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Giro d'Italia 2010: Stage 15

Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews' coverage of the Giro d'Italia. Today is arguably the race's toughest stage from Mestre to Zoncolan, a 222KM slog finishing on one of the toughest climbs in the world.

To bring you all quickly up to speed we have 6 riders of the the front of the bunch. Turpin, Rodriguez, Le Floch, Sijmens, Pineau and Reda. They have a lead of 9:47, and we've covered 40KM so far.

170km remaining from 222km

Some more information for you: Both Tyler Farrar and Robbie McEwen did not start today

And here are some of today's stage details before we take a look at the route profile and of course an in depth look at the final climb. The Zoncolan

Distance: 222km
Vertical climb: 3,980m
Highest point: 1,730m
Terrain: High mountain
Category: Road Stage

And before we forget Will Frischkorn of Garmin-Transitions fame will be joining us later today for live. If you have any questions for Will please flick them to be me @

Three climbs precede what is widely regarded as the toughest road climb in Europe. Gilberto Simoni claimed the easiest sections of Monte Zoncolan are as hard as the toughest climbs on the Tour de France. Like something from another world, it averages 11.5 per cent for 10km. The fans will love it and turn out in their thousands, the riders will endure it and be thankful for the rest day that follows. It will be interesting to note whether anyone can improve on the time of 39:05 that Simoni set for the climb in 2007. To underline just how brutal it is, his average speed for the ascent that day was just 15.05kph.

162km remaining from 222km

Our six leaders now have a gap of 11:50 over the peloton, which is being lead by Caisse d'Epargne and Liquigas. Caisse of course at the front to protect their man and new leader of the race David Arroyo of Spain. Arroyo claimed pink after finishing in a group ahead of Riche Porte yesterday.

David Arroyo will know the Zoncolan well. He raced up it in 2007 at the Giro. It wasn't a great day for him though. He finished 4.26 down on Simoni that day. That kind of time gap today to the favourities like Nibali and Evans should be okay but there are a few good climbers hovering around Arroyo, Tondo being one of them. Here's a look at the top 20 in GC as they stood at the start of today's stage.

1 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 61:22:54
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:39
3 Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:02:12
4 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:35
5 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram 0:03:52
6 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:05:27
7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:06:32
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:06:51
9 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:07:15
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:07:26
11 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:07:43
12 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:09:02
13 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia 0:10:23
14 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha 0:10:45
15 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:11:11
16 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:12:27
17 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step 0:14:11
18 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank 0:14:21
19 Alexander Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale 0:14:26
20 Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:17:45

We saw yesterday that the four strongest riders in the race are Basso, Nibali, Scarponi and Evans but don't rule out someone like Carlos Sastre. He barely raced before the Giro this year but with every kilometer he picks up he'll be getting stronger. Of course, he still sits above the mentioned quartet in GC too.

We spoke to one of today's favourites, Scarponi and this is what he had to say about today's stage, "I did the Zoncolan from the slightly easier side in 2003, but wasn't at the Giro when they last went up in 2007. There's drama whenever the Giro goes to the Zoncolan. The secret on such a hard climb is not getting lured too far into the red zone, because the consequences here could be horrific. Nonetheless, it's quite hard to make up lots of time, because everyone goes as slowly as each other! Roughly the same applies on Plan De Corones."

150km remaining from 222km

The six leaders are working well together, in fact they're flying along right now, with their lead growing by another couple of minutes.

In case you're concerned whether the break is getting too much time, don't worry it's not. Pineau is the top rider on GC and he's over an hour down.

We have a surprise guest in the blimp today - well for a short time anyway. Welcome Daniel Friebe from Procycling magazine.

DB: How are you Daniel

DF: OK. Better than Mauro Santambrogio. I presume he's quit the race...because he's on Facebook right now!

DB: So what did you make of yesterday's action? Did we see the four strongest riders in the race make their case for the podium?

DF: It would already be too late for Liquigas if it wasn't for an excessively hard route. What struck me yesterday, though, as has done consistently over the past two years, is that we often don't see the best racing in the mountains in grand tours any more. The two big mountain stages in the Giro to date have been among the least interesting of the race. And I'm fairly certain that it's because the racing is cleaner

DF: The days of huge, searing accelerations just about ended with Riccardo Ricco's exclusion from the 2008 Tour, with one or two exceptions

DF: Applying this point to this year's race, it won't be easy for the Liquigas pair to make up those minutes. That said. it was a stunning last 40km by Nibali.

