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May 26, 2006

Garate takes Stage 19, new papa Basso comfortable in Giro lead

On paper, Stage 17 was this year's Giro queen stage. But when weather and team dissent led organizers to behead the queen, chopping off the top of the stage, today's stage stepped in. With four big climbs in 224 kilometers, it was the best chance for somebody to try to put the hurt on king-to-be Ivan Basso, celebrating the birth this morning of his second child, a son.

A solid early break got 5 minutes on the field over the second major climb. The highest placed rider was Danilo Di Luca, 12th at 18:27, and some other familiar names were along, including Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt of CSC, Paolo Bettini and Juan Manuel Garate of QuickStep, Johan Tschopp of Phonak, and Francisco Vila of Lampre.

On the Pordoi, Bettini and Julich were quickly off the back, and Ceramica Panaria's Fortunato Baliani led the group over the top, nearly 7 minutes ahead of the pack, to take the lead in the climber's jersey competition.

At the foot of the last climb, Di Luca, Garate, and Voigt were riding with Tschopp, Lampre's Evgeni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec, and Francisco Vila, Ceramica Panaria's Baliani, Laverde, and Emanuele Sella, Patrice Halgand, and Ivan Parra.

Valjavec launched the first attack, joined quickly by Voigt. Parra and Villa tried to bridge, but never quite made it. Parra fell off Villa's pace, to be replaced by Garate, and that pair caught Valjavec and Voigt. Valjavec quickly attacked again, and was countered by Garate, who gapped the trio, only to have Voigt (!) jump out and catch his wheel.

Back in the field, Piepoli turned on the burners, and Simoni, Cunego, and Basso were the only ones who could match him. Once again, Savoldelli was quickly off the back, and once again Discovery's Tom Danielson led him in. Gutierrez drifted off the leaders' group, and Simoni smelled 2nd on the GC, and attacked. Basso and Cunego countered, but Cunego couldn't match the pace, and yo-yoed desperately on and off Basso and Simoni, slowly drifting back, but passing break survivors along the way.

In the last few kilometers, everyone had to be thinking back to the 2005 Tour, and George Hincapie's win over Phonak's Oscar Pereiro after Pereiro had set pace all day. Today, we had a big generalist/superdomestique, Voigt, teammate of the overall race leader, riding alongside a climber, Garate, with an uphill finish, and again, it looked like the big man, Voigt, had played all his cards right for the win. Voigt patiently sat in, and then, with less than 300 meters to go, he patted Garate on the back, gave him a little push, and sat up.

Garate couldn't believe his luck; he had tried to ride Voigt off his wheel unsuccessfully, and now, he was handing Garate the win? The little man, riding in his Spanish champion's jersey, put a safe cushion behind him, still glancing nervously several times back at Voigt, then with 50 meters to ride, he pointed back, acknowledging the gift, zipped his jersey, and took the stage.

Back with the GC riders, the question was, where's Gutierrez? Simoni looked a little like Gibos past, and he and Basso led in all riders not involved in the break, finishing 7th and 8th at 2:15. Behind them, Cunego and Gutierrez, both of whom had looked near popping, were clawing for every inch, and Gutierrez came 11th at 2:39 and Cunego 12th at 2:40. Savoldelli, Piepoli, Baliani, Danielson, Sandy Casar and Victor Hugo Peña finished together at 4:16, while Pellizotti came in at 5:11.

On GC, that means Basso leads by 6:07, with Gutierrez in 2nd, 4:27 clear of Simoni, who now has a 2:25 cushion on Savoldelli. Pellizotti falls from 5th to 6th, while Cunego pole-vaults from 8th to 5th, now 15:13 back.

One notable DNF, as Jan Ullrich drops out, complaining of back pain.

Five riders were still competing in Liberty Seguros jerseys, and the team ownership promises the team will continue through the end of the season, even without a large portion of the 8 million euros Liberty was kicking in.

cyclingnews.com | Report & Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink