Ivan Basso (Liquigas) tried to pull back time on his rivals with an attack in the Apennines on Sunday but quickly discovered that he has few friends in the gruppo and a lot of riders willing to work for his rivals.

Basso jumped away on the Monte Casale climb, 40km from the finish in Faenza and looked determined to blow the race apart 24 hours before the toughest and perhaps decisive stage of the Giro.

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua& Sapone) went with him and the two opened a 1-15 gap on the maglia rosa group but that is as big as it got before strange alliances began to form in the chasing group.

Race leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank) let Danilo Di Luca?s team mate Alessandro Spezialetti do the work and then a series of ?friends? from Caisse d?Epargne and Quick Step went on the front and helped close the gap. Even Thomas Lovkvist (Columbia) drove hard on the front but he had the excuse that he was defending his lead in the best young rider?s

competition.

Basso?s attack was perhaps to soften up his rivals a day before the key mountain finish at Monte Petrano. It could have dramatically changed the overall standings in the Giro but in the end it was all a waste of time and he was left with the bitter sensation that perhaps his Italian rivals prefer to see Menchov win the Giro.  

The only big-name riders to lose were Lance Armstrong, Damiano Cunego and Gilberto Simoni. The Texan went back to the Astana team car during Saturday?s stage and learnt what it?s like to be a domestique. On Sunday he found out that he is still not as strong as the overall contenders in this Giro. Finishing with Cunego at 2-56, showed he still has a fair bit of work to do before the Tour de France.

Basso didn?t stop to speak to journalists at the finish but later vented his anger on television. 

?I had to do something to see how things are I think I raced well. The result isn?t what we hoped but I think I had to try. I?m not interested about my rivals and making friends,? he said. 

Di Luca was criticised for making his LPR team mates chase the break on Saturday and then failing to take the final time bonus. On Sunday everybody had a go at Basso. He showed he can aggressive but realised he has few friends and perhaps not the strength and power he had in 2006 when he won the Giro as a client of Dr Fuentes.

?Basso made a good attack but it was quite a way from the finish and he got caught,? Di Luca said.

?I don?t know if they were chasing for Denis but we brought the break back. If some one doesn?t have friends in the group that?s there problem. You?ve got to know how to make friends in cycling??

MENCHOV?S FRIENDS

Menchov just smiled when asked about his friends in the gruppo. He took a risk by calling Basso?s bluff and letting him go, preferring to make his closest rivals and hope that his ?friends? would do enough to ensure that Basso wouldn?t be able to stay away.

?It was an interesting finale. There were lots of interesting attacks today,? Menchov said in the after race press conference, again happy to compare the Giro to game of poker, knowing that he is excellent at calling the bluff of his rivals.

?Basso played a card and tried to change the race. It was a good attack and probably looked good in TV but it didn?t come off. I didn?t go after him because I was marking my closest rivals Di Luca, Leipheimer and Sastre.? 

When asked the work by his friends in Caisse? d?Epargne and Quick Step, Menchov was slightly embarrassed.

?I know if I have a lot of friends in the peloton but some times they can be useful,? he said.

?Often a lot of things coincide in races. Some riders defend their position overall and so they have for same interests. The Quick Step rider? Perhaps he was just trying to get himself on television. The Giro is an important race??

MONTE PETRANO: THE TOUGHEST STAGE OF THE 2009 GIRO 

Menchov stopped smiling when he was asked about Monday?s 237km stage from Pergola to Monte Petrano. It is twists up and down all day on twisting country roads in the spectacular Marche region and includes the climb of Monte Nerone (13.35km at 7.6%), Monte Catria (11km at 8%) and then ends with the climb to the summit of Monte Petrano (10.4km at

7.9%). 

Menchov knows that if Basso attacks again, perhaps before the final climb, he will have to go after him.

?I think it?s the most important stage of the Giro,? he said.

“It?s long and it?ll be very hot again. It? also ends with an uphill finish. I?ll have to watch more riders because I know that Basso could go for a long-range attack. We?ll see what happens. I have two or three riders that I have to follow them then two or three who are dangerous. 

I think Danilo di Luca is a big threat but Carlos Sastre is a real wolf in sheep?s clothing. He showed that at L?Alpe d?Huez in last year?s Tour de France.?


