May 14, 2006
Basso ascendant: Takes Stage 8, Giro lead
Basso rode alongside the other race favorites on the day's final climb, and one by one, they cracked. Race leader Sergei Honchar was among the first, but surprisingly, Discovery Channel's defending Giro champ Paolo Savoldelli also quickly went off the back, as did 2005 Giro revelation José Rujano.
Hometown hero Danilo Di Luca was next, yoyoing off a small group, while Basso sat spinning comfortably on the wheel of teammate Carlos Sastre. Like Basso, Gilberto Simoni was riding with a teammate, Leonardo Piepoli, and also in the leading group were Damiano Cunego, Phonak's Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Luca Mazzanti and Giampaolo Caruso.
Rujano bravely fought back onto the select group, and launched the first attack. Sastre let him dangle off the front like a rabbit leading the greyhounds, and Rujano was recaptured within a kilometer or so. Next to go was Cunego with 4k to the summit, and he went hard. Only Basso could hold his wheel, but he did so with seeming ease, and after perhaps 150 meters, Basso soloed off the front.
Cunego couldn't respond, and 2-time Giro champ Simoni watched Basso ride away, seemingly content to ease in, riding on Piepoli's wheel. This was a stage where Simoni needed to regain some of the time lost in Saunier Duval-Prodir's team time trial, but instead, he lost another 1:15. That's got to depress his team, which spent much of today controlling the race to give Simoni a chance at the stage and some GC. Simoni after the stage:
"When Cunego went I was already at my limit, so I couldn't respond," said the two-time Giro champion. "Basso, on the contrary, had no fear. This was impressive. He did a great climb today. He's going to be difficult to beat, because he also has a very strong team."
Di Luca was trapped in no-man's land, behind the leaders, but ahead of the group that formed around Savoldelli and Andrea Noè.
When the dust cleared, Basso had won the stage, and sits 1:34 up on Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez in the GC. Savoldelli was shepherded to the line by Tom Danielson, but lost 2:20 on the day. Il Falco's Giro may not be over, but he's going to need some extraordinary performances and extraordinary luck to win it - he's 2:35 back, with 2 weeks featuring loads more of the same to go.
Savoldelli quoted in CyclingNews:
"The Giro is not finished here...I knew Basso was strongest and I knew that I wasn't on a good day right away when the climb started. I went into the red zone right away and couldn't hold the pace. Thanks to Danielson, I was able to limit the loss. But the next step is the TT and then, the last week is so hard. But to lose 2'35 on the first climb, that's a lot... it should be 1'20". But I'm still optimistic."
Basso's ride was just stunning. He looked so comfortable, turning an easy rhythm and dropping everyone in sight, and credit for his freshness has to go largely to Carlos Sastre, who did a monster turn setting tempo on the final climb to Maielletta.
Posted by Frank Steele on May 14, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink