No changes in the pink jersey standings as Rodriguez rolls home alongside his rivals after an easy day in the saddle.
Limone sul Garda - Falzes
Giro d'Italia - 22 May 2012
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 19:00 on 22 May 2012. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Attack by Stefano Pirazzi! One Sky rider responds, but otherwise there's not much interest in the Colnago Italian. It's Flecha, who passes Pirazzi and goes on to cross the line 8:53 down. The pack crosses three seconds later.
Stalemate on the front at the moment as the pack still rides towards the finish, more than five minutes down. Liquigas have control, with Garmin there too.
Back in the bunch, it's Vacansoleil-DCM's Thomas de Gendt who sets the pace. The pack has split, with all the big guns up front...
Alessandro De Marchi takes second and Stef Clement third, 14 seconds down.
Youngster Jon Izagirre of Euskaltel cannot believe it as he crosses the line with his head in his hands to take the win.
They're not going to catch him now... Clement and Frank are back with the two chasers, but the gap is too big.
Under the kite for Jon Izagirre, who looks to have done this. Herrara is in pursuit, but it's going to be too late.
Izagirre looks to have won this one - he's going very strong and has 14 seconds. Frank has given up, so it's just Herrara and De Marchi in pursuit.
It's beginning to flatten out now and Herrada calls through the others to lend a hand. Back in the peloton, it's Liquigas who are throwing down the hammer.
Now Herrara starts to up the pace, jumping out of the saddle with Frank and De Marchi on his wheel. Very mature riding from Herrada, keeping his cool and slowly eating into Izagirre's lead.
De Marchi is suffering big time. He sits up and waits for Herrara and Frank. Izagirre has a decent gap on the others now.
Now Izagirre rides off the front on his own, with De Marchi in pursuit. Herrara is continuing at his own pace and keeping his cool, while Frank battles to stay on his wheel.
Frank and Izagirre have opened up a small gap, with Herrara and De Marchi in pursuit.
Movistar's Herrara attacks right on the start of the climb, coming from the back to force his fellow escapees to respond. He leads as they move onto the cobble section, but then Izagirre puts in a big dig, followed by Frank.
10 men and 10 teams out in front. They have shed their water bottles and are nearing the final climb.
Some of the leaders are now refusing to lend a hand on the front - the games have begun.
The leaders are getting a little nervous now - they know it's almost D-Day.
Castles and vineyards are the order of the day in this neck of the woods. Apple strudle is big over the border too. The gap is still 11:40 and there's a lot of looking around amongst the riders in the peloton. Make no mistake, the stage win will be competed further up the road, but there will no doube be some GC business to attend to back in the bunch.
The road's getting steeper now for the breakaway riders. Clement and Izagirre are on the front as Herrara drops back for a chat with his Movistar DS.
Now Sky come to the front with their man Mark Cavendish. Presumably it's simply to keep the Manxman out of trouble, because there's no way the group is getting caught. He could just be working for Henao and Uran, Sky's men for the GC. That is more likely. Lampre are also edging into place for their men Scarponi and Cunego.
The leaders pass the 15km-to-go banner with 11:49 over the peloton. A reminder of the ten men: Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Mathias Frank (BMC), Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli), Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini), Nikolas Maes (QuickStep), Jose Herrada (Movistar), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Matty Brandle (NetApp) and Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank).
The gap has stabilised now: it's 12:30 ahead of the conclusion to today's stage. The final climb should be very interesting, what with steep ramps, cobble stones and tight hairpin bends.
The calm before the storm... Some of your predictions from below: Brahms is going for Lars Bak, with Rodriguez to retain his pink jersey. James Thurlow agrees with "monsieur commentator" and is going for Herrada. Cast your votes now...
Result of the intermediate sprint at Bressaanone/Brixen (uncontested): 1. Mazzini, 2. Herrada, 3. Bak.
Androni's De Marchi dops back for some water and a chat with his DS. He came close to winning the other day when he broke clear with stage 14 winner Andrey Amador. The peloton is rolling along at 12:25 now.