135km remaining from 222km

Back to the action for a second and the bunch are holding the break at around 13 minutes.

DB: Back to Nibbles for a second. He was impressive, especially considering that he was brought in at the last minute. Assuming he goes well here and perhaps wins the race or finishes in the top three what does that do for Liquigas' Tour de France hierarchy?

DF: The have a policy of starting leaders on an even footing, which at this point means Basso, Kreuziger and possibly Nibali all sharing leadership duties. They're lucky that they all seem to get on. They're also very similar riders, which may not be a good thing. Yesterday showed the value of being a good descender, though. Basso is very limited in that department.

DB: Changing the subject briefly, you've been following the Landis story since it broke last week. What are your thoughts?

DF: I'm not sure. The big issue here is the UCI. If Landis's allegations are true, there is no future for the people currently in charge of that organization, or indeed the organization itself. Armstrong's relevance at this point, I fear, is not all that great. The battle lines are drawn in that debate: there is probably a majority who don't believe his Tour wins were doping-free, and a still large minority whose belief that they were can never be shaken.

Back the race for a second and let's have a look at the climbs for today. The Sella Chianzutanis a 10,65km long climb, with an average gradient of 5.4% and a maximum of 9%.

Passo Duron is a 4,45km long climb, with an average gradient of 9.5% and a maximum of 18%.

The Sella Valcalda offers a 4.95km long climb, but is slightly easier, with a 7.2% average gradient and a maximum of 12%.

The closing climb up Monte Zoncolan pulls out all the stops. The 10.1km climb has an average gradient of 11,9%, with the maximum gradient reaching up to 22%.

128km remaining from 222km

Liquigas and Caisse are still on the front of the bunch controlling the tempo at the moment. The gap has gone out to just over 14 minutes.

DB: It was interesting that WADA and the UCI both released statements on the same day but one organisation said they would investigate while the other seemed to bash the allegation back. I guess the question is whether we need the UCI in it's current format

DF: I don't think the discrepancy between WADA's statement and Pat McQuaid's requires any comment...The readers aren't stupid. All I'd add on that is that a number of people involved in this saga are being poorly advised: McQuaid (had he been properly briefed by the UCI's communications office?), Landis, Armstrong... Publishing those e-mails on the RadioShack website was, to my mind, a huge mistake. That move fanned the flames and opened Armstrong's actions to yet more scrutiny.

DF: The whole thing is becoming very undignified. Like or loathe Armstrong, you always felt that he had an aura, an authority, a certain gravitas, in the same way that Tiger Woods did until last November. This lurid trail of e-mails and accusations is doing a good job of yanking Armstrong down off whatever pedestal he occupied.

DB: Thanks Daniel. We know you have to shoot off now, so we won't keep you.

DF: Cheers.

120km remaining from 222km

Our leaders are still together but the road is gradually pointing upwards now. Sella Chianzutanis is the first climb of the day that they'll come to.

Just to give you an idea on how big the crowds are today take a look at this picture. It comes from Chiara, Cadel Evans's wife.

115km remaining from 222km

Pineau is having a great Giro. One stage to his name and he's been in a few breaks. I wonder how many kilometers he's been off the front? If anyone knows please let me know.

The six leaders are now on a false flat as they head towards the first major climb of the day, which starts in less then 20K. Liquigas and Caisse are still setting the pace on the front of the peloton.

While we wait for the action to  really kick off let's have a look at the pink jersey wearer David Arroyo. Well, he's Spanish, he's 30 and he's been a professional since 2001. He turned pro with Manolo Saiz at ONCE, had a single year with La Pecol, before jumping over to Caisse where he's been since 2005.

He finished 21st in the Tour de France in 06, and 19th in the Vuelta that same year. He finished 10th in the Giro the next year, and 13th in the Tour. In 09 he finished 11th in the Giro too. Conclusion being that he's consistent.

100km remaining from 222km

100 kilometers of racing left now and the leaders aren't too far from the first climb of the day. We can see their lead to drop there, with the peloton behind and riding on relatively flat roads.

If you've just joined us today, Tyler Farrar and Robbie McEwen did not start today's stage. Both sprinters have gone home. The Australian did have some knee problems earlier in the week.

96km remaining from 222km

Spectacular scenery right now as the bunch weaves through the Italian hills. Caisse still at the front with Arroya pretty in pink as he sits near the back of the Caisse train.

