The short steep climbs Marco Pantani used to polish his climbing skills and rain-soaked twisting roads created a terrible stage at the Giro d?Italia which tested all the overall contenders but without changing the general classification.

Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni) won the stage after being part of the decisive break of the 199km stage that formed after just 40km.

He was with Fortunato Baliani (CSF Group) and Spain?s Pablo Lastras Garcia (Caisse d?Epargne) in the finale and then jumped away to win alone when Baliani crashed on the final corner of the stage just 750 metres from the finish.

Lastras Garcia finished second at five second and Baliani got up to finish an embarrassed third at 15 seconds.

It was Bertolini’s first win at the Giro at the age of 36.

The bunch finished 3-55 behind after easing up in the final part of the stage. Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) kept the pink jersey but crashed heavily on a rain-soaked descent and was escorted to the finish by team mate Paolo Bettini.

David Millar (Slipstream) was in the front group along with Steve Cummings and Geranit Thomas (Barloworld). Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) finished 5-53 behind, while Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins (High Road) finished in the gruppetto at 21-54.

More than 30 crashes were signalled by race radio during the stage, with dozens of riders left with holes in their shorts and painful scars.

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana) crashed at the same point as Visconti. Piepoli has a cut above his right eye but both he and Leipheimer got back up and finished with the other overall contenders.

Barloworld paid the highest price, even though they were not involved in the worst crashes, losing team leaders Mauricio Soler and Francesco Bellotti due to injuries incurred in crashes in the early stages of the Giro.

Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) tried to attack on the steep Monte Carpegna climb, mid-way through the stage, and Danilo Di Luca (LPR) also had several goes but the rain, crashes and tough terrain eventually convinced the bunch to wait for the real mountains.

Fortunately for the weary riders left in the Giro, the next two stages are completely flat and should end in sprint finishes.

Thursday?s 172km stage 12 is from Forli to Carpi and Friday?s stage 13 is from Modena to Cittadella.

They are the last chance for Britain?s Mark Cavendish to win before the decisive mountain stages begin in the Dolomites at the weekend.

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: STAGE 11 RESULTS
1. Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Serramenti PVC-Androni Giocattoli 199km in 5hours 44min 22secs
2. Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Caisse D’Epargne at 5secs
3. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) CSF Navigare at same time
4. Tiziano Dall’Antonio (Ita) CSF Navigare at 41secs
5. Laurent Mangel (Fra) ag2r at 1min 33secs
6. Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Francaise des Jeux at same time
7. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas at 3min 53secs
8. Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
9. Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre
10. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner all at same time.
British
56. David Millar (GB) Slipstream at 3min 53secs
69. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld
70. Steven Cummings (GB) Barloworld all at same time
76. Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at 5min 53secs
150. Mark Cavendish (GB) High Road at 21min 54secs
157. Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road at same time.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 11
1. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step in 49hours 0min 17secs
2. Gabriele Bosisio (Ita) LPR at 5min 50secs
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 6min 59secs
4. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre at 7min 52secs
5. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana 7min 54secs
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 8min 4secs
7. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) LPR at 8min 9secs
8. Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval 8min 32secs
9. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) LPR at 8min 33secs
10. Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) CSC at 8min 33secs
British
77. David Millar (GB) Slipstream at 44min 53secs
111. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 1hour 10min 34secs
118. Steven Cummings (GB) Barloworld at 1hour 14min 54secs
124. Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at 1hour 19min 3secs
149. Mark Cavendish (GB) High Road at 1hour 38min 16secs
155. Bradley Wiggins (GB) High Road at 1hour 42min 12secs

Giro d'Italia stage 11Nice day for it

Giro d'Italia stage 11David Millar performed well during the stage, taking part in an early escape

Giro d'Italia stage 11Geraint Thomas finished in the main group with the leaders

Giro d'Italia stage 11Race leader Giovanni Visconti took a nasty fall

All photos by Graham Watson

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage 10: Bruseghin wins Giro d’Italia time trial
Stage nine: Cavendish misses out in sprint
Stage eight: Ricco wins again
Stage seven: Di Luca, Ricco and Contador gain time on rivals
Stage six: Italians clean up
Stage five: Millar denied by snapped chain
Stage four: Cavendish wins
Stage three: Bennati romps home
Stage two: Ricco wins Giro d’Italia second stage
Stage one TTT: Slipstream wins Giro team time trial

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: NEWS
Aggressive Cummings comes away empty handed [stage six]
Millar speaks out after missing out in Giro [stage five]
Reaction to Cavendish’s Giro stage win
Cav hits back at Pozzato’s snipe
Cavendish: This is my biggest win [stage four]
Millar celebrates Slipstream Giro d’Italia success
Bettini looking for final Giro glory
Astana’s troubled build-up to the Giro
Petacchi banned for Salbutamol positive
Yates and Astana make last minute rush to Giro

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: PHOTOS
Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week two – new photos added daily
Giro d’Italia 2008: Photo gallery, week one.

GIRO D’ITALIA 2008: FEATURES
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 19)
Rest day 1: How the favourites are doing
Giro Britannia part two: From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia
Tuesday Comment (May 13): Why Cavendish is a bona fide world-class star
Giro Britannia: how the Brits are doing in Italy
Giro d’Italia 2008 preview
Giro d’Italia 2008: who will win?
Giro d’Italia 2008: The British are coming
Giro d’Italia on Eurosport: TV schedule