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Giro ’12 St.20: De Gendt…De Winnaar!
Race Report: Today could have been a damp squib with the top riders watching each other’s every move. That is until Thomas De Gendt went on the attack in the style of Eddy Merckx and put all the others to the sword. Excitement by the bucketful and the race just became a little bit more open for the final TT. Canada in Pink tomorrow?


Stage 20 is where we will know who will win this year’s Giro d’Italia, OK there is still the time trial on Sunday, but we know who the better rider against the clock is…and who isn’t. Today the riders will cross the Passo del Tonale (2nd Cat) at 1883 metres, the Aprica (3rd Cat) at 1173 metres, the Teglio (3rd Cat) at 851 metres, but there is still the infamous climb of the Mortirolo (1st Cat) with its sections of 22% on its way up to the summit of 1718 meters. If that wasn’t enough the finish is at the top of the Passo Stelvio at the end of the 219 kilometres, the climb tops out at 2757 metres and is 22 kilometres long, it’s the highest point in the Giro (or any other Grand Tour) and carries the Cima Coppi prize, but will also crown the Giro King of 2012.


This is the 3D Profile from cyclingthealps.com.



And the preview from IG Markets.


The start in Caldes Val Di Sole was under bright sunshine with a temperature of just under 20єC, the word from the finish, up on the Stelvio, was that there was some cloud and a temperature of 5єC, with lots of snow drifts at the road side.



The early break gets some traction.


The action was not slow in coming and a group of 14 broke away after 25 kilometres on the climb of the Tonale, they were; Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Barracuda), Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale), Tom Slagter & Stef Clement (Rabobank), Jose Serpa (Androni Giocattoli), Andrey Amador & Branislaw Samoilau (Movistar), Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Oliver Zaugg (RadioShack-Nissan), Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil-DCM), Mathias Frank (BMC), Matteo Bono (Lampre-ISD), Alberto Losada (Katusha). The most notable riders in the group were; yesterday’s winner Roman Kreuziger, mountains leader Matteo Rabottini and stage winner Andrey Amador, but all of them are strong riders.



Tonale & Aprica
Over the top of the Tonale, mountains leader Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) added some more points (9pts) to his lead, it was the same story going over the Aprica, Rabottini first and the lead was 2:55 to the bunch. The Colnago-CSF Inox team with a little help from Liquigas-Cannondale were the workers today, obviously their diminutive Domenico Pozzovivo was going to try something at the end, plus they missed getting a man in the break.

Teglio
The group were not hanging about and they were soon attacking the 3rd Cat climb of the Teglio with under 120 kilometres to go to the summit of the Stelvio, but with a lot of pain between here and there. At the top of the Teglio Rabottini again took the maximum 5 points and the lead had grown to 5:25. Four riders were disqualified; Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Barracuda), Ivan Velasco (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Dominique Rollin (FDJ-La Mondiale) and Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), rumour has it that it was because they were holding on to a car after the Tonale.

On the other side of the Teglio, down in the valley, there was some chance of a rest before the killer climbs of the Mortirolo and Stelvio. The feed came at Chiuoro after 120 kilometres, followed by some flat road before a couple of sharp little climbs and the intermediate sprint in Tirano with 75 kilometres to go.

Garmin-Barracuda came to the front at the feed and the gap came down to less than 5 minutes, Colnago were still up there as were all the top men. The word from behind was that Mark Cavendish had been dropped but was battling on. Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Barracuda) and Timon Seubert (NetApp) both climbed off.

At the intermediate sprint in Tirano the leaders had 3:45 with around 10 kilometres to go to the start of the Mortirolo. Serpa took the un-contested sprint from Clement and Vande Velde.

The Mortirolo
At the bottom of the Mortirolo, with 67 kilometres to the finish, the gap between the leaders and the pink jersey was 2:30. Lampre-ISD and Liquigas-Cannondale led the peloton as Slagter and Kreuziger were on the front of the break away. The Mortirolo is 11.4 Kilometres long with an average 10.5% average gradient with those sections in the middle and near the top of 22%.