Just a note on Landis, he made an appearance at the the Amgen Tour of California. You can read about it here.

And dont forget that Will Frischkorn will be here on live in around 30 minutes. Have a question for him, chuck it over to me at

Earlier I asked, how long as Pineau spent off the front in breaks in this year's Giro. Well someone has emailed in with an answer. Fantastic. Stage 3 132km, stage 5 137km, stage 11 242km. So 511km before today. Thank you to Mate Szalay. You don't include where you're from but thank you.

Back in the bunch and Liquigas are now moving more riders to the front of the bunch. They'll be aiming to not only keep Basso and Nibali out of trouble but also make sure that both men are near the front for the start of the first major climb. Yesterday they set a furious pace at the front and blew the race apart. Will they do it again today or will they wait until the final climb before making the final selection?

Jackson Rodriguez moves to the front of the break. Great name. Jackson Rodriguez. Anyway, he moves out of the saddle and increases the pace slightly before pulling over and letting another rider set the pace.

The six leaders are now coming to the lower slopes of the first climb. Liquigas on the front, only broken by one Astana rider who is in the middle of their train.

87km remaining from 222km

Just to go over the day's climbs one more time:

The Sella Chianzutanis a 10,65km long climb, with an average gradient of 5.4% and a maximum of 9%.
Passo Duron is a 4,45km long climb, with an average gradient of 9.5% and a maximum of 18%.
The Sella Valcalda offers a 4.95km long climb, but is slightly easier, with a 7.2% average gradient and a maximum of 12%.
The closing climb up Monte Zoncolan pulls out all the stops. The 10.1km climb has an average gradient of 11,9%, with the maximum gradient reaching up to 22%.

86km remaining from 222km

The leaders are now on the climb and the gap is just a shade over 13 minutes to the peloton.

And now I'd like to welcome Garmin-Transitions' Will Frischkorn into the blimp.

82km remaining from 222km

While Will settles in lets get you all updated with the situation. We have  6 riders off the front and on the first climb of the day. Their names are list below and they have a lead of around 13 minutes on the peloton, which is currently lead by Liquigas.

DB: All well Will?

WF: Just back from a morning on the beach. Took out the stand-up boards, paddled the coast for a bit. civilized sunday morning.

DB: Thanks for showing off. Some of us have to work.

WF: Look like some pain at the ol bike race today . profile alone. ouch

81km remaining from 222km

The bunch are all strung out now on the lower slopes. As if i need to tell you who is leading the bunch. Yep, that's right it's Liquigas.

Arroyo is sitting in the wheels at the moment with the main favourites sitting comfortably in the bunch.

DB: What are your thoughts on how tough it could be for the leaders today? What are you expecting to see?
WF: From profile alone, I have to think that today is one that those who have a point to make and the legs to do it will have to make an impression on the race. With 3 pretty significant climbs before the finale, and Liquigas-Doimo already looking like they're puting some pressure on the front I have to expect some fireworks.

79km remaining from 222km

The six leaders are 1K from the top of the first climb now with Sijmens on the front. He's done a fair amount of work at the front today. Perhaps more than some of the other riders in the break.

Over the top they go with Turpin taking maximum points on offer.

DB: Is there enough Ks and time for Liquigas to win this race?
WF: Not today alone, but over the courses of the week ahead I think anybody in the top 10 with a bit of luck could have a shot at podium.

74km remaining from 222km

Arroyo is sitting right on the last Liquigas wheel, marking Nibali.

Smart reaction from Liquigas who now put a rider between Arroyo and Nibali.

DB: Will, can you give us an update on Tyler Farrar, who pulled out of the race before the start of the stage?

WF: Tyler had contemplated stopping at some point around here in the race, looking towards the months ahead. If you look at the week to come with only one stage for the sprinters and a LOT of hills to slog over it's a good time to call it a successful race. He can leave here with great confidence going out, with legs on the upswing, not destroyed, and come out of the Giro stronger, both physically and mentally. Can't ask for much more.

A question via Twitter from blinkerlight01
Ask Will why he thinks Liquigas is pacing and not Caisse

While Liquigas isn't in the lead, they have a lot to gain in the next few days and want to put the pressure on earlier rather than waiting until the end. When the road is up and down like this all day long you don't expend that much more work on the front of the bunch. In addition to being a bit more secure on twisty roads and not having to shuffle for position all day, there's a great energy in a team when you're all together and sometimes the small mental gains from something as simple as that can make a difference.

