By Graham Jones
and Barry Boyce

CyclingRevealed Historians





Giro d'Italia Champions
Living and Dead







CyclingRevealed's Giro '07 Perspective

Tappa 19, June 1st, Treviso to Comano di Terme, 179 km

Cruel Therapy

Terme di Comano'

Terme di Comano is one of those idyllic settings at the foot of the South Tyrol mountains. Here waters flow from springs at a constant temperature of 27.5C degrees and already in Roman times they were known for their therapeutic properties and especially good for skin disease. The Comano springs are the main therapeutic resource of the whole area of Banale, Bleggio and Lomaso. Most people come here to take to the waters and luxuriate in therapeutic treatments, great food and generally unwind in the beautiful scenery spread out all around.

After nearly three weeks of racing around Italy surely every single rider, team support staff and race officials would dearly love to stop and simply spend a few days of recuperative therapy in the warm waters of Terme di Comano.

Dream on! Yes, the riders were treated to ‘waters' today but this was the cold variety falling from a leaden sky. The Giro was still running at full gas and there was a stage to be won. For some this may be the last possible day to attack the race leader. For others not interested in the GC a stage win would round out their Giro very nicely. With tomorrow's long time trial, preserving legs for one last major effort will be critical, especially for those near the top of the GC standings.

Anyone looking for an easy day today had a shock. From the gun there were endless attacks which kept the speed up and the peloton strung out. At about 90kms the race started the ascent of the first climb of the day. This was the Cat1 Pian delle Fugazze. The climb was 11.36km long with an elevation gain of 820m and an average gradient of 7.2%. One kilometer from the top there was a section of 14%.

The entire bunch hit the climb and Liquigas took control. However the aggression was as raw as the weather. Piepoli attacked and astoundingly Di Luca attacked. Schleck then had a go but Di Luca was quickly on him. Over the top miserable looking riders were spread out all over the road. A small group were now in the lead as they tackled the frigid descent.

By the time the race reached the valley the team managers had identified the escapees and on their instructions Di Luca, Schleck, Simoni, Cunego and the other important GC personalities throttled back. With about 40kms to go Alberto Losada (Caisse d'Epargne), Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) were 25s ahead of Marco Marzano (Lampre-Fondital), Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Evgeni Petrov (Tinkoff Credit Systems) and Giovanni Visconti (Quickstep-Innergetic). Between these riders and the main peloton was another small group containing Patxi Vila (Lampre-Fondital), Dario Cioni (Predictor-Lotto), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) and Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues Telecom). Di Luca's peloton was splashing through the torrential rains at 4m 10s.

With 30kms to go the race had to tackle the 15.6km Category 2 Passo Ballino (ave. 4.4%, max 10%). Mercifully the heavy rain had eased but the world was still grey and the humid air, laden with water, was still drizzling on the saturated riders. Back in the peloton Di Luca's face clearly reflected everyone's feelings. He was pissed and just wanted to get the stage finished.

Meanwhile Mayo and Losada still led and were motivated to steal the day. Suddenly Mayo attacked with 4km still to go to the top of the climb. Losada slipped back to the small chase group one minute back containing Marco Marzano (Lampre-Fondital), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Evgeni Petrov (Tinkoff Credit Systems) and Giovanni Visconti (Quickstep-Innergetic). The peloton was still at 4m 10s with just 20kms to go to the finish.

Coming into Comano the ‘therapeutic waters' returned with a vengeance as a deluge dropped from the heavens. With a win in sight Mayo seemed impervious to the awful conditions. However the winding descent to the town was a danger to everyone as they tried to avoid white lines and braked with extreme caution on the bends.

Petrov and Visconti left the chasers in an effort to catch Mayo. For Tinkoff's Petrov it looked possible that he would bring the stage win that his team has tried so hard to win this entire Giro. But Mayo was not to be denied as he ‘surfed' over the finishing line (with a huge smile) 43s ahead of Visconti (Petrov crashed in the final kms) to take yet another stage win for Saunier Duval. The bedraggled Di Luca peloton (with not a smile to be seen) came home 3m 13s after Mayo. No change on GC. The main peloton did not arrive until most of the podium presentations had been made some 20 plus minutes after Mayo's finish. They were led in by Petacchi who was almost too late for his daily Points Leader podium appearance!

Stage winner Iban Mayo with a smile on his face (Image © La Gazetta)

Di Luca's face clearly reflected everyone's feelings (Image © La Gazetta)

Tomorrow is the big time trial which will finally settle the major GC places. Any rider looking for some respite and relaxation today in preparation for the big ‘race of truth' were instead treated to a very cold and extremely wet cruel therapy.

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