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Hello and welcome to our coverage of stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia, 195km from Treviso to Alpe di Pampeago and the second stage in the Dolomites. Five categorized climbs are on the menu today, with the Manghen, Pampeago (twice) and Pampeago making this one of the most anticipated stages of the race. With less than 1:40 separating the top four, the race is wide open.
Rolling out of Treviso, the Giro will pay its respects to Andrea Pinarello. The youngest of the Pinarello framebuilding dynasty, he lost his life died shortly after an amateur race last August.
The stage is a snorter, but also a reflection of the times. Many commentators believe that over the coming decade the nature of the sport will change dramatically. There will be more “circuit” events, replacing the traditional long distance point to point races with which we’ve become familiar over the decades.
Once again, there is a relatively gentle beginning to proceedings with the third category Sella di Roa (7km at 6.6%) the only obstacle in the opening half of the stage. The imposing Passo Manghen (20.5km at 7.4%) heralds something of a call to arms, however, and the slope cruelly grows steeper as it drags inexorably onwards, with stretches of 15% near the summit.
Next up is the climb of Pampeago (10.5km at 9.8%) itself, which the peloton must tackle twice. The first time, they will grind past the finish line and upwards to 2006 metres, cresting the summit of the Passo Pampeago. After a rapid descent, they must loop back over the short Passo Lavazé (6.3km at 8.6%) before rolling into Tesero once again to repeat the first 7.7km of the climb of Pampeago.
The finish at Alpe di Pampeago has become something of a favourite in the modern Giro, ever since Pavel Tonkov outsprinted Marco Pantani in 1998, although the winner here has only once gone on to take overall honours, in 2003, when Gilberto Simoni laid waste to the Giro’s summit finishes.
We've got the CN blimp up and running after a few maintenance checks carried out this morning and we're up and running, the riders having started the stage a couple of minutes ago.
The Passo Manghen is the first major climb on the stage. Used in the 2008 and the launch pad for Sella's 50km lone break and stage win, it will be crucial in today's stage.
We also say a stage finish at Di Pampeago in 1999 when Marco Pantani extended his lead in GC. He was removed from the race before the finish though.
Here's where we stand on GC this morning:
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 77:47:38
2 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:30
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:22
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:36
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:56
6 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:04
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 0:03:19
8 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:04:13
9 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:04:38
10 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:04:42
The race is still wide open and there are a number of key dynamics to watch out for. Rodriguez can't afford to simply wheelsuck like he did a couple of days ago, and has to put more time into Hesjedal before the final time trial on Sunday. With just 30 seconds in advantage, he'll need to double that - at least over the next couple of days.
At the same time, Basso and Scarponi also need to put the Spaniard under constant pressure. Liquigas will most likely take the race apart on the Manghen in a bid to isolate the Spaniard as quickly as possible. But Pozzovivo could be the key to everyone's stage. The little Italian was one of the strongest on stage 17 and if he attack earlier then it could be a case who reacts best.
Rodriguez has already started with the mind games, saying he's more afraid of Liquigas than he is of Basso.
However Basso, the two time Giro winner, has looked stronger as the race has gone on and was in good form on the Giau. He wasn't helped by Szmyd having a mechanical on the lower slopes of the climb and the Italian lacks the accelerations to nip away from Rodriguez but he'll be looking to grind him down with a relentless pace.
Gnarly Giro stage today. Saw lots of 36/52T cranks and 27/28T cogs.
@angryasian Fri, 25th May 2012 10:23:17
Gilberto Simoni on the Manghen: "It's one of my favourites. There's nothing at the top. When you get there, you feel like a polar explorer."
@friebos Fri, 25th May 2012 10:13:04
Still no action from the bunch as they roll out. There are a number of teams without a stage win in this year's race so we can certainly expect a break at some stage. I can't imagine we'll have to wait until the first climb before it goes clear.
Ballan is from this region. He's been fairly quiet in his debut Giro, so perhaps he'll be in the break today?
We have a large group off the front of the bunch - at last.
There are 17 riders in the move the 2008 stage winner we talked about earlier Emanuele Sella (Androni), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Serge Pauwels (QuickStep), Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank), Adriano Malori (Lampre), Jose Ventoso (Movistar), Andrey Zeits (Astana), Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol), Cesare Benedetti (NetApp), Pierre Cazaux (Euskaltel), Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha), Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini), Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Saxo Bank). Sandy Casar (FDJ), Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack)..
I hope you're not expecting biogs on all 17?
First climb today is the brutal Passo Manghen. Rog De Vlaeminck abandoned Giro there in 1976 and ran into woods to hide from his directeur.
