Sella Wins Stage 20 of Giro
Emanuele Sella (CSF) has won Stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia. Sella took the mountainous, 232-km ride from Rovetta to Tirano in 6:52:45. Two-time Giro champion Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) finished second at 1:04, and Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) finished third at 1:22. Alberto Contador (Astana) remains the maglia rosa.
For the first two hours, the peloton remained intact. At 70 km, Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes) attacked and several other riders joined him. Astana, however, kept the break on a short leash and reeled it in after 17 km. Other attacks followed, however, and after 100 km Julio Perez (CSF), Jose Rujano (Caisse d'Epargne), and Evgeni Petrov (Tinkoff) escaped. Five other riders unsuccessfully tried to bridge up to the move.
Halfway up the Passo Gavia, Andreas Kloeden (Astana) abandoned. The German veteran had been ill all week, a fact which Astana had kept quiet to keep other teams from thinking that the team was weak. Astana's team doctor suspected that Kloeden might have a lung infection, but he helped Contador keep the maglia rosa in Stage 19. Kloeden's departure was a blow to Astana, which had hoped that he would be available for Contador on the Gavia and Mortirolo climbs.
At the summit of the Gavia, Perez led Rujano by 0:35 and a group consisting of Antonio Colom (Astana), Fortunato Baliani (CSF), and Petrov by 0:45. The peloton was at 3:45.
At 162 km, the ascent of the Passo Mortirolo began. LPR Brakes and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni led the way. Paolo Savoldelli (LPR Brakes) was dropped almost immediately. Simoni attacked but was reeled in. Sella attacked twice and Rodriguez tried once, but the peloton let no one escape. The combustion, however, shelled many riders.
The maglia rosa group was down to 11 riders. Simoni attacked twice more, and Sella countered. Ricco then attacked. Sella covered the move. Di Luca, Simoni, Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre), Pellizotti (Liquigas), and Jurgen van den Broeck (Silence) fell off of the pace. Di Luca dropped out of the Bruseghin-Pellizotti group while Simoni rejoined the maglia rosa group. Ahead, Colom dropped Perez and Baliani and led the maglia rosa group by 0:38 at the summit.
On the descent, Pellizotti and Bruseghin got back on. Di Luca was more than 2:00 back. On the Category 2 Aprica climb, Sella attacked. Rodriguez chased but punctured. Simoni pursued, but at the summit, Sella led Simoni by 1:00 and the maglia rosa group by 1:37. Di Luca was at 4:15. On the descent to the finish, Sella maintained his lead to claim his third stage win of this Giro.
In the overall, Contador leads Ricco by 0:04 and Bruseghin by 2:00. Stage 21, the final stage of this year's Giro, will be a flat, 28.5-km time trial from Cesano Maderno to Milan. Contador appears to be an easy bet to beat Ricco and to take the Giro. Bruseghin is too far behind Contador to take enough time out of him to win the race. However, only 0:47 separate the four riders in third through sixth place. Will Contador take the maglia rosa, which the facts suggest that he should do? Will Pellizotti, Sella, or Menchov knock Bruseghin off of the podium? Will any of these men gain a GC place at the expense of one or more of the others? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!