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Capecchi joined Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) and Kevin Seeldrayers (Quickstep) in a well-timed acceleration on the slopes of the Passo di Ganda, the only significant hurdle on the day’s short 151-kilometer ride from Morbegno to San Pellegrino Terme.
Meanwhile, Saxo Bank’s Alberto Contador, finished in the peloton that crossed the line more than six minutes behind the day’s winners. Safely atop the general classification, with a nearly five-minute lead over his closest competitor, Contador used the opportunity to relax ahead of the Giro’s final three strages, culminating with a time trial in Milan on Sunday.
A fast start
With the GC picture pretty much settled at this Giro, a fairly formidable climb near the finish and virtually every sprinting specialist long since gone, the Thursday offered an ideal opportunity for breakaway specialists to grab a stage win.
From the start, it was clear that teams and riders saw the obvious, too. With riders repeatedly attempting to organize breaks and the excluded quickly chasing them down, the speed over the opening hour was an astounding 53kph. That pace continued for almost another when, finally, a big group, with a spectrum of teams represented moved off the front of the peloton to stay.
It took time and effort and more than 90km to develop, but what eventually sorted itself out to be a 17-man break proved to be the day’s winning move.
Joining Capecchi, Pinotti and Seeldrayers were Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago-CSF Inox), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Russell Downing (Sky), Jérôme Pineau (Quickstep), Alberto Losada Alguacil (Katusha), Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Dario Cataldo (Quickstep), Philip Deignan (Team RadioShack), Carlos Sastre Candil (Geox-TMC), Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Saxo Bank Sungard), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli), Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Movistar) and Angel Vicioso Arcos (Androni Giocattoli).
The group, however, soon fractured on the slopes of the Passo di Ganda, with the day’s top-three finishers emerging at the top of the climb. They were followed Brambilla and Tiralongo, but the two chasers were already more than a minute-and-a-half behind as the three leaders worked their way down the twisting descent.
The leading trio cooperated until the final 3km, when Pinotti attacked and appeared to have established a substantial gap. Capecchi and Seeldrayers fought back, though, and the three remained together to the finish. Pinotti’s earlier attack made him a marked man and his two companions stayed glued to his wheel through the closing kilometers. Pinotti slowed and delayed making his move until the last moment, but when he launched his final attack at 250m-to-go, Capecchi matched his pace and then came around the HTC rider to take the win.
- 1. Eros Capecchi (ITA), Liquigas-Doimo , 3:20:38
- 2. Marco Pinotti (ITA), HTC-Highroad, s.t.
- 3. Kevin Seeldraeyers (BEL), Quick Step, s.t.
- 4. Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Colnago-CSF, at 1:20
- 5. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA), Astana, at 1:20
- 1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spain), SaxoBank-Sungard , 71:45:09
- 2. Michele Scarponi (Italy), Lampre-ISD, at 4:58
- 3. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Liquigas-Doimo, at 5:45
- 4. John Gadret (France), Ag2r La Mondiale, at 7:35
- 5. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Belarus), HTC-Highroad, at 9:12