Sastre wins stage 16, Mechov retains lead
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Sastre wins stage 16, Mechov retains lead

by Steve Jones at 1:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
 

Last year's Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) won today's stage of the Giro d'Italia, attacking the favorites on the final climb of the Monte Petrano and moving himself up the leader board.  He was followed by an attacking Denis Menchov (Rabobank) who distanced himself slightly in the final meters from Italians Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farense Vini) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas), snatching up the bonus seconds on offer.

Behind, Astana's overall rider Levi Leipheimer tried to limit his losses on the final climb, but even with the help of teammate Lance Armstrong, the American was riding himself out of contention for victory in Rome.  By the top Leipheimer conceded 2:50 to the favorites making a podium finish doubtful.

How the race unfolded

A group of 20 went away on the long hot journey to Monte Petrano.  The break contained no overall contenders, but it did have riders from some of the GC teams that could come into play later in the day.

Break Riders without overall contenders:
Damiano Cunego (Lampre - N.G.C.)
Jens Voigt (Team Saxo Bank)
Renaud Dion (AG2R La Mondiale)
Pavel Brutt (Team Katusha)
Dario Cataldo (Quick-Step)
Angel Gomez Gomez (Fuji-Servetto)
Francesco Bellotti (Barloworld)
Bradley Wiggins (Garmin - Slipstream)
Tom Danielson (Garmin - Slipstream)
Arnold Jeannesson (Caisse D'Epargne)
David Lopez Garcia (Caisse D'Epargne)
Delio Fernandez Cruz (Xacobeo Galicia)
Matthieu Sprick (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
Francesco De Bonis (Serramenti Pvc Diquigiovanni)
Michele Scarponi (Serramenti Pvc Diquigiovanni)

Break riders with overall contenders:
Yaroslav Popovych (Astana)
Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini)
Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas)
Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank)
Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Rabobank)

After the climb of the Monte Nerone the break shed some riders and surviving group contained Scarponi, De Bonis, Voigt, Cunego, Fernandez Cruz, Popovych, Cano, Cataldo, Tjallingii, Jeannesson, Bellotti, Sprick, Carlstrom, Bosisio, and Gomez.

In the main group Menchov's Rabobank team was doing more than anyone had expected.  They defended the Maglia Rosa well and lookied strong as they tapped out the tempo with Ten Dam and Ardila. At the 50km to go mark there was still 25km of climbing left on the stage, and Italians Basso and Garzelli still looked good after their big efforts on the previous day.

The break had just under four minutes on the main peloton and kept it to the base of the penultimate climb, The Monte Catria. Scarponi attacked first and was followed by Cunego. The pair of Italians got a descent gap on the breakaway with Bosisio and Popovych following 10 seconds behind and eventually bridging up to the leaders.

Further down the road Columbia-High Road's Maglia Bianca leader Tomas Lovkvist came unraveled in the heat, and began to lose contact with the group of favorites as did two-time Giro winner Gilberto Simoni. One of the race favorites Leipheimer had a problem with his bike, but with the lead motorcycle waving a red flag slowing the race on the dangerous descent, he was able reconnect without issue.

On the flat before the final climb, Popovych took advantage of his time trialing skills to further distance himself from Cunego - the first section of the last climb being the steepest, so any time he could gain will help fend off the attacking Italian. By the time the Ukraininan reached the Monte Petrano he had almost five minutes in hand over the Maglia Rosa group and only 18 seconds over a charging Cunego.

Liquigas took over from Rabobank at the start of the climb stretching out the group with help from Simon Gerrans (Cervelo TestTeam) meaning Sastre was feeling good. Basso was the first of the favorites to attack with Menchov, Di Luca, and Garzelli following, and soon to be hunted down by Lance Armstrong as his leader Leipheimer fell off the pace. Sastre and Di Luca took turns attacking the leading favorites dropping Armstrong, with Menchov easily following each move until the Spainiard finally broke clear. The Maglia Rosa decided to leave the work to the others, with Basso taking advantage of the hesitation launching off the front.

Sastre put in an incredible effort on the climb jumping out of the saddle to keep up his pace, and swallowing up the leader with 2km to go. Basso was following close behind, but was overtaken by the pair of Di Luca and Menchov in the final kilometer. While Sastre crossed the line with a hard earned stage win, Menchov surprised Di Luca jumping away hard for the second place bonus seconds with the Italian trailing in third.

With over seven hours in the heat today's 237km stage from Pergola to Monte Petrano proved to be the real "Queen's Stage" of this Giro d'Italia showing that Menchov's Maglia Rosa is backed up by a motivated Rabobank team. The Russian proved today that he is the strongest rider in the race, and that knocking him off the podium's top step might not be an option.

Stage:
1. Carlos Sastre (Sp), Cervelo Test Team 7:11:54
2. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank, at 0:25
3. Danilo Di Luca (I), LPR, at 0:26
4. Ivan Basso (I), Liquigas, at 0:29
5. Stefano Garzelli (I), Acqua e Sapone, at 1:19


Overall:

1. Denis Menchov (Rus), Rabobank
2. Danilo Di Luca (I), LPR, at 0:39
3. Carlos Sastre (Sp), Cervelo, at 2:19
4. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, at 3:08
5. Ivan Basso (I), Liquigas, at 3:19
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 3:21

 

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