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Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage 15

Good morning and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from stage 15 of this year's Giro d'Italia.

 Sunny skies at the start this morning at Cesana. The riders are just about to set off as well.

There was talk about riders being unhappy with the conditions set for the descent of the col du mont cenis, with sub zero temperatures expected but the stage will go ahead as planned from yesterday's meeting.

 

It means that the stage will not finish at the summit of the Col du Galibier but 4.25km further down the climb at the Marco Pantani memorial.

 

after long negotiations with French authorities it has been agreed that the stage will finish at the Pantani monument, 10km further up the Galibier, at an altitude of 2,295m. The Pantani monument marks the spot where Italian rider attacked in the rain to secure victory in the 1998 Tour de France.

 

They confirmed that the stage will follow the start as planned in Cesana Torinese and climb the Col du Mont Cenis after 58km because there is no alternative route over the Alps into France. The stage will start at 1:00pm local time instead of 12:30 as scheduled.

That day on the Galibier  in 1998 was one of the greatest moments in cycling and perhaps the scene of Pantani's greatest triumph. It was an era full of troubles but there's no denying Pantani was a class act in the mountains.

The riders have now rolled out, ahead of them a breakneck descent to the foot of the mont cenis, and the then long descent to the foot of the Telegraphe. Even without the last section of the Galibier, this is a brutal stage, coming off the back of stage 14.

Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) took the honours yesterday with a win ahead of maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali. The former BMC rider has been flying all season and this major win has been coming. He was climbing with the best all the way back at the Tour de San Luis, and has been in fine form throughout the first half of the season. If he carries on at this rate, he'll be a good bet for the podium come Brescia.

Here's where we stand on GC coming into today's stage:

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 57:20:52
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:26
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:46
4 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:02:47
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:03:53
6 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:04:55
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:05:12
8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:32
9 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:05:39
10 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:51

Vincenzo Nibali is still in the driving seat, having extended his lead over Cadel Evans and Rigoberto Uran. Scarponi, Gesink, they lost time too but Santambrogio is now just one second off a podium place.

 

It's certainly not over though. Will Nibali have a bad day? Have we already seen the best of Cadel Evans? Can Santambrogio or Uran cause an upset?

 

Vincenzo Nibali is still in the driving seat, having extended his lead over Cadel Evans and Rigoberto Uran. Scarponi, Gesink, they lost time too but Santambrogio is now just one second off a podium place.

 

It's certainly not over though. Will Nibali have a bad day? Have we already seen the best of Cadel Evans? Can Santambrogio or Uran cause an upset?

 

Cadel Evans needs little inspiration today. On the Galibier in 2011, while Andy Schleck was up the road winning the stage, Evans chased and effectively took a huge step towards winning that years' Tour de France. He'll need an equally impressive performance today.

More often than not the Galibier is the 'roof' of the Tour'. The first section rises immediately via the Col de la Telegraphe to the ski station at Valloire.

Then there's a few kilometres of reasonable recovery in terms of gradient before the Galibier proper starts. Throw in bad weather and it's one of the most brutal climbs in the sport.

 

The road steepens sharply out of Valloire, and rarely lets up thereafter. 

At the start this morning Pat McQuaid made an appearance. Ivan Basso's sister was also in attendance. One of those two individuals was banned from racing, I thought.

#giro explore the complete route of stage 15 on maps earth and street view http://t.co/x7gkkW8DUk

@cyclingthealps Sun, 19th May 2013 12:25:39

Weather update: At the stage start (Cesana Torinese, km 0), 8 degrees Celsius, sunshine, some cloud. On Col du Mont Cenis (km 58), 1 degree Celsius, perhaps snow. At Valloire (km 131), 8 degrees Celsius, perhaps rain. Les Verneys (km 134), 2 degrees Celsius, perhaps snow.

