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Giro d'Italia 2010: Stage 20


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia.

Today's the penultimate stage of the Grand Tour, a 178km slog from Bormio to Passa del Tonale. The big news is that the stage route hasn't been altered and that the riders will still climb the Gavia. There had been talk that the route would change due to bad weather but the organisers confirmed this morning that the stage will be run in its original format.

So what will the riders face today? Well, five categorized climbs in total - Forcola di Livigno, Passo di Eira, Passo di Foscagno, Passo do Gavia, and the Passo del Tonale.

The riders are now on the start line. A penny for Ivan Basso's thoughts as he now makes he way to the start. This is possibly the biggest day of his career. If he keeps it together he could claim his second Giro, his first since his two-year suspension.

Basso leads David Arroyo by 51 seconds. You'd have to say that, that gap will increase today. Arroyo rode a great race yesterday as he tried to defend his lead. His descending skills were one of the highlights of this year's race  - clearly pink bikes are fast - but with another hard day in the mountains he could be more concerned with keeping his place on the podium.

Nibali lies 2:30 down on GC with Scarponi in fourth at 2:49. Cadel Evans, who took a bit of a battering yesterday is four minutes down, with Carlos Sastre 5:52 back. Those riders will fight it out for the podium but like I said, it all depends on how Basso is feeling today. Any sign of weakness and he could be put in difficulty. At least he has his strong Liquigas team to keep him out of trouble.

The first 36K today are all downhill before the riders begin the really tricky stuff. They've just rolled over the line - not many smiling faces in the peloton. After yesterday's stage and the profile for today's, that's not very surprising.

Here's a run down on the GC:

At the start today it was cloudy overhead, with the peaks hidden. The roads are dry, which is good. The organisers did mention that a snow storm could play a part but that even so the race would still climb the Gavia. Anyone else thinking about 1988?

Remember if you have any questions you can fire them over to me via Twitter and I'll do my best to answer them. You don't even need a question, something interesting about today's stage will do. Perhaps you're on the route? CN's Steve Farrand and Jean Francois are heading the Gavia now so hopefully we'll have some pictures soon for you.

172km remaining from 178km

Well one rider certainly isn't feeling too tired. Andriy Grivko (Astana) had attacked and built up a lead of around 2 minutes.

While we let Andriy carry on with his suicide mission, let's have a look at what's making headlines in the world of cycling today. Nibali may now skip the Tour de France this July. The Italian, who finished 7th last year was a tip for the podium by many but after joining the Giro at the last minute he might take a break.

160km remaining from 178km

janusbasnov asks how Porte will do today and if he's a star for the future in GC racing.

A more serious looking group have jumped off the front now and have a lead of 30 seconds on the bunch. They are, Serpa, Martin,Zandio, Grivko, Righi, Wurf, Štangelj, Fouchard and Gaudin.

More riders are coming across now including Laurent Didier and Weening.

148km remaining from 178km

146km remaining from 178km

The road will start to tilt upwards pretty soon.

Apologies for that awful typo a minute ago. I'm correcting it right now.

The Forcola is 18km long with an average gradient of 7.5 per cent. There's a section near the top that reaches 13 per cent.

Pirazzi has a little dig from the bunch. Liquigas will be hoping to control affairs for today though and they'll be happy that a break has gone clear. Weening is the most dangerous man in the escape and he's over 50 minutes down on GC.

The question is do any of the GC hopefuls have anything left in the tank. Vino, Evans, Sastre, Arroyo and Gadret looked second best yesterday. Another question is whether Arroyo will help Liquigas control the race in order to protect his second place from Scarponi?

Now this is a bit more interesting. A second group has gone off the front and it includes Garzelli, Voeckler, Gustov, Simoni, Wyss and Pirazzi. There are 11 riders in the second group.

Dan Martin is now alone and ahead of everyone on the road.

135km remaining from 178km

Stephen Farrand is coming through over the radio. He's on the Gavia now, driving up.

132km remaining from 178km

Behind Martin things are still a little bit frenzied. Cunego and Pinotti try their luck in moves but they're quickly closed down.

Martin though, puts his head down and pushes on alone. He's not had a great Giro, he's been hampered by allergies but this is his last chance to shine in the race. Just what his he capable of today?

Martin's gap is down to 22 seconds as more riders try and jump away, are brought back, and try again.

A slight false flat section for the Irishman now but there's no let up with the bunch still in sight. They're not letting him go.

It's 50 years since Imerio Massignan first led the Giro over the immense Gavia. Three major ascents contribute to what is by far the greatest tally of climbing – a staggering 6,320m for the day.

