Stage 18, Thursday, May 26, 2011, MORBEGNO – SAN PELLEGRINO TERME, 151 km.
162 riders roll out at 1.25 pm. Right away a very high speed but the field is always together.
After 50 km from the start, the whole bunch is still together. Average speed after one hour: 53.100 kph. A number of attacks on the front of the field. Agnoli asks for a “time out”. Unheard. The accelerations keep on going. On the steep uphill leading to Bergamo Alta the peloton is split into three groups.
Intermediate Sprint, Bergamo: Bakelandts crosses the IS first ahead of Tankink and Pinotti who lead the first group (50 riders) including the Pink Jersey. The main bunch has a 1’ delay.
In Alzano Lombardo, km 96, 20 riders clear out (Vicioso, Brambilla, Sastre, Kozontchuk, Pinotti, Losada, Capecchi, Pasamontes, Bakelandts, Tiralongo, Gatto, Cataldo, Pineau, Seeldrayers, Hernandez, Tankink, Navarro, Downing, Deignan, Carrara). Average speed after two hours: 50.800 kph.
50 km to go: 3’22” lead for the 20 breakaway riders over the first chasing group. On the front 6 riders attack; at km 103, Pinotti, Capecchi, Seeldrayers, Pineau, Downing and Brambilla are the leaders. On the uphill leading to the Ganda Pass, Pineau, Downing and Brambilla lose contact. Three men are now leading the race.
King of the Mountain, 2nd category : Passo di Ganda (BG) [m 1.060]: Pinotti first to come over the climb ahead of Capecchi, Seeldrayers, Brambilla 15” behind, Tiralongo 1’25” behind. The latter flies off in the pursuit of the front-runners on the phill. The Pink-Jersey group gets to the top 4’55” behind. On the downhill Tiralongo joins Brambilla but the three leaders cannot be caught and the victory is at stake between them.
Last km: a phase of mutual scrutiny among the three breakers - Pinotti has Seeldrayers and Capecchi on his wheel. From the last bend – 250 metres to go – Pinotti starts off the sprint.
It is Eros Capecchi who passes and snatches the win ahead of Marco Pinotti, in second. Kevin Seeldrayers in third. In fourth and fifth, at 1’20”, Brambilla and Tiralongo respectively. The first victory for Liquigas in this Giro.
Time of the winner: 3h 20’ 38” at an average speed of 45.157 kph.
Capecchi: "I waited and tried for a long time now. To succeeded in the finish of a race is important, it's like a dream come true. Yesterday I tried to find the right breakaway group, unfortunately without success. I felt that my legs felt very well compared to previous weeks and today I threw myself into the race without hesitation. It's been a grind. The Ganda Pass was a perfect springboard for the group split up, then Seeldraeyers, Pinotti and I jockeyed to win. I chose the right time."
Top 10 GC:
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 71:45:09
2 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:04:58
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:05:45
4 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:07:35
5 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad 0:09:12
6 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli 0:09:18
7 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:09:22
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC 0:09:38
9 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 0:09:47
10 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:10:25
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) is the Maglia Rosa Estathé, 4’58” ahead of Michele Scarponi (Lampre – ISD) and 5’45” ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas – Cannondale).
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) is the Maglia Rosso Passione Gruppo Saint-Gobain.
Roman Kreuziger (Pro Team Astana) is the Maglia Bianca Adecco.
Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) is the Maglia Verde Banca Mediolanum.
Stage 19, Bergamo-Macugnaga, 209 km is rated "Alta Montagna".
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