21/05/11 - 11:00
Lienz - Monte Zoncolan
Giro d'Italia • Stage14

Lienz - Monte Zoncolan

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The others arrived in dribs and drabs. Rujano a loser today, and Kreuziger too - coming home 3:31 down as the heavens start to open. Rodriguez didn't fare much better.


Scarponi comes home in fourth, 1:12 down. Menchov fifth at 1:20. And Gadret sixth at 1:38.


Nibali takes third, at 39.


Amid boos from the crowd, Contador takes second place, 33 seconds down on his compatriot.


Anton takes the win!


Nibali returns to the wheel of Contador! Chapeau.


Terrific sight, all these fans. What an advert for the sport!


Contador is closing Anton down, but the Euskaltel man should just hold on.


Anton is into the narrow tunnel before the last kick to the finish.


Now Contador goes! The Spaniard jumps out of the saddle and leaves Nibali for dead. Soul destroying for the Italian.


Anton passes the one-to-go banner.


Terrible luck for Scarponi, who drops the chain and will lose more time.


There are a lot of words being exchanged between Nibali and Contador. Neither of them will get the win today.


Anton upping the pace. He should take the win today. He has 30 seconds over his rivals. Scarponi is a further 15 seconds back. Menchov is at 1:02.


Contador happy to stay in Nibali's wheel. The fans are pretty crazy now. There are thousands and thousands of them, making it very hard for the riders to concentrate or find space.


Anton is increasing his lead and now has 100m or so on the two chasers. Further back, Scarponi gets a push by one over-attentive spectator.


No sign of Rodriguez, who made that initial attack. The Katusha rider seems to have bonked in spectacular fashion.


Anton on to the only flat section of the climb, a false summit before the next 18 per cent section. Yikes.


Nibali asks Contador to come through and do some work. The Spaniard gesticulates with a finger, but then obliges his rival. Nibali has a nice style - always in the saddle, plugging away. Reminscent of Jan Ullrich in his prime. Contador, conversely, is all arms and legs, constantly out of the saddle and dancing away.


Behind Menchov there's yesterday's winner, Rujano. For all his effort, Anton is only 15m ahead of the chasing duo.


Anton still out alone, as Menchov battles back slowly. He has Scarponi in his sights.


The kilometre count has just altered yet again so it now appears we're in the final 3 clicks.


The chasing duo have Anton in their sights. Scarponi is hanging in there, hoping for a lull in the pace.


Scarponi looks to have hit the wall. He's been dropped by the pair and will have a fight to return.


Bravo, Nibali! The Italian catches and passes Contador and Scarponi! The pink jersey responds, but that was a nice - and unexpected - move.


One of the motorbikes has overheated and is smoking on the side of the road - not nice for the leaders as they pass.


Only Italians have won on Monte Zoncolan. Today it will be an Italian or a Spaniard, that's for sure.


Tankink is now being swept up by Nibali. Anton is the leader on the road.


Nibali is just 20 metres behing Contador and Scarponi, who are 20m behind Anton, who in turn is just 20m behind Tankink. It's all coming back together!


Tankink still has 45 seconds. As team cars are now allowed up the road, each rider has a motorbike following him, and on the back of each vehicle is a team mechanic holding a spare bike!


Anton passes Rabottini and then Brambilla, who is weaving from side to side, such is the steepness of this hellish climb.


Sensible riding from Nibali. He's passed Rodriguez and is riding his own race and clawing lost ground back slowly but surely.


Another attack from Anton! The Spaniard drops Scarponi and Contador but the gap is pretty small.


Nibali is about to catch Rodriguez.


Rodriguez is being distanced by Anton, Contador and Scarponi.


Scarponi has joined the three chasers. Nibali, Menchov and Rujano are battling back, but struggling a bit.


Tankink has 1:38 and will not stay out to compete for the win.


Anton and Contador catch Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Kreuziger cracks...


