More mountains. And, for the home viewer, gorgeous scenery as the cyclists climbed, climbed some more and climbed again for seven and 1/2 hours through the Dolomites. The 229km route from Conegliano to Gardeccia-Val di Fassa included the highest point in the race, the Giau.
Of course, we had a "devil" sighting today:
Former Giro winner Stefano Garzelli, in what may be his final season racing, led the race over the Passo Giau and survived to the bottom of the day's final climb, even throwing an elbow at a few spectators crowding him. On that ascent, Mikel Nieve caught and passed him to take the stage.
The battle for the maglia rosa continued with second-placed Vincenzo Nibali attacking on the descent of the Giau, still two climbs from the finish. But Alberto Contador used several countrymen from other teams catch back on. Nibali then exploded on the Passo Fedaia and sagged behind Contador and his other competitors for the podium, only to use his tremendous descending skills to rejoin the group for the final climb to Gardeccia. Contador then attacked, followed by his main rivals who were scattered along the road up to this Dolomite alpine wilderness.
The time gaps speak volumes:
|Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||7:27:14|
|2||Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone||0:01:41|
|3||Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard||0:01:51|
|4||Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD||0:01:57|
|5||John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:02:28|
|6||José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli||0:02:35|
|7||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:03:34|
|8||Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team|
|9||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana||0:04:01|
|10||Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||0:04:13|
Stage: Mikel Nieve
Maglia Rosa: Alberto Contador
|1||Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard||62:15:29|
|2||Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD||0:04:20|
|3||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:05:11|
|4||John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:06:08|
|5||Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||0:06:32|
|6||Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi||0:07:03|
Region: Trento-Alto Adige
Wine: Tiefenbrunner Feldmarschall 2009 $37.99
They say: Feldmarschall is a special wine. The vineyards sit on the high plateau of Fennberg, and are protected from the northerly winds and ripened in a a unique microclimate. At an elevation of 3,300 feet above see level, these are among the highest vineyards in Europe. The wine is named after Franz Philipp Freiherr von Fenner zu Fennberg, founder of the Austrian Kaiserjäger (soldiers of the Austrian emperor), who once used this picturesque Hofstatt as a summer residence.
Saveur's Top 100 Favorite Things #95 Saveur - Jan./Feb. 2008
"To declare Tiefenbrunner Feldmarschall, a white wine produced high in the Dolomites of Italy, the world’s finest wine made with müller-thurgau grapes is to damn it with faint praise. It is, simply, one of the most exciting whites to be found in Italy today. In contrast to the table wines usually produced from that German-born fruit, this impeccably balanced wine exhibits a nuanced floral bouquet, a taut structure, and a long, complex finish that speaks of both the uncompromising dedication of its makers and an utterly distinctive sense of place."
I say: I admit it. I don't tend to shop by label and as this wine was selected for me by Melissa Sutherland, I did not in this case. But I would have. Pale lemon in color, the nose is both green apples and herbs. Elegant with a very long finish, both acid and concentration. Forced me to put down my book and pay attention. Could be the wine of the Giro so far.