Garate and Voigt both winners

Spanish road race champion Juan Manuel Garate emerged victorious at the end of an epic Giro stage ta

Spanish road race champion Juan Manuel Garate emerged victorious at the end of an epic Giro stage ta
Juan Manuel Garate may have been the first over the line on the Passo di San Pellegrino, but Jens Voigt was most people's pick as the moral winner of the hardest mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia on Friday night. Clear with Garate in the last 400 metres of the the 221km 19th stage, Voigt ignored CSC team boss Bjarne Riis's advice to sprint for the line and instead shook Garate's hand and waved the Spaniard ahead to take the win. The 34-year-old later argued that his victory would have been "without honour" because, in the German's eyes, his contribution to the 22-man break which characterized today's stage didn't merit first place. "I wouldn't take a victory like that," Voigt declared at the finish-line. "It would have been a victory without honour because I didn't work for it. I said to myself that if I got to the top [of the San Pellegrino] and hadn't worked, I wouldn't sprint. I hadn't done any work all day and no-one moaned or shouted at me[...] No, if I'd have attacked I'd have felt as though I'd flicked Garate." Voigt said that Riis had dispatched he and CSC team-mate Bobby Julich into the 22-man break merely to give Ivan Basso guaranteed support in a "worse-case scenario" late in the stage. With Basso showing no signs of weakness and the escapees still over five minutes clear of the peloton at the bottom of the San Pellegrino, Voigt could afford to follow the attacks on the 18km final ramp. The strongest of those was Garate's six kilometres from the line, to which only Voigt could reply. The only gently uphill final 3km of the San Pellegrino seemed to stack the odds in Voigt's favour and against Garate, but the German's sense of fairplay prevailed. "Maybe most riders wouldn't have done that, but I'm not most riders," said Voigt with his usual brio. To the question of whether tiredness also guided his decision, Voigt sniffed "Have you ever seen me lack force?" While Riis admitted that he didn't wholeheartedly agree with Voigt's decision, Garate paid tribute to the his sportsmanship. "It was a nice gesture," said the Spaniard, who has now won stages of the Tours of Spain, Italy and Switzerland. "I imagine that it didn't feel right to him to win having not done much work on the front. I don't know whether or not his gesture changed the result, but i thank him anyway." As a result of the victory, Garate has now moved up to 8th on general classification. In the fight for the minor places behind Ivan Basso on GC, Gilberto Simoni made only meagre inroads into Jose Gutiierrez's 4-51 cushion over him at the start of today's stage. Having briefly threatened to break Gutierrez as he attacked with Ivan Basso 4km from the line, Simoni would end up taking only 24 seconds off the Spaniard. Tomorrow's brutally difficult 20th stage from Trento to Aprica features the Gavia and Mortirolo climbs and offers Simoni a final opportunity to displace Gutierrez. If he winds up second or third overall in Milan on Sunday, Simoni will match Gino Bartali's record of seven podium finishes at the Giro. Results to follow
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