Giro del Trentino: Climbing to the Snow
Today’s stage finished on the Alpe di Pampeago, scene of Marco Pantani’s famous win in the 1999 Giro. Random factoid: Gilberto Simoni finished second that day. Today, it snowed at the summit.
Ivan Basso gave notice that he is ready for the high mountains of the upcoming Giro. The Varesino set a torrid pace on the steep slopes of the Pampeago, whose average gradient of 8.7% is not for the faint of heart. Only Giampaolo Caruso of Ceramica Flaminia and Przemyslaw Niemec of Miche Silver Cross could hold Basso’s wheel. With 1500 meters to go, Niemec jumped free. The 29 year old Polish rider, who missed the 2007 season recovering from an accident, celebrated a solo victory at the summit. Niemac called the victory a dream come true, “Every year I have ridden strong, but I have never won.”
Basso finished 22 seconds behind Niemac and moved up to second in the general classification behind Janez Brajkovic of Astana, who took over the lead from his team-mate, Andreas Klöden. Klödie won the opening crono, but found the steep slopes of the Pampeago considerably less to his liking. “I am very happy,” said Basso after the stage. Contento, if not tranquilo. “I rode hard the whole climb, then Niemec jumped away like a spring,” he explained. All the same, he called the stage “an ideal test.” Basso looks well-prepared for the start in Venezia in two weeks time. Though his opening crono did not inspire confidence, after his hard work today, Basso trails Brajkovic by just 4 seconds. Niemac is currently third, 22 seconds down.
For some of the other Giro favorites, it proved a less optimal day. Gilberto Simoni has suffered from the flu over the past few days, and was disappointed with his fourth place finish on the Pampeago. Today’s stage passed over Simoni’s local roads and no doubt he’d like to have collected one more win on the Pampeago. Simoni finished 45 seconds down on Niemac and 23 on Basso. “This was the first test and I hoped to ride well,” Simoni said after the stage. “I did not go well, as is clear,” he concluded. Danilo Diluca of LPR Brakes finished still further behind at 1.50, but the former Giro winner believes that his form is “building.” “I am not on top form,” he admitted, but today’s stage was only the “first hard finish.” Diluca remains optimistic about his chances, when the Giro d’Italia starts in two weeks time.
Tomorrow’s stage of the Giro del Trentino is a hilly affair that crosses the border into Austria. Full results and stage information at steephill.tv.
Post-race quotes from Gazzetta dello Sport.