After the first 10 days of mutual study, great tension and big statements, the 2005 Giro d’Italia experienced its first watershed day in stage 11, from Marostica to Zoldo Alto for a total of 150 km, with the challenging climb of the Passo Duran in the finale. The bookmakers were expecting a head-to-head clash between Maglia Rosa Danilo Di Luca, Ivan Basso, defending champion Damiano Cunego and team-mate Gilberto Simoni. In the end, however, the winner was Paolo Savoldelli, who had already won the Giro in 2002.
As expected, the race exploded from the very first ramps of the Duran climb, with Basso’s progressions sending first Cunego and then Garzelli adrift. At the summit, only Simoni, Di Luca, Savoldelli and José Rujano had managed to keep up with him. At that point, however, the “Hawk” Savoldelli, so nicknamed because of his innate ability as a descender, showed off one of his classic glides, which allowed him to take everyone off his wheel within the space of a few kilometres and approach the final climb with a precious 20-second lead over his chasers.
On the final climb towards Zoldo Alto, Basso launched himself in pursuit of the Falco, once again breaking away from Di Luca and then Simoni with relative ease. Savoldelli was caught less than 3 km from the finish, but the two arrived together, with the Bergamo rider taking the stage and Basso the Maglia Rosa. The impressive performances of “Ivan the Terrible” on the climbs foreshadowed a rather predictable Giro finale, but Basso went into a resounding crisis in the stages of Ortisei and Livigno, an opportunity that Savoldelli could not and did not miss. The “Hawk” defended himself well against Simoni and Rujano’s assaults and ended up lifting his second Trofeo Senza Fine in Milan.