|© Bike Race Info|
The day of June 5th, 1999 though will always be remembered for something else by the cycling fans. It was in that morning when Marco Pantani's star started to fade at Madonna di Campiglio. Just two days before the end of the Giro, Il Pirata was thrown out of the race while wearing the maglia rosa and dominating with an iron fist the whole thing. A right or a wrong decision,only one thing was certain: the race had to move on.
The racing started with a slow average speed, the riders being concerned about their security after rumours were spreading around that some angry Pantani fans might block the roads. It was only on Passo di Gavia where the pace picked up. A selection has been made and at the foot of the terrible Mortirolo, the peloton counted around 60 riders. Team Polti came to the front and blew the race apart, their leader Ivan Gotti attacking after just one kilometer in to the climb. Laurent Jalabert and Daniele De Paoli tried to defend themselves as best as they could but soon enough, their engines exploded on the 15% steep ramps. The three best climbers left in the race were proving their worth on Il Mortirolo: Ivan Gotti, Roberto Heras and Gilberto Simoni were charging ahead. Being the rider with the most to gain, Gotti did most of the work and was helped only by Heras. Contrary to these two who danced easily out of the saddle, Gibo Simoni climbed seated, riding at his limit. The last two kilometers were ridden at absolute insane wattage, truly an uphill sprint. At the top: a new Mortirolo record! The ascent time of 1996 was beaten.
The performance of Gotti, Heras and Simoni could certainly be regarded as one of the greatest climbing feats of modern cycling. The Pirate left but other missiles still hit the Mortirolo.
1999:11,7 km km@11,1%---41:42---average speed 16.83 km/h(Gotti-Heras-Simoni)-RECORD