27/05/11 - 10:25
Bergamo - Macugnaga
Giro d'Italia • Stage19

Bergamo - Macugnaga

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A great gesture from Contador there, allowing one of his old domestiques to win on his home Tour. Nibali comes home just seconds behind for third, followed by Gadret, Rodriguez and Kruijswijk at 6 seconds.


Tiralongo takes the win! What magnanimity from Contador, who lets the Italian win after catching him right at the death.


Contador has caught his old team mate Tiralongo. And he's pacing his old Astana buddie to the finish it seems...


Poor Tiralongo... it looks like Contador will catch him for the victory...


Contador now attacks! He passes Gadret and then Rodriguez... just one to go now!


Scarponi and Nibali come with Contador, with Gadret too... and Gadret now goes! The Frenchman has Rodriguez in his sights now. And Tiralongo is not far ahead...


Just 15 seconds now. Tiralongo may be a spent force... Rodriguez looks pretty determined... BUT CONTADOR NOW ATTACKS!


Rodriguez over takes Dupont and has gone off in search of Tiralongo. It's going to be tight.


ATTACK: AG2R's Hubert Dupont jumps off the front. And he's followed by Rodriguez, who has refound his legs.


Tiralongo is holding on. He has 24 seconds as Contador comes to the front. Maybe the Spaniard wants to make up for all those second places?


Saxo Bank are on the front so they clearly would like to go for victory too - perhaps one for Richie Porte.


No win for Astana so far in this race, hence Tiralongo's big effort here. It's 20 seconds now.


Under the five-to-go banner and Tiralongo has 15 seconds on the chasing group.


Contador is right on the front now, toying with the others. Despite all that work from Di Luca et al, it seems that Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez is not feeling it and is off the back of the group.


ATTACK: Tiralongo goes again as the leading group passes through a tunnel. This time, he opens up a small gap.


The peloton has now become a very select leading group as riders get blown off the back. And ATTACK: An Astana rider, Tiralongo, has a dig - just like yesterday - but Katusha mark him down.


News from hospital is that Craig Lewis (HTC) broke a leg in that crash earlier.


Wheel change for a Movistar rider. Not a great moment to suffer a flat. it's Samoilau.


Your guess is as good as mine for this one. Rodriguez and Nibali will be motivated. And Menchov. Some teams are still without a win so expect fireworks.


Break over: Di Luca is now back. What a beast.


The peloton snakes through the town of Ceppo Morelli. For once, Danilo Di Luca takes a break and allows one of his Katusha team-mates to pick up the pace setting. It's fast - and Stefano Garzelli has already been distanced. He'll hope green jersey Contador will stay out of the points tonight...


Still Di Luca sets a fierce pace on the front, getting used to his new (unpaid) role as Katusha gregario. It's what you get when you break the rules and have us all duped, Danilo...


Contador clearly doesn't fancy bonking: the Spaniard eats another energy bar before the business end of this final climb. Meanwhile, Pineau pats Rabottini on the back (should that be Bak?) and the two sit up.


The leaders Pineau and Bak pass the 15-to-go banner with a lead of 12 seconds. Still it's Di Luca on the front. This pink jersey group formed when a big crash split the bunch on the last descent, ending the race for the likes of Marco Pinotti and his HTC team-mate Craig Lewis.


The sun appears to have come out - even though there is still a lot of water on the road.


Di Luca and his fellow Katusha henchmen have reduced the leading duo's gap to just 15 seconds. Rodriguez must really want this stage.


News in: Marco Pinotti (HTC) was forced to retire from the race after that earlier crash, which also saw the end to team-mate Craig Lewis's race. Sad news for the man from Bergamo, who was in stellar form yesterday in the break.


Pinea and Rabottini are still out ahead, despite the effort put in on the front by Di Luca, who's been pedalling like there's no tomorrow for the past 10km or so. The leading duo have 35 seconds on the pink jersey group.


For those complaining about the LIVE audio link - the problem has been dealt with and it should now work. We're sorry for the inconvenience and hope you can now enjoy the mellifluous and dulcet tones of Sean and David...


This Cat.3 climb to Macugnaga is 28km in length with an average gradient of 3.9% but a maximum gradient of 12%. It may not sound too demanding, but at the end of such a gruelling race - and such a wet and testing day - it could be a bit of a tricky one. The leading duo are 40 seconds clear of the bunch.