Twelve minutes now for our leading group, who will be starting to plan their tactics for the finale. One of them will take the spoils, for sure. Meanwhile, one of the race motorbikes appears to have had a collision with a police bike. Nothing serious, but there's a bit of debris on the side of the road.
Katusha are using special pink-top water bottles today. The leaders pass a stunning hill side castle, or Castello. The gap is 11:35.
Red jersey Mark Cavendish rides off the back of the peloton to chat to his team car and pick up some water. Big respect to the Manxman for sticking this one out: the rest of the race will be hell for the sprinter, but he's determined to make it to Milan.
No concern whatsoever in the peloton, which is now 11:15 down on these leaders, enjoying a second rest day.
Stunning scenery here as the race carves its way through gorges and valleys. The road gradually climbs uphill all the way to the finish now. The leaders have 10:35 to play with.
The whole of Katusha, including pink jersey Rodriguez, have come to the front of the bunch, with FDJ tucked in just behind. The gap is 10:05. Just because this group looks set to stay out ahead, doesn't mean there's no work to be done today: Purito will try, no doubt, to take some seconds from his rivals - the finish is suited to his strengths.
That's it, we've broken the 10-minute barrier. Which one of the 10 leaders will win the stage? De Marchi or Herrada are the danger men for me...
The 10-man break now has just over nine minutes on the peloton, which is being led by Katusha at a steady pace. /// Richard, in the comments below, who mentioned yesterday that it was a flat stage?
Still the gap continues to grow: 8:30 now. Of the teams represented in the 10-man break, Euskaltel, Rabobank, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, NetApp and Saxo Bank are still in search of their first win on the Giro. Will it come today, or will Movistar, Lotto Belisol, Farnese Vini or BMC double up?
Lars Bak is the only rider in the leading group who has won a stage on a Grand Tour. The Dane won stage 12 of this year's Giro a few days ago after an opportune attack from the break at Sestri Levante. The Lotto Belisol rider also has two TTT wins to his name while with HTC Columbia - in the 2010 Vuelta and the 2011 Giro.
The gap balloons to over seven minutes and with the peloton acting no nonchalantly, it's hard to see this one not sticking till the end.
No one team is controlling the peloton but that's no surprise: the highest placed rider in the break is Jose Herrada of Movistar, but the Spaniard is 32:26 down in the GC.
Lunch time for the 10 leaders, who have six minutes over the peloton now.
Out latest offering from blogger Blazin' Saddles caused quite a stir, when he had a pop about the antics of footballers while comparing Matteo Rabottini's performance on Sunday to that of the players in the Champions League final on Satuday night. Cycling is the true sport of Champions, Saddles concludes...
Back in the peloton, Italians Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego have a chat. They're taking things easy for the time being.
The ten leaders now have four minutes over the bunch as they approach the feeding zone so it looks like this one will stick.
The leading riders are: Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Mathias Frank (BMC), Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli), Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini), Nikolas Maes (QuickStep), Jose Herrada (Movistar), Stef Clement (Rabobank), Matty Brandle (NetApp) and Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank). The gap over the peloton is 2:30.
BREAK: 10 Riders have broken clear of the peloton and have a minute gap. They include stage 12 winner Lars Bak of Lotto-Belisol. Full composition of group coming up.
Who do you think will win today's stage? What about the overall classification? The next six days are going to be where it all happens, culminating with the queen stage up the Stelvio on Saturday and the final, possibly decisive, time trial on Sunday in Milan.
Still no attacks from the peloton after those initial early breakaway attempts. The first hill has been overcome and the riders now speed on towards the feeding zone at Ora/Auer, after which the road will head uphill gradually towards the finale of this stage.
FACT: The last time the Giro d’Italia finished in Falzes/Pfalzen was in 2004 when Italy’s Damiano Cunego won the stage and then went on to win the Giro d’Italia. The Giro d’Italia also finished in Falzes/Pfalzen in 1997 when Spain’s Rubiera won the stage. Cunego went on the offensive on Sunday, and at one moment was in the virtual pink jersey. But ultimately he ended up empty handed.
