2012 Giro d'Italia: Ryder Hesjedal Takes The Win From Joaquim Rodriguez In Final Stage

The Giro d'Italia is one of the biggest races out there - and the Bay Area is being represented by the BMC Racing Team based out of Santa Rosa. Follow along for updates after each stage, and check out Podium Cafe, SB Nation's cycling blog, for more.

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Giro d'Italia Results And Recap 2012: Ryder Hesjdal Becomes The First Canadian To Win A Grand Tour

The 2012 Giro d'Italia was a fight between two men, Team Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez and Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal. Rodriguez is a stronger climber and Hesjedal a stronger all-around rider, and once it became clear Hesjedal could hang in the mountains, there was a sense of inevitability to his Giro win. He was betting everything on the final day's time trial, and entering that day even Rodriguez admitted he would need a miracle to hang on to the Maglia Rosa. Hesjdeal was 31 seconds behind Rodriguez to start the stage. By the time Rodriguez had reached the first time check, he had lost 29 of those seconds to the Canadian. He would finish the course 45 seconds behind Hesjedal, handing over the overall lead and victory in the 2012 Giro d'Italia.

Rodriguez did earn a consolation prize: Thanks to his stage wins in the mountains, he took home the Maglia Rossa, the points competition victory, beating Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling) by a single point. It's very likely that poor course design cost Cavendish the points jersey; sharp bends in the final 500m of a sprint are difficult to navigate at high speed, and stages nine and three saw crashes that left Cav cut off from the final sprint. There's luck involved in any sport, but these were preventable crashes and it's a shame to see the contest decided by the route and not the riders. Ryder Hesjedal finished third in the points competition. Cavendish also earned the Azzurri d'Italia, another award based on points given to stage winners, and the Most Combative Rider award, a combined award based on points from stage wins, intermediate sprints, and King of the Mountain points.

The Maglia Azzurra, the pure mountains competition, went to Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia). The Italian won stage 15 in a heroic solo effort, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat by cutting inside a corner around a stronger Joaquim Rodriguez and sealing victory in a stage where he spent about 145 of 175 kilometers alone, off the front of the race, climbing mountains in the rain. Stefano Pirazzi of Colnago - CSF Inox was a distant second and Andrey Amador of Movistar Team came in third.

Rigoberto Uran (Sky) takes the Maglia Bianca, the young rider award. This is given based on time, not points, and Uran was the fastest man under 23 years of age. Sergio Henao (Sky) was second, and Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago) came in third. Team Lampre-ISD had the fastest cumulative time, followed by Movistar Team and Sky Procycling.

Team BMC Racing, based out of Santa Rosa, had a few good results but an overall disappointing Giro. Taylor Phinney spent a few days in the overall lead after winning the opening time trial, but a crash in stage three put a hamper on his efforts and within a few days the Maglia Rosa was on another man's shoulders. The team capped the Giro with another time trial win, this time by Italian Time Trial Champion Marco Pinotti. Inbetween those two time trials the team didn't have much luck, their main contender for sprint stage wins, Thor Hushovd, abandoned the race due to illness in stage six. Still, Phinney is the team's biggest prospect, and he completed the race and said that it felt less difficult than previous grand tours. Their attention now turns to the Tour de France.

Hesjedal is the first Canadian in cycling history to win a grand tour. He shares the podium with Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez and Belgium's Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), making it the first time in several years to not feature at least one Italian. 2011 champion Michele Scarponi was in contention until the very end but couldn't hang on, and the other Italian GC contender, Team Liquigas-Cannondale's Ivan Basso, never found his legs when the opportunities presented themselves. Scarponi was looking good for third place, but a spetacular effort in stage 20 by De Gendt saw him make up several minutes on the slopes of the Stelvio. He took another 53 seconds in the final time trial, and that was enough for the podium. Scarponi finished in fourth.

A complete listing of GC Standings, the winners and standings from each individual stage, as well as maps and profiles can be found at the official Giro d'Italia site.

SB Nation Bay Area will bring you more on Team BMC Racing and bay area cycling throughout the season, and SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has you covered for full time cycling news and analysis.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Winner: Ryder Hesjedal Takes The Overall Win In Final TimeTrial

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) won the 2012 Giro d'Italia on Sunday, coming in ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) by enough time to take the Maglia Rosa from the Spanish rider. Marco Pinotti of Team BMC was the winner of the stage 21 time trial.

Hesjedal started the day 31 seconds behind race leader Rodriguez, and by the first time check it was clear that lead wasn't going to hold. By the intermediate point Rodriguez had already lost 29 of the 31 seconds he had to lose, and though he finished strong he was unable to keep his grip on the lead. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), who put in a massive effort in stage 20's climb up the Stelvio to the surprise of many, had a great run in stage 21's time trial and stole the third podium spot out from under defending champ Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD). Scarponi only had 11 seconds on De Gendt as the stage started, and De Gendt's run bested the Italian by more than 40.

Santa Rosa based Team BMC had a good final day in the Giro, bookending Taylor Phinney's stage one time trial win with a win by Italian TT champ Marco Pinotti. Taylor Phinney ran into some trouble trying to get around the motorbikes, knocking him down the standings in what should have been one of his strongest stages. BMC didn't make much of an impact in the overall, but winning the opening and closing stages of the race is better than many teams can claim. Geraint Thomas (Sky) was second in stage 21, and Jesse Sergeant of Team RadioShack-Nissan took third.

The final GC standings of the 2012 Giro d'Italia:

1) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 91:39:02
2) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team -:16
3) Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team -1:39
4) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD -2:05
5) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -3:44
6) Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD -4:40
7) Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling -5:57
8) Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox -6:28

Stay tuned to this storystream for updates and a full recap from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe is your full time source for cycling news and analysis.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 21: Stage Preview, Television Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 21 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is a 30km time trial through Milan. Less than two minutes separate the top three men in the general classification. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) rode well through the mountains, having enough in his legs to maintain his hold on the Maglia Rosa. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) surprised many with how strong his climbing was, and he sits 31 seconds out of the lead. 2011 Giro champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) attacked valiently through the hills, but he struggled to put any time into Rodriguez. He sits in third, 1:51 out of the lead.

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Of the three men, Hesjedal is the best time trial rider. He finished stage one's 8.7km time trial 14 seconds ahead of Rodriguez and 37 seconds ahead of Scarponi. The final time trial is more than three times as long; extrapolating those gaps gives Hesjedal enough of a lead to take the overall victory. Rodriguez has seen big wins slip away before. He'll need the ride of his life to keep it from happening again.

Hesjedal and Rodriguez's time only matters relative to each other, leaving the door open for better time trial riders to take the stage. That's an opportunity for the man who won the first time trial, Team BMC Racing's Taylor Phinney. The Santa Rosa based Team BMC hasn't made much noise since the early part of the race, and they lost a key team member when Thor Hushovd abandoned the race. Taylor Phinney crashed early on and sustained an ankle injury, but he's managed to make it through the entire tour. He's at the very bottom of the standings, but a victory on the final day would go a long way in making his Giro a success.

Start Time: 10:25am CET (4:25am EDT, 1:25am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports beginning at 9:30am EDT (6:30am PDT)

Streaming Coverage: Online coverage via Universal Sports

Stay tuned to this storystream for updates, results and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has you covered for full time cycling news and analysis.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Standings: Thomas De Gendt Takes Stage 20 And Almost Steals The Race, Rodriguez Retains Lead

Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) made a bid to steal the 2012 Giro d'Italia in stage 20, riding away up the slopes of the Stelvio and putting a gap of over five minutes into his GC rivals. De Gendt hadn't been mentioned much in the overall win conversation, as he was over five minutes out of the lead, a massive amount of time to make up in one stage. De Gendt obviously wasn't listening to that conversation, as he put in a spectacular effort and couldn't have done more to bolster his chances.

De Gendt motored away from the bunch midway through the race and built a serious gap, and it wasn't until the close of the final climb that the GC leaders finally got their act together and began a serious chase. With only 2km to go, De Gendt still had five minutes over the top three: race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), and defending champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre). Hesjedal was especially concerned, as he's counting on his advantage in Sunday's time trial to deliver him the race. If De Gendt made it far enough up the standings, Hesjedal would have much stronger competition in the final stage of the race.

Ultimately, De Gendt may have only the stage win to show for his efforts. Rodriguez, Hesjedal and Scarponi all drove as hard as they could to chase down De Gendt. Scarponi attacked his fellow leaders first, building up a small gap, but Rodriguez counter-attacked and was able to pass him in the final kilometer. De Gendt, who opened the day 5:40 seconds out of the lead, gained 3:22 on Rodriguez. Scarponi finished 12 seconds behind Rodriguez, and Hesjedal two seconds behind Scarponi. Hesjedal has to be pleased with losing only lost 14 seconds to the race leader, as it puts him in place to take the race in the time trial.

The provisional GC standings after stage 20:

1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 91:04:16
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:31
3) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:51
4) Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:02:18
5) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:18
6) Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:03:43
7) Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:04:52
8) Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 0:05:47

Rodriguez has come close to winning a grand tour before, only to have it snatched away at the last moment. Hesjedal is a stronger time trial rider than the race leader, so if Rodriguez wants to avoid that fate again he'll need the ride of his life on Sunday.

Stay tuned to this storystream for previews, updates and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has you covered for full time news and analysis.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 20: Stage Preview, Television Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 20 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is the final stage in the mountains, but the race organizers saved the biggest climbs for the finish. The stage starts in Caldes/Val di Sole, and nearly 219km later the riders will confront Passo Dello Stelvio, 1500m of climbing over 22km.

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The Stelvio is the Cima Coppi, the highest point the riders will reach during the race. It's a legendary mountain in Italian cycling, the site of daring Giro victories and crushing defeats. What's more, in this year's course it comes very soon after the Mortirolo, itself 1200m of climbing over 11km. Garmin's Ryder Hesjedal has maneuvered himself into a strong position, in second place but close enough to take first in Sunday's time trial. Current leader Joaquim Rodriguez has looked strong on the climbs, but he needs more distance between himself and Hesjedal if he's going to survive the time trial. Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Michele Scarponi (Lampre), and Ivan Basso (Liquigas) have all faltered on earlier climbs. Hesjedal holds the advantage of being the best time trialist in the bunch, for all of the rest of them, Saturday's climbs are the last opportunity to take control of the race. If they reach the close of Saturday's stage with anything left in them, they will have no reason not to leave it all on the slopes of the Stelvio.

