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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews's live coverage from the Giro d'Italia and today's blockbuster stage from Spilimbergo to Grossglockner.
It's been 40 years since the Giro made its only previous visit to Austria's Grossglockner, where Italy's Pierfranco Vianelli took the stage win.
Race organiser Zomegnan has chosen not to send the riders to the summit but the climb up to 2,137m will still make the first of three big days in the mountains interesting. The final 6km to the finish averages more than 10 per cent but eases briefly a few kilometres from the finish.
There are no ramps as such, just a long, hard grind. This will suit Alberto Contador, who will try to get and maintain a gap over his Italian rivals.
Highest point: 2,137m
Category: Mountain stage
The peloton has rolled out from the start. We're racing.
And we're heading into Austria for today's stage, tomorrow's too in fact, with today's stage set to finish on the Grossglockner. It was tackled by the Giro in 1971, before almost most pros were born, and we could see some epic exploits today.
Here's how things stand on GC, with Contador of course still leading:
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 44:55:16
2 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad 0:00:59
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:21
4 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:28
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
6 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:37
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 0:01:41
8 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli 0:01:47
9 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:02:21
10 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
11 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
12 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:35
13 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:02:39
14 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:57
15 Francesco Masciarelli (Ita) Pro Team Astana 0:03:02
16 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC 0:03:18
17 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team 0:03:20
18 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:03:22
19 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling 0:03:40
20 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:04:21
Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox is over 6 minutes down on GC but he could do some damage today.
We're down to 180 riders by the way, Cavendish, Renshaw, Hondo, Petacchi, Belletti and Ventoso all leaving the race last night. There are no more sprint stages left so you can hardly blame them.
first +2000m climb #giro wait for the last climb to see a big selection or some attacks?
@toutneant Fri, 20th May 2011 12:28:32
It's not all about the final climb today though, we've got three other categorised climbs to get over first. The Passo do Monti at 79.6km, the Gailbergsattel at 99km and the Iselsbergpass at 127km
There's no action from the bunch yet so lets have a chat about yesterday's news. I was tucked up in bed when I got a call from a rider at the ATOC. "Have you heard about Tyler?"
I immediately knew what he was talking about. In case you've missed it, the news is that Tyler Hamilton has confessed to doping but also made allegations that Lance Armstrong took EPO - he claims to have seen Armstrong do this. Armstrong denies the allegations.
And it was sunny at the start. The riders are in for a really tough day.
Still no moves from the bunch, clearly in the knowledge of just how tough today and the next few days in fact will be.
We tried to talk to Riis and Bruyneel at the start of today's Giro stage but we couldn't find them. We'll try and talk to them regarding Hamilton's confession and allegations later on today.
We finally have a group, and it's huge. Names coming.
So 16 riders up the road and Lastras is the best placed on GC, nearly 7 minutes down on Contador. Not a bad move from a lot of teams, Liquigas and Saxo don't have anyone present though.
The peloton are at 2:15
There's a tail wind up first climb.
28 Pablo Lastras (MOV) +6:58
34 Pieter Weening (RAB) +12:02
39 Robert Kiserlovski (AST) +18:25
42 Cayetano Sarmiento (ASA) +19:14
57 Rafael Valls (GEO) +30:21
62 Branislau Samoilau (MOV) +31:18
67 Alberto Losada (KAT) +36:53
75 Angel Vicioso (AND) +39:42
79 Craig Lewis (THR) +42:18
84 Lars Petter (SKY) +43:53
85 Andrea Noe (FAR) +44:59
106 Johnny Hoogerland (VCD) +59:43
107 Rinaldo Nocentini (ALM) +1:00:02
129 Kristof Vandewalle (QST) +1:08:26
145 Cameron Meyer (GRM) +1:15:50
152 Alessandro Spezialetti (LAM) +1:18:29
The gap is now 3:40.
Contador said he didnt want his team to work yesterday but they're going to have to work today. I noticed that a number of Saxo riders came in well down on the bunch yesterday. Saving their legs for today, I'm sure.
Already a grupetto forming off the back of the main field.
