Basso charges into pink with Mortirolo attack

Ivan Basso blasted open the 19th stage and the Giro d'Italia itself, shedding his rivals on the Motirolo with the help of his Liquigas-Doimo teammate Vincenzo Nibali, and donning the maglia rosa for the first time since 2006. The third man in the group, Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli – Diquigiovanni), took the stage win..

The attack from the Liquigas pair took place on the day's biggest climb, the Mortirolo, with over 40km and another unclassified hill-top finish still to go. One by one, the morning's leader David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Cadel Evans (BMC), Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) and Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) were ridden off the train, while only Scarponi could hold the pace of Basso and Nibali.

While the chasing four plus AG2R's John Gadret would come together to claw back some of their deficit before the final climb, the three Italians up the road pulled out over three minutes by the stage's end in Aprica. Scarponi claimed his third victory of the season in a barely contested sprint over Basso.

"I managed to keep up the pace when Basso forced in the Mortirolo," said Scarponi. "We had a common interest for the stage win and GC. As soon as he has started thinking of getting the pink jersey, I started thinking of winning the stage.

"I'm extremely happy. Since the beginning of the Giro, I had a podium finish in mind. Now I'm 4th, I've never been so close to my goal but I'm still not there yet."

For Basso, the leadership in the Giro d'Italia is something that, until now, he has chased and not caught since being suspended because of the Operación Puerto scandal in 2007.

"I'm really happy. It's a fantastic day. I want to thank all the team because they were great again."

Basso followed up his strong performance on the Monte Zoncolan, where he won the stage and put 1:19 into Cadel Evans on the mountain top finish, with an unbeatable time grab. Today, the attack came on the penultimate climb, the Mortirolo, but Basso's biggest gains were made on the more gentle ascent to the line in Aprica.

"On the Mortirolo I could have perhaps got a gap and gained more time but it was important for me and Vincenzo (Nibali) to stay together, so that we could both gain time overall. We had a great Scarponi with us who also helped, and so I'm sure the best strategy was stay united."

The trio held around a minute on the chasing five at the base of the last climb, but by the top, the 3:05 gained on Arroyo was enough to not only put Basso in pink, but move Nibali into third place overall.

"I had seen Arroyo in great condition in the previous days with a team that is used to controlling Grand Tours. We had a plan for our team to stay united. We believed in our chances to get the pink jersey, but the goal hasn't been reached yet. Tomorrow is a super hard stage before Sunday's time trial."

In 2006, Basso put the final nail in the coffin of his competitors on the climb to Aprica, winning the second to last stage solo, minutes ahead of his closest rivals.

"Serenity is the key to success. I think more of tomorrow's stage than the stage to Aprica from 2006. In between, there has been a nasty parenthesis. The beauty is how I got up again and everything that happened since the day I put myself on my bike again."

A flat start

Only 148 riders took to the start in Brescia, as three sprinters wisely decided not to take on the mountains. Yesterday's stage winner Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia), Danilo Hondo (Lampre) and Julian Dean of Garmin-Transitions all decided to skip the last three stages.

It took over an hour into the stage for an escape group to form. Jan Bakelandts (Omega Pharma), Francesco Failli (Acqua & Sapone), Branislau Samoilau (Quick Step), Luca Mazzanti (Katusha), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R), Jackson Rodriguez (Diquigiovanni), William Bonnet (Bbox), Xavier Tondo (Cervélo) and Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) eventually got away and built up a lead of to 8:27 minutes at the feed zone.

Then the road started going up, and the gap started coming down. The first climb was the category two Aprica, where Stefano Garzelli attacked out of the peloton as the lead group fell apart. Failli fell out of the lead group and waited for his captain, and the two crossed the top only 1.25 after the leaders.

Liquigas explodes the race

Liquigas continued to control things and power its way along through to the Mortirolo. Early in the climb, Garzelli was alone in the front and the Liquigas group, which still contained maglia rosa David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) had already dropped Damiano Cunego (Lampre).

Sylvester Szmyd was setting the tempo and decimating the group. Best young rider Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) fell off the back, and soon Arroyo suffered the same fate. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Michele Scarponi (Andiron), Cadel Evans (BMC), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) were all managing to hold on.