Scarponi is slowly pacing himself back to Anton and Contador. Nibali is 20m further back, followed by Rujano.


Further up the field, Tankink has caught Brambilla. They still have two minutes over Rodriguez...


CONTADOR REACTS! The pink jersey is out of his saddle and hot on the heels of Anton. Scarponi tries to fight back with a Lampre team-mate, but it won't be easy.


ATTACK: Euskaltel's Igor Anton now breaks clear. A nice move from the Spaniard.


ATTACK: Joaquim Rodriguez jumps clear of the main group. And he's opening up a gap. Kreuziger right on the front, looking strong alongside an Astana team-mate. Contador doesn't look comfortable on his bike, and he keeps checking his pedal as if there's a mechanical problem.


Contador rides next to Gadret 10 or so back in the group.


The riders go underneath a "Gate of Hell" banner as the steep section starts.


Geox's Denis Menchov is right up there. As is Nibali and Scarponi. Contador has Richie Porte with him. The group is about 30-strong now.


ATTACK: Brambilla drops Tankink and goes for it alone. He has 3:19 to play with over the remaining 7.5km. It won't be enough, surely.


Stefano Garzelli has cracked already and drops back. Carlos Sastre also off the back.


The gap is just 3:37 with the peloton splitting fast on the initial slopes of the Zoncolan.


WHOOPS: John Gadret misunderstands one of the stewards and takes a left hand turn instead of continuing straight on. The AG2R rider has to turn round and then rejoin the peloton.


Already Rabottii has been dropped by Tankink and Brambilla. At the front of the peloton, Rabobank and Lampre come alongside Liquigas.


The Zoncolan is a beast: it averages 12 per cent over 10km with a maximum gradient of 22 per cent. Ivan Basso won it last time, and before that Gilberto Simoni twice. This is the fourth time the race has taken on the fearsome peak. Expect fireworks!


The three leaders are onto the Zoncolan now!


There we have it: the amended kilometre count is just 11km. A whole 20km has been taken out of today's stage owning to "a protest".


The decision not to go up the Tualis might have stemmed from a protest going on at the foot of the mountain against the removal of the Crostis from today's stage.


No gifts from Liquigas, who have really dropped down the hammer. They have five men on the front, with Contador tucked in behind with two team-mates. The leaders only have 4:55 to play with now. Still no confirmation as to how many kilometres we have now that the Tualis has been cancelled as well. But it does explain just why the pace has risen so dramatically in the peloton.


There's a Saxo Bank rider off his bike on the side of the road, getting assistence from a Movistar team car. Perhaps there was an incident or a collision between bike and vehicle? Back in the peloton, Colnago's Pozzovivo is being dropped.


It's Liquigas who are setting the pace as the peloton splits on this tricky unsheduled climb. The gap is down to 5:35.


Confusion reigns at the Giro: the TV broadcasters have taken off the number of kilometres remaining because no one is sure just what this new amended route actually is. It's not the Crostis, which was cancelled last night, nor is it the Tualis, which had been brought in as a replacement. Apparently it's a steep but short climb that has been brought in as an extra taking the riders to the foot of the Zoncolan via a third route.


We're hearing reports that the Tualis has been cancelled as well and that the riders will head straight onto the Zoncolan. If this is the case, then the finish will be closer than expected - which might explain why the gap has come down so quickly over the last 10km.


Tankink leads the three escapees onto the Taulis, today's penultimate climb and a last-minute replacement for the cancelled Crostis. The peloton are whizzing along now, just 6:39 down.


Poor cows: some of the local lifestock have had pink balloons tied around their necks.


The leaders are just on the descent of the initial rise before the Tualis climb proper. Their lead is down to 7:32 now. Rabottini takes one corner a bit wide, allowing Tankink to take him on the inside. Of course, the real racing will begin in about half an hour with the Zoncolan.


Liquigas have taken on duties on the front of the bunch as the lead drops slightly to 9:05.


