Hesjedal takes fourth, 20 seconds back. And Tiralongo leads the favourites over the line some 50-odd seconds back. HESJEDAL IN PINK!
Cherasco - Breuil-Cervinia
Giro d'Italia - 19 May 2012
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 17:35 on 19 May 2012. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Amador is too strong! The Costa Rican takes the win ahead of Barta, with De Marchi trickling over for third.
Amador takes pole positon... and then Barta attacks!
The three leaders pass the 1km-to-go banner and it looks like Barta is having a coughing fit. Hesjedal is closing, but won't catch them.
Hesjedal is gaining fast on the leaders. And Pozzovivo goes! Scarponi reels him in... but Kreuziger looks to have been dropped.
Scarponi leads the chase as the group of GC favourites catch Rodriguez. Nice riding from the defending champion. Team Sky have both Uran and Heneo there.
ATTACK: Now Rodriguez goes! The pink jersey breaks clear and has already caught and passed Nieve. No reaction from the pack yet. Pozzovivo and Scarponi considered it, as did the Astana pair.
Katusha's Moreno leads the chase - Hesjedal is only 17 seconds down on Rodriguez in the GC. The Canadian passes Nieve and continues on his ride. The three leaders have just 1:25 now!
Attack from Euskaltel's Mikel Nieve! And Ryder Hesjedal leaves the pack in pursuit! That will set the alarm bells ringing...
De Marchi tries to break clear of his fellow escapees, but is reeled in. meanwhile, both Kreuziger and Basso drop back, leaving Tiralongo on the front of the pack.
Szmyd and Caruso have done their bit and now fall back, so Basso is now on his own for Liquigas on the front of the pack. He's tailed by Astana's Kreuziger and Tiralongo, with Cunego there too. Pozzovivo is almoast knocked off by a spectator. And it looks like Scarponi is fading...
ATTACK: Jose Rujano tries to drop the peloton, but is finding it hard with the Liquigas pace-setters. Caruso is there too, in the white jersey, to Basso has him and Szmyd. Rabobank's Tom Slagter is still there too, as are Cunego and Scarponi for Lampre. Although the defending champion is quite far back.
It's down to 3:30 now for the trio ahead. Remember, the road does flatten out at the finish, so they could still hold on. At three kilometres from finish, the climb eases but reaches an altitude of 2000m. The finishing straight is 450 metres long, 6.5 m wide, with a 4% gradient. There are 2 well-lit tunnels during the last six kilometers.
Basso is down to just one team-mate now, Szmyd. The same can be said for Kreuzigerm, who has Tiralongo. Pink jersey Rodriguez is isolated - no other Katusha men here.
The lead is down to four minutes - which means the peloton gained one minute over the past 2km. It's going to be tight.
Team Sky's Rigoberto Uran is on the back of the main bunch at the moment. His Colombian compatriot and team-mate Sergio Heneo is still going strong.
We now have three leaders as Jan Barta (NetApp) catches Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli).
Barta is slowly closing in on the two leaders. They stand a better chance as a trio, with Liquigas driving the peloton with four men. Thomas de Gendt of Vacansoleil-DCM is there too.
The lead is tumbling now as riders are shed off the back of the peloton. 5:10 at the moment.
The crowds on the climb to Cervinia are pretty large given the weather. Although it has stopped raining at the moment. Barta is still riding in pursuit of the two leaders, who continue to argue and bicker. Oh, and there's another rotund man in nothing but his pants.
It's 10km to go for the two leaders, Amador and De Marchi. Jan Barta, who led the race over the first climb, is in pursuit, 25 seconds down. Montaguti and De Negri are another minute back, with the peloton rolling at 6:25.
De Marchi grimaces as he continues his pursuit of Amador. And that's it, the Italian has caught him. Nice riding. As De Marchi passes Amador, he gives him the eyes and says some strong words: the Italian is clearly angered at the way the Costa Rican attacked so early today.
The chasing group has splintered with De Marchi 100m ahead of Barta and Montaguti further back down the road. De Marchi is closing in on Amador now: the gap is just 30 seconds now.
Cunego and Bruseghin have caught Oliviera from the initial group - but the peloton is right behind so that will be that. Amador, the pocket-rocket Costa Rican, is looking good for the win, although there is still a long way to go. The gap back to the bunch is 7:37 now.
Txurruka has dropped Cunego and Breseghin, who are being reeled in by the peloton. It seems a bit futile: Amador and the chasing group will not be caught, surely.
