This year's Giro yesterday reached it the south and the rain, before today heading north to finish in the arch of Italy's foot. Yet again yesterday it was the mountains that separated the race. The final summit the Croce Ferrata had plenty of action.
A group of five hit the lower slopes ahead of the race, but with that gap coming down as Sky applied the pressure on the front of the peleton one of their number AG2R's Sylvian Georges pulled out a lead of his own. He was soon joined by Vini Fantini's Danilo Di Luca and then Robinson Chalapud of Colombia both bridged across to him in the wet and mist of the tree lined ascent. Georges couldn't hold their wheels for long and slide back into the pack, but these two reached the summit with a 10 seconds gap. There was 7km of downhill and flat wet roads and some of that pavé (cobbles), anything could yet happen.
As it was the two held on, mainly due to the work of Di Luca until the final km, but with Katusha leading the peleton with Paolini in his Maglia Rosa comfortable in second wheel chasing them down, Di Luca launched one final solo attack in the final 700m only to be absorbed by the peleton in the final 300m. The first man across the line was Enrico Battaglin, who shares the same name but is not a close relative of the 1981 champion of the Giro and Vuelta Giovanni. The young Italian on the Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox, lead an Italian 1-2-3 over the line with Felline AND and Giovanni Visconti in his wake, but further down what was meant to be the main pack there were time gaps of over a second meaning that not everyone who crested the Croce Ferrata together clocked the same time. Most significantly for GC may have been that after not just one but 2 splits was Sky's Bradley Wiggins so he clocked a time 17 seconds slower than most of the other serious contenders.
There are a couple of sharp bends in the run in, but the last of this is at a roundabout with a km to go. Then it is the sort of sprint that you can expect to see the touch paper under the Manx Missile ignited once again and providing there isn't any unexpected rough stuff, mechanicals or crashes he may very well hit the line at the front once again. If OPQ actually get a lead out for him this time it could be by bike lengths rather than a wheel.