By Graham Jones
and Barry Boyce

CyclingRevealed Historians




Giro d'Italia Champions
Living and Dead







CyclingRevealed's Giro '08 Perspective

Tappa 20, May 31st, Rovetta to Tirano, 224 km Mountain Stage

The Cima Coppi

Great Italian champion Fausto Coppi excelled in the mountains. His exploits in the Giro d'Italia have become legendary. Giro organizers honored all Coppi's great accomplishment by designating the highest point of ‘that' year's Giro as the “ Cima Coppi ” (a special climbing prize to the first rider over the summit of that climb). This year the prestigious prize is awarded on the Passo di Gavia.

We could pause and describe this fearsome climb but cycling history tells us all we need know. Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, Charly Gaul, Jacques Anquetil, Andy Hampsten and Marco Pantani are just a few of the great champions to have raced up this mountain and left their indelible mark with rides that have become legends. In 1960 Anquetil became the first Frenchman to win the Giro after a dramatic ride up the Gavia . That story can be found here . Most readers will remember Andy Hampsten's epic ride up the Gavia through a snowstorm in 1988. This exploit helped him seal the first (and to date only) Giro victory by an American.

The weather on the Gavia was miserable. It was not snowing but the side of the road was lined with deep snow.

Miserable weather and snow lined roads on the Gavia [ Images © La Gazetta ]

Halfway up the Gavia three riders made their bid for the prize. Little Mexican climber Julio Cuapio was the first to go and quickly dropped his breakaway companions. He crossed the summit to win the prestigous Cima Coppi . He had such a large lead and stopped at the top to put on a rain jacket for the descent.

Firework came 60 km later on the climb of the Passo Mortirolo . Attacks came quickly and often as the contender's group dwindled. Gilberto Simoni's attack was answered by Ricco and Contador. Sella was next, but Ricco closed the gap and continued his previous day's war of words with Sella. The Maglia Rosa looked over and was not pleased with Ricco. Tempers were flaring.

The Maglia Rosa looked over and was not pleased with Ricco [ Images © La Gazetta ]

There were shattered groups everywhere. An elite twelve rider group rode away and caught Cuapio on the climb to Aprica.

Near the final summit Sella attacked again and escaped. Simoni saw an opportunity and followed Sella. Once over the summit both solo riders had to hold their gaps on the descent into the finish.

CSF's Emanuele Sella cruised into Tirano for the stage win. An inspired Gilberto Simoni finished second 1'04” behind Sella.

Stage winner Emanuele Sella [ Images © La Gazetta ]

Still up for grabs was the time bonus for third place. Contador vigilantly watched Ricco as Joaquin Rodriguez slipped away on the descent to score the time bonus. How significant the move was will be played out tomorrow on the way to Milan , because Riccardo Ricco sprinted in for fourth and missed the time bonus. Race leader Alberto Contador congratulated Rodriguez for a fine move.

Contador congratulates Rodriguez afte taking the final time bonus [ Images © La Gazetta ]

Astana's Alberto Contador solidly held the Maglia Rosa with a 4 second lead going into tomorrow's individual time trial. The Fat Lady will wait to sing!



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