The peloton passes the 20km-to-go banner, led by Liquigas. That means Amador has a whole four kilometres to play with at the moment.
The pace in the peloton has increased under pressure by Liquigas. Amador now has 8:20 over the bunch. Behind him it's De Marchi, and not Barta, in pursuit. The Androni rider is 1:15 back and riding ahead of Barta, Montaguti and De Negri. The Cunego trio is 7:40 back.
Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar) and Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) have joined Damiano Cunego (Lampre).
Frank Schleck is safely in the peloton after his troubles on the last climb. He's nicely tucked in behind Astana's Roman Kreuziger. All the big favourites are present as lone leader Andrey Amador passes the 20km-to-go banner. Back with the chasers, Jan Barta increases the tempo and pulls a few bike lengths clear of the others.
If Cunego continues like this and maintains his lead over the peloton, he'll be up into third place in the GC tonight.
Amador has 1:05 over the four chasers and 7:44 over Cunego. The peloton is almost nine minutes back.
Montaguti leads the chase in the four-man group in pursuit of Amador, who has a superb poker face but swaying shoulders that betray his discomfort. He has 50 seconds on the chasing group and eight minutes on the peloton. Cunego is alone having dropped Rujano.
The peloton has now completed the descent. On the final climb, Amador appears to have ridden into a spot of sunshine, which is promising. Time checks coming up.
Amador took the points in the intermediate sprint, ahead of Montaguti and De Negri.
Amador is onto the final climb of the day, the Cat.1 ascent to Cervinia. The average gradient is only 5.5% of this long climb, but the upper part includes some steeper ramps.
So, that was a thrilling descent, with Costa Rican Andrey Amador (Movistar) going for broke and catching Jan Barta (NetApp). He now starts the final climb of the day with a small gap over a four-man chasing group. Eight minutes back we have Cunego and Rujano, just 45 seconds ahead of the Astana-led peloton, which is still descending.
There's an intermediate sprint on the flat between these two climbs, which seems a bit pointless. Amador is still out ahead in front, with Montaguti, De Marchi and De Negri in pursuit, with Barta as well.
Barta and lone chaser Amador are onto the dryer roads further down the hill. The Costa Rican is riding this like a man possessed - he's almost fallen off five times. Back in the peloton, it's Astana who have come to the front.
Rodriguez is wearing a black rain jacket on this descent, surrounded by Katusha team-mates. Cunego has caught and passed Rujano. It would be great is Nibali was riding this one.
Amador, who has caught and passed Barta, is all over the road on his descent. Almost quite literally. Crazy skills. Cunego has already caught Rujano.
Rujano crosses the summit of the Col de Joux. He's over eight minutes down on Barta. Cunego is in pursuit and may catch Rujano on the descent. Now the peloton cross the summit. One Euskaltel rider has a coat and a newspaper at the ready...
Rujano drops Cunego, while the peloton drops Schleck. There are going to be some large casualties today.
Barta almost comes a cropper on one slippery corner. He's taking the downhill gingerly, to say the least.
Rujano has arm warmers but Cunego has no sleeves, despite the conditions. On the front, Barta is taking the descent pretty easily - understandably so. There are puddles of water on the road and it would take just one false move and he's go flying.
Barta crosses the summit of the Cat.1 Col de Joux to take the points. He will now begin a wet and no doubt fairly treacherous descent. Back down the mountain, Cunego joins Rujano as they continue ahead of the peloton.
ATTACK: Jose Rujano of Androni Giocatolli jumps clear of the peloton. Only Damiano Cunego of Lampre follows.
Frank Scheck is sitting on the back of the peloton. Either he had to drop back to the team car, or he's really struggling.
Barta's lead over the peloton drops to under 10 minutes. He still has 30 seconds over his four chasers. Back in the peloton, RadioShack's Frank Schleck is grimacing. He dislocated his shoulder the other day, plus he's not a fan of wet weather.
Farnese Vini's Matteo Rabottini has a mechanical and seems to wait a stricken age until he gets the requisite bike change. To make matters worse, he has to wait next to a guy wearing nothing but his grey underpants. Rabottini's not missing out on much though: a bit further up the road, the peloton passes another three boys in their underpants.
The four chasers are closing in once again on Barta, who is yo-yoing off the front of today's wet and cold stage. The gap back to the peloton is 10:27.
Jan Barta (NetApp) won the Coppi et Bartali stage race earlier this year. The Czech 27-year-old is no minnow. He has 10:05 on the peloton and, according to David Harman, "the face and riding style of a back-street pugilist".