After the hamlet of Giaglione, the race route crosses the border into France and then completes the climb up to the GPM on the Col du Mont Cenis (2094 m). When Napoleon ordered the construction of the present road, the small village of Mont Cenis (the Italian name is Moncenisio) was, in a sense, left isolated. The climb connects the Val di Susa with the French region of the Haute Maurienne, in the department of Savoie.

129km remaining from 149km

The peloton has already covered 20km but there hasn't been a break yet.

It's not all downhill to the foot of the first climb though. There are a few flat sections and a couple of pitches that could be used as springboards for an early escape. We can certainly expect attacks on the mont cenis though.

In the race for the points jersey Cavendish currently holds a healthy lead. However with mountain stages on the menu for much of the next week we can probably see Evans take that jersey back - assuming he carries his current level of form.

 

Evans won't target the jersey specifically, but he'll pick up point in the mountains whereas Cavendish will ride in the grupetto.

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 109 pts
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 83
3 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 77
4 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 72
5 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 65

In the race for the mountains jersey, Pirazzi holds a lead over Jackson Rodriguez. The Bardiani rider really has to pick up significant points on the Mont Cenis today if he's to keep that lead in the final week.

 

1 Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox 47 pts
2 Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli 26
3 Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia 23
4 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 18
5 Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha 18

The compact peloton have almost reached Susa and will start climbing in the next couple of kilometres.

The Giro has never covered the Galibier before but that won't be in the minds of the riders at the moment, as they're now on the lower slopes of the Col du Mont Cenis.

From here's it's a 25km slog to the top of the climb, with an average gradient of 6 per cent. Depending on the pace the peloton takes, the descent is perhaps a trickier obstacle, with sub zero temperatures expected.

The bunch are still in unison on the climb but it's only a matter of time before the attacks start.

Astana are riding tempo on the front of the bunch but it's already caused a bit of damage with riders dropping off the back..

Taylor Phinney is dangling off the back of the peloton at the moment. Today isn't a day for the American rider and he'll be looking to survive and then try to get into a break after the rest day.

Bauer and Wurf are on the front of the bunch at the moment and having a conversation. Still no attacks from the front of the peloton.

Nibali is riding in the second row of riders at the moment, surrounded by his Astana teammates.

104km remaining from 149km

At the back of the field Pablo Lastras has dropped back to the Movistar team car. There are a number of riders coming through the cars as riders find the right mix of clothing for the stage.

Suggestions are that the pace has slowed because the riders have come to an agreement to take the first climb at a steady pace so that riders don't struggle with the time cut today.

The race is still being neutralized on the climb by what appears to be the riders' intent to show solidarity.

Luca Paolini has ridden ahead of the bunch and talks to Paolo Bettini who is in an official car. It's just a brief chat before the former maglia rosa drops back to the rest of the peloton.

99km remaining from 149km

The peloton continue to ride together towards the top of the mont cenis.

The neutralisation a reaction to the hellish day yesterday and the cold yesterday. A lot of riders suffering with colds and exhaustion.

@DavidWalshST Sun, 19th May 2013 13:31:36

Gianni Savio has talked about his team and the battle between Nibali and Evans. You can watch the video here.

The peloton are still rolling along at a gentle pace. We've 96 km left to ride/race.

The riders are still 6km from the very top of the climb. There's still no news on when the riders will kick in and start racing.

The riders are 1km from crossing the French border. There's now speculation that there could be ice on the descent and therefore the race might be neutralised for that section too.

Riders have started to wrap up for the descent. Paolini zips up his jacket and covers his face up too. The last few riders are returning from the team cars with extra layers for the long run down the climb of Mont Ceris.

Banks of snow line either side of the road as the peloton ride towards the peak of the climb. These roads look fine at the moment but the descent is the big concern it seems.

So much debate about whether the mont cenis would be included in today's stage. The peloton are just about to crest the top of the climb but it's been neutralised in terms of racing.

