tuesday 26 May 2009 at 23h01

Today, the riders who participate in the Giro d'Italia 2009 had their second rest day before they finish this Tour of Italy with 4 last stages in line and the final individual time trial in Rome.

I already presented you here an article about the first stage, an article about the second stage and a summary of the first week of this Tour of Italy 2009. Today I propose you to discover during this rest day a summary of the second week!

Most important news of this second week were the 3 stage victories for Mark Cavendish (Columbia High Road) and the fact that Denis Menchov (Rabobank) took the lead in the Tour of Italy ... and maybe also the surprising decision of the directeurs sportifs of the Cervélo TestTeam last Sunday's stage?


Tenth stage - Tuesday 19 May 2009 - Cuneo > Pinerolo

The first news of this day was quite sad news ... Indeed, Fabio Saccani, a 69 year old press motor driver who worked on the Giro since 33 years, was deadly hurt in an accident on his way to the start of the stage in Cuneo. One minute of silence was organised at the start of the 11th stage the next day.

David ArroyoIn this longuest stage of the 100-year Giro, only one leading rider escaped from the peloton at kilometer 120: Stefano Garzelli, leader of the Acqua e Sapone team. This stage was not only the longuest one but it also contained two big climbs: the Moncenisio and the Sestrière and just before the finish the Prá Martino before the descent towards Pinerolo.
Garzelli was finally taken back by a group of Liquigas riders who launched the pursuit for Ivan Basso at the front of the peloton and in the end the final kilometers were the most important ones. Danilo di Luca, who started with his pink jersey took advantage of the work of the Liquigas team to get in the wheel of their leader in the last climb of the day. When one of the guys in bright green attacked, the pink jersey used his perfect position to follow Franco Pellizotti. Di Luca was the strongest in the descent and thought about the bonus seconds he could take on the finish line to secure a bit more his pink jersey.
Levi LeipheimerFranco Pellizoti (Liquigas), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) and David Arroyo (photo, Caisse d'Epargne) accompanied Danilo di Luca for a while, but his puncher qualities really made him the strongest man and at the finish line he said: Today I rode as if it was a spring Classic. The distance, the final, it all looked like Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
In addition to the 20 bonus seconds for di Luca, the final kilometers of this stage, the distance and the climbs were too heavy for the best young rider Thomas Lövkvist and his team mate Michael Rogers (Columbia High Road; number two and three of the general ranking) and they finished 1'30" behind. In the last descent Levi Leipheimer (photo, Astana) and Ivan Basso lost 29 seconds.

Christopher Horner, perfect team mate for Levi Leipheimer in this Giro d'Italia, fell in a descent during this stage. With an injury on his leg, he didn't start in the next day's stage and must take one week rest before he starts training again.

Eleventh stage - Wednesday 20 May 2009 - Turin > Arenzano (Genova)

Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) who's knee was hurted stepped of his bike at kilometer 56 of this stage and after Chris Horner he was the second rider in the top 20 of this Giro who won't finish it.

This transition stage between the longuest stage the day before and the very difficult individual time trial the next day was a perfect stage for sprinters and during about 150 kilometers they did everything to control the attacks of Vladimir Isaychev who for a long time showed the nice shirt of the Xacobeo-Galicia team and of Marco Marzano of the Lampre-NGC team. The riders than arrived on a part of the track with quite small and tortuous roads. Despite the additional climbs the sprinter teams and especially the Columbia High Road team managed to control the race.

Mark CavendishWhen they came close to the finish line the train of the Columbia High Road team was perfectly formed and the rider who usually prepares the sprint for the British sprinter Mark Cavendish (photo), Mark Renshaw perfectly placed his rider at the front at about 200 meters from the finish. Cav' won the sprint with Tyler Farrar (Garmin Slipstream), Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) and the Australian rider Allan Davis (Quick Step).

What a perfect present the day before his birthday!

Fabian CancellaraAfter this stage, Fabian Cancellara (photo, Saxo Bank) decided to quit the Giro to get ready for the Tour de France 2009. He said: Right from the start I decided to take every day of this Giro as it came. I'm very happy with what I've done in this first part of the Giro, where the atmosphere is always a bit special. My season doesn't go as planned (his training was first interrupted by the flu and than by an accident on one of his trainings) but I'm convinced I'm on the right way back and I'm already thinking about my future goals and those of the team. Now I will get some rest in the upcoming days before leaving for the Alps for a training with some other riders of the team. Therefore, he was not at the start of the time trial which is his specialty ... maybe because this time trial was very long and difficult?

