Maglia rosa Danilo Di Luca's victory in the 90th Giro is all but assured after his performance Saturday, which saw him finish eighth to Astana's Paolo Savoldelli in a 43km time trial to Verona.
With an enviable two-and-a-half minute advantage to Team CSC's Andy Schleck at the start of the day, Di Luca was never really in danger of losing his overall lead. The Liquigas captain finished just 29 seconds slower than the young Luxembourger, with Schleck also doing more than enough to retain his second place overall.
Friday's foul weather did nothing to curb the inner aggression of Basque Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir), whose beautiful pedaling motion returned, to the bane of his breakaway companions, on the 19th stage of the Giro, triumphing with a solo victory in Comano Terme.
Not content to sit in a seven-man lead group after the midway climb of the Pian delle Fugazze, especially with Acqua & Sapone's Stefano Garzelli by his side, Mayo chose fellow Spaniard Alberto Losada (Caisse d'Epargne) as his partner in crime.
On a summery Thursday afternoon in Riese Pio X, 33 year-old La Spezia speedster Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) avoided a final corner crash to claim his fourth victory in the 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia.
Largely unaided up to the line, Petacchi, seemingly unperturbed after what happened in front of him, closed the gap to Quick Step's Matteo Tosatto with casual aplomb, launching himself down the finishing straight with nearly 600 meters remaining and charged to the line largely unchallenged.
Saunier Duval's climbing king Gilberto Simoni has prevailed again on the wickedly steep slopes of the Monte Zoncolan.
"To have won here on Monte Zoncolan means an enormous amount to me, more than being on the podium," the two-time Giro winner panted at the finish line on Wednesday. "It was important to win a stage, more so that it was the Zoncolan, which is the most beautiful.”
Armed with the cunning – and innate sense of timing – that come from 11 years as a professional, 33 year-old Stefano Garzelli, just as he did three days before in Bergamo, gave a textbook display of controlled aggression Tuesday in Lienz, Austria. The reward? His second victory of the 2007 Giro.
High up the savage slopes of the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo, 23-year-old young gun Riccardo Riccò came of age with a brilliant victory in the 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday.
In a show of strength, unity and sportsmanship, the Saunier Duval duo of Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli out-foxed and out-climbed all others on the queen stage of the race in the Italian Dolomites. With arms aloft, Riccò crossed the line just ahead of maglia verde Piepoli, followed by Ivan Parra (Cofidis), 10 seconds adrift, and Mexican Julio Pérez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), a further 32 seconds behind.
If Danilo Di Luca expects to ride into Milan a week from Sunday wearing the maglia rosa on the final stage of the Giro d’Italia he’s going to have to fight for it before that. Had there been any doubt about that, it was certainly erased during Saturday’s 192-kilometer ride from Cantu to Bergamo.
In one of the most exciting stages in modern Giro history, Acqua & Sapone's Stefano Garzelli took the fourteenth stage in emphatic fashion Saturday in Bergamo, barely edging out Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni and world road champ Paolo Bettini of Quick Step-Innergetic.
Till this 13 kilometer uphill race of truth, surprises have been few at this 90th Giro d'Italia. But Marzio Bruseghin's performance Friday was exactly that.
With nowhere to hide on the slopes leading to the Santuario Di Oropa, 32 year-old Bruseghin defied the odds to win the thirteenth stage and stun everyone including himself with a superlative ride against the clock.
[nid:38705]Liquigas leader Danilo Di Luca has emerged unscathed and on top in the Giro's first big day in the mountains, taking the stage in Briançon and the maglia rosa to boot.
Only five riders finished within 20 seconds of Di Luca, and only two-time Giro champion Gilberto Simoni was able to match him stroke for stroke on the savage slopes of the Col d'Izoard.