Bad boy Giovanni Visconti managed to fight his way back into the pink jersey group. He's on the back now. It seems Pineau and Rabottini are out on their own now.


Bak has been dropped by the leading six. Their lead is very precarious now, so expect it all back together soon - before the inevitable counter attacks.


Yes, there is indeed a pink jersey group riding 25 seconds ahead of the peloton. Contador, Nibali and Scarponi are definitely in the group, as is Di Luca, who is driving the pace on the front. They're on to the initial slopes of today's final climb to the finish. There will be a small descent and then the last ascent to the finish.


Live images appear to have gone awol - probably owing to this savage weather. But there is news coming from race radio that there's been a split in the peloton.


Katusha still lead the peloton, trying to cut down the advantage of the six escapees. Maybe Joaquim Rodriguez is hoping to salvage his Giro with a win today? Or Danilo Di Luca even?


Also involved in that crash were Thomas Peterson (Garmin), Carlos Sastre (Geox), Marco Pinotti (HTC), Carlos Ochoa (Androni), Luca Mazzanti (Farnese), Tiago Machado (Radioshack) and Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil) . But they're all back on their bikes. Lewis's Giro, however, is over.


We're seeing pictures of an HTC rider being put on a stretcher and into an ambulance. He's moving his arms and head so is ok, but he must be badly injured there. It's the American Craig Lewis. The conditions are really treacherous, with all this heavy rain falling and gathering on the road.


The lead is 2:05.


The peloton clearly have an advantage over the six leaders in this rain: they all have jackets, while no one in the front group have had the chance to put one on. They're all in short-sleaved jerseys too. Katusha lead the chase from the peloton.


The lead is coming down: 2:22 at the latest check.


Welcome back, rain! It's lashing it down out there. And it's not looking too good for the finale either...


So, who's your bets on today? Will one of these six stay out ahead for the win atop the next Cat.3 climb, or will someone from the peloton power through? Garzelli is surely the danger man out there...


The lead of the six escapees is now 4:00. Garzelli is clearly in the hunt for his stage win.


We know a lot about 2000 winner Garzelli, but what of the other two newcomers in the leading group? 25-year-old Cherel joined AG2R this year after four seasons at FDJ. The Frenchman was the U19 road race champion in 2003 and is riding his second Giro. Swiss rider Tschopp won stage 20 of last year's Giro and joined BMC this year after previous stints at Bouygues and Phonak. This is Tschopp's fifth Giro.


Six riders now out ahead: Lars Bak (HTC), Jerome Pineau (Quick Step), Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini), Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone), Mikael Cherel (Ag2R) and Yohan Tschopp (BMC). They have 2:00 on the peloton, which includes the pink jersey Alberto Contador. The rain has stopped although showers are still on the cards for this afternoon.


This is a very technical descent, full of winding narrow roads. The two chasers are just 10 seconds down on the leaders, so we'll soon have a group of six out ahead.


Those points puts Garzelli on 67 points now, 14 ahead of Alberto Contador. The four leaders have 50 seconds on the chasing duo and 1:10 on the bunch.


Garzelli just missed out catching the three leaders before the summit! Pineau went over first, followed by Rabottini and Bak. The four are on the descent now, with Tschopp and Cherel in pursuit just ahead of the peloton.


Mikael Cherel (Ag2R) and Yohan Tschopp (BMC) have broken clear of the peloton close to the summit.


ATTACK: There he goes, Garzelli has broken clear of the peloton in pursuit not of the points for fourth, but for first. He's just 50 seconds down on the three ahead, with the summit a couple of clicks away. Bak has now been dropped by the other two.


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Garzelli wants those points: the lead has dropped to 1:36 and the Pineau trio seemed doomed.


The trio's lead has dropped to 2:55 and with the extremely steep section of the final part of this climb still coming up, there's a big chance they'll be caught before the summit now.


Just four minutes now... who knows, maybe Garzelli will have the chance to nick all points at the summit?


The Acqua & Sapone men of green mountains jersey Stefano Garzelli are setting the pace on the front of the peloton, the gap now just 5:00. Garzelli will look to pick up fourth place - and a few trusty points - over the summit in a bid to hold off Alberto Contador in the green jersey standings. As it is, they are split by just 11 points with four summits left in this year's race.


Pineau, Bak and Rabottini are not even onto the steep part of the climb and already the lead has dropped to 6:25. The Cat.1 climb to Mottarone has a maximum gradient of 14% an average of 6.2% over the 13.8km proper of the ascent. They're hitting that part now.


