BENEVENTO, 28 May 2009 - Michele Scarponi has won the 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia, from Sulmona to Benevento, 182 kilometres. The Italian from the Diquigiovanni-Androni team, 29-years old, timed a short sprint to beat the racers sprinting with him, going on to win his 2nd stage victory in this Giro after the Mayrhofen stage, and his 4th win in a season where he is showing his strength: he also won a stage and the final ranking of the Tirreno-Adriatico. Second was the Colombian racer Cardenas (Barloworld); third was the American Pate (Cardenas); and fourth was Bak (Saxo Bank). Eighth, at +37, was Giovanni Visconti. The pink jersey’s group crossed the finish line almost four minutes behind.
GENERAL RANKING — No significant changes in the top ranked positions. Denis Menchov (Rus, Rabobank) has 26 seconds on Danilo Di Luca (LPR-Farnese) and 2 minutes on Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Doimo). Fourth is Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) at +3:28; fifth is Carlos Sastre (Spa, Cervelo) at +3:30.
THE DETAILS — Attackers against sprinters, this is the theme of the day. Almost all the teams managed to place a man in today’s sprint: Popovych and Zeits (Astana), Pate and Dean (Garmin), Bosisio (LPR), Scarponi and Bertolini (Diquigiovanni), Francesco Masciarelli (Acqua & Sapone), Cardenas (Barloworld), Voeckler (Bbox), Lopez Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne), Deignan (Cervelo), Visconti and Grabovskyy (ISD), Gavazzi (Lampre), Quinziato (Liquigas), Devenyns and Seeldrayers (Quick Step), Ljungblad (Silence-Lotto), Lövkvist and Siutsou (Columbia), Petrov (Katusha), McCartney and Bak (Saxo Bank), and Vorganov (Xacobeo). Note that Deignan, after a fall yesterday and a fall today, still managed to join in the sprint. At minus 25 km the group was still three minutes behind, and it was clear that victory would go to one of the pace setters. At minus 20 km, just before entering the town and the final lap, riders began surging into the lead. An exciting finish that became clear at the last moment.
TOMORROW — The 100th anniversary of the Giro – 92nd race – continues with the 19th stage and the third to last stage: from Avellino to Vesuvius, 164 kilometres. This is the Giro’s sixth and last uphill finish: the riders arrive on the volcano that dominates the Gulf of Naples – near the Observatory, so about 4 km higher than the last finish, in 1990 – after a 13 km climb. Average gradient 7.4%, maximum 12%. The last chance for Basso, Pellizotti and, above all, Di Luca to try to take on the pink jersey Menchov.
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