Barta is having second wind: he looked to be tiring, but the NetApp rider has pulled out his lead again. The four chasers - Amador, Montaguti, De Marchi and De Negri - are about 30 seconds back.
They're only about half way up this first climb, the Col du Joux. Barta still has 11 minutes over the peloton, which is being controlled by Liquigas. Quite a few are off the back of the bunch now.
Red jersey Mark Cavendish has been dropped by the peloton. Sky team-mates Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas are in two minds as to whether they should help pace their man through the rain or not.
Barta continues his long, lonely ascent to the summit. He's 11:35 ahead of the bunch, but he's being reeled in by the chasing group.
De Marchi manages to join the duo in pursuit of Barta. Back with the pack, Liquigas are setting the tone, with that man Szmyd. The Liquigas super-domestique rooms with his wife, which isn't a bad deal considering he could be with Maciej Bodnar...
The maximum gradient of the Col du Joux is 12% but the worst thing about the climb is its length of 22km. The chasing group behind Barta is beginning to fragment, with De Negri and Montaguti pulling away.
As Sean Kelly is saying on Eurosport, Frank Schleck and John Gadret are two riders who don't like the cold. They could put themselves out of contention with a poor performance today.
The peloton is now onto the Col du Joux, with Liquigas and Katusha setting the pace. Barta rides 13:08 further up the road.
Barta left his fellow escapees for dead there - the NettApp rider already has a large lead on this first climb. It was a ballsy move from the 27-year-old, riding his first Grand Tour.
It's hard to see who's controlling the peloton because they're all wearing long sleeved rain jackets. With the leaders, it's Olivier Kaisen setting the pace. The Belgian looks in control as he flicks his shoulder and urges Barta through. And the Czech not only does so, but carries on! He's going for it on his own!
Ah, we have live pictures as the leaders start the Cat.1 Col de Joux. The weather looks horrendous: wet and cold, that's for sure. The gap is 12:55 back to the peloton, which is still trundling along the valley below.
Yesterday, pink jersey Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha told Eurosport: "Tomorrow will be cold and I hope I'll over come the weather conditions. I think Liquigas will probably try and control the race." The Spaniard knows that the stage to the Slelvio next weekend is the Giro's queen stage, but he's aware that today's stage - because of the weather - could be decisive.
There are still no TV images from the host broadcasters - probably because of the terrible weather on those final climbs. We'll try our best to bring you the latest until things become clearer.
We're approaching the first climb - and still the lead grows. 12:30 is the latest check.
Our eight leaders now have 11:36 over the peloton, so the gap is stabilising. Of course, all will change with the two massive climbs up ahead. It's still very wet at the finish. No snow, as initially feared, but it's cold and pretty miserable. The kind of stage Eddy Merckx would have loved...
The lead is now 11 minutes and so Barta is not far away from that virtual pink jersey. The Czech rider is currently 14:34 down on Rodriguez in the GC.
None of the leading group have won a stage in the Giro d'Italia before. For Barta, Oliviera, Maes and De Negri, this year's race is their first ever appearance in the world's second biggest stage race.
And still the lead grows: it's over the nine-minute mark as the eight leaders approach the feeding zone.
The gap continues to grow: it's over eight minutes now. Will they stay out in front to contest the win? Have your say below in the comments section...
The leaders are onto a small rise in this otherwise flat opening two-thirds of the stage. The final 65km today include 50km of climbing. The Col de Joux is 22.5km long with a gradient of 7%. A testing descent leads to Saint Vincent and the intermediate sprint at Châtillon after 178.0km, just before the 27km climb to the finish. The road climbs at an average of 5.5%. The climb is a categorized 1 climb, with an altitude of 2001m after 206km of racing.
The gap is now 6:22 for the eight leaders. But with those huge climbs ahead - plus the terrible weather at the finish (rain and cold temperatures) - they'll probably need a lot more to make this stick.
Interesting to see riders from both AG2R and RadioShack in the break: they are the two Pro Tour teams with the fewest wins this season. After AG2R's double flurry yesterday, they are locked on two apiece.
The eight leaders have quickly established a large lead over the peloton. The gap is currently 4:25 and growing. They'll need 10 more minutes for Barta, the best placed rider, to move into the virtual pink jersey, mind.
The leading eight-man group: Jan Barta (NetApp), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Nelson Oliveira (RadioShack Nissan), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-La Mondiale), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli), Pierpaolo De Negri (Farnese Vini), Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol).