@friebos Fri, 25th May 2012 10:11:06
The gap is now up to 6:15
A bit surprised that Matteo Rabottini hasn't tried to sneak away in that move. He could have sown up the KOM competition if he had. Still he doesnt have any close rivals in that break so he'll be relatively happy.
But there are plenty of strong climbers in this break. Sella, who we've mentioned before, although he's no where near the same level as his pre-doping ban for CERA.
Garate isn't a bad climber, all he needs to do is ride along side everyone in the group and ask if they've ever won a mountain stage at the Tour finishing on Ventoux. He has back in 2009.
Pirazzi, he can climb, although he never seems to be able to time an attack properly, and Casar isn't too shabby either.
Guardini is probably looking around thinking what on earth am I doing here. Although he's probably not stopped smiling since winning his stage yesterday.
Flecha vs Casar, Ryder vs J Rod, Cav vs gravity, this Giro stage may have it all!
@nyvelocity Fri, 25th May 2012 11:47:15
Sandy Casar, who I had down as an outside bet for the top ten before the Giro (in my head, I dont think I actually told anyone) is the best placed rider in GC, 12 minutes down on Rodriguez. He's in 19th place so it's all about the stage wins now for the Frenchman.
We're about 10km away from today's first climb of the Sella di Roa, a second category climb.
Rather odd email has just landed in the inbox. So in case you were ever wondering:
"For clarification purposes, Steve Peters, consultant psychiatrist for the GB Cycling Team, has had no contact with Dwain Chambers nor any of his support staff. Steve is extremely busy in the build-up to London 2012 and has no intention of taking on new clients until after the Games."
As for today's uphill finish: The climb to the finish is 7.7km long with an average gradient of 9.7% and two sections at 16%. The road is well surfaced with two well-lit tunnels in the final part of the climb. The last four-kilometre section has 12% gradient. The finishing straight is 170m long and six metres wide.
Rodriguez has talked about how the climb suits him. I'm not quite as confident. If this was the first week, then I'd agree with the Spaniard but after nearly three weeks of racing and the four proceeding climbs, I think the final climb will be a complete war of attrition, suited more to Scarponi or Basso, someone who can just grind away on the gears. We'll see....
I wonder what's going through Kreuziger's head right now? Dropped on stage 17, and now over 12 minutes down, things don't look good for the Czech rider. It's unlikely he'll be in the mix today and there's strong speculation that he could be leaving Astana at the end of the year and heading to QuickStep.
Weather report: The stage started under blue skies and temperatures of 28 degrees centigrade. Cloudy skies and temperatures of 15 degrees centigrade are expected for the finish. We don't have a weather icon, so I'll use the Farnese jersey, which is about as bright as the sun anyway.
The lead is now up to 7:40
By the way, later this evening, or tomorrow morning, we'll be running an extract from Daniel Friebe's excellent book Mountain High: Europe's 50 Greatest Cycle Climbs. Tomorrow's stage finishes on the Stelvio so you can guess what the extract might be based on.
The leaders are about halfway up the first climb of the day.
Remember, all of our Giro coverage can be found right on this Giro d'Italia 2012 page. News, reports, blogs, photos, tech and more.
The bunch are climbing steadily, around 7 minutes behind today's break. Guardini is finding it tough to keep pace with his companions.
It's unlikely that the autobus will be formed just yet, they'll probably wait until the lower slopes of the Manghen.
Pirazzi takes the points at the top of the climb with Rohregger and Serge Pauwels grabbing second and third.
The gap is down to 6:40 at the top of the climb.
Katusha may have a man in the group but that hasn't stopped them moving to the front of the bunch and controlling the pace.
Robbie Hunter in his distinctive national champions jersey (South Africa) is also near the front of the bunch, doing some early work for Hesjedal.
There's a pretty heavy shower coming down now and a number of riders have their rain jackets on.
The break race through the feedzone.
Jose Ventoso, a stage winner the last two Giri, comes through and takes a turn on the front of the break. It looks as though he's having a nose bleed.
The break, headed by Garate, ride through Telve as Katusha continue to set the pace on the front of the peloton. Liquigas are taking it easy and allowing Rodriguez's men to do all the work.
The bunch come through the feedzone, with the time gap at 8;50
As the break are about to begin the climb of the Passo Manghen. It's 20.5km in length with an average gradient of 7.4% but sections near top that reach 15 %.
Rujano has abandoned.
No form, no results in this year's race it's no surprise that the Androni rider has quit the race.
Robbie Hunter is still right up there at the front of the bunch, Garmin have a number of riders looking to support Hesjedal today.