Santa Rosa's Team BMC hasn't made much of an impact lately, even with their climber Johann Tschopp finishing in the top 20 of Friday's stage. If they're aching for time in the spotlight, you may see them spend some time in the breakaway or attacking on the slopes.

Start Time: 10:25am CET (4:25am EDT, 1:25am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports Network beginning at 8:30am EDT (5:30am PDT)

Streaming Coverage: Streaming via Universal Sports Network

Stick with this storystream for updates, results and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has you covered for full time cycling news and analysis.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Standings: Roman Kreuziger Takes The Stage Win, Hesjedal Makes Gains, Rodriguez Retains Lead

Two battles played out on the slops of the final climb in stage 19 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, one for the stage win and one for the overall victory. Roman Kreuziger (Astana) made a play for the stage win, digging in with more than 10km to go and chasing down the two leaders, Stefano Pirzaai (Colnago) and Sandy Casar (FDJ-Big Mat). He wasn't going to make up the time he lost earlier in the mountains, but he did gain back a bit of his pride and reputation.

In the fight for the Maglia Rosa and the overall victory, it was Ivan Basso pushing his Liquigas teammates to increase the pace. Ryder Hesjdal (Garmin), and Michele Scarponi (Lampre) were all with him, each struggling to find the legs to motor away from their rivals. Crucially, Scarponi, Hesjedal, and Basso had teammates for support, while overall leader Rodriguez (Katusha) was all alone. Scarponi was the first to test his fellow riders, making an attack that was quickly matched by Hesjedal, Rodriguez, and matched with a little more difficulty by Basso. Hesjedal made the next move, looking backwards over his shoulder to see which of his fellow GC contenders would come with him. A gap opened, with Hesjedal and Scarponi on one side of it and Basso and Rodriguez on the other. Hesjedal proved to be the man of the day, as he put some distance between himself and Scarponi in the final kilometer. The Canadian very nearly caught Kreuziger, but the Astana rider dug in and took the stage.

Hesjedal was the big winner on the day, gaining about a dozen seconds on race leader Rodriguez. Basso was the big loser, losing 36 seconds to Hesjedal and about 23 to Rodriguez. Scarponi was strong until the closing meters, and Rodriguez squeaked by at the line, meaning Scarponi's efforts earned him no gains in the GC standings.

Provisional GC standings after stage 19:

1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:17
3) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:39
4) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:01:45
5) Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky 0:03:21


Tomorrow is another day in the high mountains, and then the race closes with an individual time trial. Hesjedal made some big gains today, but holding them through two more days is another matter.

Stay with this storystream for updates, previews and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, Podium Cafe is your source for full-time cycling news and analysis.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 19: Stage Preview, Television Information, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 19 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is the first of two straight high mountain stages, and it is very likely to see race-deciding action. 198km from Treviso to Alpe di Pampeago, the stage has five ranked climbs in total: a single category three to start, then three category ones and a category two. It's a monster of a stage, and the GC favorite who feels like he's got the legs for it will be looking to leave his rivals behind.

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Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) currently holds the Maglia Rosa leader's jersey; he and Dominico Pozzovivo (Colnago) are both excellent climbers. Garmin's Ryder Hesjedal had the Maglia Rosa before Rodriguez took it back, he isn't the strongest climber but he is an excellent time trialist. If he can limit his losses in the hills, he stands a good chance at taking the victory in the final stage's time trial. Michele Scarponi (Lampre) has something to prove: technically the defending champion, he got the 2011 victory after Alberto Contador was stripped of his win following a doping scandal. Ivan Basso (Liquigas) is considered by many to win the race. He's not as strong of a climber as Pozzovivo and Rodriguez, but he's no slouch and the Italian always has designs on winning the Giro. Whoever wants this race is going to have to take it, and there's no better seize control of a bicycle race than on the side of a mountain.

Start Time: 11:15am CET (5:15am EDT, 2:15am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports Network beginning at 8:30am EDT (5:30am PDT)

Streaming Coverage: Online coverage via Universal Sports

Stick with this storystream for previews, results, recaps and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has you covered for full-time cycling news and analysis.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Standings: Stage 18 Sees Guardini Beats Cavendish At The Line, Rodriguez Remains In Overall Lead

Stage 18 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia was the last chance for the sprinters to win a stage, with the race now heading back into the mountains and closing with an individual time trail. Mark Cavendish (Sky) entered the day ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in the points competition by a single point, and collecting both the intermediate sprint win and the stage victory would have gone a long way in solidifying Cavendish's hold on the points jersey. Cav managed to pick up the intermediate sprint, but in a rare event he was beaten clean at the finish line by Farnese Vini - Selle Italia's Andrea Guardini.

Intermediate sprint wins are worth 10 points in the competition, and stage wins 25. Cavendish has won three stages so far in the 2012 Giro, but crashes in the final kilometers of two stages cost him a chance at two more victories. With Rodriguez picking up stage wins in the mountains, the points competition is much closer than Cavendish would prefer. Team Sky chased down an early breakaway and Cavendish took the intermediate sprint, and they delivered him to the line in textbook fashion, but Guardini surprised everyone with a burst of speed in the final 100m and stole the stage. Guardini, an Italian, had been the butt of some jokes in the local media for his lack of a stage win in this year's Giro. He's surely redeemed himself today, as it's a rare sight to see someone beat Cavendish one-on-one. Cavendish did take second on the stage, giving him 20 points to make a total of 30 on the day. Still, with two mountain stages coming up, a 31 point lead over Rodriguez is anything but comfortable.

The GC favorites finished together in the peloton, meaning no movement in the overall standings. The provisional standings after stage 18:


1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 77:47:38
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda -:30
3) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -1:22
4) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD -1:36
5) Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling -2:56
6) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team -3:04
7) Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox -3:19
8) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team -4:13
9) Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team -4:38
10) Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling -4:42

The race now enters the closing stretch, where the efforts of the GC contenders in the mountains will determine the race.

Stay tuned to this storystream for previews, updates and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, Podium Cafe is your full-time source for cycling news and analysis.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 18: Stage 18 Preview, Television Information, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 18 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is the last flat stage remaining in the race, 149km from San Vito di Cadore to Vedelago stuck between two high mountain days and coming just a few days before the final time trial. It's a stage that looks to favor the sprinters, but placed this late in the race means that a lot of things can happen.

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18 stages into a 21 stage race, teams are tired. After a day in the Dolomites, they're even more tired. On a day before two more days in the high mountains, they're about to get even more tired. Any sprinter who shares a team with a GC contender might have a hard time convincing his teammates to chase down the breakaway on Thursday. Teams that don't have a GC contender are likely to be extra interested in joining that breakaway, as their opportunities to make a mark on the race (or get their sponsor on television) are drawing to a close. Santa Rosa's Team BMC hasn't made much of an impact since Taylor Phinney won the opening time trial, it wouldn't be surprising to see them make an effort in the breakaway.

Start time: 1:50pm CET (7:50am EDT, 4:50am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports Network beginning at 9:30am EDT (6:30am PDT)

Streaming Coverage: Streaming online via Universal Sports Network

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2012 Giro d'Italia Standings: Rodriguez Takes Stage 17 Win As Some Contenders See The Race Slip Away

No one won the 2012 Giro d'Italia in the climbs of Stage 17, but for a handful of riders the race was lost. The GC contenders knew this was their first opportunity to make the really big attacks, and led by Ivan Basso and Team Liquigas-Cannondale, they took full advantage. Basso and his crew drove a relentless pace, and by the time the peloton approached the final climb it had been whittled down to 25 men.

From there, the favorites jumped out to battle on the slops of Passo Giau: Basso, overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), second place man Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), defending Giro champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre), stage eight winner Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago), and Rigoberto Uran (Sky Procycling). Team Astana had two men well placed in the GC standings, Roman Krueziger and Paolo Tiralongo. Unfortunately for Astana, they were the men who likely lost the race today. Among the first to be dropped from the leaders group, it's likely both saw their hopes of winning the overall race ride away from them today.

The pace had cracked some of their rivals, but the remaining GC contenders knew that there were more mountains to come, and so they refrained from all-out efforts or relentless attacks. Scarponi and Pozzovivo got dropped from the run to the finish, but neither loses much time in the standings. Joaquim Rodriguez, current holder of the Maglia Rosa, was the man who had the legs at the line, coming from behind a driving Basso to make off the with the stage win. Basso took second, followed by Hesjedal and Uran.

The provisional GC standings following stage 17:

1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 74:46:46
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda -:30
3) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -1:22
4) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD -1:36
5) Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling -2:56
6) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team -3:04
7) Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox -3:19
8) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team -4:13

Stage 18 is the final stage for the sprinters, a flat run from San Vito di Cadore to Vedelago. After that it's two more high mountain stages, where Rodriguez, Hesjedal, Basso and the rest will finally settle things.

Stay tuned to this storystream for previews, updates, results and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, Podium Cafe is your source for cycling news and quality analysis.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 17: Preview Of The Mountains In Stage 17, Television Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 17 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia sees the race arrive in the Dolomites, a mountain range in Northern Italy. It is a monster of a stage, 186 kilometers from Falzes/Pfalzen to Cortina d'Ampezzo, going over four catagorized climbs, two category two climbs and two category one climbs. (Climbs are ranked with the lower numbers going to harder climbs, from 5 down to hors catégorie, or 'beyond classification.')

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There are only five stages remaining in the race; three of them are high mountain stages. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has shown he has the legs for climbing and the fight to hold on to his lead, but many of the other players haven't yet made their move. Defending champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas), perhaps the most successful Italian cyclist currently riding, are two of those men who have saved their efforts for the mountain passes. Basso sits in third place, 1:22 behind Rodriguez, and Scarponi isn't far behind, 1:36 out of the lead and in sixth place. They're both well within striking distance, and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) sits in second with fresh memories of the Maglia Rosa leader's jersey. Santa Rosa based Team BMC Racing has a pair of riders in the top 20, an aggressive move from either could see them make big gains in the standings. Race organizers loaded the back end of the race with mountains with just this scenario in mind, and as the race heads into the alps they're likely to get the fight for which they'd hoped.

Start Time: 11:55am CET (5:55am EDT, 2:55am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports Network beginning at 8:30am EDT (5:30am PDT)

Streaming Online: Streaming online via Universal Sports Network

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2012 Giro d'Italia Standings: Jon Insausti Takes Stage 16 Win, GC Standings Unchanged

Monday was a rest day for the riders of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, but a spate of nasty weather prevented the riders from getting in the 2-3 hours of training typical for a rest day. That left them a little stiff for Tuesday's stage, and that meant the peloton was looking to take it easy. The breakaway took full advantage of that, as a group of ten men made their escape about halfway through the stage. The peloton declined to chase almost entirely, and the gap grew to over 12 minutes.

