Der Kaiser produced his best ride this season, in fact for about 3 seasons, to cream Ivan Basso by half a minute and score his first win of the year. Ullrich wasn’t the fastest guy out of the blocks, but he was fastest when it counted, on the second half of the loop back into Pontedera. He didn’t appear to have refined or altered his technique one iota, as he just continued to mash his way along, but it was as effective as hell.
The T-Mobile chief managed to dial up some much needed form on a perfect day. Warm, sunny, dry which Ullrich likes, and also a pan-flat course over 50 kms, which Ullrich really likes. He was slower than Marc Wauters as he rolled through checkpoint 1, but gradually picked it up, to motor to the win.
Basso had the advantage of using his mates Voigt and Sastre as pacers, and the German in particular did a strong ride for a top ten place. Voigt utilised the ‘start slow, finish fast’ technique – something we’ve all used, I’m sure! Basso looked as sharp as only an Italian sporting icon can, in his natty Pink Panther skinsuit, but it obviously did the trick. If he can live with Ullrich on a course like this, he won’t have too many worries come July.
More importantly, he crushed Cunego, overtaking the Lampre man for 5 minutes – rumour has it that Basso and Simoni are more or less on the same page when it comes to thoughts about Cunego, so that was probably a pretty sweet feeling for the CSC head honcho.
Marco Pinotti posted a scorching time for his ride – good enough for third behind the top two TT men in the race – and was comfortably the first guy to break the hour for the course. Just try that on your weekend ride, people! Like Ullrich, he didn’t feature too high up the intermnediate check lists, but turned on the burners for the final romp back to Pontedera.
Former Maglia Rosa wearer Sergui Gonchar posted a fine fourth place, and Paolo Savoldelli kept in touch coming home less than a minute behind Basso. For the home nation’s other favourites, things are getting to the ‘Looking for stage wins’ level, as Di Luca and Simoni slip further off the pace.
Pez Diarist Dario David Cioni posted a great top ten ride, and we’ll be hearing from him shortly, so stay tuned for the full scoop on what it feels like to struggle with illness and injury problems before facing the joy of a 50km TT test – how much can it hurt? Dario’ll be able to provide you with the answer!
Looking down to fifth place on GC, it seems like Tom Danielson is coming of age as a Grand Tour, moving up to shadow Savoldelli. Just maybe this could be the one way to put pressure on Basso and CSC, who don’t have the strongest line-up for the final week’s mountain fest. The next ten days are as important for Tommy D’s career as they are for Basso, for very different reasons.
Heading towards the business end of the race, Basso is looking good, in fact great, for the overall, but there should be plenty of fighting behind him. We’ll be heading all the way to Milano, so keep it Pez for the choicest cuts of Giro news!
Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Pontedera ITT 50kms
1 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 58′ 48″ (51km/h)
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC + 28″
3 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir + 1′ .01″
4 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile Team + 1′ 09″
5 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team + 1′ 19″
6 Josй E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems + 1′ 42″
7 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC + 2′ 12″
8 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Franзaise des Jeux + 2′ 22″
9 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas + 2′ 24″
10 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team + 2′ 27″
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 11
1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 40hrs 28′ 56″
2 Josй E. Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems + 2′ 48″
3 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile Team + 3′ 24″
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team + 3′ 26″
5 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team + 5′ 38″
6 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas + 6′ 37″
7 Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems + 6′ 54″
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital same
9 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir + 7′ 13″
10 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas + 7′ 33″