Giro Stage 15: Bertagnolli wins after Cervelo call back Pauwels
Duquigiovannni claim another stage in the foothills
Forli - Faenza 161km
Leonardo Bertagnolli (Diquigiovanni) won an eventful stage 15 of the Giro in a stage that was a bit of a stopgap before the mountains. Bertagnolli was part of a 16-strong breakaway that went out 120km from the finish, and as the group splintered on the later climbs he took advantage to wrap up the stage in a solo finish. The stage also saw the retirement of David Millar, who after suffering a broken collarbone earlier in the year was never expecting to complete the race.
The GC contenders kept out of trouble for the most part, giving their legs a break before tomorrow's difficult and possibly decisive stage - there was no changes in the top overall standings.
Early breaks from Olivier Kaisen, Jens Voigt and Dries Devynens were reeled back before a group of 16 riders managed to make the break with 120km to go. The group comprised of Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Navarro (Astana), Donati (Acqua & Sapone), Pauwels (Cervelo), Grivko (ISD), Marzano (Lampre), Serpa and Bertagnolli (Diquigiovanni), Bak (Saxo Bank), Vorganov (Xacobeo Galicia), Montaguti (LPR), Eskov (Katusha), Pinotti (Columbia), Gonzalez Baeza (Fuji-Servetto), Stangelj (Liquigas) and Facci (Quick Step) were no threat to the overall status quo and were allowed to build up a decent lead, cresting the Colle Carnaevale four minutes up and stretching their advantage to over six minutes with 50km to go.
With 15 teams represented it always looked like a break that was unlikely to get reeled in but on the slopes of the Monte Casale Liquigas put in a burst of pace and the lead group and the peloton both split up. A lead group of seven riders formed, and Basso and Garzelli went off the front of the pink jersey group, putting 41 seconds into the 20-strong group by the summit.
On the final climb of the day, the Monte Trebbio, Bertagnolli, Pauwels, Pinotti and Bak attacked, as did Di Luca who tried to shake off Menchov, but the Russian was equal to the challenge, sucking his wheel up the climb. On the descent into Faenza it was Pauwels and Bertagnolli making the running, with Basso's group hasing them down and Di Luca and Menchov three minutes back. Then, bizarrely, Pauwels and some of the Basso group sat up, possibly because they'd decided they weren't going to stay out, though Pauwels may have been following team orders to wait for Sastre. This left Bertagnolli on his own with 10km left to run, with a few riders still pushing in the gap to the pink jersey group.
Pinotti and Pauwels got back together with Lars Bak in an attempt to chase down Bertagnolli but indecision about who was going to do the work, along with the dreadful tactical decision by Cervelo to attempt to wait for the pink jersey group earlier on the descent, cost Pauwels any chance of a stage win - he was looking the strongest until he sat up. He won the sprint for second, with Marci Pinotti, Lars Bak and Marco Marzano following him over the line.