Giro d'Italia: Marco Pantani remembered with mountains on the horizon
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Marco Pantani remembered with mountains on the horizon

by Steve Jones at 6:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Local rider surprises the break

Manuel BellettiWith a weekend of mountains on tap that culminates with a finish at the top of the Monte Zoncolan, today’s thirteenth stage of the Giro d’Italia set the stage for a breakaway to succeed.  Seventeen riders went clear 60 kilometers into the race and were able to resist a peloton that was focused on saving energy for the weekend in front of them.

The 223 kilometer stage between Porto Recanati and Cesenatico was held to commemorate the late Marco Pantani.  He was one of the cycling’s most prolific climbers, and grew up in the finishing town of Cesenatico.  The Italian won the Giro d’Italia in 1998 on his way to accomplishing the Giro-Tour double, and was tragically found dead on Valentine’s Day in 2004 from a cocaine overdose.

It seemed fitting that 24 year old Manuel Belletti from the small Colnago-CSF Inox team was able to secure the day’s victory.  He grew up in the area which meant the tribute to Pantani would bring even more cause for the local residents to celebrate.  The young Italian rode well in the closing kilometers, and chose the right wheels to follow as the break continued to reshuffle from the many attacks.  With just over a kilometer remaining HTC-Columbia’s Craig Lewis put in a big attack, but faded in the final 500 meters as Belletti jumped clear for the win.

Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) gained 2 minutes and 24 seconds on the overall contenders with a solo move on the first of two second category climbs, but the Russian could pay for his efforts with a difficult weekend in front of him.

Saxo Bank’s Richie Porte had an easy day of it today, and with no pressure from the contenders for the general classification, was able to retain the maglia rosa for another day.  The Australian is an unknown at this point, but is expected to lose a lot of time as the favorites begin to challenge in the mountains.

Tomorrow will see the peloton take in 201 kilometers from Ferrara to the hilltop town of Asolo.  The last half of the stage will be difficult, and includes the 1,501 meter ascent up the Monte Grappa, followed by a 25 kilometer descent and 12 kilometers of flat before short rise up to Asolo.  The stage could have some impact on the race for the maglia rosa, but the big race for the overall shouldn’t start until Sunday.  Porte’s ride up Monte Grappa may give an indication of how he will fare during Sunday’s difficult stage.


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