20/05/12 - 6:30 PM
Busto Arsizio - Piani Resinelli
Giro d'Italia • Stage15

Busto Arsizio - Piani Resinelli
Giro d'Italia - 20 May 2012

Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 18:30 on 20 May 2012. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Thanks for joining us today - enjoy Monday's rest day and be sure to return for Tuesday's 16th stage from Limone sul Garda to Pfalzen.


New top three: 1. Rodriguez, 2. Hesjedal +30, 3. Basso +1'22.


What an amazing finale to the stage, with Rabottini pipping Rodriguez in the sprint. Losada crossed the line 23 seconds down for third, followed by Henao, Scarponi and Basso all at 25 seconds. Pirazzi finished at 29 alongside Kreuziger, and pink jersey Hesjedal crossed the line 39 seconds down.


Pink jersey Hesjedal loses 39 seconds at the finish and will hand his jersey back to Joaquim Rodriguez today.


What scenes! Sabotini manages to outsprint Rodriguez to take the win!


The Italian somehow holds onto the Spaniard's wheel - we're going to have a sprint finish!


Rodriguez is going to catch and pass Rabottini!


Rodruguez passes Losado - and has Rabottini in his sights!


Rodriguez passes Pirazzi and Txurruka. Scarponi, Basso and Henao are in pursuit.


Rabottini will hold on, just.


Now Rodriguez attacks! He's opened up a gap over his rivals and is riding back into the pink jersey...


The fans are going crazy for Rabottini. it would be so cruel if he wasn't to hold on now, but Losada is giving it his all behind.


Scarponi catches team-mate Cunego. he has Rodriguez in pursuit. And Henao of Sky. Plus Basso.


Now Kreuziger comes to the front with a big dig! But it comes to nothing... allowing Scarponi to attack!


Has Losada left it too late? He trails Rabottini by 1:15 still...


Losada is shredding Pirazzi and Txurruka in the chasing group. Back in the peloton, Szmyd drops off, leaving just Basso. Now the attacks will come, surely?


Lone leader Rabottini has 1:23 over the chasing group and 2:07 over the peloton. Nail-biting stuff!


Cunego is fighting to rejoin the three chasers. Szmyd still drives Basso and the peloton along with gusto. Rabottini passes the 3km-to-go banner. Can he hold on?


Pirazzi is pegged back by Losada and Txurruka. And they have Rabottini in their sights: 1:25 is the gap now.


ATTACK: Pirazzi goes again! Astonishing stuff from the Italian. Rabottini looks terrible, but he's keeping it together, somehow. He has 1:45 over Pirazzi and 2:45 over the peloton. This is great stuff.


Losado catches Pirazzi, who looks like his day is done. Cunego is being distanced, but Txurruka is juat about holding on, as the pack closes in.


The peloton is catching the remnants of the initial big chasing group: Amador is the latest to be swept up. Just five up the road now: Losada, Txurruka and Cunego in pursuit of Pirazzi and then Rabottini in the lead.


It looks like the peloton will catch the chasing group before the chasing group catches Rabottini - and the latter may not happen. Somehow, the Italian youngster stays out ahead. What a ride from the 24-year-old.


Cunego still leads the chasing group. They have Pirazzi just up the road, in pursuit of Rabottini. The Italian lone leader crashed on the descent, remember, so this is a titanic effort from him.


Liquigas are back on the front now after that Astana drama. The pink jersey is near the front of the peloton, which has reformed and is eating into the gaps. But Rabottini is holding on: he has 2:15 over the chasers and 3:35 over the pack.


ATTACK: Pirazzi has another pop from the chasing group. He looks completely spent, but still has enough in the tank to give it one final throw of the dice.


Time gaps: Rabottini leads the Cunego group by 2:30 with the peloton 4:10 back. Cunego is once again out of that virtual pink jersey.


Four Astana riders lead the peloton. They're really going for it. Rabottini is now onto the Cat.2 Piani dei Resinelli, the final climb of the day.


Pozzovivo was not in the group of favourites after that descent, but the small Italian has now just rejoined them.


There's a big split in the peloton: Astana are driving a fierce pace and the pack is just 25-strong. The big favourites appear to be there, including the pink jersey Hesjedal and Ivan Basso. Scarponi and Uran are there, and Rodriguez.


The chasers are losing time as they all take it in turns to slink back and stock up with provisions and tactics alongside their team cars. Poor Rabottini, you sense that it's going to end badly for him after all this effort.


The race is deep in Tour of Lombardy territory - and this is the kind of weather you might get in late October. Wet, cold and generally pretty grim. Despite that fall, Rabottini still has 2:30 over the Cunego chasing group. The peloton is at 5:05. One more climb to go. Very exciting.


Cunego is being caught by the other chasers now. Amador, Losada, Pirazzi and Txurruka join the Italian. The five riders are 2:12 down on lone leader Rabottini. The peloton is at 5:40.