Sastre was the first to be dropped and was soon followed by Vinokourov. Evans was clearly suffering, losing contact, clawing his way back and then losing contact several times before leaving the three Italians alone. Soon the trio passed Garzelli to take the lead and began putting time into the other GC contenders.

The chasing favourites kept pushing over the top: Vinokourov, who had left the others behind, crested only 55 seconds behind the leaders. while Evans was at 1:42 and Arroyo in close proximity.

The technical descent was made even more difficult by the heavy rain, wet road and parked cars. and the leaders managed not to crash, but it wasn't always easy. Arroyo put in an amazing performance to pass Evans and then Sastre, and at the bottom to catch Vinokourov. With 21 km left, the duo was only 46 seconds behind the three Italians in front.

The five came together 12.5km to go, still lagging by only 41 seconds to the leading trio, but on the difficult, uncategorized climb to Aprica, a lack of cooperation in the chasing group cost all of them and the gap grew and grew.

While Arroyo lost his maglia rosa he at least held onto second overall. Evans and Sastre were the biggest losers on the day, being pushed further from striking distance of the podium - now 4:00 and 5:32 behind, respectively.

"We have to congratulate Liquigas, who did sensational work and who put their two leaders on the podium today," Sastre said. "Behind, there wasn't the necessary understanding or strength to reduce the differences," Sastre said. "At least we tried to save the day and I am content to be able to arrive with this group behind the three strongest men of the race."

