May 14, 2005 – (Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) is back in pink at the end of the 211km seventh stage of the Giro d’Italia, from Grosseto to Pistoia, which saw Koldo Gil (Liberty Seguros) extend a long-range break with a solo effort of his own to secure a tremendous stage win. For Canadian fans, early hopes faded in the face of the domestique’s sense of duty, with Michael Barry (Discovery) trading a spot in the break for the need to help his team’s GC threat.
The day started off with a massive break of 21 riders moving away and gaining more than a half-hour lead on the somnambulant pack. And for the first time in the race Canadian fans had something to cheer for: Barry was well entrenched in the break, on a hilly course much to his liking. The rest of the break: Petrov (Lampre), Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Marichal (Cofidis), Parra (Selle Italia), Halgand (Credit Agricole), Brandt (Davitamon), Celestino (Domina), Fertonani (Domina), Casar (Francaise Des Jeux), Strauss (Gerolsteiner), Carrasco Gamiz (Illes Balears), Baranowski and Koldo Gil (Liberty Seguros), Wegelius (Liquigas), Zampieri (Phonak), Moreni (Quick Step), Eltink (Rabobank), Gomez and Oliver (Saunier Duval), and finally Kessler (Telekom). Back in the pack, Paolo Bettini’s pink jersey meant that Quickstep was left doing the bulk of the work. They began to whittle away at the advantage, with eventual help from CSC.
With 30km to go, and the gap just under 4 minutes, Steve Zampieri of Phonak was the first to lose his nerve, and attacked, bringing Gomez and Gil along with him. The attack began to shred away at the large break, but the peloton — eventually joined by Barry, who dropped back from the break with just under 20km to go — continued to creep closer. On the last significant climb, Gomez couldn’t hold the pace, and eventually Zampieri dropped back as well: now Gil was alone in front.
The significance of Barry’s dropping back soon became clear: behind, the pack had split, with pink jersey Bettini stuck in the back group and the front group including Discovery team leader Paolo Savoldelli and Di Luca. Bettini’s tenuous hold on the pink jersey, the object of much battling over the last few stages, was gone. Meanwhile, ahead, Gil gritted his teeth and gutted out his slim under one-minute lead through to the finish for a tremendous stage win.
1. Koldo Gil (Spa) Liberty 5.08.16
2. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre 0.20
3. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas
4. Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze
5. Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole
GC after Stage 7
1. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas 35.06.41
2. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre 0.26
3. Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze 0.54
4. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
5. Dario David Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 1.06
6. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 1.14
7. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Wurth 1.16
8. Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Davitamon-Lotto
9. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 1.26
10. Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 1.27