Cunego takes it easy on the same bend that saw Rabottini slip to the deck. The gap is 2:17 now so he's getting closer. The pink jersey peloton trails by 5:57.


OH NO! I spoke too soon: Matteo Rabottini crashes on a left-band bend thanks to the slippery roads. He's back on his bike, but that will do his confidence no good.


Rabottini makes it to the valley without falling off. That's a relief. Just the final climb now for the lone leader, but he has Cunego in pursuit, at 2:47.


Cunego almost comes a cropped on one tight bend, needing to take his foot out to steady himself. The Italian is taking huge risks here.


The Astana team of Roman Kreuziger (or is that Paolo Tiralongo?) come to the front of the bunch on the descent. Damiano Cunego is breaking clear from the other chaser. The Little Price loves the downhills and is giving it his all.


Rabottini is giving it his all on the descent, which is frightfully narrow and twisting. Not the kind of downhill you'd want to do in a group - which is where the lone leader will have an advantage. The peloton crosses the summit at 5:44, which puts Cunego back in the virtual pink jersey. Intriguing.


That's bad news for Rabottini. You have to see him being reeled in on the final climb today. The rest of that initial chase group crosses the line just under four minutes down.


Pirazzi has been caught by Cunego, Amador, Txurruka and Losada. They're approaching the summit now. 2:46 is the gap.


The Cat.2 Culmine di San Pietro is crested by Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini). One more descent and one last climb. Can he hold on?


Liquigas unleash their Szmyd-led Liquigas mountain train. No doubt carnage will ensue. Rabottini continues on his way. The roads are very narrow here. Expect fireworks now. Frank Schleck, were he racing, wouldn't like this.


Rabottini hits a slight downhill drag during this second category climb. There's some eerie mist lurking in this dip. The Italian has four minutes to play with now. Back in the bunch, Joaquim Rodriguez has been very quiet today - we've hardly seen him at all.


Jack Bauer of Garmin leads the peloton ahead of a whole cluster of lime green men from Liquigas. They're making some in-roads as the gaps continue to fall.


Rabottini is beginning to suffer on this climb, the Cat.2 Culmine di San Pietro. His lead is down to 4:15 over the chasers and 7:30 over the bunch.


Pirazzi doesn't seem to have the legs. He's being chased by Cunego, Amador, Losado and Txurruka.


Cunego is back on the front of the group just as Pirazzi launches an attack. That was some time coming: someone needed to spring clear of this group to shake things up.


The peloton is closing in on the chase group. The Cunego group is 5:00 back from Rabottini and the pack is now 7:45. Cunego is still in virtual pink - but only just. It's a matter of two seconds now...


Five Lampre riders, including defending champion Scarponi, are sitting in the wheels of Astana and Liquigas back in the peloton. With two men up front, including virtual pink jersey Cunego, they don't need to do anything. What's more, they have Scarponi to throw into the ring on the final climb. This could be their day...


Matteo Rabottini is having a epic ride. The Farnese Vini rider is showing no signs of fatigue whatsoever and still holds the chasing group at five minutes. Superb riding.


On presses Rabottini, our lone leader. He has 5:15 on the chasing group and 8:30 over the peloton. Damiano Cunego is the virtual pink jersey, but a lot will happen over these final two climbs.


The peloton crosses the summit, 8:04 down on the lone leader Rabottini, who is already onto the next climb, the Cat.2 Culmine di San Pietro, after safely negotiating another wet descent.


Impressive ride by Amador, who's leading the chasing group after his winning ride yesterday. Definitely a climbing talent, is the Movistar Costa Rican. The group crosses the summit 4:57 down on Rabottini. Back with the bunch, Liquigas and Garmin combine in the chase, reducing the gap to 8:20.


Rabottini crosses the summit of the Cat.3 Forcella di Bura and starts his descent. Three down, two to go for the Italian lone leader.


They're well onto the Cat.3 Forcella di Bura now. Back in the peloton, Liquigas are lending a hand to Garmin. There's no sign of the pink jersey of Hesjedal - but that's because the Canadian is wearing a black rain coat.


Sella is setting the pace in the chasing group, which has real pedigree. They trail Rabottini by 5:07. The peloton is now 9:20 back.


Chasing group in full: Emanuele Sella (Androni), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Marzio Bruseghin and Andrey Amador (both Movistar), Marco Pinotti (BMC), Damiano Cunego and Diego Ulissi (both Lampre), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago), Evgueni Petrov (Astana), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Matteo Carrara and Gustav Larsson (both Vacansoleil-DCM).


Pinotti rejoins the leading group. We had it reported that Lampre's Malori was in the group, but that is no longer the case. Vacansoleil have two though: Swede Gustav Larsson has joined Matteo Carrera.


