Giro d’Italia: Giovanni Visconti conquers the Galibier snow on Pantani Memorial stage
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Giro d’Italia: Giovanni Visconti conquers the Galibier snow on Pantani Memorial stage

by Ben Atkins at 12:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
Movistar rider wins from early break as Vincenzo Nibali contains his rivals

giovanni visconti

Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) won the 2013 Giro d’Italia’s Marco Pantani memorial stage between Cesena Torinese and the monument to the 1998 Giro and Tour winner at Les Granges du Galibier as the last man standing from a mid-race breakaway. The former Italian champion rode away from his companions on the penultimate climb of the Col du Télégraphe, and managed to hold off the chase all the way to the finish of the slightly truncated 145km Alpine stage.

Several counterattacks from the peloton saw it accelerate and catch Visconti’s former breakaway companions, before a chase group of Fabio Duarte (Colombia), Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale), Przemislaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) and Rafal Majka (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) got away just before the final kilometre.

The group had left it too late to catch Visconti, however, as Betancur sprinted to his third second place finish of the race 42 seconds behind him. Niemiec took third place, with bonus seconds meaning that Betancur took the lead in the white jersey classification from Majka in fourth.

Duarte just held on to take sixth place, just ahead of Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), who led the Maglia Rosa group across the line after 49 seconds. Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished just behind Scarponi and - having weathered the attacks from his rivals on the final climb - ended the day with his overnight advantage intact.

“Over the years I’ve come to realise that I don’t ride well in the cold,” said Sicilian Vosconti afterwards. “I get most of my results in May and June, in the heat. But you don’t notice the cold and the rain when you’re leading the race. It’s worse when you’re in the peloton. Today, the sun was shining, it was a mythical stage, and I’m happy I made it all the way today.

“To a degree, I planned today’s move,” he explained. “All Giro I had been hoping to get into the breakaway on one of the really mythical stages. I told my father and friends that I hoped to get into a fugaccia [a special break - ed] in a tappaccia [a special stage - ed]. I’ve never before felt what Vincenzo [Nibali] feels, riding these stages at the front. Today I felt it.

“In the final kilometres, you saw me crying, but for the last three kilometres I was crying inside,” Visconti added. “I knew I could win the stage. I thought of the coincidence of finishing near Marco’s memorial. We share the same birthday. I thought of him and asked him for the strength to finish.

“Someone said to me today, a circle is closed.  A year ago I quit the race on Stage 15, today I won Stage 15. I hope that from now a new career starts for me.”

With conditions uncertain over the opening climb of the Col de Mont Cenis - just after the race crossed into France - the peloton was neutralised until it had almost reached the top. Mountains leader Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) attacked for the points, however, and was joined by teammate Manuel Bongiorno , Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), Pieter Weening (Orica-AIS), Miguel Angel Rubiano (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) and Visconti.

The seven riders managed to get more than six minutes clear of the peloton but were just two minutes ahead as they began the climb of the Télégraphe with 31km to go. As the group split on the climb Visconti attacked with a few kilometres to climb, and was alone and clear as he took the short descent to the foot of the Galibier.

Behind the group a counterattack of Robert Gesink (Blanco), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard) and Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) got clear, sweeping up most of the dropped breakaway riders, with only Pirazzi, Weening and Rabottini between them and Visconti.

Onto the Galibier Rabottini struck out in pursuit of Visconti, but was unable to make any impression on the iconic French climb and, as the counterattacks began from the peloton behind him, the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider was swept up with just under two kilometres to go.

The chase group of Duarte, Betancur, Niemiec and Majka escaped shortly afterwards, but Visconti was approaching the finish by then and held on to take a first ever stage victory in his home tour.

Neutralised in the mountains until there are points on offer

The snow in the Alps, which had forced the finish of the stage to move four kilometres down the road from the planned Col du Galibier to the Pantani Memorial, also caused the first third of the stage to be neutralised. Due to the uncertainty over the conditions over the top of the Col de Mont Cenis, the peloton rode together as it crossed the border into France.

The col itself was not neutralised, however, and Pirazzi jumped away from the peloton with a kilometre to climb. Chalapud followed the Italian, but was unable to stay with him as he took the points over the top. Meanwhile, the group of Weening, Bongiorno, Visconti, Rabottini and Rubiano pulled away from the peloton in pursuit, lapping up the rest of the points over the climb, grabbing bags of clothes from soigneurs as they did so.

With no reaction from the peloton, it followed over the top of the climb 1’38” behind. Weening attacked into the descent and was 30 seconds clear of the rest of the breakaways with 80km to go, with the peloton at 2’22”.

Weening sat up on the valley road that followed, and the group caught up with him with 63km to go. The peloton was still in no hurry to get moving behind the seven riders, and the gap to the front of the race was approaching five minutes. Rubiano jumped away from the group to take the Traguardo Volante sprint, in Aussois with 55km to go, with Astana leading the peloton over 6’09” behind him.