64km remaining from 222km

Liquigas still punching out a strong, fast pace here, while the six leaders are now on a long flat stretch of road. The gap is now down to 9:45

Another Twitter question for you Will.

How does the Zoncolan compare in difficulty to the Angliru?

WF: I've not done the Zoncolan so can't say personally, but the stats seem to make it look even worse. One of those climbs where you're just trying to get the pedals over and keep moving forward. Especially at the end of a day like this one.

59km remaining from 222km

Into the final 60K and the leaders are approaching the second climb. It rises up - as climbs tend to do  - then dips down for a few kilometers before kicking back up again. The gap is slowly starting to come down a bit more. It's just over 9 minutes now.

Back in the bunch and a number of riders are going back to the cars to pick up bottles and food.

WF:  While it's sometimes hard to pull out big gains from those in a group together, when meters are synonymous with seconds, they add up quicker than one thinks. And if anybody cracks, the losses could be huge.

Matt Lloyd is back with the cars, swigging on a can of coke.

The six leaders are now on the climb. Cofidis on the front, Bbox and then Savio's rider.

55km remaining from 222km

DB: Who is best suited to the Zoncolan?
WF: Small, snappy, still fresh. Makes me think Nibali after yesterday's ride, Cunego possibly, Sastre is due a good one, Scarponi, but you can't count out Vino or Cadel. As much as anything, it will be a test of who has gas in the tank and took care of themselves best over the course of the stage.

Arroyo now on Sastre's wheel. Then moves by the former Tour de France winner. Clearly trying to sniff out of Sastre is feeling good today.

WF: Looking at the top right now you have an interesting mix of those there that you would expect, and then a bit of shuffle due to the massive split earlier in the week. It's amazing how riders occasionally step up to the occasion sometimes and adds a fun little sub plot to the top of the race. This would be a hard week to step up to if you weren't ready however...

The bunch are now on the climb and we can expect a few attacks here and plenty of riders popping off the back. Grivko is forced to stop, play with his bike and then chase back on.

52km remaining from 222km

The gap is coming down further now, as Turpin moves to the front. All six riders will be finding it hard now. I'm going to stop telling you that Liquigas are on the front until the stop or someone else takes over. Even I'm getting bored of repeating it.

49km remaining from 222km

The leaders are now on the slight dip I told you about but they'll have to start climbing again soon. 'That team' are still on the front behind. Doing a good job I will add.

DB: What do you think of Sastre's prep? He raced just over a week before the Giro. Is that enough?

WF: I'm always amazed with the ability of some of the greats in the sport to truly train themselves into shape - it takes incredible focus and support in the best of situations - but a week is slim even for somebody like Sastre... It could bode well for him later in the year however as he looks like he's gaining from the workload thus far.

The leaders snake their way through a sleepy Italian village and along a very narrow road. They'll start climbing again very soon but the gap is now under 8 minutes.

WF: These look like some realliy, really cool roads out there. The kind of terrain that is just made for cycling; perfect to ride, brutal to race. Italy seems to be littered with them.

And we can see Cadel Evans for the first time. He's peaking out just behind the Caisse collective.

The six leaders have started to climb again now. There are good crowds on the climb too.

42km remaining from 222km

The gap will come down sharply here as the leaders climb and the peloton descend.

Pretty brutal here as all six have to get out of the saddle just to keep the momentum going. The crowds are deep too with children letting off balloons just as they pass.

DB: What of Evans. He's shown to have some good form but have we seen the best of him or is there more in the tank? Same for Scarponi too.

WF: Good quesiton - I think generally speaking Cadel probaby has better durability than Scarponi, but he'll be pretty isolated this week as well and that never helps. Both, Cadel in particular, put in some big efforts early in the race and only they will know how well they recovered.

WF: Some amazing crowds out there today - the Gazetta coverage of the finish crowds earlier in the day was crazy. The Italians know how to do it up.

The leaders are looking ragged now. They've been out there for a long time now. Brave effort though.

Via Twitter primaryquay: Will, who do you think is a better descender - Nibali or Cancellara?
WF:  I don't know if there's anybody out there that can touch Fabian other than maybe Thor. Those guys are on a different level - it's like they slap moto GP rubber on for the way down.

