the afternoon. The course is a bit too steep for our sprinters to challenge at the front so Pinotti will be hoping to keep near the front in the general classification whilst the majority of the team will just survive the distance.
Michael Barry is 30th at the intermediate time check, and has caught a rider in front of him.
Bradley Wiggins is on the course now, in his white national champion's kit.
No spectators for Martin at the moment. And we hope he stays on the road, there's a lot of nothing off to the left side.
Xavier Tondo of Cervelo takes off. He had a tough day on Sunday.
Xavier Tondo of Cervelo takes off. He had a tough day on Sunday.
Martin keeps grinding his way up....
Martin doesn't look as fresh as he did earlier, we wonder why not....
Last km for Martin.
Martin approaches the top at last.
Will the young Irishman set a new best time? His chances look good.
No. That last km is a lot longer and harder than it looks. He finishes in second place so far, 20 seconds behind Szmyd.
Martin smiles exhaustedly, happy to have done so well, and to have made it there at all.
Cervelo's Wyss is the next to finish, currently in 14th place.
Marco Pinotti of HTC-Columbia is the next to go.
He did a test ride here yesterday, and twittered: did a reckon on TT coursen PLANDECORONES: It's breathless, so hard and beautiful scenery.
The riders are leaving at three-minute intervals now, with Damiano Cunego the next to roll down the ramp.
Wiggins is 57th at the intermediate time check, over two minutes down.
Quick Step's Samoilau is putting in an excellent ride and may well bring in a best time.
LInus Gerdemann of Milram is underway -- only eight riders left to go.
And Samoilau does indeed take the best time! He came in one second faster thatn Johan Tschoop, who somehow sneaked by us.....
World champion Cadel Evans gave the course a spin yesterday, too, and twittered: Rest day at the #Giro. Had a nice quiet ride on Plan Di
corones; the scenery is spectacular. #muchappreciatedsolitude
Garzelli speeds right on past Weening, who started two minutes ahead of the Italian.
Vincenzo NIbali is underway, and Alexandre Vinokourov will be the next to go. Will he go for the win today?
Rigoberto Uran of Caisse d'Epargne is our new leader with a time of 43:04.
Petrov is now second, ten seconds behind Uran.
Garzelli is looking good -- a new best time?
And what a new best time! 41.28, a whole minute and a half faster!
Evans takes off!
Gadret is now second, 54 seconds behind Garzelli.
How does Carlos Sastre of Cervelo TestTeam think things have gone so far? “It's been up and down from the start. It started with two crashes and different problems in important moments. I lost about 10 minutes right from the start. Then the stage to L'Aquila changed everything. I got into the breakaway and it gave me hope again in this Giro. Now I've lost time in these first two stages in the Dolomites, but I have survived. The GC is quite open. My back is feeling better and my condition is coming up. I'm confident for all possibilities”
The Maglia Rosa is underway! David Arroyo is the last rider to take off today.
Pat McQuaid has said it was mistake for the UCI to accept the cash donation from Lance Armstrong. He also said that he has asked the appropriate national federations to open investigations of Michael Barry, Matt White, Johan Bruyneel and John Lelangue. Read more here.
Nibali third at the intermediate time check.
Scarponi is on a lonely, steep section at the moment.
It was hard to recognize Evans today, as he is all in red. That is because he is leading the points ranking.
Rabobank's Bauke Mollema has finished with a time of 44.15, making him 19th at the moment.
Michele Scarponi has made up the three minutes on Gerdemann and will catch the German shortly.
Karpets has finished, fairly far back.
Pinotti struggles his way up a steep section with only few hundred metres to go.
14th place for Pinotti.
Evans sets a new best time at the time check, by three seconds.
Cunego finishes as ninth overall. Satre 27th at the intermediate time check. Two km left for Scarponi.
Basso fourth at the intermediate time check.
Kiserlovski of Liquigas finishes with a time of 44:28, making him 23rd at the moment.
Scarponi is looking good for a new best time, but those last 700 metres are pretty nasty.....
Porte 14th at the time check, nearly a minute down.
No, Sarponi won't hold on for the best time. He is already over.
Scarponi couldn't maintain to the end. He finishes with a time of 42:35, which is 1:07 behind the current leader.
Arroyo 25th at the time check.
Gerdemann finally hit the finish line, way down. His time is 47:27.
An excellent ride by Nibali. He comes in with a time of 42.29, which is 1.01 back and puts him in third place at the moment.
Vinokourov is the next to fight his lonely way up to the finish line.
The last few hundred metres for Vino.
Evans is up out of the saddle through the crowds lining the road.
Vinokourov is only sixth, at 43:05.
It won't be new best time for Evans, but it will still be a good time.
He is up out of the saddle sprinting uphill the last 50 metres. He comes in second, 42 seconds behind Garzelli.
Now it is Sastre's turn to fight his way through the crowds.
Sastre is still working his slow way up.
A fan tries to help Basso by pushing him along. That can backfire and harm the rider.
Sastre is over the line with a tie of 43:59, dropping him way back.
Basso nears the finish.
He is losing time to Evans.
His time is 42:38, which puts him 28 seconds down on Evans. He is currently sixth on the stage.
Only two riders left on the course, neither of which we expect to win.
Porte finally sees the finish line.
The young Tasmanian riding for Saxo Bank finishes with a tie of 43:45, making him 16th on the day.
Arroyo is the last to come int, ad stil has a bit to go.
Arroyo will hold on to his pink jersey again.
He bumps Porte down a place. Arroyo's time of 43:44 makes him 16th on the day.
A stunning win for the 36-year-old Garzelli, who is riding for Acqua & Sapone.
Congratulations today not only to Garzelli but to all the riders. Every one who made it to the top today has conquered the Plan de Corones!
We have some changes in the GC: Basso has moved into second, Porte is third, Evans fourth and Sastre fifth.
Thanks for reading along and join us again tomorrow.