26/05/11 - 12:30
Morbegno - San Pellegrino Terme
Giro d'Italia • Stage18

Morbegno - San Pellegrino Terme

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The peloton comes home 6:04 down on the winners, meaning Alberto Contador retains his pink jersey with ease. No change in the GC.


The remnants of the initial break are led over the line by Russell Downing, who outsprints Oscar Gatto, 4:35 down.


Brambilla takes fourth and Tiralongo fifth, 1:22 down on today's winner Eros Capecchi.


Pinotti opens up the sprint, Capecchi comes to the front, and neither of his opponents can do anything. An easy win for the Liquigas man.


Pinotti is still leading...


One-to-go banner passed!


The three almost come to a standstill on the approach... what tactics and gamesmanship...


Pinotti in pole, with Seeldraeyers and Capecchi in his wheel.


Capecchi and Seeldraeyers start to talk: they know that they have to combine together if one of them wants to beat Pinotti in this sprint.


Pinotti is powering off the front, prompting Seeldraeyers to get on his wheel. It's back together.


The game of cat and mouse begins... the chasing duo could benefit from this, although they are still the wrong side of a minute off the pace.


Five-to-go for the leaders. The peloton are seven minutes down now.


So, the forecast showers never materialised out there: the leaders are approaching San Pellegrino under bright sun.


Tiralongo has not given up though - the Astana rider urges his fellow chaser on as they pedal through a tunnel quick in pursuit of the leaders.


The chasing duo are still 1:34 back. So, it's two Italians vs one Belgian for the finish. Place your bets now...


Tiralongo has caught Brambilla... the peloton is really taking it easy now: 6:35 the latest check. Pinotti is the best placed rider in the break - and he's almost half an hour down in the GC.


Visconti has caught Pineau, who in turn is swept up by the peloton. The leaders still have 1:30 on Brambilla, with the chasing group just behind the Italian. Wiothout a doubt, one of Pinotti, Capecchi and Seeldraeyers will win it today.


Visconti continues his lone pursuit - but surely this is just a PR move more than any realistic attempt to make an impact today.


The trio are on to the final rise before the final rundown to San Pellegrino, where no doubt there'll be a suitably fizzy finish.


Wouldn't want to be doing this descent from inside the peloton... the road surface isn't great and there are patches of dust, gravel and water... Brambilla is now 53 seconds back so his chances look to be evaporating.


Visconti maybe looking for redemption after yesterday's histrionics at the finish... although it looks to be a little futile - surely the winner today will be one of the present three leaders? Brambilla also has a shout.


The three leaders have increased their lead to 4:25 while Brambilla has dropped to 29 secs down.


Three riders, including Giovanni Visconti, have broken clear from the peloton on the descent.


A crazed fan stetches through the peloton to try and tap - or push? - pink jersey Alberto Contador on the shoulder.


This is a very technical descent: a narrow road with many twists and turns. It also kicks up a bit, not just heading down to the valley.


Pinotti goes over the summit of the Passo di Ganda in first place, followed by Capecchi and then Seeldraeyers. Brambilla comes over just 15 secs down, while a tiring Tiralongo arrives at 1:21.


It's Lampre, Liquigas and Saxo on the front of the peloton, but there's no big effort. The three leaders look pretty serene - despite the throngs of spectators on the tree-lined roads. The gap is 4:05.


Gutsy stuff from Brambilla, who is determined not to lose too much time on the climb. If he's only 20 seconds down at the summit, he'll be able to get back in touch with the leaders on the descent, no sweat.


Brambilla is riding just 20 seconds down on the leading trio, who have Capecchi setting the pace.


Seeldraeyers is the only of the three leaders to go for the open-shirt look on this Cat.2 climb.


The roads are very narrow here. Tiralongo is 1:08 behind the leading trio.


The race is passing through the pretty hillside town of Orezzo. All the three leaders are now taking turns set the pace. A fan tips a bottle of water over Capecchi, but only succeeds in angering him, the Italian clearly not wanting to be doused just then.


Capecchi leads Seeldraeyers and Pinotti on this climb. Tiralongo has caught and passed both Pineau and Downing.


Pineau almost rides into an elderly spectator then. In fairness to the lady, the Frenchman had strayed way off to the side of the road.


Astana's Tiralongo has jumped clear of the chasing group. Brambilla is the next to be dropped from the leaders, following Pineau and Downing. It's Seeldraeyers, Pinotti and Capecchi in the lead now. The chasers are at 1:20 and the peloton at 4:10.


It's not an easy climb this: an average of 7.3% and a max of 15%.


Downing struggling on the climb - and the Brit has been dropped by the leaders. Liquigas's Capecchi is leading the group, but Pineau appears to have been dropped as well.


The leaders are onto that climb. Kevin Seeldraeyers has been very active in this Giro, featuring in many a breakaway - and also taking one massive tumble.


