The Giro d'Italia will reshuffle its overall classification today on the climb to Rocca di Cambio in the Abruzzo region today. The 1,392-metre climb is the first summit finish so far in the race and a chance for some favourites to make their moves.
Overall favourites Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) sit over a minute back in the classification. Based on top placed favourite, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) they are at 58 seconds and 1-11 minutes. Both could take a risk to gain time on the final climb, which rises 752 metres in 19.15 kilometres.
The Giro visited this winter ski resort on three other occasions, the last being in 1968. In 1968, Span's Luis Pedro Santamarina won the stage, but Eddy Merckx stepped towards his first Grand Tour win. Two days later in Naples, he won his first of an eventual 11 Grand Tours.
This year, the race finishes in Milan 14 days later. The big names may make an attack, but they'll need to think of the energy they'll need in the final third week though the Alps.
Hesjedal stands to gain the most. He sits third overall, just 17 seconds behind leader Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD).
"We just missed out by a hair's breadth," Allan Peiper, Garmin's sports director said of yesterday. "Ryder was disappointed he didn't get to take the pink jersey. But, if he's good, like I believe he is, he has a chance to take it tomorrow [today] or Sunday."
The climb, 3.9 per cent average, favours the big engines of Hesjedal, Schleck and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Basso has Eros Capecchi and Sylvester Szmyd as his main helpers for the final ramps in any mountain stage. The rest of his team is designed to take him to the mountains or usher him up the first slopes. Hesjedal played his cards yesterday for the pink jersey, but showed to be somewhat exposed.
"Once the road tilts up, it's just me, Christian [Vande Velde] and Peter [Stetina]. That's about it, two guys to help when it gets in the hills. That's fine, they are more than capable," Hesjedal said.
"I want the jersey, but it's a long race, I have to remain conscious of the effort it takes. We'll see what I got to do [to take it] and the right moment to do that."
"In the long run," Schleck told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "I don't think it will be a day of decisions. If you lose a minute, it won't be a drama."
The standings based on Hesjedal's time:
1. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda)
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) 19"
3. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) 29"
4. Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) 36"
5. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) 39"
6. Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) 58"
7. Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) 1'11"
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Giro d'Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 live text coverage schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win
Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d'Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
Giro d'Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d'Italia 2012 start list
Giro d'Italia 2012: TV guide
Giro d'Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: The Big Preview
Cycling Weekly's Giro d'Italia section
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