The snow banks are becoming larger and larger on each side the road. The riders are just about to go over the top of the climb. There may not be any racing but the snow-packed scenery is truly spectacular.

We've got a bit of action at the top of the climb, with riders going to the KOM points. Pirazzi is in the mix but he's being pushed here by Chalapud. The two riders have a gap at the moment.

There's a chase group just behind the two leaders.

Pirazzi is clear now while Chalapud has been caught by a chase group that includes Visconti and Weening.

 

Pirazzi takes maximum points and then sits up.

There are patches of snow on the road, so that means there could be ice on the descent. Riders are going take it easy down here.

It looks like the group that formed at the top of the climb is pushing on a bit here.

Whatever you may think about Pantani, it's right to recall this moment today. http://t.co/02HJrpJVMC

@stephenfarrand Sun, 19th May 2013 14:13:02

Weening is actually alone and off the front with Pirazzi in the chase group by 30 seconds.

Chalapud, Visconti, Rabottini, Borghini and Pirazzi in the group chasing down Weening.

Weening has 30 seconds over the chase, the peloton are at 2'29.

Visconti has managed to drop the rest of the chase group on the descent and has gone in pursuit of Weening.

 

Paolini meanwhile marshals the peloton down the descent, 2'45 back.

71km remaining from 149km

Weening has discarded his jacket and then moves back onto the drops as Visconiti is joined by Rabottini.

Astana have now moved to the front of the peloton for the first time today. The gap to Weening has gone out to 3'00 minutes.

63km remaining from 149km

Weening only has 23 seconds on the chasers but he's pressing on with his efforts.

It looks like Weening is sitting up now, so soon we'll have seven leaders as the advantage goes out to over four minutes.

Astana continue to set the pace on the front of the peloton as the lead to the break goes out to 5'03.

As at the back of the peloton Dekker has mechanical but is quickly on his way. Astana are happy to let the break go out to 5'30.

Andreas Klier is on the side of the road is handing out bottles for Garmin.

RT @dnlbenson: Video: Hansen On The Slog And Triumph Of The Giro D'Italia | http://t.co/ODD22TxSbW http://t.co/muaMmwW5KF

@_L__A__U__R__A_ Sun, 19th May 2013 13:06:34

You can find all our Giro d'Italia video right here.

It's almost 6 minutes now for the leaders as they ride towards the Col du Telegraphe.

59 km to go: Gap for the break is 5' / 59 km al termine: il vantaggio dei fuggitivi è 5' #giro

@giroditalia Sun, 19th May 2013 14:49:29

49km remaining from 149km

Less than 50km of racing as the leaders race down this descent to the Telegraphe.

The gap is still at around the 6 minute mark. It's all going to boil down to this final climb. Everything up until that point has been window dressing. Legs will be fresh so it will be interesting to see what happens, and will we see the favourites attack from the lower slopes of the climb.

And Lotto have put two men on the front of the bunch and they've tried to get a gap. IT's not going to work at the moment though because Astana easily bring them back.

Lotto now just set the pace on the front of the peloton, AG2R have put a rider on the front of the peloton too. The lead is at 5 minutes now.

40km remaining from 149km

Just 40km of racing left but most of that is going to be uphill.

A reminder of where we stand on GC coming into the stage:

 

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 57:20:52
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:26
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:46
4 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:02:47
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:03:53
6 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:04:55
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:05:12
8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:32
9 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:05:39
10 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:51

Lotto continue to drive the pace on the with AG2R and the gap has come down to 3'12.

AG2R have two  decent climbers in the race who could do very well today but there's not much responsibility on Lotto's shoulders but still they continue to do a lot of work on the front of the field.

AG2R helping out Lotto in the peloton. French team on home soil and Pozzovivo is aiming big on this stage. Betancur strong too. #giro

@mrconde Sun, 19th May 2013 15:19:42

Daniel McConnell (Trek) surprised everyone by winning the World Cup in Albstadt. The dramatic race ended in a sprint. http://t.co/murkmGnwfY

@Cyclingnewsfeed Sun, 19th May 2013 15:19:11

The gap continues to drop and it's now down to 2'40 with 32 km to go.

