Breakaway riders rue missed opportunity while favourites enjoy an on-bike rest day
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Breakaway riders rue missed opportunity while favourites enjoy an on-bike rest day

by Ben Atkins at 5:08 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Peloton switches off as ten men ride away on the day before the Dolomites

manuele boaroStage sixteen of this year’s Giro d’Italia, between Limone sul Garda and Falzes/Pfalzen, was made for breakaways, coming as it did between the race’s second rest day and its first encounter with the mountains of the Dolomites. Perhaps the only surprise, when ten riders escaped the peloton, was that it had taken 63km for the break to form but, once gone, the big teams switched off and allowed their lead to grow to twelve and a half minutes.

The stage was taken by Euskaltel-Euskadi second-year pro Jon Izagirre, as he managed to tear himself away from the rest on the steep climb that came inside the final five kilometres; for the nine that missed out, there were mixed emotions after a long day in front of the race.

For Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank) it was a third near-miss of the race, as his sixth place followed being the last man to be caught into Montecatini Terme on stage eleven, and fourth place in the opening time trial.

”I knew this was one of the last opportunities for me to make a top result in the race so I took part in as much as I could in the first hour where we were going really really fast,” explained a tired Boaro after the stage. “Naturally, I was tired when we hit the final climb but I fought as hard as I could to make a satisfying finale.”

The top sprinter in the group was Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Nikolas Maes and, while his companions undoubtedly had this in mind, the tall Belgian was unable to follow the pace set by the climbers in the break and finished eighth.

“Today I did my best,” said Maes. “The first part of the race was really fast. As a team, we tried to be present in all the breakaways. Then, I jumped into the right one. We were a good group and we worked good together. I had good legs, but I have to say that the last climb was too much for me. It's a question of weight and attitude when it comes to the climbs.

“The first part of the climb I managed to stay with the best, but then I simply couldn't follow the pace of riders who are better than me on the climbs,” he explained. “However, I'm happy that I did it today. I'm in good shape, and with the difficult stages we will have in the next days, it was important to take the chance today.”

Dutch time trial champion was one of the strongest in the final two kilometres of the stage, but his final surge was too late to catch Izagirre, and he was forced to settle for third.

“When you’re so close in a big race like this, naturally it’s really disappointing when it’s not a success,” the Dutch time trial champion lamented. “You don’t get a chance like this every day. You want that big prize so badly.”

Swiss rider Mathias Frank (BMC Racing) was almost as disappointed as Clement with his own fourth place, but reflected that his recent health influenced his ability to follow Izagirre on the final climb.

“I was taking antibiotics until yesterday, so I'm not at 100 percent,” he said. “I did one effort at the end and couldn't recover anymore. Normally, this type of finish would be perfect for me.”

Arguably the most content was Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), who finished tenth, last of the breakaway riders. The 38-year-old’s team is still on a high, following Matteo Rabottini’s stage 15 victory, and Mazzanti was pleased with his performance overall.

"I'm happy for today,” he said. “I feel good and I hope to improve ahead the summer races.”

Big names enjoy an on-bike day off ahead of the Dolomites

joaquim rodriguezWith the Dolomites on the horizon, with tomorrow’s epic ride between Falzes/Pfalzen and Cortina d’Ampezzo the first of three hard days in the north eastern mountain range, the overall favourites of the race were happy to take what amounted to a second rest day in a row.

There were some accelerations towards the end, as the final climb arrived but, generally speaking, race leader Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) enjoyed his easiest day in the Maglia Rosa yet.

“It was a nice finish and if someone had attacked, I’d have attacked too,” the Catalan explained. “But the Giro is tough and long. I’m in a privileged position (as race leader) and so I don’t think I’m the one who had to attack.”

“Things will be different tomorrow, it’s a stage where you can gain time,” he reasoned. “There’s a lot of talk about the descent but I think there will be a lot of attacks on the climbs.  This Giro d’Italia will be won on the climbs not on the descents but whoever suffers on the climbs will then suffer on the descents.”

“I think the Liquigas team will make the race hard tomorrow because they’ve got the riders to do it and that style of riding suits [Ivan] Basso.”

Defending champion Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) also enjoyed an easy day, although he reflected that the fast start to the stage was difficult, before the break finally escaped. The 32-year-old is looking forward to the coming days though, where he will hope to win a Giro on the road to add to the 2011 title that was handed to him after the disqualification of Alberto Contador.

“Today no one of the big riders tried to attack, but the stage was demanding in the beginning, since the speed was very high until the breakaway began,” he said. “Tomorrow we'll cover so many climbs, Falzarego, Passo Duran, Forcella Staulanza and Passo Giau, no one will be able to hide.

“I don't know which climb I like the most, they're all so tough and so exciting at the same time,” he added. “I know I'll be supported by very competitive team mates, this will be very important in a stage in which not so many riders will still be in the head group after the first climb.

“[teammate Damiano] Cunego is riding really well, it will be important that he'll be at my side.”

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