How much pain can Giro d' Italia route planners inflict on a group of bicycle racers?
It must be a lot, from the way these 170 highly conditioned cyclists were strung all up and down 5 major climbs on the 135-mile stage from Mezzocorona to Ortisei on Saturday.
And when the suffering was the worst, on the day's final climb up to Pontives, Paolo Savoldelli snatched the overall leader's pink leader's jersey from the shoulders of Ivan Basso. After riding with his challengers all day, Basso dropped back on that last climb, CyclingNews reported.
Savoldelli, the 2002 Giro winner and chief of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team, sat back in 28th or 29th place this time last week. He's been battling up the ranks ever since the race hit the mountains. Nine seconds behind Basso in the morning, he gained almost a minute on him in the final climb.
Danilo Di Luca, who had been in the pink jersey 5 times this Giro, hung on to 3rd place, 53 second back. Mountain specialist and former Giro winner Gilberto Simoni, who sits in 4th place 2 minutes and 16 seconds down, gained a few seconds on the leader.
A group of 12 riders set the pace on the road Saturday, although some of them dropped off on the final climb. Ivan Parra, a Colombian rider with Selle Italia-Colombia, won the stage in 6 hours and 31 seconds.