Giro d’Italia: Basso is the new king of Zoncolan
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Giro d’Italia: Basso is the new king of Zoncolan

by Ben Atkins at 12:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
2006 Giro winner stakes his claim to this year's race atop the legendary mountain

Ivan BassoIvan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) won the 15th stage of the Giro d’Italia between Mestre and the legendary Monte Zoncolan. The 2006 Giro winner rode the rest of the race favourites off his wheel on the ultra-steep slopes of the final climb to finish on top of the mountain alone. Cadel Evans managed to stay with Basso until the Italian’s acceleration with 3.8km to go; the World champion finished 1’19” back. In third place was Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli), 1’30” behind Basso, having been dropped by the other two with just over 5km to go.

The breakaway of the day escaped the peloton after 18km, with Ludovic Turpin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli), Guillame Le Floch (Bbox Bouyges Telecom), Nico Sijmens (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau and Francesco Reda (both Quick Step). They were allowed to build a massive lead of 14’10” in the first flat 100km of the course; none of the riders were of any danger to the overall leaders, although Turpin and Rodrguez might prove useful to their team leaders John Gadret and Michele Scarponi respectively later on in the stage.

Behind the leaders the peloton was controlled by the Liquigas-Doimo team of Basso and yesterday’s stage winner Vincenzo Nibali, despite the maglia rosa being held by David Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne).

At the top of the first climb, the 2nd category Sella Chianzutan, the lead had been reduced to 11’30”. On the steep lower slopes of the 1st category Passo Duron, Reda was forced to let the rest of the breakaway go; the gap was down to 4’55” at the top. The peloton split on the steep climb, with the Liquigas-Doimo team leading a very small group over the top, but many riders managed to rejoin on the descent.

At the top of the 2nd category Sella Valcada, with just 20km to go, the lead group was just 3’42” ahead of the peloton, still led by the Liquigas-Doimo team, and as they reached the base of Monte Zoncolan it stood at 3’23”. Le Floch was dropped immediately as the road got steeper, while behind them Sylvester Szmyd was the final Liquigas-Doimo domestique left to force the pace for Basso and Nibali. Riders were dropping off the back of the main group as they found the pace too strong; some of the first to go were fifth-placed Linus Gerdemann (Milram) and Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Farnese Vini), who has won on both of the Giro’s previous visits to Zoncolan.

In the breakaway group ahead Sijmens dropped the other three in an attempt to reach the finish alone.

With almost 8km still to climb Basso made his move, pulling Evans, Scarponi and Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia) with him. Pinotti was only able to hang on to the other three for a short while before dropping back to take the climb at his own pace. As Basso, Evans and Scarponi reeled in the breakaway riders one by one, the rest of the favourites were scattered all over the mountain behind them. Meanwhile up ahead, Turpin overtook the fading Sijmans.

With just over 5km to go to the top the trio of favourites caught Rodriguez; rather than being able to lend a hand to his team leader Scarponi though, both riders were dropped and had to watch Basso lead Evans away. They soon passed by Sijmens and Turpin to make them the leaders on the road.

Basso was still doing the lion’s share of the work on the front, with Evans only able to take occasional turns. The two riders styles were contrasting with Basso almost constantly in the saddle and Evans spending long periods out of it. At 3.8km to go though, an acceleration from Basso finally dropped the World champion and a gap quickly opened between the two riders.

Basso continued to draw away from Evans as he tackled the final steep kilometres and passed through the three tunnels on the way to the top. At first Evans appeared to have completely cracked but he recovered after a few kilometres and managed to hold off Scarponi. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) recovered after a bad start to the climb and overtook Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), who was wearing the red points jersey, to take fourth with the Kazakh finishing fifth.

Despite losing 3’50” to Basso, race leader Arroyo did enough to hold on to the pink jersey. Previous race leader Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) managed to limit his losses to 5’46” and hold on to his second place overall, although Basso is now less than a minute behind him.

Result stage 15
1. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 1’19”
3. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli @ 1’30”
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini @ 1’58”
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Astana @ 2’26”
6. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam @ 2’44”
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo @ 3’07”
8. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Columbia @ 3’20”
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Transitions @ 3’31”
10. John Gadret (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale @ 3’46”

Standings after stage 15
1. David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank @ 2’35”
3. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo @ 3’33”
4. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam @ 4’21”
5. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 4’43”


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