But before that climb to Taulis we have the small (and totally irrelevent) matter of the intermediate sprint at Villa Santina. The three leaders have a gap of 9:22 as Saxo Bank set the pace on the front of the peloton. Sprint uncontested: Tankink comes over ahead of Rabottini and then Brambilla.


Replacing the Crostis today is the second category Tualis climb. However, Giro organisers announced on race radio that there will be no points awarded atop the summit, which will annoy Colnago, who's rider Brambilla has been picking maximum points on all these climbs today in a bid to rise the green jersey standings.


Contador is riding back into the peloton alongside riders from Lampre and Astana. No team-mates for a while, until one comes back to lend a hand. There are a few rolling hills between here and the penultimate climb of the day, which has been brought in to replace the cancelled Crostis. Still pretty sunny out there.


Contador slips to the back of the peloton for a bike change. He's been changing his bikes a lot this year - he did so yesterday, when he finished second, and he did it on his way to victory in Etna.


The gap is down to 9:25. A reminder of those three leaders: Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago), Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini).


Euskaltel's token Frenchman Pierre Cazaux gets someone else's empty musette caught on his right pedal. He eventually extricates his foot from the offending bag and discards it on the floor with a Gallic shrug of disgust.


Pink jersey Alberto Contador almost comes a cropper when picking up his musette! He's steadied on his bike by Liquigas rival Vincenzo Nibali. A couple of riders take the opportunity to change their wheels during the feeding zone, including Tiago Machado (RadioShack) and and Alan Morangoni (Liquigas).


Savini, who takes his wind break off, is back in the bunch, as is Kiserlovski. Saxo Bank still on the front, and soon they'll start to increase the pace in a bid to reel in the escapees.


The three leaders pass through the feeding zone at Forni. Rabottini misses his musette the first time so he'll have to wait for a bit longer before he gets his sustinence.


Another withdrawal today: Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) has thrown in the towel.


Colnago's Filippo Savini took fifth over the summit and is now having a word with Kiserlovski on the descent. Both riders are 4th and 5th in the mountains standings so perhaps there's a bit of banter going on out there on the road.


ATTACK: Astana's Robert Kiserlovski jumps clear of the peloton to ensure a fourth place over the summit. The trio are 9:52 ahead and the peloton 20 further back.


Such is Contador's dominance, he could be wearing both the green and the red jersey as well as the pink today. The Spaniard leads the mountains and points classification as well as the GC. Roberto Ferrari (Androni) is in red today as the best placed after Contador, while yesterday's stage winner Jose Rujano is in green. The Venezuelan lost 10 minutes in the first week of the race - but for that, he could be one of Contador's main rivals in the race.


Brambilla leads the trio over the summit of the second category Passo Della Mauria. Rabottini takes second and Tankink third. There's still another 10 minutes of climbing for the peloton though. Crowds are gathering in their thousands on the Zoncolan.


The Movistar rider to go down was David Arroyo, who finishes 2nd in last year's Giro. He's currently in fourth place at 3:25. The group's lead has plateaued at the 10:35 mark.


CRASH: A Movistar man hits the deck right in the middle of the road, catching the rear wheel of a team-mate and going down heavily on his right shoulder. Ouch.


The Liquigas team of second-place Vincenzo Nibali are tucked in behind Saxo Bank. Unlike yesterday, Euskaltel are taking it easy for the time being. Strange tactics from the Basque boys in stage 13, doing all the hard work, but ending up empty handed.


Alberto Contador is surrounded by team-mates, comfortably riding in fourth position in the peloton. They're just under ten minutes down on the bunch. Meanwhile, Geox's Denis Menchov has had a puncture and needs to change a wheel and catch up with the bunch with a team-mate.


Nice images of the peloton, stretched out like a snake, weaving its way down the mountain hairpin bends. The temperature is 16 degrees now. The three leaders are combining well on the front, taking it in turn to do shifts down on the flat in the valley. Up next, the second category Passo Della Mauria.