RadioShack-Nissan’s Oliver Zaugg rode away from the others, not an attack, he was just a little faster, while mountains leader Rabottini and Clement were in trouble. Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil-ISD) crossed up to him and the two forged on as both the break and the peloton fell apart. Carrara can’t or won’t help Zaugg, but they still lengthen their lead to 3:29 on the pink jersey group with all the GC contenders.

Roman Kreuziger caught the tired Carrara, who was struggling, and got up to Zaugg, the others of the group (Serpa and Vande Velde) also got up to the front, behind; the others of the break were caught.

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) attacked on a steep section, Ryder Hesjedal stayed with him, Scarponi was quickly on the wheel and then the others shut the gap. Rodriguez made another attempt, but Hesjedal was the measure of him as was Scarponi, Basso, Uran & Henao and around 20 riders. Serge Pauwels & Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) rode on the front of what was left of the peloton which brought calmness back to the chasers.

Andrey Amador also caught the leaders to give five up front with a lead of 3:10 with 4 K’s to the top of the Mortirolo. Zaugg was the strongest rider in the group and rode away again from the other leaders. In the pink jersey group everyone was suffering, but maybe holding back with the thought of the Stelvio still to come, as they had eased off some of the dropped riders came back to the peloton.

Zaugg was keen on proving something and as they reached the rough section nearing the top he had a lead of 20 seconds over the other four (Serpa, Kreuziger, Vande Velde and Amador) and 2:50 to the pink jersey group. At the back Tiralongo crashed, bringing down Bono as some of the team cars were also in trouble needing pushes. There will be some new clutches needed.

At the top of the Mortirolo; Oliver Zaugg took the special Marco Pantani prize amongst hundreds of fans on the road side, next was Amador and Vande Velde. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked the pink jersey bunch as Pozzovivo led from Hesjedal, Rodriguez, but the top men were still together, although Ivan Basso was a little behind.

De Gendt dropped down the back of the Mortirolo like a stone, to take 35 seconds from the Rodriguez group. Zaugg had 30 seconds from Serpa, Amador and Caruso and 2:30 to De Gendt and 3:05 to the pink jersey.



The Stelvio
As Zaugg headed towards the Stelvio with 40 kilometres to the summit finish, the intermediate group shrunk to three as Caruso waited for Basso. The pink jersey peloton (about 20 riders) was splitting as they tried to get to the De Gendt group of Cunego, Carrara and Lusada. Frank and Tschopp of BMC were next to go up the road taking Gadret with them.

The GC leaders were not interested in chasing and using any energy, this was playing into the hands of De Gendt who now also had Euskaltel riders Izaguirre and Nieve and Kangert of Astana, they had also caught Amador, Vande Velde and Serpa from the earlier break, De Gendt was riding himself into contention.

With 33 up-hill Kilometres to go, Zaugg had 1 minute on the De Gendt group and 5:14 on the pink jersey, with Frank, Tschopp and the others nearly getting up to De Gendt.

Behind Garmin had two riders to pull it back together for Hesjedal, there was some panic for the Canadian, but with Stetina and Vande Velde to work all looked a bit safer.

The race had to ride over an unmade dusty road for a few kilometres, they were soon through it and Zaugg was caught by the De Gendt group as Serpa was dropped, the lead on the road was 3:39 with 26 kilometres to the line.

The BMC break didn’t get across to the De Gendt group and were caught by the pink jersey/Hesjedal bunch; this made things a lot simpler to understand. Seven riders were up front as they hit Bormio at the base of the Stelvio, they were 3:56 ahead of the pink jersey at the start of the climb with 22 kilometres to go.

The leaders were down to five; De Gendt, Cunego, Nieve, Amador and Kangert the others being tailed off, Vande Velde was the worker for Hesjedal, with them was Rodriguez, Scarponi, Basso, Pozzovivo and the two Sky Colombians Henao and Uran plus around 20 others.

