Kiriyenka Wins Stage 19 of Giro; Contador Keeps Maglia Rosa--Barely
Vasil Kiriyenka (Tinkoff) has won Stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia. The Tinkoff man scored his team's second stage win in this year's Giro (Pavel Brutt got the first in Stage 5) by being the sole survivor of a seven-man break. He won the mountainous, 238-km ride from Legnano to Presolana/Monte Pora in 6:37:32. Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) finished second at 4:36, and Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step) took third at 4:43. Alberto Contador (Astana) remains the maglia rosa, but the assaults of Di Luca and Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) have reduced the Spaniard's lead dramatically.
Despite the length and arduousness of the stage, the racing was aggressive from the start. During the first hour, a number of attacks occurred, but none succeeded. Eventually, Efimkin, Steven Cummings (Barloworld), Kanstantin Siutsou (High Road), Gabriele Missaglia (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni), Nicki Sorensen (CSC), Giairo Ermeti (LPR Brakes), and Kiriyenka escaped. Initially, the gap grew slowly, but it ballooned to 14:00 at 81 km. During the approach to the Passo del Vivione, the gap maxed out at 21:00. At the base of the climb, the bunch led the break by 19:45.
Cummings, Siutsou, and Missaglia were dropped, although all rejoined the break on the descent. Behind, Astana led the peloton, which was reduced to about 40 riders. At the summit of the Vivione, this group was 16 minutes behind the break.
Efimkin attacked again, and Ermeti, Sorensen, Cummings, and Kiriyenka caught him. Behind, Di Luca and Paolo Savoldelli (LPR Brakes) attacked from the peloton, and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) joined them. The trio led the maglia rosa group by 1:00 with 35 km remaining. Ermeti left the break to aid his team captain. At the base of the Presolana (222 km), Di Luca's group led the maglia rosa group by 1:13. Halfway up the climb, Di Luca set out alone. At the summit, he led the maglia rosa group by 2:10 and was race leader on the road.
Antonio Colom and Andreas Kloeden paced team captain Contador up the Presolana and then up the climb to the finish. With five km left, Contador took over. One km later, Ricco attacked and dropped the maglia rosa.
Emanuele Sella and Domenico Pozzovivo (both from CSF) attacked, and Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) followed suit. Contador followed these riders' wheels and limited his losses. Ricco accused Sella of racing against him, but the CSF man replied that he merely protected his GC position. (Overall, he is seventh at 4:25.)
In the overall, Contador leads Ricco by 0:04 and Di Luca by 0:21. Stage 19, the final mountain stage of the 2008 Giro, will provide a final opportunity for Ricco and Di Luca to take time from Contador before Sunday's time trial. Will either of the pair succeed? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!