None of the members of the break were a threat to the overall lead, so it was safe for the main bunch to give them as much time as they wanted. José Herrada of team Movistar was the best placed rider, but he was still over 30 minutes back. Most of his fellow escapees were at least an hour away, so there was no need for overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez to be concerned. Santa Rosa-based Team BMC was represented by Mathias Frank, a Swiss rider who excels in climbing. As the amount of distance remaining dwindled it became clear the peloton wasn't going to chase down the break, and the men in the break began wondering which of them had the legs for the stage win.

The last five kilometers of the race are three steep uphill km with a section of cobblestones and a max grade of 12%. After that it flattens out for the last two km, meaning that the climbers in the break had a natural advantage, but the stronger roleur riders could try to snatch the victory in the closing stretch. BMC's Frank was able to stick with everyone through the attacks on the closing stretch, but in the final kilometer he came up short as Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Euskaltel), the current holder of the best young rider jersey, took thewin. Alessandro De Marchi (Adroni Giocattoli) crossed the line second, and Stef Clement (Rabobank) finished up the podium, just shutting out Frank.

The peloton finished together about ten minutes later, meaning the GC standings were unchanged.

The provisional GC standings after Stage 16:

1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 65:11:07
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda -:30
3) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -1:22
4) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team -1:26
5) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team -1:27
6) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD -1:36
7) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team -1:42
8) Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling -1:55
9) Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep -2:12
10) Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat -2:13

There are three more high mountain stages to come in the race, and things are tight enough at the top of the standings that it's anyone's race to win.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 16: Stage Preview, Television Information, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 16 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is 174 rolling kilometers between Limone sul Garda and Falzes/Pfalzen. It's listed as a medium mountain stage, but a look at the profile reveals that this isn't a stage with the kind of climbs likely to see big attacks. Desperate riders who should be higher in the GC standings than they are might try something, but the peloton will likely be able to reel them in.

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With a roleur style stage like that, teams that haven't yet show much at the Giro may take advantage and send their riders out in a breakaway. Stealing a stage victory from the peloton is an accomplishment for any rider, and any team is happy to see their rider (and their sponsor) out in front all day. Santa Rosa's Team BMC has Manuel Quinziato, an Italian who hails from the area the stage travels through. What better place to jump off the front and try for a stage win?

Start Time: 1:00pm CET (7:00am EDT, 4:00am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports Network starting at 9:30am EDT (6:30am PDT)

Streaming Online: Streaming Via Universal Sports Network

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Joaquim Rodriguez Takes Back Overall Lead, Matteo Rabottini Wins Stage After Long Solo Effort

Matteo Rabottini (Farnese-Selle Italia) jumped off the front of the peloton 18km into stage 15 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, and he stayed in front for virtually the entire 172km stage, snatching a stage victory back from Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) just meters from the finish line. Rodriguez had motored away from the other GC contenders on the final climb and looked as if he was going to take the stage win before Rabotitini cut to the inside of the final corner and managed to take back what he had worked so hard for. Rodriguez finished 39 seconds ahead of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), meaning the Maglia Rosa leader's jersey will leave Hesjedal's shoulders and return to Rodriguez. Katusha's Alberto Losada was third on the stage.

Damiano Cunego had made a move for the Maglia Rosa earlier in the day, leading a group of chasers after Rabottini. Cunego had started the day 2:43 out of the lead, and for a while he had more than enough distance between himself and the peloton to give him the overall lead. Included in that chase group was Marco Pinotti, the strongest cimber on Santa Rosa-based Team BMC Racing. He wouldn't have gotten enough time to take the lead, but it would have catapulted him up the overall standings.

It ended up being a moot point for both, as by the final climb the GC leaders had caught Cunego and all the rest. Cunego put in a strong effort, but Rodriguez, Michele Scarponi (Lampre), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Roman Kreuziger (Astana) all passed him in the final few kilometers.

Provisional GC Standings after stage 15:

1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 65:11:07
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:30
3) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:22
4) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:26
5) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:01:27
6) Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:36
7) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:42
8) Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:01:55


Monday is a rest day for the riders, and Tuesday returns them right back into the hills for a medium mountain stage. Rodriguez has been in this position before, but he has never been able to hold on to finish a grand tour in first. That's no secret to Hesjedal, Basso, and others, so if they smell blood they won't hesitate.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 15: Stage Preview, Television Information, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 15 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia continues the race's progress through the mountains, including four catagorized climbs and a hilltop finish. With a rest day coming up on Monday, it's an opportunity for riders to put in a little extra effort to try for a stage win or to crack the GC standings.

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The stage is 172km from Busto Arsizio to Lecco/Pian dei Resinelli, and the multiple climbs could easily split the peloton apart. If that happens expect to see GC contenders take advantage to put some time into their rivals, and any strong climber on the breakaway to make an attempt at the stage win. Italy's Ivan Basso (Liquigas) trains nearby and has yet to make a really flashy showing in the Giro, so keep an eye on him.

Start Time: 12:30pm CET (6:30am EDT, 3:30am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports live coverage begins at 8:30am EDT, 5:30am PDT.

Streaming Online: Watch online at Universal Sports Network.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Andrei Amador Wins Stage 14, Ryder Hesjedal Reclaims Overall Lead

Rain put a bit of a damper on any potential fireworks in stage 14 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, but Andrei Amador was able to grind out the stage win and Ryder Hesjedal managed to dig in during the final kilometers and regain the overall lead. With plenty more mountain riding to come, the race's GC contenders reasoned that it might be better to play it safe today and save their attacks for later in the race. Things weren't all quiet, as the last 10km of the race did feature the heavyweights testing each other out.

That opened early opportunities for some of the younger riders, who don't have a shot at overall glory but can still climb. Netapp's Jan Barta took full advantage, motoring up the first climb, ditching his fellow escapees to make it over the first climb solo. The wet roads left him skittish on the descent, though, and Movistar's Andrei Amador moved past him on the way down and took the lead. That's how things set up leading into the finish, with Amador out in front, an intermediate chase group, and the peloton over nine minutes back.

As the race moved up the final climb the peloton began to pick up the pace, and with 10km left to go the gap that had started over nine minutes was under 6:30 and falling. Alessandro De Marchi (Androni Giocattoli) and Barta joined Amador at the front and the three worked together in an attempt to stay away. Liquigas was driving the peloton hard, and with 5km to go the gap was only 3:30. Shortly after that the last Liquigas support man dropped off and team captain Ivan Basso had to put in his best effort to see which of his rivals he could shed. Ryder Hesjedal, Joaquim Rodriguez, Dominico Pozzovivo, and Michele Scarponi were all with him.

Pozzovivo and Rodriqugez both tested the field with attacks, but were quickly pulled back. Hesjedal went next though, and managed to open up a decent gap. He gritted his teeth and committed to grinding it out, and the rest were unable to catch him. Ahead of him were still Amador, De Marchi, and Barta, and they contested the stage win among each other. Barta gave it his best shot, but having been alone much of the day his legs weren't up to the task of beating Amador, and the Movistar rider picked up the win. Barta was second, and De Marchi third. Hesjedal's effort didn't flag, and he ended the stage in fourth place while picking up more than 20 seconds on leader Rodriguez. That was enough to earn him the overall lead and the Maglia Rosa.

The provisional GC standings following stage 14:

1) Ryder Jesjedal (GRM) 59:55:28
2) Joaquin Rodriguez (KAT) -:09
3) Paolo Tiralongo (AST) -:41
4) Sandy Casar (FDJ) -1:05
5) Ivan Basso (LIQ) -1:06
6) Roman Kreuziger (AST) -1:07
7) Benat Intxausti (MOV) -1:07
8) Rigobergto Uran (SKY) -1:19
9) Michele Scarponi (LMP) -1:20
10) Domenico Pozzovivo (CNG) -1:21

Santa Rosa's Team BMC struggled a bit at the end, as their highest placed GC rider Ivan Santaromita was unable to stick with the favorites as the peloton splintered at the end of the race. Stage 15 and onward only bring more mountains as the race moves through the Alps, so no matter what the result today it's anyone's race going forward.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 14: Stage Preview, Television Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 14 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is the point at which the race finally arrives in the alps, a 206 kilometer stage featuring two category one climbs and a hilltop finish. This is the point at which any GC contender who has spent the race counting his bullets will finally begin to unload. The riders first go over the Col de Joux, a 22km monster, and shortly after that they confront a 27km climb into the town of Cervina. The final climb isn't as steep, but coming so quickly after the Col de Joux there won't be a happy set of legs in the peloton.

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Of the remaining eight stages, six are medium or high mountains. Race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is a very strong climber, but has never been able to hold on to the lead in a grand tour. That's no secret to Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin), Roman Kreuziger (Astana), or Ivan Basso (Liquigas), all strong riders who are less than a minute behind Rodriguez in the standings. Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago) is a strong climber with one stage win already, in 14th place at 1:14 back, he's well positioned to make a move. Santa Rosa's Team BMC has a strong climber in the thick of things: Ivan Santaromita currently sits in fifth place, 49 seconds out. This is a crucial stage. If you can gain time here you put your opponents on the defensive, and if you can drive the race fast enough to crack one of your opponents, that's one fewer cyclist you have to worry about in the further mountain stages. There are plenty of mountains still to come, but an aggressive rider who makes the right moves could win the Giro before the day is out.

Start Time: 11:35am CET (5:35am EDT, 2:35am PDT)

Television Coverage: Live coverage on Universal Sports beginning at 9:30am EDT (6:30am PDT)

Online Coverage: Streaming coverage via Universal Sports

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Cavendish Takes Another Sprint Win In Stage 13, GC Standings Unchanged

After 12 hard days of racing, stage 13 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia was unlikely to see any huge fireworks. A flat stage from Savona to Cervere, it played out in the standard grand tour format: A breakaway emerged, spent most of the day in front, the peloton chased them down, the teams fought to set up their sprinters for the victory, and in the closing 100m Mark Cavendish put the hammer down and outdid his rivals. Katusha's Alexander Kristoff took second, with Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) in third.