Stage Details
Distance: 178km
Vertical climb: 6,320m
Highest point: 2,618m
Terrain: High mountain
Category: Road Stage

We last visited the Gavia in 2008. Anyone remember what happened that day? Here's a look back at the top ten for the stage.

130km remaining from 178km

Cunego is the most dangerous rider, over 15 minutes down on GC but this is a strong group. How much rope with Liquigas let them have?

Sastre making a move too? That's brave but it looks like he's having a go.

Simoni is also trying to get across. 'Wait for me Little Prince!'

125km remaining from 178km

Here's a full list of the riders in the break:

Well Sastre is playing a card here. It worked for him earlier in the race when the rest of the favourites gave him a gap but this is different. Mess up today and there's little chance of making up for it in tomorrow's time trial. Liquigas have to react here. There should be a few teams willing to help them too.

The pace is too hot for Martin and Wurf who are both dropped from the lead group.

Tondo has quit the race. Not sure if he's crashed or is sick but he's out.

Tondo isn't alone. Bonnet has also pulled out of the race.

They're dropping like flies now as the pace increases in the bunch. Garzelli has been distanced. The gap is two minutes from the bunch to the break.

Three more riders dropped from the break too. It's almost every man for himself now as Cunego, Sastre and Pinotti go for broke. You have to admire their gusty qualities. We've not even reached the top of the first climb!

115km remaining from 178km

Vino is having a dig now but his move is quickly brought back. We're hearing that Garzelli may have quit the race but no confirmation yet.

Vino has gone again and this time they've let him go.

Vino has caught up with Righi and Failli.

Vino has 30 seconds on the bunch now, who trail the Cunego, Sastre break by 1:30.

Vino isn't messing around here. He's dropped both riders and sets off after Simoni, Cunego, Sastre, Pinotti and co. Liquigas are at the front of the bunch. They don't need to panic just yet but this is dangerous.

Vino is just 30 seconds back on the Cunego group. The little prince looks at Simoni, probably as he hears the news come over his race radio.

110km remaining from 178km

Oh and it's all going wrong for Cunego again. he's dropped along with Voeckler on the climb.

108km remaining from 178km

Results from the climb:

98km remaining from 178km

Liquigas bunch are down to around 30 riders now.

Where is Cunego? Voeckler is on his own.

The leaders make it through the feed and Lloyd is one of the first to get his musette.

Basso sits in second wheel now as the peloton, or what's left of it take a right hand bend before a long straight road. Sastre now at the head of the break and he's going full gas.

The gap is coming down, it's just over a minute now but Sastre and co are now climbing.

On the slopes of the next climb now and it's Vino setting the pace, his sunglasses on the back of his head. Lloyd surges and takes a turn on the front, followed by Marco Pinotti. Both riders are having a great race.

The Maglia Rosa group, with Basso in second wheel, followed by Nibali and Scarponi and Arroyo not far behind.

Sastre has a quick word with Lloyd as he comes through and takes a turn. The Spaniard is the most dangerous rider in the overall.

Wyss moves to the front for his man Sastre. Not a bad climber is Wyss.

We're assuming now that Cunego is back with the Basso group. 3K for Basso and co as Petrov is swept up.

Wyss still on the front of the break and driving things on. Sastre will want help from someone else and it's a blow that Cunego was dropped.

88km remaining from 178km

87km remaining from 178km

Wyss and then Sastre are the next riders over the top.

How different would Evans' Giro been if he'd had Lloyd with him this year?

Liquigas lead the bunch over the top. I think that was Cunego at the back of the group.

Erikvanname asks what Lloyd's lead in the mountains comp is. Well:

83km remaining from 178km

81km remaining from 178km

81km remaining from 178km

The Gavia is still to come though and it's 25K long as Pirazzi leads over the climb.

Matt Lloyd cleans up more points as he leads the Sastre, Pinotti group over the top.

Liquigas still pounding away at the front of the bunch. They did so much work yesterday and they're having to do it all over again.

Spectacular images of the bunch as they swoop down the descent. Dry road right now but it's still raining at the finish.

Scarponi and Evans both in this Liquigas group. Arroyo also in there and looking fairly comfortable at the moment. Up ahead Pirazzi shows off with his descending techniques.

Images from the start line this morning

Arroyo being a great descender himself might try something on the descent of the Gavia. You never know.

69km remaining from 178km

Liquigas hit the village of Semogo on the long descent. There will be a lot of nervous men in that group now with just a few kilometers until the Gavia.