Twelfth stage - Thursday 21 May 2009 - Sestri Levante > Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre) - individual time trial

On Thursday an exceptional individual time trial of no less than 61,7 kilomers was planned!

Denis MenchovFollowing the coast line, this time trial started with the climb of the Passo del Bracco (a 610 m climb) and the time trial experts were even more destabilised because after the descent they had to climb the Passo del Termine (a 543 m climb).

As I said in my article about the stages of the Giro d'Italia 2009 there was a big chance for a big change in the general ranking after this stage and that was indeed the case!

Indeed, Denis Menchov (photo, Rabobank) - who already won the fifth stage - was the strongest on this very selective track. He won the individual time trial in 1h34'29" with an average speed of 38,482 km/h and finished 20 seconds ahead of the American rider Levi Leipheimer and 1'03" of the Italian rider Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone). The pink jersey, Danilo di Luca finished 6th at 1'54" and thus lost the leader's jersey to the Russian rider of the Rabobank team.
After this stage, Denis Menchov was at the first place of the general ranking, 34 seconds ahead of Danilo di Luca and 40 seconds on the number three, Levi Leipheimer.

Thirteenth stage - Friday 22 May 2009 - Lido di Camaiore > Firenze

A flat stage of only 150 kilometers, that's definitely yet another stage for sprinters.
Björn Schröder
Three riders however did try to steal the stage from the sprinters anyway by getting away together: Björn Schröder (photo, Milram), Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) and Leonardo Scarselli (ISD) escaped from the peloton after less than 15 kilometers and stayed together until about 30 kilometers from the finish. The German rider Schröder attacked at that point to try to finish the stage alone and win it at the finish line in Firenze.
Mark Cavendish
The sprinter teams however, and especially of course Team Columbia for Mark Cavendish (photo), but also Garmin Slipstream for Tyler Farrar, started the pursuit to finally take back the German rider at only 5 kilometers from the finish. As usual Mark Renshaw and Edvald Boasson Hagen than prepared the sprint for Mark Cavendish (photo) who was put in a perfect position to win the sprint ahead of ... Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini). Clearly, Cav' didn't appreciate that the Itialian rider beat him in the sprint of the second stage.
Allan Davis (Quick Step) finished 3rd, Robert Hunter (Barloworld) 4th and Tyler Farrar 5th.

The British sprinter was more or less playing the game at home because he lives in Quarrata at about 35 kilometers from the finish line of this stage. This was for him also the occasion ... to go home because he decided to stop after three stage wins in a sprint and one common stage win with his team in the initial team time trial and with of course two pink jerseys in his suitcase! Now he will take some rest before he starts preparing for the Tour de France.

In the general ranking this stage didn't change anything and Denis Menchov thus kept the pink jersey ... the first pink jersey ever in the history of the Rabobank team.


Fourteenth stage - Saturday 23 May 2009 - Campi Bisenzio > Bologna (San Luca)

Filippo PozzatoA flat stage with no less than 5 climbs ... the Passo della Collina (12,6 km @ 5,4%) followed by the Valico di Mediano (14,7 km @ 3,9%), the Valico di Tolè (14,6 km @ 3,7%), the shorter Mongardino (2,1 km with parts up to 12%) and finally the mountain top finish in Bologna (2,1 km @ 9,7%).

Filippo Pozzato (photo, Katusha) didn't come to the start of this stage. The rider who was at the 51st position of the general ranking suffered from pain in his right knee after a fall in the 12th stage and thus prefered to give his knee some rest to get ready for the next races, most probably especially for the Tour de France.

Mark Renshaw (Columbia High Road), Cameron Meyer (Garmin Slipstream) and Steve Chainel (BBOx Bouygues Telecom) didn't start either.

Danilo di Luca probably already saw himself as the winner of this stage with a mountain top finish which looked like the Flèche Wallonne. He didn't however count on Simon Gerrans (photo, Cervélo TestTeam) and 13 other riders who formed a leading group right from kilometer 12:Simon GerransGuillame Bonnafond (AG2R La Mondiale), Giampaolo Cheula and Christopher Froome (Barloworld), Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne), Philip Deignan (Cervélo TestTeam), Giovanni Visconti and Andrey Grivko (ISD), Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre NGC), Francesco Reda (Quick Step), Rubens Bertogliati (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni), Evgeny Petrov (Katusha), Martin Müller (Milram) and Eduard Vorganov (Xacobeo-Galicia).