It was a classic sprint, and it demonstrated again that no team has been able to solve the combination of Cav's efficient lead out train and ample talent. Orica Greenedge was there for Matthew Goss, and they appeared to box in Team Sky. But Garmin came through pulling their man Robbie Hunter and things broke apart, allowing Cavendish to come around the others in the final meters. Most stages see the opposite, where someone latches on to Cav's wheel and then tries to come around him. But even when that doesn't happen, when he doesn't have the advantage, he still motors his way to the win. With crashes mixing up the closing sprints in two earlier stages, Cavendish has been frustrated at this year's Giro. He's won only two stages so far, well short of his goal of five. He's now got three, but with the race soon entering the high mountains his opportunity to shine may be drawing to a close.

The provisional GC standings after stage 13:


1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 51:19:08
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:17
3) Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:26
4) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:32
5) Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:49
6) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
7) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
8) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:57

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 13: Stage Preview, Television Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 13 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is 121km from Savona to Cervere without much in the way of climbing, a stage for sprinter teams to take their best shot at delivering their man to the line. That will be the plan, but as we've seen twice in this year's Giro, sharp turns in the final kilometers have a way of throwing teams for a loop. Those sharp turns have been behind Mark Cavendish falling short of his goals, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him to put in an extra effort towards winning this stage.

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Every sprint stage essentially coming down to "probably Cavendish, maybe somebody else if something goes wrong" might sound boring, but watching Cav's physical dominance and the desperation of teams trying to beat him really is something. Here's hoping nothing goes wrong in the closing stretch, and stage 13 closes with a fair fight.

Stage Start Time: 2:25pm CET (2:25am EDT, 5:25am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports live coverage starting at 9:30am EDT (6:30am PDT)

Online Coverage: Streaming online via Universalsports.com

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Stage 12 Results In Team BMC Contributing To Successful Breakaway, Rodriguez Retaining Overall Lead

Stage 12 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia saw Santa Rosa's Team BMC have their first big stage of the Giro d'Italia since Taylor Phinney's time trial performance on day one, as Ivan Santaromita jumped out in an early breakway and stayed away, racing over the repeated climbs of the stage well in advance of the peloton. With the gap as high as 7 minutes, it became clear that the escapees would make it to the finish line, and it became a contest within the break to see who would take the stage win. In the end, Santaromita didn't have it in him, and the stage win went to Lars Bank, the Dane from the Lotto Belisol Team. Santa Romita finished fifth. Michael Golas had a big day in the break, as he entered the day second in the King of the Mountain competition and managed to be the first man over several climbs, picking up crucial points in the fight for the Maglia Azzure.


The stage wasn't nearly as long as stage 11, but it did feature a number of respectable climbs, and when the breakaway went without any GC heavyweights in it, the peloton was content to let it go. By the time the race was approaching the finish line the gap was still around four minutes, which was just about the distance between the best-placed rider in the breakaway and the overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). That left Katusha and any other team with their eye on the overall win pushing the pace with the peloton, looking to cross the line in just enough time to maintain the standings as they were. Someone like Santaromita or Bak is unlikely to make a serious play for the victory, so as long as the leaders don't lose several minutes to them they're content to let them move up the standings. The heavyweights know that everything will be settled in the coming mountain stages, and so their primary goal is just to keep thing steady until then.

They were able to do just that, as Joaquim Rodriguez holds on to the Maglia Rosa, and GC contenders like Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) are well placed for the coming stages.

The GC Standings after stage 12:

1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 51:19:08
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:17
3) Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:26
4) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:32
5) Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:49
6) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
7) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
8) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:57

Stage 13 looks to be another flat stage building to a sprint win, but this late in a grand tour the riders are tired and anything can happen.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 12: Stage Preview, Television Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 12 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is another medium mountain stage, and a preview of the course shows 157 rolling kilometers from Seravezza to Sestri Levante. It's the kind of stage that a daring breakaway can easily take advantage of, if they can catch the main field napping.

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It's unlikely to see much in the way of GC action, but there are plenty of Maglia Azzurra points at stake, so anyone with the Mountains Classification jersey as their goal may try to take advantage of the stage. After the race makes it over Villa Tassani it's a tricky, technical descent that leads right into the finish, so if a break can make it over that last hill with enough of a lead on the peloton, they'll be difficult to chase down. That was the case the last time the Giro was in these parts, in the 2006 Giro where climber Joan Horrach made away with the stage.

Stage Start Time: 12:35pm CET (2:35am EDT, 5:35am PDT)

Television Coverage: Universal Sports live coverage starting at 9:35am EDT (6:35am PDT)

Online Coverage: Streaming online via Universalsports.com

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Stage 11 Results In Upset Win, GC Standings Remain Unchanged

In what seems like a repeat of stage nine, stage 11 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia featured a hard sprint into the finish, with a too-sharp corner taking out the favorites. Favorite Mark Cavendish didn't go down in stage 11, but his teammates did, leaving him unable to make his way to the front of the bunch and contest the finish. That left Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela) to take the win in front of Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), with Tomas Vaitkus (GreenEdge) in third.

Santa Rosa's Team BMC was again in the middle of the pack, with Switzerland's Danilo Wyss coming in ninth. Their GC hope Marco Pinotti now sits in 22nd place, a little more than two minutes behind the leader.

The race had drawn some negative headlines for the route of the final kilometer in stage nine, and they're likely to see similar criticism after Wednesday. Despite not being in the finish, Cavendish did take the lead in the points competition, donning the red jersey after coming into the stage just three points behind Matthew Goss (GreenEdge) who was not involved in the finish. There was no movement in the GC standings, with all of the heavy hitters playing it safe in the peloton.

The GC standings after stage 11:

1) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 47:16:39
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:17
3) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:32
4) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
5) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
6) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:57
7) Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:02
8) Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:03
9) Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:09
10) Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:01:10

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 11: Stage Preview, Television And Online Streaming Info, And More

After a medium mountain stage 10 that saw Team Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez motor away to a stage win and the overall lead, stage 11 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia returns to the flats with a 255km run that's almost certain to see a sprint finish. There are couple climbs through the stage, but teams should be able to bring their sprinters over those without too much trouble. The longest stage of the race, Wednesday's stage 11 goes from Assisi to Montecatini.

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As always, the stage is likely to see a breakaway and just as likely to reel it back in. Look for Mark Cavendish at the finish; as if his leadout train and natural talent didn't give him enough of an advantage, his in-season home is in Quarrata, not at all far from the finish.

Stage 11 starts at 11:00am CET (5:00am EDT, 2:00am PDT). Universal Sports Network will have coverage beginning at 9:30am EDT (6:30am PDT), as well as coverage streaming online.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Rodriguez Wins Stage 10, Takes The Lead Atop Updated GC Standings

Joaquim Rodriguez spent the first half of the 2012 Giro d'Italia staying quiet and staying out of trouble, slowly climbing the standings. That went out the window in stage 10, as the Katusha rider was at the front on the final climb and motored away to take the stage victory and the Maglia Rosa. The stage finished in the narrow streets of the town of Assisi, with a 3.9km climb with an average grade of 8.8% and a maximum grade of 15%. Most of the contenders were towards the front of the peloton at the start of the climb, but once the climb started the field had narrowed. Leader Ryder Hesjedal was suffering, unable to keep up with the pace set by Rodriguez, Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp), and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar). Rodriguez made his move in the final kilometer and easily outpaced Huzarski and Visconti for the win. He only gained a few seconds on Hesjedal, but with the winner of the stage gaining a ten second time bonus, he was able to move into first in the overall standings.

There was a breakaway on the day, and they managed to stay away a long time. Jumping off about 15km into the race, they weren't caught with less than 10km left in the 187km stage. A crash less than 40km into the race took out some riders, but all of the GC contenders managed to avoid the pileup. Team BMC was shut out of yesterday's sprint finish by yesterday's crash, and in stage 10 their primary GC contender Marco Pinotti was unable to make up any time on the leaders. Wednesday's stage is another flat one, so George Hincapie and Greg Van Avermaet will have another chance at what they missed on Monday.

The updated GC standings after stage 10:

1) Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha Team 40:27:34
2) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:17
3) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:32
4) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
5) Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:52
6) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:57
7) Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:02
8) Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:03

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 10: Stage Preview, TV Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage 10 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is another medium mountains stage, but it won't likely have as much impact as the previous medium mountains. There are a lot of little climbs and an uphill finish, but none of them are likely long enough to see an attacker put serious time gaps on his rivals.

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Still, 186 kilometers of rolling terrain means a lot of opportunities for something unexpected. Serious time gaps are unlikely, but Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez is only nine seconds behind Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal. The weather looks to be clear and Hesjedal is unlikely to be caught napping, but with so many climbs comes so many descents, and there's always risk of a crash. The Giro has seen one successful breakaway this year, on a stage with a very similar profile to Tuesday's ride, so some of the more daring younger riders may take a shot at glory. The Italians in the race have been particularly aggressive off the front, for obvious reasons.

Stage 10 starts at 12:35pm CET (6:35am EDT, 3:35am PDT). Universal Sports Network will have coverage beginning at 9:30am EDT (6:30am PDT), as well as coverage streaming online.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Francisco Ventoso Takes The Win In A Sprint After Sharp Turn Takes Out Favorites

Stage nine of the 2012 Giro d'Italia looked to be heading towards another tight sprint between Matthew Goss (Orica-Greenedge) and Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) when a crash in the final turn took out many of the sprint favorites and left Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) to put his head down and get clear of the crowd of men still on their bikes, and he took the win over Fabio Felline (Androni) and Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Nissan). The last corner before the finish line was incredibly sharp, and it proved to be too much for the speed of a bunch sprint.

Santa Rosa's Team BMC were among those caught behind the crash. Because the pileup was within the final 3km no one will lose any time, but they were shut out from any hope of the stage win or a show of force. Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal retains the Maglia Rosa, and Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez continued his slow climb up the standings, now in second at nine seconds out.

The breakaway spent a lot of time out in front, with the peloton only getting together with about 8km left of the 171km stage. Attacks came constantly over the short climb that preceded the finish, including one from Rodriguez. It was his first visible attack of the tour, but he was quickly reeled back in by the group. One rider or another popped off the front, and all of them were brought back. Matthew Goss currently leads Mark Cavendish in the points competition, and Cavendish would have given that sprint everything he had to try to change that. The crash denied him that opportunity, and he may have to wait until stage 11 for another chance.

