Pellizotti solos to victory while Di Luca closes on Menchov
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pellizotti solos to victory while Di Luca closes on Menchov

by Steve Jones at 1:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results

Italian Franco Pellizotti of Team Liquigas won the 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia today with a solo victory on the short 83km stage from Chieti to Blockhaus. In second place was a charging Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) aiming for points in the mountains competition, followed by Danilo Diluca who snatched up the last of the bonus seconds on offer.  For his efforts, Di Luca was able to put a couple of seconds between himself and Rabobank's Maglia Rosa Denis Menchov.

Today some moves were made on the General Classification. While Menchov held onto his Maglia Rosa, Di Luca reduced his deficit to the Russian by a third to just 26 seconds.  With his strong performance, Pellizotti was able to move up to third overall with Sastre falling from third to fifth.

How the race unfolded:

Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) was the first to get the race heated up after a delayed start for the race. He was soon joined by a nine more:

Matteo Bono (Lampre - N.G.C.)
Riccardo Chiarini (LPR Brakes Farnese Vini)
Felix Rafael Cardenas (Barloworld)
Delio Fernandez Cruz (Xacobeo Galicia)
Mauro Facci (Quick-Step)
Ruggero Marzoli (Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo)
Giuseppe Palumbo (Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo)
Gonzalo Rabunal Rios (Xacobeo Galicia)
Giovanni Visconti (ISD)

The break managed to get a decent gap, but Voeckler wasn't interested in that much company on the short 83km stage, attacking on the unclassified climbs trying to reduce the numbers. The break stayed together along the course, and with 30km left to race their gap was 2:48 with the LPR Brakes - Farense Vini and Rabobank teams doing the bulk of the work.

With 18km of climbing at the end of the stage, Cervelo TestTeam began to mass at the front for their GC man and Monday's winner Carlos Sastre. As the break reached the climb, Sastre's Cervelo team was tapping out the pace bringing the gap down to just over 2 minutes. Voeckler began the attacks on the climb knowing the peloton would be coming up quickly from behind and was able to peel off some of the fat.  With that, the break settled down to five riders; Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Riccardo Chiarini (LPR Brakes Farnese Vini), Felix Rafael Cardenas (Barloworld), Delio Fernandez Cruz (Xacobeo Galicia), and Felix Rafael Cardenas (Barloworld) with the latter driving the pace.

Philip Deignan from Cervelo hit the deck hard on an early switchback as he led the chase, but fortunately didn't take out anyone else and was able to pick himself up and continue. LPR Brakes and Rabobank joined in on the efforts with the break ahead being trimmed down to just Voeckler, Chiarinin, and Cardenas with less than a minute in hand.

The group of favorites started to thin out with 15km to go as Sastre drove the pace unable to dislodge any of the favorites. Szmyd and Pellizotti (Liquigas) made a move with Lance Armstrong jumping to catch the Liquigas duo. Behind Masciarelli from Acqua & Sapone drove the favorites group for Garzelli.  Armstrong fell off a flying Pellizotti with a 20 second gap either way that meant the Italian had 40 seconds on the favorites.

With 10km to go Di Luca attacked with Garzelli on his wheel, and was quickly joined by Menchov and Basso as they rode through Armstrong. Sastre was the next to jump with Leipheimer and Rogers unable to follow, but Armstrong was able to jump on the Spainard's wheel. A determined looking Di Luca drove the pace of the Maglia Rosa group, and with Pelliozotti  28 seconds ahead, Basso was getting an armchair ride up the mountain. Sastre was 25 seconds behind the Maglia Rosa group with Gilberto Simoni, Armstrong and Szmyd unable to make contact.

With 3km to go Pelliozotti had 42 seconds on the Maglia Rosa group with only Di Luca working, and 1:18 on the Sastre group where Gilberto Simoni had joined in on the chase. Di Luca attacked hard again and was able to get rid of Basso, but Menchov had not problems following the Italian.

With 1km to go Pellizotti knew he had the win wrapped up crossing the line for a solo win. Behind the fight for time bonuses and mountain points began with Di Luca opening up the sprint for second, but Garzelli was too strong taking the higher bonus seconds and mountain points away from his compatriot, while Menchov showed his first signs of weakness losing a couple of seconds over the line.

The Sastre group came in 2 minutes behind with Leipheimer and Rogers eventually being able to connect giving the American a chance for a top five spot in the overall.  With tomorrow and Saturday's stage likely to end in a sprint, Friday's stage ending on Monte Vesuvius and Sunday's short 15.3 km time trial are all that's left for Di Luca to try to overtake Menchov for the overall victory.

1. Franco Pellizotti (ITA), Liquigas 2:21:06
2. Stefano Garzelli (ITA), Acqua & Sapone, at 0:42
3. Danilo Di Luca (ITA), LPR Brakes - Farense Vini, at 0:43
4. Denis Menchov (RUS), Rabobank, at 0:47
5. Ivan Basso (ITA), Liquigas 0:57
9. Carlos Sastre (SPA), Cervelo TestTeam 1:59
11. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana 1:59

1. Denis Menchov (RUS) Rabobank at 72hrs28min24sec
2. Danilo Di Luca (ITA) LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini at 26sec
3. Franco Pellizotti (ITA) Liquigas at 2min
4. Ivan Basso (ITA) Liquigas at 3min28sec
5. Carlos Sastre (SPA) Cervelo Test Team at 3min30
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 4min32sec
7. Michael Rogers (AUS) Team Columbia - Highroad at 7min5sec
8. Stefano Garzelli (ITA) Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo at 8min4sec


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