41km remaining from 222km

Liquigas are putting down the hammer on these steep sections and riders are falling off the back. Scarponi has a man in front of him, perhaps that's Serpa, but it looks like the pink jersey group is around 40-50 deep at the moment.

The leaders are all over the road now. Reda has been dropped, he was really in pain and a number of riders have been dropped from the peloton. The leaders have just 1K until the top of the climb. The gap just over 6 minutes.

WF: My Garmin-Transitions home coming out, looking at Dan Martin in the group makes me really hope today is one for him to shine. He jumped into the race late in the game and it's been a good one for him to get the feel of Italian racing. A climb like the Zoncolan suits him really well.

WF: Liquigas is setting a stiff pace there on the front - the difference in speed there between the peloton and break is visible. They're cruisin.

A lot of guys are feeling it at the back - looks like a split going clear now, 25 or so tops. Earlier than I'd have guessed today

39km remaining from 222km

Liquigas have totally destroyed what was left of the bunch now. There are maybe twenty guys with them but that's it. All the main favourites look to have made it but there's still a very long way to go.

Liquigas swing around a corner and Nibali looks back at the damage his teammates have caused. Riders are everywhere.

37km remaining from 222km

We missed it but Turpin took maximum points at the top of the climb.

31km remaining from 222km

Over the top for the bunch and Wiggins is around a minute down we're hearing, on the group of Liquigas.

There are still five leaders at the head of the race, their lead coming down bit by bit as Rodriguez comes back to the car and get a drink and some advice.

Reda is 45 seconds behind the leaders we're now hearing.

Tondo was also dropped at the top of that last climb and he's chasing on his own to try and get back in.

WF: It looks like the liquigas train has settled down a little bit at the top, realizing they've done their damage and can relax just a bit here before what looks like an INSANE descent.
One of the few things I miss from racing is the ability to absolutely fly down closed roads, using every centimeter available. Add the energy of a race and there are few things more fun.

26km remaining from 222km

The Liquigas group has grown at bit. At once stage it was down to around 20 but it's back up to around 35 now. The leaders are at the base of the next climb, after that they still have the Zoncolan to com.

Liquigas are easing up now as they take stock, get drinks and throw away anything they dont need before the final 25K.

25km remaining from 222km

Dan Martin is still with the leaders and is looking strong right now. The break head under the 25 to go banner.

24km remaining from 222km

The climb is 6.5K long. Doesn't sound too bad but after nearly 200K of longl, hard racing it's going to be torture nearly everyone out there.

Lampre are coming to the front of the bunch now, obviously trying to set something up for Cunego who also raced up here in 2007 when Simoni, now his teammate, won.

23km remaining from 222km

Arroyo, Sastre and Evans are all there. Vino and Scarponi too.

Turpin looks down at this watch. Pineau gives Rodriguez a pat on the back. Body language suggest that they know that the game is almost up.

22km remaining from 222km

The peloton have regrouped and it looks like Wiggns and Tondo may have made it back. Just trying to pick them out for you. The leaders have 2K to go on the climb.

WF: once again the Liquigas guys are putting some real schstick to the peloton - impressive. While the group grew a bit there in the valley, by the top of this it's going to be back to a select little crew.

Vino sitting in now just behind Liquigas. Arroya is drifting a bit further back and there's Dan Martin, just ahead of him.

Reda caught and passed. His day is over. Bravo!

19km remaining from 222km

Into the final 20K now and just the matter of the Zoncolan to come - one, if the harderd climbs in around. I think that's Pinotti trying to get clear but they've only given him a few meters. he's marked by a Katusha rider.

Pinotti is brought back by the Liquigas train who look like they could do this all day long. Cunego we can see now, his small frame jumping around on the saddle.

WF: Pinotti put in a little dig towards the top of the climb but not to much effect. While avoiding the battle for position going into the Zoncolan, saving anything you have at this point seems wisest.

Evans and Cunego are just behind Nibali now as the pink jersey group crest the top of the climb and head for the final battle of the day.The Zoncolan

No let up now from the Maglia Rosa group. They'll push full throttle to the climb and hit it at 100 per cent.

WF: The Liquigas workhorses will have to be breathing a sigh of relief knowing their day on the front is nearly at an end. Szymd has done some serious damage today. Unfortunately just getting to the finish from here isn't going to be easy.

13km remaining from 222km

Just over three minutes now between the leaders and the peloton.

Pained expressions on the faces of the leaders and they're not even on the climb yet.

