Giro d’Italia: Santambrogio climbs through the Bardonecchi mist as Nibali consolidates
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Giro d’Italia: Santambrogio climbs through the Bardonecchi mist as Nibali consolidates

by Ben Atkins at 12:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
Duo breaks clear in the steep final kilometre of truncated mountain stage

mauro santambrogioMauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) won a truncated 14th stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, between Cervere and the Jafferau climb above Bardonecchia, as he broke clear of the peloton in the steep final kilometre. The only rider able to follow the 28-year-old was Maglia Rosa Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), but the race leader was happy to follow his compatriot’s wheel all the way to the finish, then allowed him to cross first to take his first ever Giro d’Italia stage.

Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale) pursued the two Italians all the way up the climb, but was unable to make contact and crossed the line nine seconds behind them to take third place; his third podium finish of the race.

“I came here with the main goal of winning a stage,” said Santambrogio afterwards. “The General Classification was a secondary thing for me. This win is recompense for the hard training and sacrifices I’ve been through since November. But now that I’m lying fourth in the General Classification, I can’t say I’m not thinking about it, although, after all I’ve been through so far during this Giro, I’m going to take it day by day.

“It gives me great confidence,” Santambrogio said of his finishing ahead of former BMC Racing team captain Cadel Evans, “although I have to thank Cadel because I learned a lot when I rode alongside him. With Cadel I learned how to prepare for a three-week tour. Now, as a captain on a team, I can really make the most of what I have learned.

“I’ve had the fortune to ride for big teams like Lampre, and then BMC, when it was Number One in the world,” he added. “On the other hand, you don’t get many opportunities to show yourself when you ride beside great champions like Evans, Gilbert, Hushovd, and Ballan. At this team, I’ve rediscovered the rider I was in the lower categories. To ride well, I need people close to me who encourage me and make me the centre of their focus.”

Bad weather meant that the proposed mid-stage climb to the ski resort of Sestriere had to be removed, with the diversion taking the stage distance up from 168km to 180km. This also meant that the final climb to the finish was the only obstacle in the stage route, other than the heavy rain that fell on most of the race and the near-freezing temperatures experienced at the finish.

A four man break escaped early in the stage, made up of former Maglia Rosa Luca Paolini (Katusha), Daniele Pietropolli (Lampre-Merida), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) and Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). As the peloton battled the weather conditions behind the breakaway the four riders were able to get almost ten minutes clear but, as Team Sky accelerated on the front of the bunch, this was not to be enough.

Trentin suffered several technical problems and was left behind by the other three as the final climb approached, while Pietropolli struggled to hold on to Colbrelli and Paolini as the steep slopes began. The advantage over the peloton was rapidly shrinking, however, until they were finally caught and passed inside the final kilometre.

Santambrogio and Nibali then pulled clear of the rest, with Betancur in pursuit, and the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider was allowed to lead all the way to the line.

Nibali collected a 12-second time bonus on the finish line and, with big rivals Rigoberto Urán (Team Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) finishing 30 and 33 seconds behind him respectively, the Astana rider saw his overall lead increase over both riders. 20 seconds bonus for Santambrogio saw the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider rise to fourth overall, just one second behind Urán in third place.

”I don’t like the word ‘patron,’” Nibali said of his domination of the Giro. “Today we saw a number of riders on the attack. Sky tried to attack with Urán. It was a very hard day, with cold and rain, and when the rain finally stopped falling we were hit by a flurry of snow. It was a day for wild animals! This is the one thing that frightens me: the prospect of freezing temperatures in the coming days. Let’s hope they don’t materialise.

”Both have shown they are very strong on the climbs,” he said of Evans and Urán. “Urán has a team behind him that, taking all things into consideration, could represent the greatest threat.”

Seven becomes four as a brave group of riders escapes

Paolini, Pietropolli, Colbrelli and Trentin escaped in the early kilometres, in the company of Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), but Stetina, Martinez and Weening crashed and drifted back to the peloton.

In the freezing rain the peloton behind the break little was happening, aside from a nasty crash involving Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) and stage four winner Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF), with both Italians forced to withdraw from the race.

At the halfway point the four-man group was 8’45” ahead and, despite the peloton being led by Colombia, Astana, Cannondale and Team Sky, the gap was still rising. It was to peak at 9’48” with 65km to go, but was down to 9’15” as the roads began to tilt upwards in the final 50km.

Team Sky then began lifting the pace in the peloton, causing several riders to lose contact, reducing the front group to just 30 riders. With 20km to go the gap was still 5’12” and, as the road continued to rise, Trentin - having suffered technical problems and changed bikes - was left behind by the other three.

As the three remaining leaders hit the foot of the final climb with 7.2km to go they still had four minutes in hand, with Team Sky leading the remaining 30-or-so riders in the peloton in a long line. As soon as the climb began Colbrelli attacked, the Bardiani-CSF rider was caught by Paolini and the two of them briefly left Pietropolli behind.

With four kilometres to go the gap to the peloton was still 3’20”, with Trentin two minutes behind the leaders. Sergio Henao (Team Sky) and Diego Rosa (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) attacked from the peloton and, shortly afterwards, Rosa’s teammate Franco Pellizotti bridged across and continued alone.

Italian champion Pellizotti was just 2’05” behind the leaders with 2.7km to go, but was caught soon afterwards. Up ahead, with Pietropolli dropped, Paolini managed to shake off Colbrelli, but the former Maglia Rosa only had 43 seconds of his lead left with a kilometre and a half to go.

Nibali attacked on the steepest section of the climb as Paolini was finally caught, and Santabrogio and Betancur chased across to him. The Colombian rider was unable to stay with the Italians, however, as Santambrigio accelerated.

Nibali allowed the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider to lead all the way up the final few hundred metres, with Betancur chasing desperately to rejoin them. Nibali then sat up to allow Santambrogio to celebrate his maiden Grand Tour victory.

Result stage 14
1. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana
3. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale @ 9s
4. Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 26s
5. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky @ 30s
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 33s
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
8. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard
9. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox @ 56s
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling @ 58s

Standings after stage 14
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 1’26”
3. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky @ 2’46”
4. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia @ 2’47”
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida @ 3’53”
6. Przemislaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida @ 4’55”
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 5’02”
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 5’32”
9. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale @ 5’39”
10. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team @ 5’41”


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