The 90th Giro saw the big guns flex their muscles during yesterday’s brief sojourn into French territory, and Danilo Di Luca of Liquigas was chief among them as he won the stage in Briancon after tangling with the mighty Col d’Izoard. Most of the favorites were there: Simoni, Cunego, the upstart Schleck, and a surprising Mazzoleni, who was given a free hand by his captain Paolo Savoldelli who wasn’t up to snuff on the sawblade profiled stage. A resurgent Stefano Garzelli rounded out the top five into the medieval town just a bit off the pace, and also rounded out a new top 5 in the GC, which by virtue of the days events, included the aforementioned performers.
So with today’s short and sweet uphill TT to worry about, fans could only wonder if they’d see another reshuffling of the deck at the end of these 12k.
One of the favorites, Yaroslav Popovych was a no-go this morning, after suffering two falls in yesterday’s brouhaha. So, Discovery’s overall chances are pretty much out the window at this point.
Other teams adrift have some specialists around – take CSC’s Dave Zabriskie for example – that may throw a new name atop the board and make some moves in the GC as well. Lampre’s Marzio Bruseghin may be one to watch, too, as Italy’s reigning national TT champ. And of course, the top 5 stars of this year’s Giro will be extra motivated to hold their placing. Guys like Simoni are not masters of the chronometro, so for him and those like him, there’ll be extra incentive to drive hard.
Julio Perez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) was the first of the larger names (though man is that guy tiny!) to hold the top spot with a time of 29’38”. Shortly thereafter, Dave Zabriskie knocked him from the top spot by slotting in with a time of 29’14”. As is customary in ITT’s, the best go last, and the inevitable reshuffling began as the bigger names took to the road. Leonardo Piepoli, a solid climber, shoved Zabriskie off of the top step and rest his schnozz atop the hot seat. The other big names came and went, Simoni, sans areobars, rolled in. Garzelli, Mazzoleni, Pellizotti, all notched good times.
But when the cream rose to the top, it was Marzio Bruseghin of Lampre to really light the clock on fire, resting at 28’55”. His time proved to be best of them all, and he was the only one to best Piepoli and it also moved him up to 2nd overall on the GC.
When Danilo “The Killer” Di Luca rolled home, resplendent in a full pink skin suit, his time was good enough for third on the day, and good enough to hold onto his overall lead. Not only was it good enough for third, it was good enough to put time into nearly all of his rivals: 30 seconds more into Cunego, 32 seconds on Schleck, and 58 seconds to his already lengthy tab on Gilberto Simoni! The only rider Di Luca lost any noteworthy time to was Bruseghin, who of course won, but will more than likely not be a factor when the race finishes in Milano (but then again, who knows for sure), and his ‘loss’ was a gigantic 8 seconds.
Cunego was once again solid.
It’s undeniable now – Di Luca is driving headlong at his first ever Grand Tour victory, and probably in the only GT he really cares about, the Giro. He’s got the team to protect his lead, he’s got the legs that go uphill in fine, quick, devastating fashion, and hell, his nickname is Killer, what else do you need?
The leaders made it look easy, but there was plenty of sufferin’ going on.
No rest for the wicked tomorrow, as the road will be anything but flat. A break might survive if enough time is nabbed, but we’ll just have to wait and see what an increasingly controlling Di Luca and his team will allow. Simoni is getting stronger, but not yet desperate, so he may not panic and play a big attack card tomorrow.
Stage 13 Results – 12.6 km
1. Marzio Bruseghin (I), Lampre, at 28:55 (26.144kph)
2. Leonardo Piepoli (I), Saunier Duval, at 0:01
3. Danilo Di Luca (I), Liquigas, at 0:08
4. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC, at 0:19
5. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, at 0:22
6. Stefano Garzelli (I), Acqua & Sapone, at 0:29
7. Evgeni Petrov (Rus), TCS, at 0:31
8. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), Astana, at 0:33
9. Damiano Cunego (I), Lampre, at 0:38
10. Andy Schleck (Lux), CSC, at 0:40
11. Perez Cuapio Julio (MEX), Panaria – Navigare, 0:43
12. Branislau Samoilau (Blr), Acqua & Sapone, 0:43
13. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saunier Duval, 1:06
General Classification After Stage 13
1. Danilo Di Luca (I), Liquigas, 57:11:28
2. Marzio Bruseghin (I), Lampre, 0:55
3. Andy Schleck (Lux), CSC, 1:57
4. Damiano Cunego (I), Lampre, 2:40
5. Francisco J.Vila Errandonea (Sp), Lampre, 2:44
6. David Arroyo Duran (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, 2:51
7. Evgeni Petrov (Rus), TCS, 3:11
8. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saunier Duval, 3:32
9. Emanuele Sella (I), Panaria – Navigare, 3:52
10. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), Astana, 3:53