In this leading group the Australian rider of the Cervélo TestTeam could count on his team mate Philip Deignan. Deignan tried to attack in the climb of the Mongardino, but didn't succeed.
Simon Gerrans (photo) however did succeed to escape from the group in the final climb and finished the stage 12 seconds ahead of Rubens Bertogliati (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) and 18 seconds ahead of Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre NGC). Christopher Froome (Barloworld) tried to follow but had to give up as well. We than saw him crossing the road from left to right and back to try to climb the mountain ... He finished 6th behind Evgeny Petrov (+0'24") and Philip Deignan (+0'27") at 36 seconds.

Danilo di Luca finished 11th at 1'04" together with some other favourites such as Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre. Ivan Basso and Levi Leipheimer lost 3 seconds because they finished respectively 16th and 17th at 1'07".

Fifteenth stage - Sunday 24 May 2009 - Forlž > Faenza

This stage, which almost finished at the point where it started (there's only 16,6 km between Forlž and Faenza), proposed on its 159 kilometers no less than 6 climbs. After the start from Forlž there was the first long climb of the Passo dell'Eremo (10,7 km @ 4%), followed by a short descent and the climb of the Colle Carnevale (6 km @ 6,2%), a long descent and the short climb of the Colle Albano. The Valico la Valletta, Monte Casale (8,7 km @ 4,7%) and finally the Monte Trebbio (6 km @ 6,7%) followed before the descent towards the finish in Faenza.
Tyler Farrar
Tyler Farrar (photo, Garmin Slipstream) didn't come to the start of this stage and thus finally won't win a stage in this Giro. The American sprinter collected two second places, one third place and two fifth places and now leaves all chances to Alessandro Petacchi to win any other sprints which might follow. Indeed, since Mark Cavendish and Farrar left, there's not much other riders who can win a stage if it finishes with a sprint.

After winning the stage the day before, this stage will most probably be the stage we will remember as the stage where the Cervélo TestTeam took a surprising decision. What happened?

At kilometer 35 about fifteen riders formed a leading group. One by one the leading riders came back in the peloton except for the Belgian rider Serge Pauwels (photo, Cervélo TestTeam) and Leonardo Bertagnolli (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni). Bertagnolli than thought he would not be able to win the stage since in a sprint the young Belgian rider would most probably be the strongest of the two. However, his leader and directeurs sportifs decided that was not going to happen ...Serge PauwelsIndeed, Ivan Basso (Liquigas) was together with Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) in between the leading group and the group with the pink jersey. Their maximum time difference with the pink jersey group was one minute, but Carlos Sastre was afraid he would lose precious time on Ivan Basso in this stage. Since the Spaniard's goal still is to take a good place in the general ranking he asked for his team mate to give up the lead to come help him.
However, once the decision was taken and communicated to Pauwels through his earpiece, the LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini team of Danilo di Luca worked hard to get back on the two riders who finally decided to stop their attack. There was thus no real danger for the leader of the Cervélo TestTeam and Serge Pauwels ended up in a situation where he lost all chances to win the stage and where he wasn't really of any help for his leader. On the Belgian TV Sporza the commentators immediately said this was a stupid decision and contacted the directeur sportif of the team, Jean-Paul van Poppel, to ask him for an explanation. He couldn't say much more than that Sastre asked for his team mate to come help him.

At the finish, where Leonardo Bertagnolli of course crossed the line first, Serge Pauwels (photo, second at 14 seconds) gave an interview to Sporza and he was clearly disappointed: the Belgian rider could have taken there his first big win as a professional, but he respected the decision by saying that he was in the Giro to help his leader and that the team's decisions were more important than his individual profit. Sporza's commentators didn't find more to say than that they hope they will offer you a new contract ...

Bertagnolli, close to home in this stage, was surprised as well by this decision: I didn't understand what Pauwels did. I was happy to finish the stage by myself because I was afraid for him in a sprint. If we would have finished together ahead I would have preferred waiting for the others.

The favourites finished all together in a group at 1'56" behind the stage winner and the general ranking thus didn't change after this stage.

