Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stage 15, Part II: Basso "Unsatisfactory Result"

FAENZA (Ravenna), 24 May 2009 – It could have been remembered as the day on which the notion of alliances (which has been rather controversial in this Giro, with its strong foreign contingent) regained credibility. If it had, it would have been down to Ivan Basso and Stefano Garzelli, who, to achieve their respective goals, made one of the most significant joint attacks of the last few weeks, at high average speeds and in record temperatures. Yet after 161 km everything was just as it was before: Menchov remains the man to beat, and the gap between him and his main rivals remains unaltered.

IVAN FRUSTRATED — Perhaps because of disappointment over the fact that his tremendous effort on the Casale had not borne any fruits, on crossing the finishing line Ivan Basso snubbed reporters and went straight to the team bus area from where he later said: "All told it was a good effort, even if the result wasn’t as I would have liked. But I did what I had to do". Garzelli, who fuelled the breakaway up to 15 km from the line, added: "It was a ghastly day. I’ve never ridden in such heat. We’ll pay for the exertion over two exhausting stages. When Ivan attacked for the third time nobody responded, so I stayed on his wheel. It was hard to stick with him on the Casale, but when our advantage was reduced to 40 seconds, and with such a fast final stretch before us, we decided to up our effort once again".

BOSS ON HIS HOME GROUND — The happiest man at the end of the stage was Leonardo Bertagnolli, whose wife greeted him at the finish line in a pink jersey. "I’ve won on my home ground. I couldn’t ask for more”, said the man from Trentino, who now lives just a few miles from Faenza. “Over the last stretch, after a 134 km breakaway, I feared I mightn’t do it, though I think I may still have won if it had come to a sprint finish".

DENIS DOESN’T GIVE UP THE GHOST — The other man with a dagger between his teeth is Di Luca: "Basso made a great attack and I congratulate him. Anyone behind the first three has to try actions of that sort. The point, however, is that Menchov is strong. I tried to attack him, too, but it came to nothing". For the pink jersey holder, "Danilo remains the most dangerous, but Leipheimer and Pellizotti also need to be tightly marked. Tomorrow is going to be a very important day". The final word goes to Veneto man Franco Pellizotti from the Liquigas team, who doesn’t pull his punches: "We tried because there was space to. But further back, teams who aren’t in the running were forging coalitions in order to block Ivan". Alliances stuck up along the road and which during the marathon towards Mount Petrano will no doubt have their weight.

After the Giro we'll get back to "regular programming": everything from A to Z about Italian cycling. Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

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