The GC Standings after stage nine:

1 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 36:02:40
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:09
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15
4 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:35
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:40
6 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:45
7 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:46
8 Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:48
9 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:52
10 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:53

Stage ten is another medium mountains stage, so Rodriguez and other GC contenders will have their work cut out for them if they want to take the lead.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 9: Course Preview, Television Information, How To Watch, And More

Stage nine of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is listed as a flat stage, but a preview of the profile shows a lot of little climbs scattered along the route, including one just before the finish:

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A disciplined peloton will be able to reel in any breakaway, but an aggressive rider who jumps off the front at just the right time might be able to sew a bit of confusion and make away with the stage win. If that doesn't happen, we'll likely see the kind of bunch sprint we saw in the opening stages. Team Sky and Mark Cavendish would undoubtedly be the favorites, but you can't count out Matthew Goss and OricaGreenedge Cycling. After having to stay completely on top of things in the hills, the GC riders can look forward to a day at a bit of an easier pace.

Stage Information:
Route: San Giorgio nel Sannio to Frosinone
Length: 166km
Profile: Flat
Start Time: 1:20pm CET (7:20am EDT, 4:20am PDT)

Television Coverage:
NBC Universal Live Coverage Begins 6:30am EDT (9:30am PDT)

Online Streaming:
NBC Universal

SB Nation Bay Area has you covered for previews, recaps and more throughout the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe is your source for quality insight and analysis.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Domenico Pozzovivo Steals Stage 8, Ryder Hesjedal Holds On To Lead

The mountains in stage eight of the 2012 Giro d'Italia were far from the biggest the peloton will see this year, but between the pace on yesterday's stage and the heat on both days, a great many riders were suffering on the final climb. Italian Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago) took advantage, jumping off the front of the bunch with a little under 7km to go. Pozzovivo, a man with the physical gifts of a climber (small stature, ability to suffer), leapt ahead and motored his way to a gap of more than40 seconds as he went over the top of the climb. He's neither a skilled descender nor strong on the flats, so there was a good chance the peloton would catch him, but he put it into the big ring, gritted his teeth, and stayed alone over the final 4km of the race to take the win.

Garmin-Barracuda's Ryder Hesjedal was one of the men suffering on the final climb, and the race leader was found struggling at the back of the peloton more than once. He managed to recover, however, and made up time on the desecent. Team Liquigas was driving the bunch hard to make sure their man Ivan Basso did not lose time, and Hesjedal was able to move back up to the front with them as the race entered the final kilometers. Most of the favorites were in that group, so there were not huge changes in GC. An exception to that, though was Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver, the Katusha rider who has been quietly climbing the ranks. He took third place for an eight second time bonus, moving him to second overall. He stands in excellent place for a man who has yet to make a serious attack.

Team BMC was one of those for whom there wasn't much change. The Santa Rosa team's main GC threat, Marco Pinotti, remains just outside the top ten at around :48 seconds back. What the peloton saw today won't seem like much compared to the mountains that backend the race, so Pinotti shouldn't feel much pressure to make a move just yet.

GC Standings:

1 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda

2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team -:09

3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team -:15

4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team -:35

5 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team -:35

6 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -:40

7 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -:45

8 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -:46

9 Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan -:48

10 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale -:52

Liquigas looks dominant, but when things shake out only Ivan Basso has a likely shot at remaining in contention. Basso, Kreuziger, Oliver, and Schleck are the men to watch going foward.

SB Nation Bay Area will continue to bring you updates, previews and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has you covered for news, analysis, and insight.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 8: Stage 8 Preview, TV And How To Watch Online And More

The organizers of the 2012 Giro d'Italia put together a spectacular stage for the second Sunday of the race, just the kind of thing a fan can sink their teeth into on a Sunday afternoon or early morning, for West Coast fans.) Stating in Sulmona, the race heads southeast, passing over all manner of bumps and little hills (including one short but steep category one climb) before ending in the resort town of Lago Laceno. The cyclists won't be on a holiday, however: it's a bruising 9km category two climb to the finish.

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Expect the stage to develop much like stage seven did. A breakway is guaranteed to head out and make a determined effort, and determined peloton is nearly guaranteed to chase them down. The GC contenders know that being caught napping on a stage like this can cost a rider a ton of time, so they keep their eyes open and when a serious contender makes a move the rest are right there to mark him.

Having lost Thor Hushovd, Santa Rosa's Team BMC has focused on the overall standings. Their man Marco Pinotti stands in 11th place, 46 seconds behind the winner. The Italian knows how these races develop, though, and is confident he can make a move. "I know the last week will be a decisive one," he said, "because then it will be a matter of minutes and not seconds."

Television Information:

Universal Sports, live coverage beings 9:30am EST, 6:30am PST

Streaming Online:

Universal Sports Streaming

Stay with this storystream for Giro updates, previews and recaps. SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe is your source for quality cycling news and commentary.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Maglia Rosa Changes Shoulders In Stage 7's Mountaintop Finish

Stage seven was the first mountaintop finish of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, meaning that anyone who couldn't make it up the hill fast enough wouldn't have the descent and the closing flat to try to make it up. This wasn't lost on any of the contenders, and the result was the first real display of power and gamesmanship from the top GC riders. The Italians in the race put in extra effort today, and Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) made the most of it, sneaking by countryman Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) for the stage win. It's Scarponi who's in contention for the overall, though, and he was able to gain valuable time over his opponents. Team BMC didn't make much noise on the day; while there were some red and black jerseys present towards the front at the finish, with Thor Hushovd out of the race and Phinney in questionable condition, the Santa Rosa based team is struggling not to just to achieve something at the Giro, but to figure out exactly what they might achieve.

A four man breakaway spent most of the day in front of the peloton, getting up to six minutes ahead with around 65km to go. That was when the peloton decided it was time to go to work, though, and that gap had nearly been cut in half within 20km. It was a blistering pace in the bunch, with Katusha, Lampre-ISD, and Garmin-Barracuda all taking turns pulling. Those are teams with GC contenders to protect, after all, so it is only fair that they do the hard work of reeling in the break. The breakway, of course, wasn't so happy about being chased down, and nobody was more cross about it than Italian Matteo Rabottini( Farnese Vini). Even as the break realized they would be caught, Rabottini jumped off the front, attacking his fellow escapees. This didn't sit well with them, as working together would yield better results, but Rabottini was more interesting in a desperate shot at glory. Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago) and Jose Herrada (Movistar) eventually chased him down, and with about 10km to go he cracked and could push no further. He finished in the bunch.

With upstarts like Rabottini and Herreda dealt with, the GC contenders moved into position for the finish. They were in a tight bunch when Scarponi and Tiralongo made their move with about 500m to go, and at that point they were close enough that Scarponi wasn't going to gain much on their time. Ryder Hesjedal was one of those who knew he was safe, and the pink leader's jersey moves from his teammate (who had cracked on the climb) to his shoulders, where he becomes the first Canadian to ever wear the Maglia Rosa. The GC standings after stage seven:

1) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 26:16:53

2) Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15

3) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:17

4) Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:21

5) Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:26

6) Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team

7) Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:00:35

8) Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:40

9) Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team 0:00:45

10) Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:46

That's a tight pack at the front, and as the race continues through the mountains each of those men will have plenty of opportunity to impose his will on the others.

For 2012 Giro d'Italia previews, recaps and more, stick with SB Nation Bay Area. And as always, cycling blog Podium Cafe has all the analysis and information you need.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Standings: Miguel Rubiano Wins Stage 6 In Solo Effort, Adriano Malori Takes The Lead, And Team BMC Loses Thor Hushovd

Stage six of the 2012 Giro d'Italia ended up exactly as race organizers intended, scrambling riders, teams, and the overall GC standings as the riders made their way over the hills. Miguel Rubiano took the win, and Italian Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) delighted his countrymen by taking the overall lead. Santa Rosa based Team BMC saw their Giro d'Italia take another hit as Thor Hushovd was forced to abandon the race. He had an unusually poor finish in stage five and had not appeared at all in his typical form, suggesting that he may be ill. The Giro lost American Tyler Farrar as well, as the Garmin-Barracuda sprinter abandoned after a crash.

Miguel Rubiano, a Columbian riding for the Italian team of Androni Giocattoli, was part of a four man breakaway before he made his bid for the stage win with about 45km remaining in the race. He managed to put about a minute and a half between himself and the rest of the breakaway, a gap he was able to maintain until the finish. The peloton was at least four to five minutes back from the leaders for most of the race, but they put the hammer down in the closing stretch and came in about two minutes back.

As expected, the hills were what made the difference. The first serious climbs in the race, teams suffered and it allowed the breakaway to take advantage. Malori, another member of the break, made the most of things and stayed just close enough to Rubiano to ensure that he would put on the Maglia Rosa at the end of the day. Garmin-Barracuda lost the overall lead as well as their sprinter, but Ryder Hesjedal and the rest of the team helped drive the peloton at a fast enough pace that he is well positioned going forward. The GC standings at the end of stage six:

1) Adriano Malori (Lampre - ISD) 20:25:28
2) Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) - :15
3) Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin - Barracuda) - :17
4) Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni Giocattoli) - :30
5) Christian Vande Velde (Garmin - Barracuda) - :32
6) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha Team) - :36
7) Peter Stetina (Garmin - Barracuda) - :37
8) Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Katusha Team) - :39
9) Enrico Gasparotto (Astana Pro Team)
10) Luke Roberts (Team Saxo Bank) - :41

Rodriguez is sneaking up the standings without having made his move. Garmin is still strong with Hesjedal and Vande Velde. BMC's best placed rider isn't far out of things; Marco Pinnoti sits in 14th, :43 behind. Between Phinney's crashes and now Thor abandoning the race, though, they'll need to get things in order quick if they hope to make an impact. Stage seven includes bigger climbs and a hilltop finish, so expect the race to only get more exciting as it continues.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 6 Preview: The Hills of Stage 6, Television Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage six of the 2012 Giro d'Italia brings the race to some respectable hills, marking the first serious climbs of the race. They're placed towards the back end of the middle of the stage, meaning any sprinter looking for a stage win is going to have to put a lot of effort into going over those hills. The results from stage four and stage five shook up the GC standings, and stage six could see more of the same. The profile, courtesy of the official Giro site:

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That's a category three climb followed immediately by a category two in the middle, with two category three climbs towards the end to test anyone who makes it over the first two. The penultimate hill The Montelupone, has pitches of up to 15%, and the final climb, Montegranardo, hits 18%. A lot can happen on a stage like this. With all of those hills, a daring breakaway willing to put in the effort can catch a slow peloton and take the win. Team Liquigas is well built to take advantage, and their captain, Italian Ivan Basso, is currently :47 back in the general classification and may need to make a move sooner rather than later. Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez is sitting comfortably in ninth place, but if he sees the right opening he won't hesitate. Santa Rosa's Team BMC has had a rough few days after a very strong start, they may see stage six as a now-or-never bid to get back into things. Garmin-Barracuda is in control of the race and has both Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vandevelde as candidates for a run at the Maglia Rosa, despite Garmin's Ramunas Navardaukas currently holding the pink leader's jersey. They'll need to fight off all comers if they want to maintain their grip.