The leaders have 30km to go as they start to climb. It wont be long until the peloton have them insight though.

Cadel Evans is alone but he's pushed to the end of the Lotto line. He used to ride for the Belgian outfit.

Nibali and the Astana sharks move up on the outside of the peloton. He knows that it's time to pay attention to every move that Evans makes.

The seven leaders aren't letting up though even as the lead dips below two minutes.

And it looks like Gesink has attacked. He's clear with a rider from Lotto and one from Garmin.

As it looks like Pirazzi is clear and Rubiano has been dropped.

And Gesink has kicked again and the rest of the group are struggling to get on his wheel. Astana move back up to the front of the group and start to set the tempo. Martinez has joined up with Gesink.

The maglia rosa group are down to less than fifty riders.

Weening is leading the break as Visconti is now starting to struggle. Only Weening and Pirazzi are leading now.

Gesink and Martinez are working well together but it's going to be hard for them to establish a substantial lead over the peloton at the moment.

It looks like the Spanish Dutch axis have 30 seconds though. Gesink is 6;40 down on GC.

And now Henao has attacked from the peloton too.

The Sky climber is going to try and bridge up to Gesink and force Astana to really chase. Gesink's  move has now drawn out Kiserlovski who joins Henao.

We have four leader up ahead as Rabottini and Visconto come back.

More attacks from the peloton but Astana bring this move back instantly.

25km remaining from 149km

The four leaders have 25km to go. As AG2R send Dupont up the road.

As the Henao and Gesink groups link up it's Gesink who attacks and then Di Luca also jumps out from the peloton.

It looks like Di Luca is going to catch the Gesink group as now Visconti goes clear of the leading group.

Now Herrada jumps out of the peloton. These little attacks will start to wear down Astana but at the moment they're sticking to their tempo.

Gesink is doing all the work in the chase group.

Visconti still leads as he goes in search of valuable KOM points. And Di Luca is struggling with the pace being set by Gesink.

Visconti currently has 2'36 on the maglia rosa, Gesink has a minute on them.

Gesink has plenty of riders with him but he's not asking nor is he getting any help. As Evans sits on Nibali's wheel in the peloton.

Gesink now pulls over and Henao stamps on the pedals and starts to set the pace.

Not good enough. Gesink moves up and simply pushes past and leaves the group.

Martinez and Kiserlovski are the only riders to go with the Blanco leader.

Herrada is being paced up the climb by his Movistar team car. It takes a while but a race official finally spots it and points an angry finger at the car and the rider.

As Visconti takes the 9 points available at the top of the Telegraphe. He has 2'54 on the peloton with 18.km to go so it's going to be  a big ask for him to hold on and take today's stage.

The rest of the chase group has made it's way back up to Gesink who again allows Henao to come through and take a turn.

Cracking my knuckles at the start of the Tour of California finale. It's going to be a fast one! Follow @Cyclingnewsfeed live coverage #AToC

@kirstenfrattini Sun, 19th May 2013 15:53:44

Roughly 5km of descent for Visconti as he pushes on. He has 14km to go.

Now Visconti starts the Galibier and with 13km to go his shoulders are starting to rock just that little bit.

The Movistar man has 59 seconds on Weening.

The Gesink group have pulled out time on the maglia rosa group. It looks to be 3 minutes at the moment as Lampre set the pace for Scarponi who is in the maglia rosa group.

Rabottini has now attacked but Weening and Pirazzi seem to have this one under control.

Visconti still has a minute on the chasers, Gesink and his groupies are at 2;13.

It's still the Blanco leader doing the majority of the work though.

The time check has been corrected and Gesink and co have 30 seconds on the maglia rosa group.

