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Giro d'Italia 2015: Stage 15 preview

Cioni says

It’s the first major Dolomite stage, but one of the most important factors is how they recover from the previous day. This isn’t the longest, and nor the hardest, but I do think it could do some damage coming off the back of 60km against the watch.

There’s a good chance that a climber with no interest in the pink jersey will win. They ought to have had a comparatively easy ride the previous day, so they ought to be relatively fresh. You can expect to see a lot of attacks on the Passo Doane, because the chances are that the maglia rosa group won’t start to race until the final climb.

Then again it’s the day before the rest day, so if anybody from the GC group had a bad time trial they might take some risks early on the final climb. I don’t think it will be a huge stage for time differences, but it promises to be a really good day’s racing…

Moment in time

The events of 6 June 1999, when Marco Pantani was expelled from the Giro, are indelible for Italian sports fans. Though the controversy would rumble on, the consequences would be unthinkable for poor Pantani himself and for the sport of cycling.

What’s often overlooked amid the recrimination and the sadness is what preceded that fateful day. Going into the penultimate stage – a Dolomite mammoth Pantani looked certain to win – he had dominated the race. Not only had he won four stages, but he’d given the impression that he was toying with the rest. He attacked where and when he wanted, and seemingly took as much time as he wanted. The result was that even Italians who didn’t much care for cycling started tuning in. Il Pirata had started to transcend the sport, to become a superstar who happened to ride a bike.

Previously, cycling had been dominated by the gentle giant Miguel Indurain. Totally devoid of conceit, he would gladly throw bones to the third estate of the peloton. It had all been very cosy, but it hadn’t made for scintillating viewing. Pantani, on the other hand, was becoming insatiable. In that sense he was a mix between The Cannibal Merckx and the great climber, Charly Gaul. Within the peloton, however, there were already dissenting voices. Switzerland’s Pascal Richard bemoaned a lack of empathy on Pantani’s part, while Gilberto Simoni suggested his Mercatone Uno team were getting above their station. The whole thing seemed to be spinning out of control…

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