Stage Classification and Length: Medium Mountain, 210km

Start Time: 5:40am EST, 2:40am PST
Expected Finish: 8:30am EST, 5:30am PST

Television Coverage: NBC Universal (National) beginning at 9:30am EST, 6:30am Pacific. They are streaming online, but not for free.

Stay tuned to SB Nation Bay Area's storystream for updates, recaps, and more, and as always SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has all the analysis you need.

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Giro d'Italia Live 2012 Results: Cavendish Wins Stage 5 In Another Tight Sprint, Team BMC Struggles

A well designed race course has as much of an effect on the outcome of the stage as the efforts of anyone actually on a bicycle, a fact demonstrated in the closing kilometers of stage five of the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Race organizers placed the stage's only major climb a mere 10km before the finish line, a placement that derailed many of those who would ordinarily contend for a sprint win.

The stage started with the typical breakaway jumping out in front, but they were just as typically chased down and swallowed up. As the peloton approached the category four climb, two separate crashes took down riders from Santa Rosa based Team BMC. Former race leader Taylor Phinney went down in the first crash, and as the peloton moved over the climb another crash took down BMC's Frank Schleck.

The rest of the teams didn't fare much better. They may not have fallen, but BMC's Thor Hushovd, Garmin's Tyler Farrar, and Rabobank's Theo Bos all suffered over the climb and were not factors in the final stretch. Those kilometers came down to Team Sky, pulling Mark Cavendish to the line, and Orica-Greenedge, doing the same for Matthew Harley Goss. The two teams fought fiercely through the final kilometer, alternating positioning at the front of the charge and attempting to shut the other team out. In the final 500m it was Sky and Cavendish in front, and if he's already got the drop on you there's no stopping Cavendish when he puts the hammer down. Cav picks up his second stage win of the Giro and Goss takes second.

The GC standings remain mostly unchanged; Goss' result is good enough to bump him up to fourth place. Garmin-Barracuda still controls the top three positions, with their man Ramunas Navardauskas holding on to the Maglia Rosa. Most of the GC contenders are still waiting to make their move, so the fierce battles for the leader's jersey are still to come.

Stay tuned to this story stream for recaps, stage previews, tv information and more from the 2012 Giro d'Italia. All your other cycling needs can be met at SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe.

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Giro d'Italia 2012: Standings, Stage 4 Preview, Television Information And More

Santa Rosa based Team BMC lost their grip on the leader's jersey on Tuesday, as Taylor Phinney's injury slowed their efforts in the team time trial. They aren't the only Bay Area link to the 2012 Giro d'Italia, though: The namesake sponsor of Garmin-Barracuda is Barracuda Networks of Campbell, CA. BMC may have falters, But Garmin-Barracuda did about as well as a team could do in stage four. Catch a breakdown of the standings and a stage five preview including start times and television broadcast information below.

The team time trial that was stage four of the 2012 Giro d'Italia laid waste to the general classification standings, leaving some men tumbling and others scrambling to the top. Unlike a mountain stage, in a TTT a GC contender is at the mercy of the weaker members of his team. In the mountains, the burden eventually rests squarely with the team captain; if he can get up that hill faster than his opponents, he'll win. In a TTT, the captain of a less-than-spectacular team can do nothing but watch as the stronger teams run through the course faster than he could hope for. Here are the standings after stage four:

1) Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin - Barracuda) - 10:01:53

2) Tyler Farrar (Garmin - Barracuda) - 0:00:10

3) Robert Hunter (Garmin - Barracuda)

4) Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin - Barracuda) - 0:00:11

5) Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) - 0:00:13

6) Manuele Boaro (Team Saxo Bank) - 0:00:19

7) Geraint Thomas (Sky Procycling) - 0:00:21

8) Sébastien Rosseler (Garmin - Barracuda) - 0:00:25

9) Christian Vande Velde (Garmin - Barracuda) - 0:00:26

10) Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha Team) - 0:00:30

As you can see, Garmin-Barracuda holds the top four positions and six out of the top ten. Ryder Hesejdal is their long-term GC threat, despite Navardauskas holding the jersey at the moment. The prognosis on Taylor Phinney's Giro got a lot darker Tuesday, as his team had to wait for him at multiple points and that delay cost him the Maglia Rosa. Other GC contenders had a mixed day. Italians Michele Scarponi and Damiano Cunego, both of Team Lampre, are now both over a minute back from the leader as Lampre finished the stage in 12th place. Rodriguez may be the man in the best position, as he has neither a massive gap to make up nor the pressure of holding on to the lead.

Stage five looks to be another one for the sprinters, a 209km straight run. A late group of small hills may favor a daring breakaway, but they'll really have to put the hammer down to avoid capture in the flat final 10km of the stage. From the official Giro site:

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Stage Location: Modena to Fano

Start Time: 12:30pm local time, 6:30am EST

Television Coverage: NBC Universal starting at 9:30am EST

Garmin-Barracuda will be both protecting the Maglia Rosa and attempting to position Tyler Farrar for a stage win, it will be interesting to see how their priorities shake out. Team Sky could have done better in the team time trial, and they'll look to rebound by deploying their prefected leadout as Mark Cavendish pursues his second stage win. Team BMC, free from the responsibility of protecting Phinney, may have Thor Hushovd attempt a stage win, or they may look to see if they can move Italian Marco Pinotti up the GC standings. The stage will either see a wild sprint finish or a daring breakaway, so either way it's unlikely to disappoint. Don't miss it.

SB Nation Bay Area will continue to bring you 2012 Giro d'Italia updates at this storystream, and as always SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has all the analysis and information you need.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Live: Garmin-Barracuda Has Huge Day As Taylor Phinney Loses Maglia Rosa

All of the drama in a time trial is in the splits, on the leader board. Riders generally can't see each other, but they've got their director sportif screaming through their in-ear radios that they're falling three seconds off the pace. The team time trial that was stage four of the 2012 Giro d'Italia saw plenty of that, as Taylor Phinney fought for his Maglia Rosa against the strong efforts of Teams Sky and Garmin-Barracuda. He did so with four stitches in a heavily taped, swollen ankle stemming from stage three's crash.

Santa Rosa based Team BMC went into the day with Phinney holding a nine second lead over Sky's Thomas Geraint and an 18 second lead over Garmin-Barracuda's Ramunas Navadauskas. Those were the last three teams to start the race, and as Garmin hit the first checkpoint it became clear BMC was in for a fight. Garmin got to the first marker in 9:56, the first team of the day to do so in under 10 minutes, 15 seconds faster than Sky managed. That was only the first check, though, and many teams lay down a blistering pace early only to fade as the race continues.

Discipline is key in a team time trial, as every tenth of a second spent in an aerodynamic tuck has an impact on the final outcome. Good teams will ride as much of the race as possible in a single line, with each rider drafting off the rider in front of them. As the man at the front of the line tires, he rolls off and drifts to the back and the team continues. The disadvantage for some teams is that they end up with less than powerful riders at the front of the line, or worse, fading off the back of the small group.

When BMC hit the first time check, they were surely hearing from their director. They got there in 10:07, 11 seconds worse than Garmin and enough to cost Phinney the Maglia Rosa. Things got ugly for a minute, with Phinney coming off the road in a corner and almost falling into a ditch, emerging with grass trailing from his gears. Garmin kept the pressure up, entering the midpoint check at 25:10, nine seconds faster than the leading Team Katusha. Team Sky rolled across the line about 25 seconds behind the leader, good enough for 9th place after all teams had finished. That left only Teams BMC and Garmin on the road, and in the end it was Garmin's day. They finished the stage with the fastest time, 37:04, 31 seconds ahead of BMC, taking the leader's jersey from Taylor Phinney and handing it to Ramus Navardauskas.

Phinney had been asked at the start of the race if there was a secret to team time trials, and he was candid: "I don't know if there's really a secret. We have to ride really well as a team." They weren't able to manage that, and Garmin-Barracuda took advantage for a huge day. They now stand in the top four places in the overall classification: Navardauskas on top, 10 seconds ahead of Tyler Farrar, with Robbie Hunter and Ryder Hesjedal bringing up the rear. Phinney stands behind them in fifth, 14 seconds out, but with the form he showed today there are big questions about his chances going forward. It's Garmin-Barracuda in the prime position as the race continues, and they present a big obstacle for BMC or any other team that hopes to climb to the top.

For 2012 Giro d'Italia news and updates, stick with this storystream. For all things pro cycling, don't miss SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Preview: Sky Cycling and BMC Go To War In Stage 4 Team Time Trial

Team BMC's Taylor Phinney hit the pavement hard in stage three, and the sharks will be in the water come stage four. Stage four of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is an almost entirely flat 32.2km team time trial (TTT) in the Italian city of Verona. A team time trial is much like the time trial laid out in our 2012 Giro d'Italia guide, except instead of individual riders it involves individual teams. Each team member will don their aerodynamic helmet, skinsuit and specialized bike, and they make their way through the course as group. If your team is stacked with climbers to help your GC contender get over the mountains, they won't be able to power through a TTT and as a result a contender can lose significant time to his opponents. On the flip side, if your team is built around sprinters and strong all-rounders, the pace you set in a TTT can bring big rewards.

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Anything short of a stellar performance could cost Team BMC the Maglia Rosa. Team Sky's Thomas Geraint is nine seconds behind Phinney in the overall classification, he rides with Mark Cavendish, who won last year's TTT with his previous team. Garmin-Barracuda speedster Alex Rasmussen is four seconds behind Geraint, and he's backed by a team including Tour de France top-ten finisher Christian Vande Velde. BMC came prepared though, and have every reason to expect a good result tomorrow. BMC's Marco Pinotti has spent time in the Maglia Rosa himself, and teammates Alessandro Ballan and Thor Hushovd are both former road race world champions. The unique format of the team time trial, though, means teams may be defined as much by their weakest members as by their strongest. However it plays out, expect big things from stage four.

Stay tuned to this storystream for Giro previews, recaps and more. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafehas all the news and analysis from the world of professional cycling.

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2012 Giro d'Italia: Some Grand Tour Basics And A Guide To The Giro

We at SB Nation Bay Area are bringing you coverage of the 2012 Giro d'Italia, and the race's first rest day brings the perfect opportunity to run through some of the basics of a grand tour for anyone who might just be browsing across our coverage here. If you're not at all familiar with cycling, we've got the info you need.