Visconti still have 2'48 on Nibali and Evans as Bentacur follows at an attack out from the peloton.

The stage win is still wide open with 10km to go.

Rabottini does now have  a gap over Weening and Pirazzi and he's also closed to within 42 seconds of Visconti.

Rain now falls on Visconti as Garate launches an attack from the peloton.

It looks as though the Gesink group has been caught. Hence Garate's attack.

Garate has less than 100 meters though as Rabottini closes the gap to Visconti to 40 seconds.

Garate has been caught. As Nibali uses his two last men on the front. Evans leads the race leader as Kelderman now attacks.

The peloton are 2'30 behind Visconti with 7.4km to go.

Visconti has managed to pull a few second out of Rabottini and the gap is up to 43 seconds.

The rain has become a lot heavier and Visconti is still keeping that tempo, and he now leads Rabottini by 50 seconds.

It looks like Rabottini has cracked.

5km remaining from 149km

The maglia rosa group are still 2'27 behind the lone leader from Movistar. It's looking good for the second stage win for the Spanish team in this year's race.

There's now snow on the Galibier for the riders.

And Samuel Sanchez has attacked. He's looked strong in the last few days and he's clearly growing in confidence.

He's marked by a rider from Cannondale as Visconti now leads by 1'02. It's Caruso who has joined Sanchez.

Visconti is climbing on the drops and looks to be suffering but Rabottini, he looks worse as he lurches over the bike to try and find some extra power.

Visconti is heading for a famous win here on stage 15 with just 4km to go.

Sanchez has pulled out 20 seconds on the Nibali group with Caruso sitting on.

Nibali will be happy with this so far. He's kept all his main rivals in check.

Duarte has now attacked from the field.

And now the snow is coming down heavily. Visconti only has 3km to go  as Astana lift the pace.

Visconti looks down to see what gearing he has left. He then grips the bars and pushes on the pedals once more. He rarely gets out of the saddle.

And there's an attack from Lampre. I'm not sure if it's Scarponi though.

Kelderman has now gone passed Weening and Pirazzi.

Visconti now looks down the climb to  see the carnage behind him.

Henao has been dropped by the maglia rosa group.

Uran Evans, Scarponi , Nibali all still together.

Less than 2km to go for Visconti now.

And now Nibali attacks.

Scarponi is on his wheel Santaromita too and then Evans and the others.

1.6km to go and Visconti just has 1'34 left.

Nibali now sets the pace and only Visconti is left out there. Actually Rabottini too.

Visconti rides through the fog as Nibali goes again with Betancur and Majka

1km to go for Visconti. Can he hang on? It's 11 per cent.

Now   Duarte goes again.

As Evans set the pace.

And now Evans attacks but it's marked by Nibali.

And Betancur attacks.

Majka is going after the AG2R rider.

700 meters for Visconti. It's gong to be so close.

Nibali is just marking Evans at the moment.

Duarte sets the pace for the three counter attacking riders as Visconti has just 350 to go.

He grits his teeth and pushes on. 250 to go.

150 to go for Visconti.

Now he gets out of the saddle and he comes to the line and takes stage 15.

He's had his problems in the past with Ferrari connections but today he's the winner.

Betancur finishes second. As Scarponi then leads Nibali and Evans home with a group that also contains Uran.

Nibali will be more than pleased with that result.

Visconti though takes the stage. He was suspended at the end of 2012 for three months by CONI for his links to Dr Ferrari. There's no denying he deserved today's stage. He formed part of the early move and then dropped his companions on the Telegraphe.

1 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 4:40:48
2 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:00:42
3 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:00:42
4 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:42
5 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia 0:00:47
6 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:54
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:54
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:54
9 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:00:54
10 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:54

General classification after stage 15
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 62:02:34
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:26
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:02:46
4 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:02:47
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:03:53
6 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:04:55
7 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:12
8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:32
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:39
10 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:51

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our complete report, images and results, right here.

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