Today’s lumpy journey included four climbs en route to Bologna, and culminated with the savage 2k beast of the San Luca, which gains a sweet 200m along its 2000m of awfulness, making for 10% average and a 16% tip top bad spot.
The field wasn’t too picky about the contents of today’s rogue squadron. The dashing swashbucklers intent on Stage 14 glory escaped without too much pain, suffering, or fanfare only 12k into the day’s stage. The large break consisted of the following (take a deep breath, repeat after me): Guillame Bonnafond (Ag2r), Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld), Christopher Froome (Barloworld), Vasili Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne), Philip Deignan (Cervelo), Simon Gerrans (Cervelo), Giovanni Visconti (ISD), Andriy Grivko (ISD), Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre), Francesco Reda (Quick Step), Rubens Bertogliati (Diquigiovanni), Evgeny Petrov (Katusha), Martin Mьller (Milram), and Eduard Vorganov (Xacobeo). No, I did not type all of those names down, and no I cannot repeat them for you.
The field was attentive all day – this was a hard fought struggle for the break.
This was no sleepy-time-give-the-break-a-loooong-leash type day though. The break worked hard, ejected the rotten fruit from its contents (Visconti, Bonnaford, Vorganov, Cheula, and Mьller were all dispatched along the way to Bologna), and had to do everything to keep the gap big enough to give them a fighting chance on the San Luca.
The field kept the break inside the 5 minute mark all day. The lumpy parcours and what must have been a motivated Di Luca kept the field moving quickly, and kept the break’s collective nose pressed firmly to the grindstone. That didn’t stop the break from fussing amongst themselves over the KOM and TV points on offer though. A whole lot of good that did Giovanni Visconti today – he was prominent early on in the break, and had a fantastic finale perfectly suited to his characteristics waiting for him just down the road…until he was dropped on the penultimate climb. Woops, I guess that’s why we race these things and winners aren’t selected by their attributes. ISD had two in today’s break, but couldn’t convert anything better than 10th place. On another note: Is it just me, or do Grivko and Visconti seem to get away a fair bit together? This is at least the third time this year.
Denis Menchov gets pinker by the day, yet still manages to avoid the pure pink-itis suffered by many of the Italian leaders (ahem, Di Luca).
Anyhow, back to the race, let’s fast forward a bit to what some have called the business end. LPR is being whipped hard by their slave driving man in fucsia – Danilo Di Luca. Di Luca has to be seeing happy little bonus seconds twinkling in the distance if he can get this damn break caught and win the day. See, that comment in the last paragraph about, that’s why we race these things and winners aren’t selected by their attributes on paper? Well, right now, with Danilo Di Luca, if it’s a short, sharp uphill finish with a tough lead-in…you can bet the Porsche you don’t have that he’s going to win it.
He didn’t win today though, he was 2nd…out of the main field. The first requirement of Di Luca winning again was (besides beating Pellizotti), however, not satisfied today, and the break managed to stay away. Leaving us a ten man sprint of sorts going into the awful 2k wall of San Luca. Andriy Grivko was the first to go, but his chances went the way of the VCR as the road turned up at an awkward angle.
Christopher Froome made a valiant effort at the end, but didn’t quite have the legs to back it up.
Christopher Froome (Barloworld) was the next to try his luck, but he was no match for one Simon Gerrans (Cervelo). Gerrans absolutely torched his breakmates on the steep slopes of the San Luca. Poor Froome went from a possible stage win, to a possible 2nd place, to a possible podium, to 6th in about as much time as it took my live feed coverage to refresh itself on my computer.
Gerrans was the strongest on the final climb in Bologna.
Gerrans had major real estate by the end, and was afforded one of those special occasions where you get to do your own little dance, frolic in peace, and just generally have a good time celebrating how amazing you are (I don’t know what that’s like, but I imagine it’s fantastic).
Rubens Bertogliati put in a great ride to finish 2nd.
Coming in about a quarter minute in arrears of Mr. Gerrans? None other than PEZ-Favorite Rubens Bertogliati. Bertogliati rode a great stage. I’m interested to hear what he has to say about the finale.
Simon Gerrans now has stage wins in both the Tour de France and Giro.
Back in the main field, it was time for a little 2k showdown. As you would expect, Danilo Di Luca was chomping at the proverbial bit. At the urging of LPR and Di Luca, a small group managed to pry itself free of the main field: Di Luca (LPR), Menchov (Rabobank), Garzelli (A&S), and Pellizotti (Liquigas).
Danilo Di Luca put in another hard effort to wrest a couple of seconds from a number of his rivals…there was no getting rid of Menchov though.
Levi Leipheimer and Ivan Basso couldn’t quite hold the outrageous pace over the final section, and both were tailed off to the tune of 3 seconds. Michael Rogers lost a further 3 seconds.
Denis Menchov was none too troubled by the tough finish today.
Stage 14 Results
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervelo Test Team 4.16.48 (40.186 km/h)
2 Rubens Bertaglioti (Swi) Diquigiovanni 0.12
3 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre – N.G.C. 0.18
4 Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha 0.24
5 Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervelo Test Team 0.27
6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Barloworld 0.36
9 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) ISD 1.04
10 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
11 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes – Farnese Vini
12 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone – Caffe Mokambo
13 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
14 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
15 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre – N.G.C.
16 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas 1.07
17 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
18 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli
19 David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 1.10
20 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia – Highroad
General Classification After 14 Stages
1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 58.33.53
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR Brakes – Farnese Vini 0.34
3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0.43
4 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas 2.00
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 2.52
6 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas 3.03
7 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia – Highroad 3.05
8 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Serramenti 5.17