What's Going On: The Giro d'Italia is one of cycling's three grand tours, stage races that take place annually in the summer. The Tour de France is obviously the biggest of the three, but the Giro and the Vuelta de España are both well respected races. Many of the heavy hitters in cycling skip the Giro to focus on training for the tour, so give Giro riders a bit of extra respect for not being cowards.

How Does It Work: The race plays out in a series of daily races from one city to the next, or sometimes in a circuit looping back to the starting city. Each stage has a winner, and after three weeks and more than 3400km, the person with the lowest cumulative time wins. Riders are not allowed to sneak out of the hotel at night and try to get a head start on the next day's stage, even if they don fake mustaches or pretend not to speak the language.

Fancy Shirt You've Got There: The rider with the lowest total time, also known as the General Classification leader, is awarded the Maglia Rosa (Pink Jersey). Taylor Phinney of Santa Rosa based Team BMC took the Maglia Rosa on day one, winning the opening time trial.

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The presentation of the Maglia Rosa also includes two pretty ladies who are paid to give you a kiss on the cheek. You can probably hug them, but don't expect them not to feel weird about it.

There are three other jerseys at stage. As the race progresses, points are awarded to the first rider to the top of each significant climb. The rider with the most points gets the blue Mountains Classification jersey, the Maglia Azzura. The MC jersey has historically been green, but was changed this year to a blue jersey so as to fit in with a sponsor's color scheme. This irritates purists, but given the state of the global economy they're lucky that the Giro isn't asking them to steal shirts from clotheslines as they roll through the countryside. The Points Classification red jersey, the Maglia Rosso Passione, is handed out to the rider who is first to specific points in the race, generally sprints placed in the middle of stages to keep things interesting. Finally, Maglia Blanco, the Youth Competition white jersey goes to the rider with the best overall time under 25 years of age.

When Does Something Cool Happen: Usually about three to five hours after the start of the stage, but the television broadcast isn't in real time so don't worry. Different stages play out in different ways, and the race is set up to favor different riders at different points. There are stages that favor the sprinters, stages that favor the climbers, and time trials. One thing in common to all stages except time trials is the presence of the breakaway. Cyclists travel in the peloton, a large group that allows them to draft off each other and conserve energy for eventual attacks. Almost every day a group of anywhere from two to a dozen cyclists will jump off the front, put in a much bigger effort than the peloton, and end up out ahead of the main bunch. If they can go fast enough, they can outrun the peloton to the line and someone from the breakaway wins the stage. This almost never happens, and instead riders in the breakaway get some time to think about the futility of non-cooperative effort and what life is really about, and then eventually the peloton put things in gear and chases them down. Aside from the breakaway, here's what to expect:

  • Sprint Stages: Generally long and fairly flat, these stages usually see the peloton arrive to the final kilometers in one big bunch. Teams look to set up their leadout trains, groups of riders riding single-file with their fastest man in the rear. Each rider takes turns at the front of the train, with the riders behind him taking advantage of the draft. One by one they peel off until the sprinter reaches the front of the line, at which point he makes a break for the finish. In the closing seconds of a sprint finish, you have dozens of cyclists moving at 40mph within inches of each other. As we saw in stage three, they go down hard sometimes. As we saw in stage two, sometimes the art works perfectly and a sprinter is delivered to the line just in time to crush the dreams of his enemies. Team BMC's sprinter is Thor Hushovd, a man who is (1) named Thor and (2) a winner of the points classification jersey from the Tour de France.
  • Mountain Stages: As anyone who has tried it can tell you, riding a bicycle up a mountain is significantly more difficult than riding it across flat ground. The nice thing to do would be for everyone to agree to take it easy, but cyclists are frequently not nice to each other. The GC contenders tend to hang back in sprint stages, just trying to stay safe. There are climbing specialists, particularly light, strong cyclists who can zip up mountains faster than anybody else. They're likely to be enlisted by their team captains, though, as the GC contenders rely on their domestiques to pull them up the hill (allow them to draft.) Then, at the right moment, team captains make their move. If the race is close when it enters the mountains, the GC contenders will push the pace up the hills, relentlessly attacking each other until one of them cracks. To crack is to not have the energy to match your opponent's acceleration, and you watch him ride away to victory while you think about how many times someone has told you "The essence of cycling is suffering." and how stupid it is to build a sport around misery. Fans camp out on the hillsides, spend all day drinking in the sun, then run alongside their favorite riders screaming support in their face. Sometimes they wear wacky costumes. Riders hate this, and yet it is never not present at a race. Suffering!
  • Time Trials: Isolated from their teammates, riders don their aerodynamic helmets, skin suits, and bicycles and attempt to solo a course as fast as possible. Sometimes cycling's governing body, UCI, decides that bikes are too aerodynamic and they announce that next year no one is allowed to employ such-and-such a technique anymore. UCI is bitter about the influence that technology has on the outcome of the race, but has yet to demanding that teams with a lot of money handicap their riders by making them carry sandbags or oddly shaped gifts or live animals. If you can't beat your opponent in the hills, you have to do it in the time trial. Or, if you're someone like Frank Schleck, you're quite skilled in the mountains but bad at time trials, and you get to use the stage to watch your victory slip away. The last stage in the race is a time trial, giving GC contenders one last shot. If you're in second place by 23 seconds, all you have to do is beat the first place rider by 24 seconds and you win! Be careful though, as the third place rider may try to beat the first place rider by 25 seconds, and then you don't get any kind of special shirt at all.

The 2012 race course was designed with an eye on keeping the result up in the air for as long as possible. Things will move around in the standings and the Maglia Rosa will likely move between a few people, but eventually the serious contenders will make their move and attempt to settle the race. It takes a long time to get to the serious mountains, but once it's there teams will only have a couple of shots at taking out their opponents. The second to last stage climbs two brutal mountains, and the final stage is a 31.5km time trial. Before that there are at least five more stages that favor all-out sprint finishes, and there will be plenty of drama around contests for the Maglia Assura and the Maglia Rosso Passione.

Who To Watch: Alberto Contador, last year's winner, had his victory stripped due to a doping scandal. With him gone, there's no clear favorite. Michele Scarponi (Liquigas) is now the official 2011 Giro d'Italia winner, but if he doesn't win this year he will spend the rest of his life assuming people do not actually respect him. (Suffering!) Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) and John Gadret (Ag2r La Mondiale) are other names who have eyes on the Maglia Rosa.

Team BMC, of course, had success on day one and with Taylor Phinney in pink they'll look to keep him there as long as possible. Thor Hushovd, the sprinter who over the past few years has grown into a solid overall rider, will be looking at both stage victories and, if the opportunity presents itself, to target the Maglia Rosa. Phinney would have to lose the jersey first, though, it would be almost unheard of for a teammate wouldn't steal it off the back of another.

And there's your guide to the basics of the 2012 Giro d'Italia! SB Nation Bay Area will continue to keep you updated on any and all suffering, and as always SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has news, commentary, and analysis on the world of professional cycling.

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2012 Giro d'Italia: BMC's Taylor Phinney Involved In Crash [VIDEO]

In the final kilometers in Monday's State 3 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia Santa Rosa native Taylor Phinney, in the pink jersey, was involved in a crash with World Champion Mark Cavendish.

The first reports had Phinney out of the race and on his way to hospital for further observation, but he took an ambulance through the finish line and was able to to receive the Maglia Rosa and keep the pink jersey. However, the full extent of his injuries are still unknown, or is it known if he will be able to continue the race.

Tomorrow is a rest day to allow the Giro field to return to Italy, and this will give Phinney a time to recover from his injuries and possibly return to the race.

Matt Goss Orica-GreenEdge won the stage while J.J. Haedo of Saxo Bank finished second.

Here is video of the crash, via Podium Cafe:


Stay tuned to this storystream for updates throughout the 2012 Giro d'Italia, and for all things cycling check out SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Results: Matthew Harley Goss Wins Stage 3, Late Crash Brings Down Taylor Phinney

Santa Rosa based Team BMC may be seeing their time with the Maglia Rosa leaders jersey come to a close, as a crash in the final kilometers of Monday's stage three brought down current leader Taylor Phinney. The results from stage three of the 2012 Giro d'Italia saw him lose no time on the day, but it remains to be seen how he will perform going forward.

The stage started like a typical early grand tour stage, with six riders jumping out in a breakaway. Among them was Saxo Bank's Mads Christensen, surely looking to put on a strong performance as the tour ran through his home town. Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) was also in the break, ensuring that he would be among the first up the stage's sole climb and would continue to hold the blue mountains jersey. The breakaway put on a strong effort, but Team BMC had to keep them close to protect Phinney's nine second lead in the overall standings. They were joined in their efforts by Team Sky and Orica Greenedge Cycling, both of whom had designs on winning the stage.

Stage three ended with a tight circuit through the Danish town of Horsens, an aggressive series of twists and turns where narrow streets and road furniture (curbs, medians and the like) force riders to compete for narrow space. With 24km left in the race the peloton caught the last of the breakaway, and from there it was all-out for the finish. Orica Greenedge managed to position themselves at the front of the peloton, and they led out Matthew Goss for the win. Behind the winning sprinters, though, there was a crash in the main pack that brought down both Mark Cavendish and Taylor Phinney.

Cavendish was too far back in the pack to repeat his stage two victory, but the crash may have implications in future stages. He was able to cross the finish line carrying his bike over his shoulder. Team BMC's Phinney, meanwhile, was able to get back on his bike but sustained an apparent ankle injury, and was carried off in an ambulance following the race. A few hours later Phinney said he was feeling better and would be able to continue in the race, but it's hard to hold the lead in a grand tour if you aren't in anything but peak form. The riders have a rest day tomorrow, so Phinney will have a bit of extra time to recover.

Stage Results:
1) Matthew Harley Goss (Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team)
2) Juan José Haedo (Team Saxo Bank)
3) Tyler Farrar (Garmin - Barracuda)

Overall Classification:
1) Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) 9:24:31
2) Geraint Thomas (Sky Procycling) 0:00:09
3) Alex Rasmussen (Garmin - Barracuda) 0:00:13

Stay tuned to this storystream for updates throughout the 2012 Giro d'Italia, and for all things cycling check out SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 3: Quick, Aggressive Stage Favors Another Sprint Finish

The first week of the 2012 Giro d'Italia continues with another loop through Denmark, as the peloton will roll out of Horsens, head through Danish farm country, and return to Horsens for a short circuit through town and likely another bunch sprint finish. Map via the official Giro site:

Tappa_dettagli_tecnici_planimetria_03_medium

via images2.gazzettaobjects.it

There is a climb in stage three, a meager 159 meters at a 2% average grade, but it has points assigned. The green Mountains Classification jersey goes to the rider who ascends specific climbs the fastest, and anyone with their eyes on that jersey will be jockeying to be first up that tiny Danish hill. Other than that the stage is 190kms of scenic Denmark before a tight circuit through Horsens, featuring a number of quick sharp turns in the final 10km.