There's a good piece in the Telegraph today with Emma Pooley by the way.
The leaders now in Timau, with just under 100km to race in fact.
The leaders did have a gap of 4minutes at one stage but now they're on the first climb it's dropped back to 3:40.
But the bunch seems to have eased slightly and it's back up to 4:45
Lastras has been the virtual leader on the road before in the race. Can he do it again?
Another good blog from Inner Ring here.
92km to race and the leaders have 4:50 on the bunch and are roughly halfway up the first climb.
Although there are a couple of sprinters in the break. One from Androni and Kristoff of course.
I've found it quite interesting that so few riders, if any, have chosen to tweet in regards to Hamilton, actually.
But back to the race and the break is still working well. A couple of riders near the back look to be struggling, as Saxo Bank lead the peloton on the lower slopes of the climb. Nice tempo from the Danish team and a number of riders being dropped.
89km to race.
We've been racing for just over 2 hours. To recap we have group of 16 up the road, Lastras the most dangerous man on GC, and Saxo Bank leading the chase behind. Contador glued to Porte's wheel with Le Mevel, Rodrigeuz and Scarponi all close by.
The Movistar duo have taken the break by the scruff of the neck and set a blistering pace. Riders all over the place as they try and keep up.
The break go over the top of the first climb bit it's in pieces. They may reform on the long downhill though.
Saxo are now getting some help on the front from Euskatel. Rather it's an attack from an Euskatel rider.
Euskatel cool their guns and put two men on the front, probably for Anton, another rider who will be targeting today's stage.
While at the front of the race one of the Movistar riders is all alone. It's Lastras
Arroyo will be more than happy with that.
The bunch still climbing with Contador happy to let Euskatel do some of the work.
Liquigas also joining the party at the front. The race is really hotting up as the bunch crest the top of the first major climb of the day.
The downhill has a little kick in it and that's where Lastras is right now. he scoffs down some food, hands on the hoods and presses on.
Lastras makes it over the short climb and is back on the descent. he's not bad is he, tearing through the corners at high speed and almost sprinting on the straight sections, before tucking his entire body as low as possible.
There's real urgency from the main bunch tough as the men in orange continue to set the pace, basically doing Contador's work for him.
Lastras is sitting up now, waiting for the rest of the break, or what's left of it to come across.
The break are all together again.
The break has hit the lower slopes of the next climb and have gone through Kotschach
Saxo Bank resume a margin of control on the front of the bunch again with Euskatel still helping.
The peloton going through the feed zone.
There's a crash though.
It's a Quick Step rider and Rabon also down.
A typical feed zone crash but luckily both riders are back up and on their bikes.
Rabon is chasing back up to the main field.
The gap has come down slightly, it's at 4:17 with 69km to race.
Stephen Farrand just drove over the penultimate climb and called in to say that it's raining on the downhill. The riders are still racing in sunny conditions at the moment.
Watch out for Kiserlovski in the break today. He's a strong rider and could be a key rider if the break splinters. Or if his team leader needs some help later in the race.
Meanwhile Anton has his entire team on the front of the bunch.
Good work from Euskatel though and the gap is now 3:16
The leaders and the bunch have made it over the second climb of the day. A sharp downhill followed by a flat 15km before the penultimate climb.
60km to go.
Cam Meyer does a turn on the front of the break, takes down a gel and moves through. They're all working well here but the next climb will split them for sure.
Anton better be on a good day because he's making his team do a lot of work on the front.
Contador meanwhile is surrounded by teammates. Fischer is up near the front with Le Mevel too.
The all strung out on the flat section before the next climb. Euskatel still driving things on the front. We've seen very little from Liquigas and Lampre so far.
Just over 54 kilometers remaining the gap still around the four minute mark
Lampre is starting to move up to the front of the bunch for the first time today, positioning Scarponi for the finale.
Lots of snow on the top of the main pass, it's not falling thankfully as the big team, Lampre, Katusha, Liquigas, all move up to the front of the peloton.
3:15 is the gap.
And there goes Kiserlovski off the front on the lower slopes of the Iselbergpass.
jersey unzipped and out of the saddle. There's no reaction yet from the other riders in the break.