De Gendt didn’t think it was fast enough and left the others, Nieve got to him as Amador and Kangert couldn’t hold on and Cunego fought to keep the two in sight. Vande Velde was still working for Hesjedal on the front of the bunch, but was riding at the same speed as De Gendt and Nieve and the gap was hovering at 4 minutes with 15 kilometres left. The top men’s group was down to about 20 riders, Hesjedal looked to be suffering as Rodriguez seemed cool, Basso had his usual semi-smile and Scarponi and Pozzovivo were hidden.

Eventually Cunego caught Nieve and De Gendt, giving us three up front at 3:51 at 13 kilometres out. De Gendt maybe didn’t want Cunego for company and attacked the little Italian as soon as he bridged, Nieve was then in trouble to stay with Cunego.

10K’s to Go
Thomas De Gendt was climbing into the top 5 overall as he had 4 minutes 54 seconds coming into the last 4 kilometres; in fact he was getting onto the podium. Cunego and Nieve were 52 seconds behind De Gendt, but were not working together.

As the rider started the 48 bends of the Stelvio with the snow at the side of the road up ahead, De Gendt was putting more time into the pink jersey chasers, at 8 to go he had 5 minutes, Vande Velde was the only rider working for the chase, no one else wanted or could come to the front to help. Cunego was at 1:05 and Nieve at 1:25 and losing time to the peloton.

The first attack came from John Gadret (Ag2r-LaMondiale), this brought the Sky men to the front, Henao with Uran on his wheel pulled back Gadret. The GC favourites where now down to 9; Hesjedal, Gadret, Henao, Uran, Scarponi, Basso, Rodriguez, Dupont and Pozzovivo.

5K’s to Go
Gadret had another go, the chase was not organised and in the end it was Ryder Hesjedal who had to ride on the front in pursuit of Gadret, Nieve, Cunego and De Gendt up at the front now at 5:13. Gadret was soon back in the fold again, but Nieve and Cunego were out on their own between chase and De Gendt.

Basso and Pozzovivo were in trouble as Hesjedal started to wind it up with only Scarponi, Rodriguez and Henao able to stay with him. Henao waited for Uran leaving three. Then Scarponi attacked leaving Rodriguez on Hesjedal’s wheel.

Last Kilometre
Thomas De Gendt passed under the 1 kilometre to go banner with the high banks of snow on either side of the brave Belgian. After nearly 7 hours of racing De Gendt crossed the line showing one of the best rides in the mountains for many a year. As we waited to see the gap back to the other overall aspirants, first Cunego came in at 56 seconds, then Nieve at 2:50. Rodriguez had left Hesjedal and shot past Scarponi to finish in 3:22, then Scarponi 3:34, followed by Hesjedal at 3:36. Henao, Basso and Uran were next at 4:53, then the little Pozzovivo over 5 minutes after De Gendt.

Bad news for Mark Cavendish, as Rodriguez finished 4th he took the red jersey by 1 point.



An unbelievable ride by Thomas De Gendt, he has turned the race upside down and opened it up even more. An incredible day in an incredible Giro d’Italia. De Gendt has moved himself into 4th overall and it’s all still to play for in the 30 kilometre time trial in Milan tomorrow, keep it PEZ!

The PEZ Miester himself is in Milano, so I hope he has his Canadian flag with him for tomorrow?

Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Result:
1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM in 6:54:41
2. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 0:56
3. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2:50
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 3:22
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 3:34
6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 3:36
7. John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 4:29
8. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky at 4:53
9. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky at 4:55
10. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
11. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at 5:39.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 20:
1. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha in 91:04:16
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 0:31
3. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 1:51
4. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM at 2:18
5. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3:18
6. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 3:43
7. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky at 4:52
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at 5:47
9. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 5:56
10. John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 6:43
11. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky at 7:20
12. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 12:14
13. Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC at 12:34
14. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox at 13:28
15. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 18:09.

 

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