As with stage two, a long flat stage favors the sprinters. Expect Team Sky to attempt to set up another Mark Cavendish win, Garmin-Barracuda to do the same for Tyler Farrar, Rabobank to pull Theo Bos to the line, and Team Radioshack-Nissan for Daniele Bennati. Team BMC will likely stick with the conservative plan, attempting to stay towards the front of the peloton to avoid crashes and get Tyler Phinney to the finish line with the main bunch and keep their hold on the pink leader's jersey. That would leave them in front all the way to the end, so we may see another effort like Thor Hushovd's move from stage two.

Stage three is a short, fast stage with an aggressive finish, so a strong move by a breakaway could pay off. If it doesn't, expect the sprinters to fight tooth and nail for the victory. Cavendish looked dominant in stage two, so it'll be interesting to see if anyone steps up to challenge him.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 2 Results: Cavendish Takes Sprint Win With Ease, Phinney Holds On To Maglia Rosa

Santa Rosa's Team BMC kept the Maglia Rosa on American Taylor Phinney in the 2012 Giro d'Italia stage two, surviving a late mechanical failure in the final ten kilometers. Team Sky's Mark Cavendish easily won the sprint, beating out BMC's Thor Hushovd and American Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin-Barracuda).

The stage developed like many early grand tour stages, with Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini), Olivier Kaisen (Lotto Belisol) and Miguel Rubiano (Androni) jumping out in a breakaway only 16km into the 206km stage. They would ride in front for much of the day, with the gap between the break and the peloton reaching as high as 13 minutes and 15 seconds early in the race. The peloton rode conservatively, as grand tour nerves and the North Sea winds coming in off the Denmark coast raised the risk of a crash. BMC did their fair share of the pulling, breaking the wind at the front of the peloton and making sure that the breakaway didn't get too far ahead. An upset by the breakaway, after all, might mean the loss of the leader's jersey for Taylor Phinney.

The peloton caught up with the break with around 43km to go, from there it was a quick shot to the finish line. BMC was content to sit towards the front of the group, keeping Phinney in a good position and making sure they wouldn't get stuck behind any crashes. It was looking like easy going for the team when Phinney dropped his chain, finding himself motionless less than 10km from the finish line. A mechanical or crash within the final 3km of the race results in the rider being credited with the same time as the main bunch, but Phinney was 8km back. With only a nine second lead in the overall standings, he was at risk of losing time to the entire peloton and almost certainly giving up the leader's jersey. Luckily the problems with his bike were quickly taken care of and his teammates dropped back to pull him to the front. Four BMC riders pitched in, and Phinney took their draft and was soon back where he needed to be.

The final kilometers saw the leadout trains take over, with Team Sky setting up Mark Cavendish while Garmin-Barracuda did everything they could for Tyler Farrar. BMC looked to be playing it conservative and just trying to keep Phinney safe from the jostling that takes place in the final seconds, but 100 meters from the line Thor Hushovd took a shot at a surprise victory, jumping off and showing a burst of speed. He was quickly pulled back, though, and in the end it was the familiar result of Mark Cavendish charging up the middle and taking the win with relative ease.

The full results and general classification standings can be found at the official Giro site. BMC's Phinney remains in the lead, with Sky's Geraint Thomas nine seconds behind and Garmin's Alex Rasmussen 13 seconds behind. BMC will look to hold on to the maglia rosa leader's jersey at least until the race reaches the mountains, when the heavy hitter overall contenders are expected to begin making their moves. Stage three will likely resemble stage two, as another flat ride through Denmark builds to a sprint finish.

Stay tuned to this storystream for Giro updates and Team BMC news and results. As always, all your cycling news and analysis needs can be met at SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe.

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Giro d'Italia 2012 Stage 2: Flat Stage Favors Sprinters But Northern Winds Carry Risks

Stage two of the 2012 Giro d'Italia is a long loop through Denmark, a 206km (128mi) flat stage from Herning, out along the western coast, then looping back to Herning what will likely be a sprint finish. Images courtesy of the official Giro d'Italia site:

Tappa_dettagli_tecnici_planimetria_02_medium

via www.gazzetta.it

Traveling the coast of Denmark with winds coming off the North Sea could bring back bad memories for a number of teams, as the 2010 Giro saw a similar early stage that featured no small amount of carnage, including American Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Barracuda) breaking his collarbone in one of the many crashes of that day.

Santa Rosa's Team BMC will look to avoid any trouble from those north winds as they try to deliver Thor Hushvold to the line. Hushvold has said that his goals include stage wins, and many are excited to see another chapter in his rivalry with Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling) play out.

The first five stages of the race are all relatively flat, and are likely to play out in similar ways. The peloton will depart, and at some point a breakaway will form as teams try to make a statement, whether that statement is "Don't underestimate us" or "We need to get our sponsor some TV time." The peloton will likely chase the break down in the later portion of the race, swallowing them back into the pack and leading to a bunch sprint for the finish. Teams form single-file lead-out trains, keeping their sprinter safe in the draft, before the sprinters themselves settle the issue over the final meters. The breakaway always has a chance, especially if the peloton suffers in the wind, so expect action either way in stage two.

For BMC, delivering someone to the line isn't the only job. Young rider Tyler Phinney won the stage one time trial, and if the team can keep him in the Maglia Rosa leader's jersey they will make every effort to do so. If someone close to Phinney in the overall standings joins the breakway, for example, it becomes BMC's job to do much of the work in chasing the breakaway down. The team is posting photos from the race online, so check those out if you're interested.

For Giro updates and news about Bay Area based BMC, stick with this storystream. For all your cycling news and information needs, check out SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Results: BMC's Taylor Phinney Takes Stage 1 Time Trial, Flat Stage 2 Favors Sprinters

The 2012 Giro d'Italia opened Saturday with a time trial in the city of Herning, Denmark. Taylor Phinney, an American representing Santa Rosa's BMC Cycling, took the 8.7km (5.4mi) stage in ten minutes twenty six seconds. A bit longer than a standard prologue, the stage gives Phinney the event's first maglia rosa, the pink jersey given to the race's overall leader.

Phinney is a strong time trial rider, winning the 2010 National and World Time Trial Championship in the Under 23 division. This is Phinney's first even grand tour, and opening his career in the big leagues with a victory sends the message that he expects to be taken seriously.

Race favorites Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi both had conservative days, with Basso finishing :39 seconds back and Scarponi at 1:06 off the lead. The early portion of the race favors the sprinters, so look for the overall contenders to try to stay safe and save themselves for the big showdowns in the later mountain stages. The complete standings can be seen here.

Stage 2 opens in the same city as stage one before running up the western coast of Denmark and looping back into Herning. The 206km (128mi) stage could see some of the strong North Sea winds that caused so much chaos in the 2010 race, so expect to see teams with GC contenders and strong sprinters fight for position at the front of the pack. Hanging back too far risks being separated from the leaders in a crash, or worse being dragged into the crash itself. With a long, flat finish, there should be plenty of action just before the line.

For all things cycling, check out SB Nation's cycling blog, Podium Cafe.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Live: BMC's Taylor Phinney Finishes Stage One Time Trial In First Place

Stage one of the prestigious Giro d'Italia is in the books, and the Bay Area was very well represented in the 8.7km prologue in Herning. Taylor Phinney, one of the favorites heading into the event, finished at the very top, nine seconds ahead of second place Geraint Thomas. Phinney represents the BMC Racing Team in Santa Rosa.

Alex Rasmussen grabbed the third spot 13 seconds back of Phinney at 10:39, Manuele Boaro grabbed fourth and Erik Gustav Larsson rounded out the top five. BMC was further well-represented by Marco Pinotti of Italy, who finished No. 8 at 10:50. Alessandro Ballan had a great run, but ran a red light and suffered for it, falling down to No. 34 with a time of 11:05.

Thor Hushovd, who was expected to do very well, finished at No. 67 with a time of 11:15. Mathias Frank finished at No. 97, Danilo Wyss at No. 141, Mauro Santambrogio at No. 155, Johann Tschopp at No. 171 and Ivan Santaromita finished at the bottom for the team, down at No. 186.

It was a more technical first stage than usual, but most of the turns and such came near the end, with most riders finishing off on a high note. All-in-all, it was a big win for the time trial experts, with the sprinters being just outside their comfort zone for a race at 11 minutes.

You can check out the full results here and don't forget to check out Podium Cafe, SB Nation's cycling blog.

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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 1: Annual Event Kicks Off On Saturday

The 2012 Giro d'Italia will begin on Saturday and the BMC Racing Team out of Santa Rosa will be attempting to make a strong showing as they represent the Bay Area in cycling's second-most-prestigious annual race.

The first day in the tour on Saturday will be a relatively simple and sedate 8.7 km (5.4 mile) individual time trial in Herning, Denmark. BMC team members you'll want to track include Thor Hushovd, Mathias Frank, Alessandro Ballan, Marco Pinotti, Mauro Santambrogio, Ivan Santaromita, Johann Tschopp, Danilo Wyss and American Taylor Phinney.

Hushovld, of course, is known for being an exceptional sprinter and excels at time trials. Odds are good that he can put up a great number for himself before the first significant flat stage begins on Sunday.

You can always follow along yourself with free streaming video of the race at SteepHill.tv. The start time for stage one is 6:40 a.m. pacific on May 5, with an approximate finish time of 10:30 p.m. that night. Last year's Giro was televised on Vs. (now NBC SportsNet), but the Kentucky Derby and the Stanley Cup playoffs seem to be conflicting with that for the time being.

For more on the 2012 Giro d'Italia, stay tuned to this StoryStream or visit SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe.

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2012 Giro d'Italia: Map, TV Coverage, Live Updates And More

The Giro d'Italia is one of the biggest races out there - and the Bay Area is being represented by the BMC Racing Team based out of Santa Rosa. Follow along for updates after each stage, and check out Podium Cafe, SB Nation's cycling blog, for more.

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