WF: Another descent, like so many in Italy, where being at the front of the group is a huge help - they're flying. And almost to the bottom of the climb now.

Now Jackson Rodriguez isn't a bad climber. Could he be the first to attack from the lead group? Watch out for him.

DB: Can the leaders survive?

WF: A very slim chance today. Unlike last Sunday when there was a huge group rolling together, these guys today have all seen some real time with their noses in the wind. They'll pay for it here soon.

Left turn for the leaders and they're nearly there. Slight uphill now but it's very quickly changing.

Lampre are daring to break things up at the front but Liquigas quickly put them in their place. Ping! Guillaume Le Floch has already gone off the back.

9km remaining from 222km

The gap now under three minutes for the first time, Pineau still fighting on bravely as he leads the break but behind Lampre have come to the front.

No team cars allowed on the climb so mechanics are on motos.

WF: I like the Moto wrench there in the Garmin-Transitions jersey! We need more of those out there on this side of the pond - they're finally for sale here in Europe on

DB: Steady on there Will.

Jack Rod as I'll forever call him from now on leads the break. Liquigas back on the front now with Evans hovering behind in the rainbow jersey.

Riders are being dropped, 1 , 2, another , another. Carnage. That's Lloyd out of the back too.

WF: The bottom slopes look a bit less torturous than the middle-section to come. With 8k to go they hit 6k with NONE of it below 10%. There aren't that many climbs in the world that sports those stats.

Sastre is at the back of the main group now. While the leaders are still fighting on.

7km remaining from 222km

WF: Evans is looking good right up front now beside the Liquigas engines. Sastre, not so comfortable just tagged on the back end.

Arroyo is still with the main favourites, and the gap is down to less than two minutes. Cioni dropped as Scarponi hits the front for the first time today and sets the pace.

Basso and Evans are straight onto Scarponi, they're not giving him an inch. Arroyo is struggling here and he's off the back. the pink jersey has been dropped. Vino is dropped too.

Scarponi's move to the front has dropped nearly everyone. He's with Evans and Basso. Everyone else has been dropped including Vino, Nibali and Cunego.

6km remaining from 222km

Scarpoi still leads, Evans out of the saddle fighting all the time as Pinotti tries to make it over to the leaders. Martin is also struggling and has been dropped. Arroyo paced by a teammate. He could lose pink today.

Evans draws level with Scarponi and Basso. They share the road.

We're waiting for time gaps but riders are all over the shop here. Now Basso moves to the front and sets the pace, no more waiting for Nibali who is on Vino's wheel

Is this the podium for the Giro? Basso, Evans, Scarponi?

6km remaining from 222km

WF: Basso seems to be ready to make his statement - he hits the front and quickly starts tapping out a good tempo. He makes this look easy compared to the coverage of the riders clinging to their lead up ahead.

Sastre doesnt' have any more gears left and is behind Arroyo as the Basso group catch Jackson, who gives Scarponi a word. HE cant hear him, he's being dropped. Basso has gritting his teeth and dropped Scarponi. Can Evans make it to his wheel?

He can but only just! Basso now leads Evans the crowds are huge, huge. Scarponi has to fight back here. Doe he have an answer for Basso?

5km remaining from 222km

WF: Basso is ON! He has Cadel on the ropes.

Evans his holding Basso but for how long. Aldo Sassi, who trains both riders said that if one of them wins the Giro it would be a victory for clean cycling.

Evans hits the front for the first time now and Basso has to follow him. Scarponi passes Turpin on the road, his face almost desolate.

WF: What a difference in styles between Basso and Evans. They must have a dinner plate of a cog on Basso's rear cosmic.

Scarponi is perhaps 100 meters down on the lead pair now, he can see Basso's jersey up ahead as Evan's continues to push on, out of the saddle, then down, then up again.

WF: Cadel's fighting hard and claws his way back from that little test acceleration. Basso is gritting his teeth but looks comfortable on the front.

4km remaining from 222km

Cunego is trying to catch Vino here but both riders will lose a lot of time today. Basso and Evans still together, Pinotti is also in the mix but is further back. Basso takes a drink as Evans, still out of the saddle continues to keep up.

WF: 5 LONG kilometers to go and the favorites are all over the road. RCS knows how to create a show...

Despite looking in pain Basso does look strong here. There;'s no hiding place though and they have to push on if they want to distance Scarponi even more. He's 25 seconds down right now.

