Snow stops Liquigas' Basso and Pellizotti during Zoncolan test
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Friday, March 05, 2010

Snow stops Liquigas' Basso and Pellizotti during Zoncolan test

by Bjorn Haake at 6:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti are preparing the Giro d'Italia in earnest. The Liquigas-Doimo pair, together with Robert Kiserlovski, rode the last 90 kilometers of what will be stage 15 in the 2010 Giro d'Italia, on May 23rd. Basso, Pellizotti and Kiserlovski, a 23-year-old climber on the Italian team, were able to do three climbs in their entirety, but were stopped on the Zoncolan.

The final climb was still covered in snow after a few kilometers of ascending. "We already knew the Zoncolan," Basso told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It was important to see the parts we didn't know." The trio went over the Sella Chianzulan (954m), the Passo Duron (1076m, average 10%) and the Sella Valcalda (958m) before trying out a couple of kilometers of the Zoncolan.

The Passo Duron starts out very steep, with a gradient of 18 percent. "The Duron is tough in the initial part," Basso said. "The descent is tricky, with many delicate sections."

Pellizotti was already getting excited about the May 23 showdown. "That day I want to be a protagonist."

Word about the Giro appetizer spread quickly and the riders were not alone during their ride. In Paularo, at the bottom of the Passo Duran, school kids lined the road, with pink air balloons and a banner honoring 'the kid of the country', Franco Pellizotti. Two cousins of the riders were waiting as well.

Another spectator was Giorgio Di Centa, the 2006 Olympic champion in the 50km cross-country skiing event. Di Centa had barely returned from the Vancouver Olympics (where he finished 11th in the 50km event, only a good 12 seconds off a medal place). Pellizotti recognized him and the trio stopped for a hug and a photo.

The encounters with others and the country side brought a broad smile to Basso's face. "Friuli is really pretty. The people are very nice. Green space. A nature intact," Basso said.

The stage to the Zoncolan opens the final seven days, featuring four mountain top finishes, a mountain time trial to the Kronplatz, one flat stage and a final individual time trial. The Zoncolan stage is rather long at 218 kilometers, but that still makes it only the fourth longest stage in the race.

The race runs from May 8 to May 30. It starts in the Netherlands with an eight-kilometer time trial in Amsterdam and does not end in Milano. The final day is a 15km time trial in the streets of Verona.

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