Kozontchuk rides alone in pursuit of the six leaders, 25 seconds down. He's followed by the 13 remaining breakaway riders at 20 seconds. The pack, led by Farnese Vini, are 3:38 down on the leading sextet.


Pineau, Seeldraeyers, Downing, Brambilla, Pinotti and Capecchi are our six leaders.


There's been a selection from within the selection: six riders are now out in front - including two from Quick Step.


Pineau is a lone rider 200m out in front of a group which rides at 2:30 from the peloton. The Cat.2 Passo di Ganda is on the horizon.


Interestingly, there are three Quick Step riders and two Saxo Bank riders involved. Not to mention two Geox riders.


No sooner has Pineau caught the leading group, he went on the attack and is now leading the stage, a handful of seconds up the road.


The leading group in full: Cataldo (Quick Step), Pinotti (HTC), Carrara (Vacansoleil), Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tiralongo (Astana), Sastre (Geox), Tankink (Rabobank), Capecchi (Liquigas), Deignan (RadioShack), Pasamontes (Movistar), Seelgraeyers (Quick Step), Navarro (Saxo Bank), Vicioso (Androni), Kozontchuk (Geox), Gatto (Farnese Vini), Brambilla (Cognago), Downing (Sky), Hernandez (Saxo Bank) and Pineau (QuickStep).


Jerome Pineau is one of the three riders in pursuit of the leading group. Another is Jesus Hernandez, who was involved in yesterday's break too. As was Bakelants, who's in the leading break.


Deignan is there, as is Tiralongo, Cataldo, Sastre, Pinotti and Britain's Russell Downing. Full names coming up.


Ice tea stop for the leaders - they take some bottles from the back of a passing motorbike. None of the big favourites are in the break so there's no reaction as yet from the peloton.


Maglia rosa Alberto Contador needs some attention to his bike and drops back.


There's a group of about 25 riders out in front, with three in pursuit. The pack is about 20 seconds off the pace, with another group behind them. Very chaotic out there.


There are numerous splits in the peloton now - that fast ride through Bargamo really shook things up.


Actually, it's not Hoogerland - it's his team-mate Matteo Carrara. And he's now been caught!


Big attack from a Vacansoleil man on this descent from Bergamo! And that's no surprise: it's Johnny Hoogerland!


This is classic Giro racing at its very best as the bunch zip through Bergamo. Now it's Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jan Bakelants - again! - on the front.


It's a wonderful sight as the riders keep to the right or left flat concete part of these cobbled roads. It's still Deignan on the front, but the peloton is having none of it.


RadioShack's Philip Deignan having a pop on the front as a leading group of around seven riders try and pull out on a punchy cobbled climb.


Aternatively, you can listen to LIVE commentary from David Harmon and Sean Kelly


The race is LIVE NOW on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin Media 521) and is also available on your PC via the Eurosport Player:


The attacks are coming thick and fast on the ftont of the peloton now...


The trio had 20 seconds over the peloton but they've been reeled back in.


ATTACK: Three riders finally ping off the front of the bunch. They are Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) and Giairo Ermeti (Androni).


A few names thrown into the hat below from you readers so far: Dessel, Kiryienka, Nibali, Hoogerland, Millar... Still no movement from the peloton though.


Green jersey Stefano Garzelli comes to the front of the bunch, hopefully in a bid to liven things up a little.


Utter stalemate in the bunch as it trundles on - albeit at an average speed of 53km/h - along towards the feeding zone.


So, it's that time of the day. Who do you think will get into the breakaway out there on the ride to San Pellegrino? Why not go one further, who do you think will win the stage? Loads of people suggested Visconti yesterday, but not one went for his rookie compatriot Ulissi. Have your say below...


The big overnight news is that pink jersey Alberto Contador's Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing over a failed dope test could be delayed until after the Tour de France...


While the remaining riders take it easy on this first flat section of the stage, why not read our blogger Blazin' Saddles' take on the Visconti-Ulissi showdown? Pablo Lastras will be kicking himself he wasn't awarded the win...


No movement inside the peloton so far: it's gruppo compatto.


Today's stage passes over roads used by the Giro di Lombardia one day race, heading past Lake Como and Bergamo before presenting the riders with a Cat.2 climb - the Passo di Ganda - before a technical downhill and flat finish in San Pellegrino Terme, home of the famous fizzy mineral water. A breakaway looks on the cards, given Friday and Saturday's summit finishes and the concluding ITT in Milan on Sunday.


Yesterday's stage looked destined to belong to Italian Giovanni Visconti, before the national champion made a total hash up of the sprint, ending up pushing his compatriot Diego Ulissi and getting demoted to third. Lampre's Ulissi took the win after the race commissaires threw the book at the Farnese Vini hot head...


The sun's out in a blue sky peppered with white fluffy clouds in Morbegno. It's currently 23 degrees and there isn't much wind - although there's an 80% chance of skattered showers later today...


And they'er off! Today's stage is under way...


Welcome to live coverage of stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia, a 151-km ride past Lake Como from Morbegno to San Pellegrino Terme.