Pinotti is just over a minute behind the chasing group now. The group still trails Rabottini by 5:15. We have no news whatsoever about Bonnafond, who was in the early break with Rabottini. Presumably he's between the two somewhere. The peloton is now 10 minutes back from the lone leader. It's all happening today.


Cunego is just one of two riders in the race who has won a Grand Tour during his career. The other is compatriot Ivan Basso. Cunego - the Little Price - won the 2004 Giro, while Basso won the Giro in both 2006 and 2010.


The chase group has a distinctively Italian flavour: eight of the 11 riders are from Italy. They are 5:17 behind another Italian, Matteo Rabottini, with the peloton another 4:30 back. That puts Italy's Damiano Cunego in the virtual pink jersey by almost two minutes on Hesjedal. Yet another Italian, Marco Pinotti, is trying his best to rejoin the chasing group after crashing on the last descent.


Garmin have been forced to take up the pace setting on the front after Liquigas - quite rightly - have decided they won't do any more. Cunego is now in the virtual pink jersey - his group has four and a half minutes over the peloton now.


Italian Rabottini has a chat with his Farnese Vini DS, who shows him the stage profile. Yes, Matteo, you still have three descents and three classified climbs. His lead is up to 9:40 over the pink jersey peloton, with the chasing group now riding at 5:20. Wow, things have developed fast.


Costa Rican Amador increases the tempo on the front of the chasing group, angering Ulissi in the process. Amador has a knack of angering fellow riders with his attacking nous - just ask Alessandro De Marchi yesterday...


The chasing group is back as one, and has been joined by Cunego and yesterday's winner Andrey Amador (Movistar). Rabottini is still out on his own, two minutes ahead of Bonnafond. The peloton is five mins back.


Damiano Cunego (Lampre) has attacked from the peloton through the feeding zone. Although it's not really a peloton, just a small group of riders gathered around Liquigas and Astana on the front.


The roads are terrible. Even if there wasn't any rain, these are not roads of any obvious quality. The chasing group is now down to four riders, with the others blown off the back. Pinotti, who crashed, is presumably back in the peloton. Two Lampre riders are in a second chasing group - Ulissi and Malori. Looks like it's coming back together - although the pack looms.


Rabottini is onto the next climb, an smaller unclassified ascent that precedes the final three tests of the day.


CRASH: Pinotti slips on a wet corner and hits the deck. Moments earlier, the Italian was complaining to a TV motorbike because it was getting too close to the riders. The BMC man was obviously nervous on the descent, and he's paid the price.


The weather is terribly wet ("a filthy, foul day," says David Harmon, now live on TV). Rabottini has extended his lead to 5:30 over the chasing group, which only has 20 seconds on the peloton.


Rabottoni is taking this wet descent pretty quickly - brave, considering the terrible conditions. He has five minutes over that large chasing group. Bonnafond is between both parties, riding at two minutes behind the Italian leader.


Confirmation of the order over the Cat.1 Valcava climb: 1. Rabottini, 2. Bonnafond, 3. Txurruka.


That chasing group in full: Emanuele Sella (Androni), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Michal Golas (QuickStep), Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar), Marco Pinotti (BMC), Diego Ulissi (Lampre), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago), Evgueni Petrov (Astana), Adriano Malori (Lampre), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil-DCM). They're onto the descent now, and the peloton is just 32 seconds back.


Liquigas have come to the front of the bunch now, that man Szmyd answering the call from Basso. Rabottini's lead over the peloton has dropped under the six minute mark for the first time, while the large chasing group now only have 40-odd seconds on the pack.


Rabottini has dropped Bonnafond and rides solo on the front of the race. The Frenchman is about 1:30 back. In pursuit, a large chasing group has formed following the intitial attack by Sella and Txurruka. Katusha's Alberto Losada has joined them, as has Carrara of Vacansoleil. Back in the peloton, it's the Astana team of Kreuziger who are setting the pace.


The two leaders have 5:20 on the chasing group, with the pink jersey peloton riding at 6:40.


ATTACK: Emanuele Sella (Androni) and Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) break clear of the peloton. They're joined by three others: the blue jersey Michal Golas (QuickStep), Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar), Marco Pinotti (BMC).


Confirmation that Mark Cavendish did indeed pick up the points for third place in the intermediate sprint at Lecco. The world champion adds four points to his red jersey tally and now leads Rodriguez by 110 points to the Spaniard's 64.


The leaders are about to begin the Cat.1 Valcava climb, 8.6% for 11.6km. It has a maximum gradient of 17% so it's no stroll in the park. They still have an eight-minute gap over the peloton.


Two more withdrawals to report: Graeme Brown of Rabobank and Giovanni Visconti of Movistar.


Intermediate sprint at Lecco: 1. Bonnafond (8pts), 2. Rabottini (6pts). With the chasing group swept up, expect Mark Cavendish to surge to third place to consolidate his lead in the red jersey points standings. The peloton won't cross for another eight minutes, mind.