Krueziger will be happy to have his man up the road like that. He'll come in handy later in the stage.
The break starting to split on the climb now as some of the weaker riders lose contact.
Russel Downing dropped of the back of the bunch. This is of course his first grand tour.
The pace seems to have eased in the bunch as they hit the lower slopes of the climb.
We've raced 122km
Kiserlovski stil out on his own though as Euskatel continue to set the pace on the front of the peloton. This is why the likes of Cav and Petacchi have gone home.
The Astana rider has 16 seconds on the chases and 3:44 on the bunch.
Nibali and Garzelli up near the front of the bunch and riding next to each other.
Euskatel inject some pace into the chase again and the bunch start to line out.
Szmyd dropped from the bunch. That's a bit of a surprise so soon in the stage. The peloton perhaps around 50/60 strong.
Contador is about halfway down the bunch at the moment. You'd expect to see him a little bit closer to the front.
The Movistar duo try a little move but it's not worked as the lone Astana rider goes over the top of the climb.
The chasers go over the top of the climb too, less than a minute down.
Just over 10km of downhill for Kiserlovksi before the final flat section and then of course the final climb up the Grossglockner
-33 km to go.
And the bunch are on the descent and the roads are wet. That's not stopping Euskatel from attacking though.
The lone leader has 3:43 on the peloton
The bunch has 35km to race.
It's a long 20km or thereabouts between now and the final climb. He'll struggle to stay out there for much longer to be honest, even if he's got a gap of 3;30. He being Kiserlovski of course.
Kohler has quit the race and Appollonio too.
Although Kiserlovski is giving it everything and the gap isn't coming down. Euskatel has three men on the front and they're not having much impact.
2:55 is the gap now but the lone Astana rider still has the final climb of the day to come. He'll want a gap on the lower slopes and hope that he can still help Roman K. He's starting to struggle though.
Meanwhile the rest of the break are still pushing the pace but the bunch are rapidly closing the gap.
We've got rain the final climb by the way.
We're about 3km from the start of the climb.
Contador right at the back of the bunch though, but being dragged up to the front by a teammate. Looks like he must have been back with the team car.
Contador just adjusting his brakes but he's back with the bunch and moving up to the front.
Very wet roads on the run up to the final climb, Euskatel still setting the pace and less than 20km to go.
The bunch with 20km to go.
Just two minutes for the lone leader.
The slopes on the climb - where we are now - are fairly gentle but things will start to really ramp up with some sections of 14 %. Average gradient of 10%. then there's a dip, a flat section and then another section of climbing at around 6/7 %
Just over 15km to come and the rain is going to start coming down in a few minutes.
At the back of the bunch Gatto is dropped.
Still no moves from the main favourites. They'll all be waiting for the major tough sections as more and more riders slip off the back of the bunch, their work done for the day.
Riders popping off the back in big numbers now.
kiserlovski has 1;24 on the bunch as the break from early starts to split. They'll be caught soon too.
The pace really hotting up in the bunch. Contador still not near the front though.
The Spaniard has one teammate with him
Kiserlovski has been caught and passed by a few of the riders in the early break.
Garzelli and his team near the front of the bunch.
Euskatel still sitting on the front and setting the pace, they've only got one or two men left.
Le Mevel, Arroyo and Scarponi both still up there. No sign of Contador yet
There he is, around 10 riders back with Nibali. Both men looking strong and comfortable. Rujano is also up there too.
12km to go
Weening has apparently attacked from the break and leads the race.
Sarmiento is apparently with him.
In fact he is. SO two riders up the road with 11km to go.
Weening doing most of the work but the pace is high in the main field.
Contador moving further to the head of the field.
Nibali just sitting on his wheel.
Sarmiento has now dropped Weening with 10km to go
And Rugano looks around then attacks from the bunch.
And Rugano looks around then attacks from the bunch.
Anton leading the chase with Contador on his wheel.
The Columbian looks back and sits up
As Weening and Sarmiento are caught.
Rujano goes again
As Scarponi goes. Anton on his wheel.
Roman K setting the pace, no reaction from Contador though who sits in and waits.
