Giro d’Italia: Schleck suffers on final climb, loses time
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Giro d’Italia: Schleck suffers on final climb, loses time

by Shane Stokes at 1:34 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
RadioShack Nissan rider slips out of top ten

Frank SchleckMore a fan of longer climbs, Frank Schleck’s strong third place finish on the ramp to Rocca di Cambio on stage seven of the Giro d’Italia wasn’t reproduced on today’s sharp, steep finishing ascent in Assisi.

The RadioShack Nissan rider had started the day ninth overall, 48 seconds behind the Maglia Rosa, but slipped further off the pace as a result of that last climb.

He suffered on that last drag and finished 26 seconds behind the stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), placing 31st. Many of his rivals were ahead of him, gaining time.

Directeur sportif Kim Andersen admitted that they had been wary about what might happen. “From the start of the Giro we have been a bit fearful of this stage and the steep little kicker at the end,” he said. “But it is what it is: Fränk didn’t have his best day and he lost 26 actual seconds to Rodriguez today plus 20 bonification seconds. That’s a lot. He had the necessary punch on stage 7 a few days ago, but not today.”

He said that he lost out in the fight for placing before that last climb, expending valuable energy at that point and leaving himself depleted for the uphill section.

The net effect is that Schleck drops down the standings, making it more difficult for him to win the race. He is now thirteenth overall, one minute 25 seconds back, although the gaps are still sufficiently tight that things could change completely after one or two days in the high mountains.

Given that Schleck came into the race as a last-minute replacement for Jakob Fuglsang, his injured team-mate, and wasn’t prepared for it, Andersen still hopes that the Luxembourg rider will become stronger in the final week of racing.

"Today we lost valuable time, but it’s not the end of the world," he said, remaining optimistic. "I don’t think this turn of events will be decisive for the rest of the Giro. The third week is really long and hard and I expect bigger time gaps there.”

He said that the switch in the Maglia Rosa from the shoulders of Ryder Hesjedal to Joaquim Rodriguez meant that the latter’s Katusha team must now control the race, burning up energy.

The toughest mountain stage yet will take place on Saturday’s race to Cervinia. There, Rodriguez, Schleck and the other contenders will learn a lot more about their prospects of winning the race.

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