Pavel Brutt has been on the front for a long time for Katusha. He'll take the peloton as far as he can, swing off and then look to make up any time gaps on the descent of the climb.
Vande Velde has to stop and attend to his bike because it looks like he's jammed his chain.
Meanwhile, the break continues to work well, each rider tapping through and taking their turn.
Astana, Liquigas and Lampre are all riding together, just behind the Katusha pace setting.
At the back of the bunch Mark Cavendish has been dropped with a handful of riders. They'll help form the autobus in the next few minutes. That group could reach as big as forty or fifty riders by the end of the stage.
The break has moved from a double pace line to a single pace line, a clear indication that they've increased their pace.
They've switched back again. Having a big group is all well and good but it doesnt mean anything if the riders dont work together and organise their pace duties. There are a few riders missing turns in the break.
Rodriguez moves to the very front of the bunch and has a word with his team. Not sure what was said there but it's likely to be about the pace setting.
The gap to the break is now 8:27.
The break is still all together, while Robbie Hunter is near the front of the peloton, an indication that they're not going at 100 per cent just yet.
Other than Moreno, Katusha dont really have any pure climbers to help Rodriguez so they'll just look to contain the race for as long as possible. It looks like Guardini is no longer with the break.
Benedetti is setting the pace on the front of the group. Netapp have had a great Giro so far and although they've not picked up a stage win, they've been close on a number of occasions and have certainly justified their wildcard place in the race.
Roman Kreuziger is back at the team car collecting bottles.
As Hunter has done his job for the day and starts to swing off and go backwards.
Garate moves to the front of the break with Hansen propping up the rear.
The gap is 7:23 as Guardini is swallowed up by the bunch.
The break are 3km from the summit of the climb.
The gradient has really kicked up to the 15% we talked about earlier and a number of riders have stopped coming to the front.
Alessandro Ballan popped off the back as well.
Garate has been dropped or he's waiting for a team car. Either way he's having a little argument with the moto.
As Liquigas show their jersey on the front for the first time. Basso perhaps wants his team to control the pace on the descent of the climb.
Intxausti who started the day in 6th, has been dropped by the peloton.
Sella moves to the front and takes a long turn on the front of the break. Just as he tries to put on his wind breaker Pirazzi sprints clear and takes the points.
It's such a technical descent at the start with very tight roads. Pirazzi slams on the breaks on each corner, some his lines look perfectly fine but that last one was totally out of shape.
73km and the gap is down to 6:07.
At the front of the peloton Lampre and Liquigas have taken charge with 1km to go until the summit.
Rohregger who was second on the climb has caught Pirzzazi. He'd be better off taking the front and not sitting in second wheel.
500 meters to go for the peloton.
Basso wants control and puts his men firmly on the front of the bunch. The Liquigas team will set the pace on the descent.
It looks like Hunter has run off the road and come off. he's walking and looking for a new bike.
Flecha is calling for the Sky car.
Liquigas as we expected control the pace on the descent. Lampre have settled in behind them, with Rodriguez also there.
The descent is over for the break and they've got to start climbing all over again. We've 55km to go and the gap is at 5:30.
A slight grimace from Basso as the bunch start their climbing again. We've a short ramp, then a plateau, and then the next climb of the day, which they'll do twice.
The gap is down to 4:57 and Liquigas' pace is starting to tell.
There are still three major ascents to come.
Szymd has another mechanical and the pace dips for a minute. It's the perfect time for riders to go back to their team cars.
Just over 50km to race and the gap is down to 4:35.
Flecha finally has the Sky car with him but Liquigas have their entire team on the front drilling the pace, taking another 20 seconds off the lead.
And the break starts the first ascent of the Pamepago. They go up this climb twice.
Basso is taking charge from a long way out but he;ll want a good run into the foot of the climb because it's a sharp left hand turn and very tight roads.
47km to go and the gap is 3:56.
The bunch hit the foot of the climb.
Giro has never been down the other side of Pampeago before. Climb itself is evil.
@friebos Fri, 25th May 2012 14:46:38
Rohregger sets the pace at the front of the break, he's had a good stage so far and worked well in the group.
A few attacks from the leading group, and it looks like they're about to split up in dramatic fashion.
Rohregger, Sella and Pirazzi appear to be clear of the rest of the break.
There are maybe 40 riders left in the Basso group.
It's Casar, not Sella. So Casar, Pirazzi, and and Rohregger lead the race with 3:10 on the maglia rosa.
The Shack rider is in trouble and has been dropped.
Caruso is doing the damage for Liquigas and more and more riders are being tailed off the back.