A Colnago rider breaks clear of the bunch to pick up the points for finishing fourth over the summit of the Passo di Sant'Antonio. It was Filippo Savini. The gap is 10:32.


Saxo Bank are still on the front of the peloton as they head up this second minor climb of the day. The lead of the three escapees is up to 10:27. The sun is out at the moment, but a bit of drizzle and mist has been forecast.


Let's take a closer look at the leaders. Both Rabottini and Brambilla are Italian 23-year-olds riding their debut Giros. While Colnago's Brambilla has no wins to his name this season, his Farnese Vini counterpart won the fifth stage in the Tour of Turkey in April. Tankink, a comparative veteran at 32, is the more experienced of the three, but he is nevertheless riding his maiden Giro this May. No wins this season, the former QuickStep man won a stage in the Tour of Germany back in 2005.


After a rapid descent the tree leaders are onto the next 3rd-cat climb, the Passo di Sant'Antionio. The lead is 10:10.


The three leaders went over the summit of the 3rd-cat Monte Croce with an advantage of 10:05 over the peloton, which is being marshalled by the Saxo Bank team of pink jersey Alberto Contador.


The lead is up to 9:30 now.


One withdrawal today: the Italian Andrea Noe (Farnese Vini). At 42 years of age, Noe - who was born in 1969! - was involved in yesterday's 16-man breakaway before being swept up on the final ascent, finishing 7:26 down. He was 71st in the GC. Interestingly, Noe wore the maglia rosa for two days back in 2007 (becoming the oldest rider ever to wear a leader's jersey in one of the Grand Tours), and won a stage in the Giro - the biggest of his career - back in 1998.


Dutchman Tankink is the best placed rider of the three escapees in the GC. But at 28:25 down in 46th place, he's hardly a threat to the big guns. As such, the lead of this trio is growing fast. It's now 7:55 as the leaders approach the 3rd-cat Monte Croce climb.


What do you think about the decision by race organisers to ditch the Crostis today? It certainly looked to be an exciting addition to the race, but safety concerns have got the better of the peloton. Apparently the riders would have had no back up for 37km and so pressure was put on the organisers by the teams, whose cars would not have been able to go up and down the narrow concrete-slabbed mountain roads. Have your say below...


The lead is getting bigger: more than five minutes at the last check.


The trio have built up a lead of one minute over the bunch. The riders will have two third category clilmbs and two second category climbs before the legendary ascent of Monte Zoncolan today.


We have a break! The riders have gone clear of the peloton. They are Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago), Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini).


One thing's for certain: Alberto Contador is coasting on his way to a sixth Grand Tour victory. Our blogger Blazin' Saddles thinks there's no reason why the Spaniard won't beat Eddy Merckx's record tally of 11 Grand Tours - especially if he's let off by CAS and targets an unprecedented Giro-Tour-Vuelta treble this season.


Still no action from the bunch. Perhaps they are mulling over the news that broke last night regarding George Hincapie's reported confession to taking performance enhancing drugs with his former team-mate Lance Armstrong?


The weather at the start in Lienz is sunny but quite chilly. Drizzle and mist is forecast for the finish at Zoncolan.


No action early on from the peloton. Yesterday, Alberto Contador strengthened his grip on the pink jersey with an assured ride to Grossglockner. The Spaniard gifted the win to Jose Rujano but took a minute and a half from all his main rivals and now leads Vincenzo Nibali by over three minutes in the GC.


They're off! The remaining 176 riders set off from the town of Lienz for today's tricky stage...


Last night, the Giro organisers decided to pull the plub on the controversial climb - and dangerous descent - of the Crostis amid mounting safety concerns. Given the sad passing of Wouter Weylandt on stage three, this is hardly surprising. The stage will still finish atop Monte Zoncolan, but a whole 20km segment will be cut from today's route.


Welcome to live coverage of stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia, a shortened 190km mountainous stage which finishes atop the fearsome Monte Zoncolan.