63km remaining from 178km

62km remaining from 178km

60km remaining from 178km

Basso's boys are now on the little rise with the leader sitting in third wheel now, Nibali just behind him and then Arroyo. The bunch has grown a bit to around 40 riders.

Szmyd blew the race apart yesterday for Basso. Could he do the same again today?

56km remaining from 178km

53km remaining from 178km

Six Liquigas riders on the front now as up front Pirazzi soldiers on alone.

Pirazzi looks to be struggling though as he reaches the lower slopes of the Gavia. Basso again in second wheel as in the Sastre group Vino does another turn.

52km remaining from 178km

Lloyd takes a drink from his team car as the pace begins to crank up in his group. We'll see how strong Vino and Sastre are now. And dont forget about someone like Moncoutie who is a very talented climber.

Liquigas still lead the chase but things aren't looking as comfortable as yesterday for them.

A reminder of the GC as things stood this morning:

Lots of bad weather at the moment so we're having a few problems picking out the riders from the CN blimp. We can see the Gavia roads though and the huge amount of effort that's gone into clearing the snow away. A huge wall of snow on each side of the road.

Laurent Didier is dropped, Xanido too as the reach Santa Caterina.

Vinokourov (AST), Tschopp (BTL), Sastre (CTT), Lloyd (OLO), Moncoutie (COF), Simoni (LAM), Pinotti (THR) are now the only riders left in the first chase group. The rest of the riders have all been dropped.

Pirazzi has been caught by the Vino group.

Vino and Sastre have been on the ropes for the last few days but today they're fighting back.

So we now have 8 riders at the front of affairs. Voeckler and a few others are a minute back already.

44km remaining from 178km

Moncoutie and Simoni have broken away and have 25 seconds on the chasers now.

Good ride from Simoni who really wants to go out with a bang in his final Giro.

10K to go for Sastre and co on the climb as Liquigas continue to set the pace behind. The maglia rosa group down to less than twenty riders now.

Simoni ushers through Moncoutie and the Frenchman takes a turn at the front.

Basso still in second wheel where he's been for the last few hours. Scarponi is fourth with Arroyo just behind him. They're going  through a wooded section of the climb now. The Vino group still over a minute ahead

38km remaining from 178km

Simoni and Moncoutie are brought back by Sastre, Vino, Pinotti and co.

So much cloud around that we're still having a few problems seeing the riders from the blimp. We'll try and get a little closer.

Vino and Simoni try and pull away but Sastre is trying to close them down.

Pinotti hangs at the back of the group but that's a great ride from the Italian.

Basso's boys still punch out an even tempo but they're not blowing the race apart like they did yesterday. Frankly they dont need to. Vino seems to have a problem with his bike, he stops, chases but makes it back on.

Sastre now leads the break, taking a long, long turn, Vino still at the back as then Lloyd comes through and takes a pull. They've been out there since around the 18K mark.

Liquigas group is down to just under 30 riders now and the group hanging at 1:14.

Cunego, Evans, Porte and Scarponi are all there.

Sastre attacks.

The Spaniard was at the front but everyone saw it coming. Simoni goes now and Tschopp goes with him. They've got a gap!

Sastre is forced to lead the chase and Basso and Co are closing.

143km remaining from 178km

The two leaders have 16 seconds on Sastre and the rest of the chasers. but....

Simoni is being dropped. he cant handle the pace. one bike length, two, three, he looks back  for support.

Vino now takes over from Sastre on the front of the group that's now down to four riders. Simoni stuck  alone now with Tschopp leading the race. Will he be the first rider over the top of the Gavia?

Dupont is about to be caught by the Basso group.

Simoni is back up the leader. And immediately the Bbox rider calls him through to take a turn. That's not very polite is it?

Being the gent that he is Simoni goes through and ups the pace.

33km remaining from 178km

Can Simoni go out with a bang and take the summit? The stage might be beyond him but cresting the Gavia first would be a great way to go out.

Basso group have 3K to go now too.

Arroyo is still there. Will he try something on the descent ? He knows that Basso isn't great going down hill.

Tschopp and Simoni have 1:20 now on the chasers. Can they hang on and claim the Coppi prize?

Simoni drive it on at the front. He looks down to check if Tschopp is still there. He is.

31km remaining from 178km

Simoni leads through the walls of snow. The highest point in this year's race.

Tschopp takes the prize as the first man over the climb. How dare he not let Simoni take the honor. What does he think this is, a competition?

Karpets has a little dig as they crest the top, Cunego on his wheel.

Okay, now we're on the descent.

This is more of a test than the climb for Basso.