10km to go
Contador has left Scarponi go and the bunch has exploded with maybe 12 riders left.
Siutsou has been dropped.
So it's Rujano, Scarponi and Anton up the road. Contador and the rest chasing.
Cataldo has also lost contact.
Scarponi and co have been caught.
But Rujano goes again! with Scarponi and Contador and Nibali.
And again it all comes back together. No real big attacks yet. Rodriguez and Gadret are slipping back.
And now Contador goes
Scarponi and then Rujano try and go with him but they cant match him. Scarponi is in real difficultly.
Rujano makes it to Contador's wheel but he's the only man who can. Scarponi is dropped and Nibali further back. Contador and Rujano have around 40 meters.
As you would expect Contador doing all the work and Rujano just sitting in and hoping to hang on.
Scarponi now caught by a group of Anton, Nibali and Menchov.
Contador makes one meaningful attack and blows everyone away.
I think Arroyo is with the Scarponi group. As Contador stands on the pedals again.
Rujano comes though and takes a turn on the front. Le Mevel and Serpa all dropped.
Scarponi is ask for help and menchov, the big Russian pushing a big gear, comes through and takes a turn.
A very wet short downhill section and Contador has dropped the little Columbian.
No time checks just yet I'm afraid.
42 seconds we're hearing between Contador and the Nibali/Scarponi group.
A lot of favourites dropped today as Gadret catches the chase group.
As Rujano catches Contador. We've still got 5km to go until the finish. The Nibali group are just looking at each other. it's like they've almost given up.
Everything going Contador's way so far.
The two leaders share a few words and the Spaniard comes through and takes a turn on the front. He still looks comfortable despite both the pace and the conditions.
The road begins to ramp up again and Contador once more sets the pace. It looks like Gadret and Arroyo have attacked the Nibali group.
No sign of Le Mevel or Siutsou though.
3km to go and Contador is simply running away with it. The group behind has swelled to around 12. Gadret is chasing on his own with Arroyo trying to make a difference too.
it's Dupont actually and Gadret with him.
Apologies for the confusion, the conditions are so bad out there it's hard to see that much.
Roman Kreuziger is leading the chase behind with a teammate on the front.
Gadret has dropped Dupont as Rujano sets the pace with Contador on his wheel. So many battles on the road out there with riders all over the place.
And Anton attacks the chase group.
Anton has a gap but Contador is now in charge at the front and Rujano can only sit in and wait for the sprint.
Contador has over a minute on his GC rivals. They simply had no answer when Contador put the hammer down.
And it looks like Rodriguez has attacked from the the chasers
Gadret is going backwards, Dupont and Anton coming up to him.
Will there be a gift for Rujano at the finish?
Contador setting the pace into the final 1km
They have another quick chat.
500 to go!
And Rujano gets the stage win. Contador gives the stage away.
Here comes Gadret Anton behind him.
Gadret takes third, roughly a minute behind.
Another rest of the favourites come over the line. We'll post the time gaps as soon as we have them.
we've just seen Serpa come over the line over 3 minutes down.
Cioni, Lovkvist and Le Mevel coming up to the line too.
Here are the provisional stage results:
1 Rujano (AND)
2 Contador (SBS)
3 Gadret (ALM) +1:27
4 Dupont (ALM) +1:29
5 Anton (EUS) +1:29
6 Kreuziger (AST) +1:36
7 Scarponi (LAM) +1:36
8 Nibali (LIQ) +1:36
9 Kiryienka (MOV) +1:36
10 Menchov (GEO) +1:36
And Contador leads GC by over 3 minutes with Nibali in second.
1 Contador (SBS)
2 Nibali (LIQ) +3:09
3 Scarponi (LAM) +3:16
4 Arroyo (MOV) +3:25
5 Kreuziger (AST) +3:29
6 Sivtsov (THR) +3:53
7 Anton (EUS) +4:02
8 Gadret (ALM) +4:06
9 Carrara (VCD) +4:35
10 Dupont (ALM) +4:38
And that's GC. Thanks for joining us today and stay tuned for another stage in the mountains tomorrow.