WF A shot of Scarponi and he's a beaten man. He's barely out of the picture, 25 seconds down, but you can see that there isn't much fight left.

Around a left hander and Basso looks up, wishing for the finish line but he's still got over 4K to go. Evans is drifting back a bit here. He was level but now he's on Basso's wheel. Basso looks around and calls him through. Evans comes through.

3km remaining from 222km

Arroyo is on his own now. He could still keep pink but we just dont know yet. No idea on where the likes of Tondo or Porte are.

Basso is leaving Evans behind. Evans has cracked and Basso is cycling to the finish alone. The gap is five lengths, now ten.

Evans isnt getting out of the saddle now but Basso is, he's up and he's looking straight ahead, the suffering on his face is plain to see. Evans is rocking all over the road though.

Basso, Evans, Scarponi, all three are alone on the road and fighting their own battles. Scarponi does look smooth but Evans is well ahead of him. Basso just looks unbeatable.

3km remaining from 222km

WF: With only 17 seconds between them going into today, Basso looks to have about that now.

The Italian fans are going crazy here for Basso, running alongside him. Let's hope they'll be responsible and give him a bit more room.

Scarponi goes under the 3K to go banner, while Vino, much further back is really in trouble. Scarponi isn't far behind Cadel now at 3k to go. He'll have to get a little boost, even if just mental, from the motos and the Mavic car just ahead

Sastre Nibali and Pinotti all go under the 3K to go banner together. Basso continues to take time out of Evans.

WF: looking at this road and the fans everywhere I can only imagine the carnage to follow post race.

2km remaining from 222km

2K for Basso now with Evans 42 seconds back.

The group of Sastre, Nibali and Pinotti has split to pieces with Arroyo behind them.

WF: A close up shot of Basso shows a face of focus. He's going to take time all the way to the line.

1km remaining from 222km

Evans is looking back, he knows that Scarponi isn't far away and he's pushing harder on the pedals.

WF: Evans seems to be putting in a bit of a re-focused dig. He's nowhere near catching back fro the day, but has some fire back in the legs all of a sudden.

Basso has just 1K to go now. The road eases slightly has he goes through a tunnel.

WF: The road kicks back up for the last kilometer to the finish and fans have jumped the barriers - Chaos.

Not far for Basso now as the noise around him rises and the crowds get bigger. A famous win for Basso here. 350 to go.

WF: Basso taps out his pace through a one-lane tunnel barely wide enough for a car - some amazing scenery today.

A narrow, narrow road here and after over 6 hours of racing Ivan Basso is going to cross the line alone and win his first individual  stage of the Giro since he won the race in 2006.

He crosses the line. It's his. If Sassi is right and this is a victory for clean cycling it was a spectacular one.

WF: And now rather than barries it looks like the organization has resorted to military and police to create a human barrier between tifosi and riders. A satisfied smile as Basso crosses the line. He'll have to be a bit more emotional on the inside than what he just showed. Class ride.

Evans comes up to the line and is 1:19 down. Scarponi comes too and he's 1:31 back

Cunego is next! Where did he come from? He's sprinting and is 1:58. Vino is coming too and finishes 2:25

Here comes Sastre, good recovery from him. 2:46 back or thereabouts. Nibali is next over the line 3:07 down.

Pinotti was next and then Dan Martin. Efikim and then Arroyo, who lost around 4 minutes.

No confirmation but I think that means that Arroyo will keep pink.

Porte comes over the line, losing around 6 minutes.

Porte keeps second but Basso is now third overall.

DB: Sum up what we've seen today Will.

WF: Looking back on that one, hats-off for Liquigas. They rode that like Basso was in the lead, and he delivered at the finish with a decisive performance. Going into the week ahead that has to give them great confidence, and put a bit of a stamp down on the other contenders. I can't wait to see the Time Trial in 2 days - that will solidify things even further and give a great idea of who is going to finish up in pink. Basso has a ways to go yet, but he looks keen to make it happen.

DB: Thanks for joining us today Will.

WF:  You bet.

Thanks for joining us today. Tomorrow's a rest day but stay tuned for more Giro live coverage on Tuesday.

1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 6:21:58
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:19
3 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:01:31
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:01:58
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:02:26
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam 0:02:44
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:03:06
8 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC-Columbia 0:03:20


1 David Arroyo

2 Richie Porte

3 Ivan Basso

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