Who do you think will win today's stage? There are only three teams who have won more than a single stage: Sky (who have three, through Cavendish), Movistar (Visconti and Amador) and Androni (Rubiano and Ferrari).


That was short-lived: the four-man chase group appears to have been swallowed up by the peloton, much akin to Jens Voigt's swallowing of a bee. It's still eight minutes for Rabottini and Bonnafond, who sound respectively like a type of pasta dish and a French life insurance company.


Francesco Failli (Farnese Vini) and Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) have now joined Denifl and Frank, so we have a four-man chasing group in pursuit of the two leaders, Bonnafond and Rabottini. The gap back to the peloton is currently 7:50.


Two riders have jumped clear of the peloton in pursuit of the leaders to spice things up a little. They are Stefan Denifl (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Mathias Frank (BMC).


Big news there about Schleck, although to be fair, Frank never really wanted to ride the Giro anyway - plus he was carrying that shoulder injury. The question is now whether or not he will be ready for the Tour - plus whether or not Johan Bruyneel will select him for the RSNT squad. The two leaders Rabottini and Bonnafond continue on their way. They have 6:45 over the peloton, with all the big climbs still on the horizon.


Frank Schleck (RadioShack Nissan) has withdrawn from the race at the 28km-mark. The Luxembourg rider had been nursing a shoulder injury since crashing into Alex Rasmussen of Garmin the other day, and looked in some discomfort yesterday. He was 15th in the GC, 2:20 down on Hesjedal.


That attack came after the 18km-mark. It's hardly surprising there's only two riders in the break: surely it's a suicide mission, what with today's hefty schedule? Italian Rabottini is the best placed of the pair in the GC, almost 50 minutes behind pink jersey Hesjedal.


Two riders have tried their luck and broken clear: Guillaume Bonnafond of AG2R and Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini). They have 1:45 on the peloton.


It's certainly more of a stage for the pure climbers than the powerhouses like Hesjedal and Ivan Basso. It will be a surprise if the peloton lets Liquigas do what it did yesterday - and Basso may find himself losing time. The favourites include the likes of Rujano, Pozzovivo, and Rodriguez - the last two of whom have already notched wins this year. Another stage winner, Paolo Tiralongo, also said ahead of the race that he was targetting today's stage.


The riders pass close to Milan on this early stretch today: that's cruel by the organisers. There is still a hellish week ahead following tomorrow's rest day, including that defining and potentially decisive queen stage up the Mortirolo and Stelvio passes next Saturday. Today's first climb, the Cat.1 Valcava, is the hardest of the bunch today: 8.6% for 11.6km. But they all have steep ramps which should make it a different spectacle from yesterday's attritional slog.


Four classified climbs on the agenda today. The route is undulating until the intermediate sprint at Lecco, which comes after 62km. Then we have the Cat.1 Valico di Valcava, followed by lunch and an unclassified climb. Then the Cat.3 Forcella di Bura, the Cat.2 Culmine di San Pietro and the final rise to the finish, the Cat.2 Piani dei Resinelli. Unlike yesterday, the climbs are shorter and sharper - much better suited to someone like Rodriguez than stage 14's long and gradual ascents.


So, a quick recap with the overall standings after yesterday's first mountain summit finish. Ryder Hesjedal leads the race once again after finishing fourth in stage 14. Joaquim Rodriguez drops to second, at 9 seconds. Paolo Tiralongo is third, at 41, Sandy Casar fourth, at 1:05, and Ivan Basso fifth, at 1:06. Roman Kreuziger follows, at 1:07, with Rigoberto Uran in eighth, at 1:19. Defending champion Michele Scarponi is ninth, at 1:20, one second ahead of Domenico Pozzovivo.


They're off! Britain's Mark Cavendish, the red jersey, did manage to finish yesterday's stage within the time limit, so continues on. But his Sky team-mate Jeremy Hunt is heading home: the veteran domestique is about to become a father.


It's a wet start to today's stage, with huge downpours falling over Busto Arsizio during the signing on. There are hopes that it will clear by the time the riders reach Lecco and continue on to those four big climbs.


Yesterday, Costa Rica's Andrey Amador defied the elements to win stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia in the Alps as Canadian Ryder Hesjedal moved back into the pink jersey. Movistar’s Amador outsprinted fellow escapees Jan Barta (NetApp) and Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli) to take the first professional win of his career in cold and wet Cervinia. Garmin's Hesjedal attacked his rivals on the climb to cross the line 26 seconds ahead - and take pink.


Welcome to stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia, a second showdown in the Alps ahead of a much-needed rest day. The remaining riders tackle a 169km mountain trek from Busto Arsizio to Pian dei Resinelli which features four classified climbs, including the summit finish.