Spectators on most difficult uphill finish on the most difficult day of this year's Giro d'Italia bike race witnessed two separate battles on Friday, about a 2 1/2 minutes apart.
Juan Garate (QuickStep) beat breakaway companion Jens Voigt (Team CSC) at the summit of Passo di San Pellegrino after the pair battled back and forth all the way up the mountain.
Further down the mountain, past 8 stragglers from the breakaway, overall leader Ivan Basso and Gilberto Simoni were going head-to-head after dropping the peloton at the base of the climb.
Third place Simoni must have been looking to gain back some seconds on second place Jose Gutierrez. For Basso, who had a 5-minute 43-second overall lead at the beginning of the day, he must have been fighting out of habit, or pride.
Further back, Discovery's Tom Danielson struggled unsuccessfully to get last year's winner, Paolo Savoldelli, back to the leaders.
Still further down the final climb, T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich dropped out after suffering back pain. While Basso's warmup for the Tour de France likely sees him finishing in the pink jersey, while challenger Ullrich's warmup for the Tour ends with a “did not finish.”
The 139-mile stage between Pordenone and Passo di San Pellegrino climbed three mountain passes before the steep finish. Elevation gain for the was was 13,000 feet.
Ivan Basso (Team CSC)
Jose Gutierrez (Phonak), 6:07 behind
Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval), 12:59 behind
Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery), 15:13 behind
Damiano Cunego (Lampre), 15:26 behind
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), 15:59 behind
Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux), 16:07 behind
Juan Garate (QuickStep), 16:40 behind
Wladimir Belli (Selle Italia), 13:00 behind
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), 18:31 behind
The Giro course doesn't let up on Saturday, another day with 13,000-some feet of climbing over three mountain passes with an uphill finish after 130 miles. The climbs: Passo del Tonale, Passo Gavia, and Passo del Mortirolo before the final climb to Passo Aprica.