The lead is dropping fast: 7:30 at the lastest check.


The leaders are onto the nursery slopes of the Cat.1 climb to Mottarone. They have a gap of 9:45 to play with.


Dane Lars Bak, 31, joined HTC from Saxo Bank in 2010. This is his third Giro and he has never won a stage in a Grand Tour. Italian youngster Rabottini is riding his first Giro at the age of 23. He won a stage in the Tour of Turkey last month and was involved in the breakaway in stage 14 en route to Monte Zoncolan.


Pineau was also awarded the "Trofeo Fuga" prize for 2010, given to the rider who notched up the most breakaway kilometres. This year, that must surely go to someone like Vorganov, Hoogerland, Bakelants, Popovych or Hoogerland?


The leaders pass through the feeding zone with a massive 11:50 over the bunch. Pineau is the best-placed rider of the three, a huge 1:54:51 down on Alberto Contador, hence the lack of reaction from the peloton.


The average speed for the second hour of racing was 45.9km/h. The feeding zone is coming right up.


That said, Kuschynski and Didier have now been caught by the peloton, which has upped its pace and now rides at 7:50 from the peloton. We have about 15 more kilometres of this flat section and then the road heads up for the Cat.1 climb to Mottarone.


The chasing duo are making some in-roads - they're now 8:00 behind the leading trio and 1:20 ahead of the peloton.


With the peloton dropping back to 9:20, two riders have decided that enough is enough. Laurent Didier (Saxo Bank) and Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha) have jumped 20 seconds clear of the bunch in pursuit of the three leaders.


Pineau has clearly come to his senses and realised that it will be easier to ride with the others than it would be to attack them solo. So he slips back and rejoins Bak and Rabottini. They're 7:24 ahead of the bunch.


Pineau certainly means business: he's now 40 second clear of the chasing duo with the bunch riding at 6:25. The 31-year-old Quick Step rider won a stage in last year's Giro d'Italia but has had a pretty low-key season so far. Judging by the speed at which he cracked on yesterday's Cat.2 climb, the Passo di Ganda, Pineau will need a very big cushion indeed if he wants to taste victory again on the Giro.


The trio has split following an acceleration by Pineau. The Frenchman now rides 38 seconds clear of Bak and Rabottini, with the peloton riding another three minutes back.


One withdrawal today: Filippo Savini of Colnago-CSF Inox.


The lead is 2:05 for this trio up ahead. Pineau gave it a crack yesterday, so he's clearly very motivated to get a win in this race.


ATTACK: Lars Bak (HTC), Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) and Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini) jump clear. Game over for our short-lived breakaway prediction game because this one looks set to last...


It's that time of the day again: send in your predictions for the victory today - or at least guess who is going to be in the next breakaway. Rules, you can name five riders for the break - whoever has the most, wins. Simples.


Gruppo Compatto! It's all back together. Until things heat up, why not read the latest blog from our man Blazin' Saddles? It includes a remarkable stat about Vincenzo Nibali's finishing patterns in this year's race...


Besides Hoogerland and Sastre, other big names in the leading group are Dessel, Brutt, Ermeti, Beyer and Spilak. But the gap is coming right down now and it looks like they will be reeled in.


More details are coming through from the break: and of course, Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) is one of the 19 men. Just 20 seconds now though so it may not stick.


The leaders have about 30 seconds now on the bunch. They include Carlos Sastre (Geox).


Yesterday Liquigas for their first win of the Giro after Tuscan rookie Eros Capecchi eased past breakaway companions Marco Pinotti and Kevin Seeldraeyers for victory in San Pellegrino.


Today's stage starts with 100km of flat cycling through Lombardy during which, no doubt, a solid break will build up a substantial lead. There is then the taxing Cat.1 climb to Mottarone - where Gilberto Simoni all but sealed his 2001 Giro win with a big solo victory - before the final Cat.3 ascent to the small alpine village of Macugnaga, making its first appearance in the Giro. That large group of 19 riders has about 20 seconds now. Names coming up.


There's an early break as a huge cluster of riders make a move just a few kilometre's into today's stage. They have 15 seconds over the bunch.


With light rain spitting down, the riders leave the start at Bergamo for this penultimate mountain stage of the race.


Welcome to live coverage of stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia, a 209km ride from Bergamo to Macugnaga which features two climbs, including the first of two final back-to-back summit finishes in the Alps.