Pirazzi pours a water bottle over his head but Casar doesnt care and just ploughs on ahead.
Tiralongo is going backwards
The Astana man has gone... he's been well and truly dropped.
Moreno is hanging at the back of the group. That's not a good sign for Rodriguez.
Huge crowds on the roads, swarming on both sides of our two leaders. The rest of the break has been scattered all over the road.
Casar is struggling.
Pirazzi sees how laboured the Frenchman looks and comes around on the right hand side. Casar responds this time.
Szmyd has been dropped.
Roman K is up there, with Hesjedal on his wheel.
Cunego is there for Scarponi and bang Roman K has popped.
He pulls right out of the line and swings over. He's waiting for a car but now isn't a great time. He has a teammate with him, why not use him?
42km to go and the leaders have 3:11 on the bunch.
Kreuziger is at the back of the bunch but without having seen the car...
Sella is leading a group that contains Garate and Pauwels.
Moreno is still dangling at the back of the peloton. He's hanging in there.
Flecha and Zeits are in the Garate group.
The two leaders come over the finish line for the first time.They'll descend, then climb the Passo Lavaze, and then start the Pamepago all over again.
The two leaders come over the finish line for the first time.They'll descend, then climb the Passo Lavaze, and then start the Pamepago all over again.
The Basso group is down to around 20 riders.
Could riders be lapped today?
The peloton cross the finishline for the first time.
Casar is doing most of the work and has made sure that the lead is at 3:12.
Liquigas have certainly eased their pace.
Casar gets out of the saddle and ups the pace again, then Pirazzi does the right thing and comes through to take a turn. These two are beginning to settle and work well together.
The two leaders are 1km from the top of the climb.
And Pirazzi takes the points on the top of the climb. Casar doesn't contest them and just wants a solid partner to work with. The gap is 3:22. It's touch and go.
Garmin have two men to support Hesjedal, Vande Velde and Stetina, while Basso still has four men on the front of the peloton as they crest the top of the climb. The gap is at 3:28.
The collective suffering of the grupetto is somehow beautiful #Giro #lovethissport
@julienpretotRTR Fri, 25th May 2012 15:30:01
Pirazzi and Casar are diving down the descent at full speed.
Casar looks far more relaxed, he's such a classy bike rider. No disrespect to Pirazzi.
The two leaders have finished the descent and now start the Passo Lavaze, which is roughly 7km in length.
Liquigas lead the bunch onto the climb and riders who had made contact on the descent are already being dropped again.
Rodriguez looks good. He's just sitting in, while Vande Velde moves up and hands Hesjedal a fresh bottle.
Basso moves up and has a word with his two remaining teammates.
28km to go.
And Casar is leaving Pirazzi behind.
But the Italian comes back.
Stetina hasn't left Hesjedal's side all day and remains glued to his team leader.
26km to go and the gap is at 3;33 as Cataldo attacks from the bunch.
Basso wont worry too much about that for now.
Pozzovivo is at the very back of the Basso group.
Cataldo has caught Malori who was in the earlier break.
Agnoli setting the pace for Basso but it's not really doing too much damage. Basso won't mind that, it's just the violent accelerations that bother him.
The two leaders are 2km from the top of the climb.
The gap is at 3:20.
He's nearly half an hour down on GC so Liquigas wont worry about him.
Kreuziger smashes it into the big ring and he's off. What a move. He's over 12 minutes down so he's just after the stage. He's got a gap and a teammate with him.
Seeldrayers pulls over and Kreuziger goes alone.
The Astana leader has a lot of work to do if he's to rescue his Giro with a stage win.
Casar and Pirazzi are closing in on the top of the climb. The Italian will take maximum points and over the top they go. 23km to race.
Kreuziger has caught Cataldo but the Astana rider wont ask for any help, he's on a mission here.
Roman K is 1:57 back on the two leaders.
The bunch crest the top of the climb 53 seconds further back.
Casar and Pirazzi have just under 18km to go. It's still touch and go here as Pauwels is having a great ride, coming back to the Cataldo group to add a bit of support.
17km to go: the stage, and the overall in this year's Giro d'Italia are still wide open. This next climb, the final ascent of the Passo Pamepago, could decide everything.
Stetina has a wheel change. That'll be hard to come back from.
A few riders are having a comfort break. Too much information?
This stage just keeps giving!
@nyvelocity Fri, 25th May 2012 16:04:24
1:48 for our two leaders. They'll need every second of that before they start the final climb because Kreuziger is on a mission.
There's a very tight corner on the descent and two riders have almost come off there. The peloton are descending at speed now.
12 to go.
15km to go for the Basso bunch.