Giro d’Italia 2009 links

Stage reports

Stage 15: Bertagnolli gifted stage win by Cervelo mix-up

Stage 14: Gerrans solos to win

Stage 13: Cavendish takes his third Giro win and prepares to head home

Stage 12: Menchov storms to Giro TT win and race lead

Stage 11: Cavendish romps to second Giro stage win

Stage 10: Di Luca lays down the gauntlet

Giro rest day review (May 18)

Stage nine: Cavendish blitzes rivals to win in Milan

Stage eight: Siutsou makes it two in a row for Columbia-Highroad

Stage seven: Boasson Hagen takes treacherous stage

Stage six: Scarponi wins longest stage with big break

Stage five: Menchov wins mountain battle as Di Luca grabs the pink jersey

Stage four: Di Luca denies Soler on the line; Lovkvist takes pink jersey

Stage three: Cavendish loses pink jersey after being caught behind late crash

Stage two: Petacchi denies Cavendish the stage win

Stage one: Cavendish in pink as Columbia prove their point to Garmin

Photo galleries

Stage 15 photo gallery

Stage 14 photo gallery

Stage 13 photo gallery

Stage 12 photo gallery

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one photo gallery

Desktop wallpaper photos

News

Basso discovers he has few friends at the Giro (stage 15)

Froome agonisingly close to stage victory (stage 14)

Cavendish quits the Giro d’Italia

Cheeky Cipo sneaks a ride in the Giro

Cavendish: His most important Giro win yet (stage 13)

Comment: Lance vs the press, some things never change

Menchov’s first pink jersey (Stage 12)

Wiggins: ‘I went too hard at the start’ (Stage 12 TT)

Lance and Levi: Ready for Giro time trial

Cavendish: ‘Today brought back memories of San Remo’ (stage 11)

Is Di Luca trying too hard, too soon?

Wiggins loses time in the Giro (stage 10)

Armstrong and Basso say sorry for Giro protest

How are the Giro favourites doing?

Cavendish says ‘I’m addicted to winning’

Riders stage go-slow protest during Giro stage in Milan

Cavendish cool before Milan sprint

No sympathy for Armstrong from Giro boss

Boasson Hagen celebrates his birthday early

Cavendish overjoyed for Boasson Hagen

Armstrong ‘livid’ at dangerous Giro stage

Astana riders wear faded kit in protest over unpaid wages

Armstrong sees Leipheimer in pink

Giro news round-up: 14 May

Wiggins: ‘I can’t keep smashing away on the climbs’

Wiggins eyes top 20 finish overall

Armstrong after Giro stage 5: ‘That was hard’

Cavendish looking for Giro revenge

Armstrong happy with stage four performance

Lovkvist will fight to keep Giro lead

Giro could be last race for Armstrong’s team

Vande Velde crashes out of Giro

Petacchi claims he didn’t know of Cavendish crash

Cavendish struggles to find consolation in pink jersey

Petacchi: I’ve been working out how to beat Cav

I’m wearing pink on behalf of the team, says Cavendish

Wiggins ready to win Giro team time trial

Friday, May 8: Giro news round-up

Cavendish out to topple Garmin in Giro team time trial

Team time trial start times

Cycling Weekly’s Giro d’Italia top ten prediction

Brits in Venice for Giro presentation

Armstrong overshadows overall favourites at Giro presentation

Armstrong confident of finding new sponsor for Astana

Armstrong working to save Astana team

Wiggins in top form for Giro

Garmin Slipstream kitted out for Giro opener

Dan Lloyd gets late Giro call-up

Armstrong’s special Giro bikes unveiled

Daniel Lloyd overlooked for Giro ride

Cummings and Thomas not selected for Giro d’Italia

Cavendish tests Giro form at Tour of Romandie

David Millar confirms he’s riding in 2009 Giro

Bennati to take on Cavendish in Giro 2009 sprints

2009 Giro d’Italia to start in Venice

Evans and Silence-Lotto disagree on Giro 2009 ride

Armstrong to ride 2009 Giro

Tuttosport reveals 2009 Giro d’Italia route

Dolce & Gabbana design new Giro jersey

2009 Giro d’Italia guide and features

Find the pink jersey competition

Giro d’Italia 2009: The Big Preview

British riders to have led the grand tours

CW’s Giro top ten prediction

Brits in the Giro 2009

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

CW Classic: the 1987 Giro d’Italia


2008 Giro d’Italia archive

Giro d’Italia 2008 coverage index – race reports, photos, results

From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia

Giro 2008: The final word on this year’s race

Brits at the 2008 Giro: photo special

Five days to go, what’s in store?

Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 27)

Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 19)

Giro d’Italia 2008 preview

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