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At the start of this season former ONCE and Kelme rider Ivan Parra could not get a pro contract anywhere, and what had once seemed to be a very promising pro career seemed at an end. Rescue came, as it has done for so many Latin American riders, in the shape of Selle Italia team manager Gianni Savio, and the Colombian has now repaid his Italian boss twice over for his commitment.
Following Parra's lone win at Ortesei on Saturday - his first European win since a stage of the Tour of Galicia five years ago and only his second outside Latin America - the 29 year old from the famous cycling family in Sogamoso won again in Livigno this afternoon. As on Saturday, the Colombian spent most of the day in a small group at the front of the race.
On the Cima Coppi climb of the massive Passo dello Stelvio, the group was just four strong. As well as Parra there was team-mate and mountains leader Jos Rujano, Cofidis' Daniel Atienza and Illes Balears' Unai Osa. Rujano took the Cima Coppi prize at the summit of the Stelvio, the highest point of this year's Giro.
A few minutes behind this group, there was also plenty going on in the battle for the maglia rosa. Ivan Basso's hopes that his upset stomach on Saturday was a one-off unfortunately proved wide of the mark. As the gradient and the pace increased on the Stelvio, Basso fell away. Whereas on Saturday his losses amounted to seconds, today they numbered minutes. By the summit of the Stelvio he was almost 20 minutes down, his Giro chances completely gone.
Up ahead, Panaria's Emanuele Sella made the leading group five-strong by bridging across superbly from the maglia rosa group on the Foscagno pass. Sella immediately tested his four new companions, who had just started jousting with each other. Then Atienza made an effort, then Parra. It was the Colombian who finally succeeded in getting a gap and keeping it. Once he had it, he gave all he had to increase it, and at the summit of the Foscagno was already the almost certain winner.
The Foscagno also saw a major slimming-down of race leader Paolo Savoldelli's group. The Italian had no team-mates to lean on at this point but seemed to be getting help from Domina Vacanze's Wladmir Belli, until Lampre's Damiano Cunego went to the front and the pace was pushed up again.
Following the drop from the Foscagno, the road went up again for a handful of kilometres over the Elra pass, and it was here that Cunego's team-mate Gilberto Simoni made his move, attacking on the left-hand side of the road from well back in the line. Only Davitamon's Wim van Huffel and Saunier Duval's Juan Manuel Garate were able to respond immediately, although Van Huffel soon slipped back and was replaced by second overall Danilo Di Luca - one of the riders Simoni had been trying to shake.
Savoldelli did not respond, perhaps hoping that he could get back up to Simoni and Di Luca on the descent into the finish at Livigno. But if that was his plan, it didn't work out as well as he might have hoped, as his two rivals gained a useful 28 seconds on the Discovery Channel leader.
Following two extremely tough days in the mountains, the next couple offer some respite. Monday's stage to Lissone features just one climb and a long and flattish run into the finish, while Tuesday is a rest day. Savoldelli and his team will be glad for the break as his lead, despite the disappearance of Basso, looks precarious. Di Luca and Simoni are closing in slowly, while Garate and Rujano cannot be allowed any more freedom in the mountains. This Giro is far from over yet.
Stage 14, Egna/Neumarkt-Livigno
1 Ivan Parra (Col) Selle Italia-Colombia 210km in 6.46.33 (30.99kph)
2 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak 1.50
3 Jos Rujano (Ven) Selle Italia
4 Unai Osa (Spa) Illes Balears 2.51
5 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 3.15
6 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
7 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval
8 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Panaria
9 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 3.43
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel
19 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 4.06
27 Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas-Bianchi 7.39
88 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC 42.15
151 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Crdit Agricole 42.59
1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 67.21.28
2 Di Luca 0.25
3 Simoni 1.48
4 Garate 2.11
5 Rujano 2.18
6 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Crdit Agricole 3.25
7 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze 4.05
8 Sella 5.50
9 Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 6.40
10 Vladimiri Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears 6.44
13 Cunego 8.03
36 Basso 39.22
49 Wegelius 1.00.28
117 Wiggins 2.21.13
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