By Graham Jones
and Barry Boyce

CyclingRevealed Historians



Giro d'Italia Champions
Living and Dead




Stage winner Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis)


CyclingRevealed's Giro Perspective

Tappa 7, May 13th, Cesena to Saltara, 230 km

Saber Rattling

It's not possible to travel far in Europe without encountering cultural, geographical, historical or architectural delights. Italy is particularly blessed with such attractions and today's Giro stage is no exception. We were all reminded of the late, great Marco Pantani with the stage start in his home town of Cesena. The route itself started running parallel to the Adriatic Coast before turning sharp right after about 20km to head to the hills.

For many centuries Europe was a collection of ‘tribes' and little kingdoms. Over time through war and peace these little domains merged to form the countries that we recognize today. However some of these ‘mini-states' have survived into modern times. Today the race route passed through “The Most Serene Republic of San Marino” (to give the principality its full formal title), a current independent state wholly surrounded by Italy. In terms of size San Marino is just over 60 square kilometers and only the State of the Vatican City and the Principality of Monaco are smaller.

In passing through San Marino the Giro covered just 20kms from one side to the other but at the halfway mark they had to ascend the 645m San Marino mountain. This was the first in a day long procession of climbs and descents with the highest being the 1460m Monte Catria with just over 20km of climbing averaging about 7%, ramps of 15% and 5kms of dirt road. As tough as the Catria is, the real worry was the last big climb of the day, the Monte delle Cesane. Although it only rises to 628m, this relatively short 7km climb which averages 7% includes some truly brutal ramps of up to 20%. It is not for nothing that the locals call it the ‘piccolo Mortirolo' (little Mortirolo). With just about 30km to the finish from the top of the Cesane climb it was no picnic with yet another more modest climb to tackle before the final sting in the tail with an uphill finish culminating at 10% for 700m.

The first half of the race was dominated by the lone break of Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis) who was chased by a counter attack of about 9 riders. The Monte Catria did little to change the situation apart from putting Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile) and his pink jersey into big difficulties. Spectacular scenery, especially through the Gorla del Furlo gorge, led the riders to the feared Monte della Cesane. By now the bunch was seriously depleted and as expected Basso, Savoldelli and then Cunego were seen in the front ranks. Surprisingly Di Luca struggled at the back. Was this a case of first day in the mountains blues or was he doing an Armstrong type bluff and waiting for the big climb to the finish? Meanwhile over the top of the Cesane a small group of five led the depleted peloton by 3min 44secs. In contrast to Di Luca, Jan Ullrich was seen to be riding comfortably. The big man is back!

Quick.Step's Juan Manuel Garate got impatient with his break companions and attacked hard. Behind him the CSC team drove the peloton to close down the gap to the break. Lampre then joined in to indicate that Basso (for CSC) and Cunego (for Lampre) were targeting the stage win. On the short but stiff little penultimate climb at Bargni the 15% ramps put some serious hurts on many riders. Most impressive of the chasers was Cunego while Di Luca hung on for grim death. For his part Savoldelli sat just behind Cunego looking as cool as a cucumber. Through all of this where was Simoni?

Over the top of the climb Lampre set up a fearsome pace to hunt down the break. Like spring snow the leaders saw their advantage melt away. Dreams of stealing the pink jersey were replaced by hopes of salvaging a stage win. Garate, Verbrugghe and Victor Hugo Pena looked like the best bets.

Lampre closed the break's advantage to less than one minute with 5km to go. Up front Rik Verbrugghe put in a powerful attack and his well proven time trialing skills were now needed in abundance. On the climb to the finish Lampre continued to steam roller at the front of the peloton. The remnants of the break were mercilessly hunted down. Verbrugghe dying a thousand deaths held on to claim a brilliant stage victory but with not even enough energy to raise an arm in a victory salute. Fourteen seconds later Paolo Savoldelli took second ahead of a ragged peloton. Sergui Gonchar was with the leading group and reclaimed his pink jersey of race leadership.

A very tired Verbruggher held on for the stage win [ Image ©: ]

Expectations for the day were met. Sabers were not only rattled but there was some very aggressive parrying. It is not unusual that the first day of serious climbing puts many riders into difficulties. Di Luca was the most visible victim of this syndrome so we will have to see how he fares further on into the Giro. Discovery rode a very intelligent stage and with Tom Danielson's help the smart Savoldelli moved into second place on GC with the additional help of his time bonus. Basso also rode intelligently and his 6 th place today elevated him to 3 rd on GC. Right now the race is shaping up for a battle between CSC and Discovery and an unexpected challenge from T-Mobile. With Gonchar in the lead and Ullrich now capable of racing at the front again, they also have Michael Rogers (the World TT Champion) holding a very strong fourth place on GC.

The sabers will rattle again tomorrow on the first mountain top finish of this race.

Tomorrow: the first 120 or so kms starting from Civitanova look like a typical sprinters stage; nice and flat. After cruising alongside the beautiful Adriatic all day the course suddenly turns inland to take in the last 25km which is all uphill to the ski resort of Maielletta on the Passo Lanciano. Check back for our perspective on the day's action.


Return to Giro 06 ToC >>> Previous Stage >>> Next Stage >>>



All materials are property of CyclingRevealed and Copyright © 2005-2018
unless otherwise noted

Home | Contact Us-- - -



Giro d'Italia 06 (Click to enlarge)

Stage 7 Profile (Click to enlarge)