As Pirazzi and Casar push their lead to 3:17on the maglia rosa group.
Cataldo, Kreuziger and Pauwels are chasing in the second group.
But now we have a leading group of four because Sella and Rohregger have come back. I thought they'd been caught a while back but now they're back with the leaders.
These four now have over two minutes on the Cataldo/Kreuziger group. Could Sella win here again?
Now the gap is 1:15 to the Cataldo group.
The leading four are close to the base of the final climb.
Onto the climb for the final time. Here we go.
Now Basso has to prove that all the work his team have done over the last three weeks has been worth. He has to make a move and make up time.
And Rohregger is in trouble
All the favourites are still here.
And Pirazzi attacks.
Sella is the only rider who can give chase.
No it's Casar who comes over not Sella and now the Frenchman attacks but he cant drop the Colnago rider.
But Kreuziger is closing , 41 seconds now.
Garmin set the pace in the Basso group
Hesjedal has put his two men on the front of the climb.
Slagter attacks. No concern in the battle for pink
5km to go.
The Canadian must be confident
Kreuziger and Cataldo are closing in on the two leaders.
Casar and Pirazzi side by side.
As Slagter is caught.
Hesjedal has just one man left. Pozzovivo is close up to the front now, with Cunego and Scarponi
Sella has been caught by Roman K
5km to go for the maglia rosa.
Henao and Uran are both still here too
And Kreuziger attacks and he's coming up to Casar and Pirazzi.
Cataldo is digging in
So Pirazzi stamps on the pedals and responds.
He's dropped Casar.
Roman catches the FDJ rider.
Kreuziger moves to the front in pursuit of the Colnago rider, and Casar is hanging on
Meanwhile Rodriguez looks comfortable, Scarponi too.Basso has just one teammate.
Now Basso has to take it up but there are maybe 15 riders with him.
Hesjedal on his wheel.
Hesjedal responds and catches him.
Basso chugs his way to the front again.
Scarponi looks over, Rodriguez continues to just follow.
And Scarponi goes again but Ryder and then Rodriguez chase.
Basso is at the back and Pozzovivo is being dropped.
There are just 6 in the Basso group.
And Scarponi goes again and this time Ryder chases and catches him, Rodriguez is with them so Basso needs to close that gap.
He does it.
Roman K is up ahead and on his own but no sign if he's caught Pirazzi.
He has so the Astana rider leads by 58 seconds witht 2.2km to go.
Now Hesjedal attacks and he's got Scarponi with him.
Basso is closing the gap for Rodriguez.
Has Basso cracked?
Ryder and Scarponi have gone clear now
The Canadian just needs to follow for now.
Basso just follows Rodriguez but they're both in trouble. They have Uran for company.
Scarponi and Hesjedal side by side, with Kreuziger still ahead by around 40 seconds.
That's a really gutsy ride from the Astana rider.
The Garmin leader takes up the pace setting and Basso is losing ground on Rodriguez
Just 1km for Kreuziger.
But now Hesjedal looks back, he gives Scarponi the look and I think he's riding away from the Lampre rider.
Scarponi responds and gets on the wheel.
Kreuziger is cracking.
As Basso and Uran ride together. They're all over the road today.
Hesjedal is clear of Scarponi. That's incredible.
Scarponi has blown.
The Canadian gets out of the saddle. There's about 30 seconds between Hesjedal and Basso.
Basso drops Uran.
It's painful to watch, as Kreuziger inches towards the line. Can he hang on?
He takes the stage win. What a stage, what a win!
Here comes Hesjedal.
And Rodriguez pips Scarponi to the line. Then it's Pozzovivo, Basso , then Uran.
Basso lost 35 seconds to Hesjedal. Has the Italian's Giro collapsed?
Gadret comes over the line, they're all finishing one by one on the climb.
Hesjedal moves closer to winning the Giro. He's on the ground now trying to recover.
@Vaughters Fri, 25th May 2012 16:42:45
Great rides today, Pirazzi and Casar both stand out. Kreuziger too but Hesjedal is the big winner putting time into all his rivals.
Mark Robinson Peter Hymas
Mark Robinson Peter Hymas
That all means that Scarponi climbs into third on GC
General classification after stage 19 1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 84:06:12
2 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:17
3 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:39
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:45
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:03:21
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 0:03:30
7 John Gadret (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:05:36
8 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:05:40
9 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:05:47
10 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:06:09
Thanks for joining us today in our coverage of the Giro's 19th stage. It's been an epic day with so much to talk about. Remember you canclick here
for results and reports and tune in tomorrow for the final day in the Dolomites.