Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) has added a second Giro stage win to his tally this year, taking out the 210 km 18th leg between Sillian and Gemona Del Friuli. Schumacher beat José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Caisse d'Epargne), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital), David Lopez Garcia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Charles Wegelius (Liquigas), who made up the five man breakaway that stayed away for most of the stage. The peloton containing maglia rosa Ivan Basso arrived 2'43 later, and there were no changes to the general classification.
The 18th stage was overshadowed by the news that Liberty Seguros had pulled its sponsorship in the wake of the arrest of team manager Manolo Saiz on doping related charges earlier this week. It was a typically aggressive race at the beginning, but after 50 km, an attack by Marzio Bruseghin eventually led to the five man break being established. The most active riders in pursuit were Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), but neither could join the break. The leaders reached a maximum advantage of 7'28 with 58 km to go, before Phonak started chasing behind to protect their lead on team GC.
The final 10 km were filled with attacks and counter-attacks in front, with Lopez trying his luck for a while, before being joined by Schumacher, then the rest. But it was all together in the final kilometre, and although Bruseghin managed to surprise Schumacher by a couple of bike lengths with 200m to go, the German wound it up to 68 km/h to win by a comfortable margin.
See also: Stage 18 full results, report & photos and .
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