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli5:27:04
2Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 1 - Cell 2
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 2 - Cell 2
4Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana0:03:05
5John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 4 - Cell 2
6Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:03:06
7David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 6 - Cell 2
8Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 7 - Cell 2
9Branislau Samoilau (Blr) Quick Step0:05:27
10Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Bauke Mollema (Ned) RabobankRow 10 - Cell 2
12Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Liquigas-DoimoRow 11 - Cell 2
13Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) RabobankRow 12 - Cell 2
14Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank0:05:31
15Mauricio Ardila Cano (Col) RabobankRow 14 - Cell 2
16Dario David Cioni (Ita) Sky Professional Cycling Team0:08:17
17Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 16 - Cell 2
18Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram0:10:44
19Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team KatushaRow 18 - Cell 2
20Marcel Wyss (Swi) Cervelo Test TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 20 - Cell 2
22Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 21 - Cell 2
23Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, le Credit en LigneRow 22 - Cell 2
24Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 23 - Cell 2
25Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Caisse d'EpargneRow 24 - Cell 2
26Pieter Weening (Ned) RabobankRow 25 - Cell 2
27Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni GiocattoliRow 26 - Cell 2
28Charles Wegelius (GBr) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 27 - Cell 2
29Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 28 - Cell 2
30Markus Eibegger (Aut) Footon-Servetto0:14:26
31Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 30 - Cell 2
32Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team KatushaRow 31 - Cell 2
33Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:17:05
34Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha0:23:08
35Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 34 - Cell 2
36Florian Stalder (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 35 - Cell 2
37Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) AG2R La MondialeRow 36 - Cell 2
38Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-DoimoRow 37 - Cell 2
39Francesco Failli (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 38 - Cell 2
40Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 39 - Cell 2
41Iban Mayoz Echeverria (Spa) Footon-ServettoRow 40 - Cell 2
42Matthias Brandle (Aut) Footon-ServettoRow 41 - Cell 2
43Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 42 - Cell 2
44Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Acqua & SaponeRow 43 - Cell 2
45Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 44 - Cell 2
46Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni GiocattoliRow 45 - Cell 2
47Cayetano Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Acqua & SaponeRow 46 - Cell 2
48Carlos Jose Ochoa (Ven) Androni GiocattoliRow 47 - Cell 2
49Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Colnago-CSF InoxRow 48 - Cell 2
50Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'EpargneRow 49 - Cell 2
51Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 50 - Cell 2
52Yury Trofimov (Rus) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 51 - Cell 2
53Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 52 - Cell 2
54Michael Barry (Can) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 53 - Cell 2
55William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 54 - Cell 2
56Inigo Cuesta Lopez (Spa) Cervelo Test Team0:26:11
57Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team KatushaRow 56 - Cell 2
58Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 57 - Cell 2
59Massimo Codol (Ita) Acqua & Sapone0:27:26
60Laurent Didier (Lux) Team Saxo BankRow 59 - Cell 2
61Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 60 - Cell 2
62Jerome Pineau (Fra) Quick StepRow 61 - Cell 2
63Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 62 - Cell 2
64Andrei Amador Bikkazakova (CRc) Caisse d'EpargneRow 63 - Cell 2
65Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo BankRow 64 - Cell 2
66Edward King (USA) Cervelo Test TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick StepRow 66 - Cell 2
68Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 67 - Cell 2
69Chris Sorensen (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 68 - Cell 2
70Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
71Cameron Wurf (Aus) Androni GiocattoliRow 70 - Cell 2
72Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - TransitionsRow 71 - Cell 2
73Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 72 - Cell 2
74Remi Cusin (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en LigneRow 73 - Cell 2
75Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 74 - Cell 2
76Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 75 - Cell 2
77Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 76 - Cell 2
78Ludovic Turpin (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 77 - Cell 2
79Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 78 - Cell 2
80Juan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Team KatushaRow 79 - Cell 2
81Alexander Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La MondialeRow 80 - Cell 2
82Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) AstanaRow 81 - Cell 2
83Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 82 - Cell 2
84Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 83 - Cell 2
85Simone Stortoni (Ita) Colnago-CSF InoxRow 84 - Cell 2
86Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 85 - Cell 2
87Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en LigneRow 86 - Cell 2
88Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Cervelo Test Team0:29:05
89Marco Frapporti (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox0:35:17
90Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Colnago-CSF InoxRow 89 - Cell 2
91Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 90 - Cell 2
92Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo BankRow 91 - Cell 2
93Marco Velo (Ita) Quick StepRow 92 - Cell 2
94Roman Kireyev (Kaz) AstanaRow 93 - Cell 2
95Andriy Grivko (Ukr) AstanaRow 94 - Cell 2
96Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 95 - Cell 2
97Matthias Russ (Ger) Team MilramRow 96 - Cell 2
98Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 97 - Cell 2
99Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 98 - Cell 2
100Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) AstanaRow 99 - Cell 2
101Robert Forster (Ger) Team MilramRow 100 - Cell 2
102Jos Van Emden (Ned) RabobankRow 101 - Cell 2
103Alan Marangoni (Ita) Colnago-CSF InoxRow 102 - Cell 2
104Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test TeamRow 103 - Cell 2
105Graeme Brown (Aus) RabobankRow 104 - Cell 2
106Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en LigneRow 105 - Cell 2
107Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Omega Pharma-LottoRow 106 - Cell 2
108Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) RabobankRow 107 - Cell 2
109Michael Albasini (Swi) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 108 - Cell 2
110Guillaume Le Floch (Fra) Bbox Bouygues TelecomRow 109 - Cell 2
111Mauro Facci (Ita) Quick StepRow 110 - Cell 2
112Kalle Kriit (Est) Cofidis, le Credit en LigneRow 111 - Cell 2
113Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Farnese ViniRow 112 - Cell 2
114Sebastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 113 - Cell 2
115Gregory Henderson (NZl) Sky Professional Cycling TeamRow 114 - Cell 2
116Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team KatushaRow 115 - Cell 2
117Serguei Klimov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 116 - Cell 2
118Marco Corti (Ita) Footon-ServettoRow 117 - Cell 2
119Luke Roberts (Aus) Team MilramRow 118 - Cell 2
120Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 119 - Cell 2
121Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en LigneRow 120 - Cell 2
122Rick Flens (Ned) RabobankRow 121 - Cell 2
123Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 122 - Cell 2
124Tiziano dall'Antonia (Ita) Liquigas-DoimoRow 123 - Cell 2
125Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-DoimoRow 124 - Cell 2
126Craig Lewis (USA) Team HTC - ColumbiaRow 125 - Cell 2
127Dario Andriotto (Ita) Acqua & SaponeRow 126 - Cell 2
128Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Garmin - TransitionsRow 127 - Cell 2
129Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team