Sixteenth stage - Monday 25 May 2009 - Pergola > Monte Petrano

Juan Mauricio Soler HernandesYesterday, the day before the rest day, the most important stage of this Giro took place. After the start from Pergola the riders had to climb the Monte delle Cessan (7,7 km @ 6,6%), the Monte Nerone (7,6%), the Monte Catria (11 km @ 8%) and finally get to the mountain top finish on top of the Monte Petrano (10,4 km @ 7,9%) close to Cagli. At the end of this stage Cervélo TestTeam took revenge on itself for the error they made the day before ...

During this stage, the polka dot jersey of best climber in the Tour de France 2007, Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandes (photo), stepped off his bike at 57 kilometers from the finish. 37th in the general ranking, he had an injury at his knee.

About twenty riders escaped from the peloton almost at the start of the stage. The group regularly lost one or more riders and finally only Yaroslav Popovych (Astana) was ahead. Damiano Cunego (Lampre NGC) followed him about one minute behind.Carlos SastreThe group with the pink jersey, Denis Menchov, but also with Danilo di Luca, Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre (photo) organised their pursuit. Carlos Sastre did what he did at Alpe d'Huez in the stage he won in the Tour de France 2008 and which allowed him to win la Grande Boucle. Indeed, he attacked twice and the second time he managed to get away from the group. Once he took back the two riders who were ahead at about 5 kilometers from the finish, he continued alone to "easily" win the stage.

The pink jersey, Denis Menchov, finished second at 25 seconds, ahead of Danilo di Luca (+0'26") and Ivan Basso (0'29"). Levi Leipheimer finished 11th and lost some precious time, finishing 2'51" behind Sastre. With the gaps at the end of the stage and the bonus seconds, the stage before the rest day did bring some changes in the general ranking: Carlos Sastre arrives in the top 3 while Levi Leipheimer fell from the 3rd to the 6th place. The ranking now is as follows:
1/ Denis Menchov (Rabobank) - 70h06'30"
2/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - +0'39"
3/ Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - +2'19"
4/ Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) - +3'08"
5/ Ivan Basso (Liquigas) - +3'19"
Tadej Valjavec6/ Levi Leipheimer (Astana) - +3'21"
7/ Michael Rogers (Columbia High Road) - 5'54"
8/ Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) - 8'21"
9/ David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) - 8'39"
10/ Tadej Valjavec (photo, AG2R La Mondiale) - 8'47"

After the stage finish a car drove over the foot of the last rider in the top 10, Tadej Valjavec (photo). After X-ray photos were taken and he did a short training ride today, the AG2R La Mondiale team announced, according to L'Equipe.fr) that he can continue the race.

The stage victories per team

If we summarise the two first weeks of this Giro d'Italia in stage wins per team the Columbia High Road team clearly leads with no less than 6 victories out of 16. The team is followed by LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini who has 4 victories and 3 teams with two stage wins: Rabobank, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni and Cervélo TestTeam.


The other rankings

Best young rider (white jersey)
Kevin SeeldrayersIn the ranking of best young rider there was an important change after the last stage with the jersey changing shoulders: the former best young rider Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) finished the 16th stage at the 62nd place at 24'46" and thus leaves the white jersey to the Belgian rider Kevin Seeldrayers (photo, Quick Step) who finished the stage 16th at 3'02". In the general ranking the new best young rider is at the 15th position at 13'57".
1/ Kevin Seeldrayers (photo, Quick Step) - 70h20'27"
2/ Francesco Masciarelli (Acqua e Sapone) - 4'13"
3/ Francis de Greef (Silence Lotto) - 10'40"
4/ Jackson Rodriguez (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) - 16'38"
5/ Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia High Road) - 17'02"

Ranking by points (cyclamen jersey)
1/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 130 points
2/ Denis Menchov (Rabobank) - 99 points
3/ Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 96 points
4/ Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) - 81 points
5/ Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia High Road) - 78 points

Ranking of best climber (green jersey)
1/ Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) - 51 points
2/ Andrey Grivko (ISD) - 39 points
3/ Denis Menchov (Rabobank) - 33 points
4/ Danilo di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) - 33 points
5/ Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) - 24 points

The next stage

Tomorrow, a short stage is programmed: only 83 kilometers from Chieti to Blockhaus. The 48 first kilometers are quite flat (with however the climb of the Côte de Villamagnia) before the riders start with a steep climb towards the finish line: 1,63 km gain in heighth over 23,5 km with an average percentage of 7%.
In this climb the pink jersey will most probably be attacked and at the end of the stage we will thus know whether Denis Menchov keeps his leader's jersey.

door Thomas Vergouwen
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this publication is published in: Giro d Italia | Giro d'Italia 2009


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