The road surface isn't great. The riders are bouncing around all over the place.

152km remaining from 178km

Cunego a good descender himself tuck in and stays on the wheels. The leaders have 25K to go. Such a narrow descent, the riders have to be so, so careful here.

Another factor is the cold, that will really affect the riders. How will they react to the cold once they have to start climbing again?

Tschopp takes another corner at full speed. Don't look down.

Basso is looking okay at the moment.

Arroyo hasn't made a move yet. Content to just sit in and follow wheels down the climb as Tschopp runs wide on a corner but keeps it together.

21km remaining from 178km

Tschopp pushes ahead and gets a few more seconds on the chase behind.

The leader on the road takes another corner at high speed, almost brushing the wall. Lloyd, meanwhile, has been caught by the Basso group, safe in the knowledge that the mountains jersey is his.

15km remaining from 178km

Just Basso and Nibali left for Liquigas now. Evans still here, Arroyo too.

NIbali doing his job by setting the pace on the front and keeping things fast, but steady for Basso. Tschoop now runs through a small town, he'll start the climb very soon. He drops his chain but gets it back on with little fuss.

It's Righi.

10km remaining from 178km

Tschopp pushing a fairly big gear on the flat section before the climb. He doesn't look like he's having much fun and now the road is begging to rise up.

He's looking back no. Is Vino the favourite for the stage?

Basso has a few more teammates now but Simoni sits up. Sastre and Pinotti are together but a fair way back on the Vino group.

So four groups on the road. Tschopp, Vino and three others, Sastre and Pinotti and then the Liquigas lead peloton.

If Tschopp wins will it be the first Swiss win since Alex Zulle in 1998?

8km remaining from 178km

7km remaining from 178km

Two minutes between Tschopp and Basso as Simoni is caught by Sastre and Pinotti.

There were two Liguigas riders. Now there are four. It's like an endless production line.

Arroyo now on Basso's wheel.

Vino tries to put the hammer down but it doesn't quite work. He's been out of the bunch so much today that his energy level must be low.

And Simoni is caught by the Liquigas train.

Vino is pulling the gap to Tschopp back but it's not coming down enough. Sastre and Pinotti are going to be caught. Great ride from that pair today, but it's all for nothing now.

And apologies for spelling Tschopp's name incorrectly for the last two hours. Damn cut and paste.

Pinotti and Sastre - it's all over for them. They just need to try and sit in now. Vino, meanwhile, is waving his hands again, asking Righi to come through and do some work.

4km remaining from 178km

Nice images of Simoni now talking to the motor bike reporter. That's a nice way for him to bow out.

The Liquigas bunch is around 30-strong now but Johann Tschopp is heading for a stage win in the Giro.

Evans attacks!

Everyone wrote Evans off but he's launched a devastating attack.

3K for Evans and Nibali grits his teeth and has to chase. Evans has blown the group apart. It's down to Basso, Scarponi, Nibali and Arroyo. Gadret is trying to get back on.

2km remaining from 178km

Evans goes passed Vino as if he's standing still. Vino has no answer.

The World Champion is riding like a man possessed as Scarponi attacks. Vino is dropped by the Basso group no and Arroyo has been dropped. Basso just stays with Nibali.

Basso takes up the chase and want to put more time into Arroyo. Evans blew this stage apart and Scarponi has now dropped Basso.

Nibali has blown now too.

Evans driving a big gear just like he did last year to win the Worlds. Basso makes it up to Scarponi's wheel.

Johann Tschopp (Bbox) is 30 seconds ahead of Evans but he should have enough.

Evans is slowing a bit but he's giving it everything.

Tschopp is going to take the stage. Evans kicks again.

Tschopp takes it. Great ride.

Evans comes in 16 seconds later, Scarponi and Basso ten seconds back. Arroyo 41 seconds down on Tschopp

Vino comes home too. But they're coming in one by one now. Evans blew the field apart with that late attack.

1 Johann Tschopp (Swi) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 5:26:47
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:16
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:24
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
5 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:00:40
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:42

Basso getting third is important. He not only took more time on Arroyo but he was also trying to save Nibali's third place from Scarponi. Results are coming now:

And it was close

Nibali hangs on to third by just one second. Evans moves up but it won't be enough to get a place on the podium. Another good ride from Porte, while Basso extends his lead on Arroyo. Tomorrow's time trial in Verona still to come. Join us then and thank for following live coverage today.

1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 1/3/1900 15:23
2 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:01:15
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:56
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:02:57
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:03:47
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:07:25
7 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:07:31
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo TestTeam 0:08:55

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