As the road began to descend again, Lotto-Belisol - having missed the seven-man move - began to push the pace on the head of the peloton, which cut the leaders’ advantage to 4’55” with 40km to go. The Belgian team continued chasing and, as the break hit the foot of the Col du Télégraphe with just under 31km to go, they were just two minutes clear.

The Télégraph begins and so do the counterattacks

Bongiorno was setting as stiff a pace as possible for teammate Pirazzi, until he could work no more with 28km to go. Pirazzi and Weening continued their pace, and steadily began to drop the others. Having been dropped by the original acceleration, Visconti and Rabottini managed to rejoin the two leaders, but Chalapud, Rubiano and Bongiorno were now drifting backwards.

Meanwhile, back in the peloton, Gesink and Martinez jumped ahead, with Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp) and Francis De Greef (Lotto-Belisol). Stetina and De Greef were unable to stay with the pace, but the Blanco and Euskaltel-Euskadi riders continued. Henao then attacked in pursuit, joined by Kiserlovski, and they soon caught up with De Greef

Astana was now calmly setting the pace at the head of the peloton, as several riders tried to get away. With Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale) and Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) able to get up to, and past, De Greef.

Under the 25km banner the four leaders were 1’38” ahead of Gesink and Martinez, who were about to be joined by Henao and Kiserlovski. Di Luca had dropped the others and was 1’52” back, while the peloton was now at 2’28”.

Visconti then surged ahead of the three other breakaway riders, with 23km to go, while Movistar teamate José Herrada became the next to escape the peloton and catch Gastauer; Di Luca joined up with the Gesink group shortly afterwards, with Chalapud and Rubiano also managing to hang on.

Over the top of the 2nd category climb, with 19.1km to go, Visconti was 46 seconds clear of Weening, Pirazzi and Rabottini, with the seven-man Gesink group now at 2’04”. Herrada was still alone at 2’13” - but gaining on the group in front of him - while the peloton was now 43 seconds behind him at 2’56”; now being led by Lampre-Merida.

Following the short descent, as the race passed through Valloire at the foot of the Galibier, Visconti was a minute clear of his former companions as Rabottini tried to escape in pursuit.

More attacks on the Galibier but Visconti holds them off

Evgeni Petrov then led Saxo-Tinkoff teammate Majka away from the head of the peloton, with Betancur latching on, but Lampre-Merida refused to let them get away. Visconti rode through the second Traguardo Volante, in Plan Lachat with 10.9km to go, and Rabottini attacked the chasing trio again, and followed under the banner 42 seconds later.

The Gesink group followed at 2’15”, but the peloton was now at 2’28”, having caught Herrada as it began to rain on the riders and snow on the finish; the Gesink group was swept up shortly afterwards.

With their team leader caught, Blanco teammate Juanma Garate put in a solo attack, but was unable to get very far before being closed down again. As the Spanish rider was caught, however, teammate Wilco Kelderman made his own move, and the Dutchman was able to get further.

With six kilometres to go Visconti was 55 seconds ahead of Rabottini as the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider began to tire. With the Blanco attacks having been neutralised, the Astana team was setting a steady pace on the head of the peloton once more, and was 2’26” back.

Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) then jumped away, with Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) sticking close to his wheel, and, with neither posing an immediate threat to Nibali, the Astana team watched them go.

At the five kilometre banner Visconti was 1’05” ahead of Pirazzi, as Sanchez and Caruso caught and passed Pirazzi, while Kelderman passed Weening up ahead. Visconti was still holding his own against all the chasers, however, as Rabottini was beginning to crack.

Into the final two kilometres the group was catching Kelderman and gaining on Rabottini, and Nibali then attacked himself, having used up all of his teammates. The rest of the favourites were quickly on the Maglia Rosa’s wheel and the group slowed as the riders looked at one another.

Majka then attacked with just over a kilometre, with Betancur and Nibali, finally passing Kelderman, but Evans pulled the rest up to them again. This acceleration saw them catch Rabottini, and Duarte attacked again, with Rabottini attacking again and getting up to the Colombian.

Evans put in a small move, but then Betancur made a more committed jump and, as he was marked by Majka and Niemiec, bridged to Duarte.

Vinsconti was now in the final 700 metres and looking over his shoulder, but the Italian still had enough of a lead over the new chasers. As he entered the final 200 metres the chasers were at 500 metres - as Niemiec attacked up to them - and had plenty of time to sit up and punch the air with both fists before collapsing into the arms of his soigneur.

Result stage 15
1. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
2. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale @ 42s
3. Przemislaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
5. Fabio Duarte (Col) Colombia @ 47s
6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida @ 49s
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
9. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
10. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky

Standings after stage 15
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 @ 4’35”
7. Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale @ 5’15”
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 5’20”
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 5’57”
10. Beñat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team @ 6’21”


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