BREAK: Finally we have some action after a move instigated by Lotto Belisol's Olivier Kaisen. The Belgian has been pretty active in this year's race. He's out ahead with seven riders and the gap is slowly growing. Names coming right up.
It has been a fast start today, despite the looming climbs. The average speed for the first hour of racing was 50.8 kmh.
Before the riders left Cherasco this morning, a minute’s silence was held to remember the two school children killed today by a bomb at a school in Brindisi, in the south of Italy. The blast, which was thought to be linked to the Mafia, also injured six children.
Today's stage should also shake up the youth standings as well. It's quite tight here, with Italy's Damiano Caruso (Liquigas) currently in the white jersey. He leads Rigoberto Uran (Sky) by eight seconds, with another Colombian from Sky, Sergio Henao, in third at 25 seconds.
Still no break to report. // In the comments section below, Derek asks "why is Hesjedal not considered in the list of overall contenders?". Derek, you have to borrow Tyler Farrar's Transitions lenses - Ryder is there in the list, see the comment on 195km.
While the likes of Rodriguez, Scarponi, Schleck, Kreuziger, Basso and Uran will all be motivated, there are many others to consider for the win. Gadret needs to recoup time, Dupont has been quiet, Rujano and Pozzovivo are superb climbers, Moreno may take the pressure off his team-mate J Rod, Tom Slagter looks a real talent, Juan Manuel Garate has pedigree, while Spaniards Mikel Neive and Benat Intxausti are dark horses.
Who's your tip for glory today? Are we going to see one of the race favourites put down a marker, or will it be an out-and-out climber like Juan Manuel Garate of Rabobank? John Gadret of AG2R needs to recoup time in the GC and his team are on a roll: after no wins at all this season, they notched two yesterday, including one in the Tour of California. Also, watch out for the piano playing Pozzovivo of Colnago, Androni's Rujano and Katusha's Moreno.
FACT: Stage 14 is the first stage where time bonuses are not awarded at the finish and the intermediate sprint. No time bonuses will be awarded on stages 15 to Pian dei Resinelli, stage 17 to Cortina d’Ampezzo, stage 19 to Alpe di Pampeago, and stage 20 to Passo dello Stelvio.
Understandably, given today's hellish conclusion, no one is too keen to get out in front and try a break - not even Martijn Keizer, the serial escapee from Vacansoleil-DCM. The peloton still rolls along as one.
The withdrawal of Goss means Cavendish now has quite a large lead in the red jersey points standings: the world champion is on 106 points, with Rodriguez his nearest threat, on 55.
Two more withdrawals to report this morning: another Australian, Brett Lancaster (Orica GreenEdge), has joined compatriots Goss and Renshaw on the sidelines. Argentine Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank) is off to start his preparations for the Tour de France too.
Let's look at the overall standings for the big guns. Joaquim Rodriguez is currently in pink, with his rivals as follows: 2. Ryder Hesjedal +17, 6. Roman Kreuziger +52, 8. Ivan Basso +57, 12. Rigoberto Uran +1:10, 13. Michele Scarponi +1:11, 14. Domenico Pozzovivo +1:12, 16. Damiano Cunego +1:37, 25. Frank Schleck +2:11, 31. John Gadret +2:55, 34. Jose Rujano +3:05.
Today's stage starts with a long largely flat section for the first 135km. Then things get tough, with 50km of ascension in the final 65km of racing. First up is the Cat 1 Col de Joux, followed by the 27km-long Cat 1 climb to Cervinia. By 5pm CET we'll have a good idea who the main contenders for this year's pink jersey really are.
As we know, Australians don't like snow - which in part explains the overnight withdrawals of Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank). No surprise, given the terrain over the next week or so. Red jersey Mark Cavendish of Team Sky, however, continues.
And they're off! The sun is peeking through the clouds in Cherasco - but there are reports of rain, low temperatures and even snow at the finish in Cervinia. It's going to be pretty brutal...
Yesterday, in the quiet before the storm, Britain’s Mark Cavendish took his third win of the Giro d’Italia with victory in stage 13 at Cervere after an incident-free bunch sprint. Team Sky’s world champion recovered from a poor position close to the barriers to take a comfortable win ahead of Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Australian Mark Renshaw (Rabobank).
Welcome to live coverage of stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia, a 206km trek into the Alps from Cherasco to Cervinia. It's the first big summit finish of the race, so expect the GC riders to come out and play - or to plummit down the overall standings.