FINAL KILOMETRES: With 4.5km to go, the road turns left and kicks up at an average gradient at 9%, with a maximum 12% gradient where the road becomes narrower and stone-paved. There are also some sharp hairpins before the main road and the run in to the finish. The finishing straight is 200m long on a six-metre wide road. Of the overall contenders, it will suit puncheur Rodriguez the best - it's very similar to his win in Assisi last week.
Another withdrawal to report: Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini) did not take to the start this morning. CORRECTION: This piece of information appears to be incorrect - Mazzanti is indeed pedalling along with the peloton.
The official line on today's stage: Climbing gradually all the way to the finish in Falzes/Pfalzen, it crosses the foot of Monte Bondone before following the Adige and Isarco river valleys. The route passes through Trento, Bolzano/Bozen and Bressanone/Brixen, interrupted by occasional roundabouts, speed bumps, narrow sections and stone-paved section of road. The short late climb to Chienes/Kiens is followed by a slight descent to the finish in Falzes/Pfalzen.
OTHER JERSEY STANDINGS: World champion Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) wears the red jersey as leader of the points competition, Italy’s Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) wears the blue jersey as best climber after his stage 15 victory, while Colombia’s Sergio Henao (Sky) overtook team-mate and compatriot Rigoberto Uran on Sunday and now wears the best young rider competition white jersey.
Nothing sticking at the moment so the peloton is back as one. Only one non-starter today as the riders left the pretty town of Limone on the banks of the resplendent Lake Garda: Stefano Locatelli of Colnago-CSF Inox didn't resume the race after the rest day, meaning there are 174 riders left in the Giro.
That group had about 20 seconds on the peloton, but they were reeled in. There are still multiple attempts by riders to get away, so expect something to form - and to stick - soon.
BREAK: 13 riders have pinged off the front, including that man Oscar Gatto. Other stand-out names include Lotto's Adam Hansen, Garmin's Jack Bauer, FDJ's Geoffrey Soupe, Colnago's Sacha Modolo and Androni's Jackson (not Joaquim) Rodriguez. Full composition of group coming up.
So, who can win today's stage? The terrain does favour a breakaway, that's for sure, and the names on everyone's lips include the likes of Fabio Felline (Androni), Oscar Gatto (Farnese), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago) and former blue jersey Michal Golas (QuickStep). Expect Vacansoleil-DCM to get into a break today, perhaps Carrara or Denifl. Ag2r pair John Gadret and Hubert Dupont have been quiet, while Damiano Cunego (Lampre) may be motivated. BMC's Ballan, too, has been touted.
A reminder of how things look in the GC: Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) rode back into pink on Sunday and leads Canada's Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) by 30 seconds at the top. Ivan Basso (Liquigas) is third at 1:22 ahead of Astana pair Paolo Tiralongo and Roman Kreuziger - at 1:26 and 1:27. Defending champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre) has been quiet but lurks in sixth at 1:36.
Although it includes no killer climbs, today's stage is more than a mere transitional offering en route to the Dolomites. There is a lot of flat either side of an early bump 35km into the race, but the road heads gradually uphill for most of the second half of the stage, while the final ramp to Falzes promises to be quite a spectacle, boasting hairpin bends, cobblestones, and some steep ramps - not unlike the finish in Assisi last week.
It's a sunny and warm day in Limone on the banks of Lake Garda at the start as the riders get the stage underway. The temperature is around 20 degrees centigrade, but it's fresher at the finish, where possible rain is expected.
On Sunday, before yesterday's rest day, Italian youngster Matteo Rabottini of Farnese Vini dramatically won stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia atop the Piani dei Resinelli ahead of new race leader Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain. Rabottini pretty much led the 169-kilometre stage from Burso Arsizio from start to finish, crossing four summits in the lead and even crashing once before being caught inside the final 500 metres by Katusha climber Rodriguez.
Welcome back to live coverage of the Giro d'Italia! After a day off sunning themselves in the Dolomites, the riders return to racing with the 173km stage 16 from Limone sul Garda to Falzes/Pfalzen.