Giro d’Italia: John Gadret surprises the favourites on steep stage eleven finish
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Giro d’Italia: John Gadret surprises the favourites on steep stage eleven finish

by Ben Atkins at 11:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
 
Cyclocross specialist attacks in final half kilometre and holds on to the finish

John GadretJohn Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale) won the eleventh stage of the Giro d’Italia between Tortoreto Lido and Castelfidardo after surprising the race favourites with an attack inside the final half kilometre of the steep stage finish. Following the French cyclocross specialist over the line, having left it too late to launch his own sprint, was Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), with Italian champion Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) right behind him.

The 144km stage continued the race’s progress north, along Italy’s Adriatic coast; unlike the almost completely flat parcours of stages ten and twelve though, stage eleven moved inland from the beachside roads and took to the rolling hills of the Abruzzo and Marche hinterlands.

With its rolling profile, and its position in the race, the stage had breakaway written all over it; situated right in the middle of the Giro, it offered a chance to opportunist riders to take the pink jersey, and for race leader Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) to lose it, should he choose to do so.

The race remembers Wouter Weylandt on the day of his funeral

Marking the day of the funeral of Wouter Weylandt, who died so tragically on stage three, David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) read a moving message of dedication to the Belgian sprinter. There followed a minute’s silence, after which the peloton rolled solemnly out of Tortoreto Lido.

On the climb and fast descent through Tortoreto a group of 17 riders detached from the front of the peloton; the group included Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), one of the big favourites for the race, though, and so it was quickly closed down.

Some of the sprinters try an attack but don't make it

The next attempt to get away came after 21km, bizarrely containing sprinters Angel Vicioso (Androni Giocattoli-CIPI), Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD). Despite the presence of breakaway specialists Pavel Brutt (Katusha) and Vasili Kiriyienka (Movistar), and stage seven winner Bart De Clercq (Omega Pharma-Lotto), the group was only able to get a few seconds ahead.

Despite an attempt from Brutt and Kiriyienka to go clear on their own, the race all came back together again after 44km.

There was a brief attack from David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha), but this too was to end quickly and the peloton took the first of the climbs, the Monte-Ripaberarda, after 49km, all together.

Finally a group gets clear but it contains a danger man

An attack from Simone Stortoni (Colnago-CSF Inox) over the top of the climb pulled eight other riders clear on the descent. The nine-man break was made up of Stortoni, Moreno again, Carlos Betancourt and Fabio Taborre (both Acqua & Sapone), Marco Marzano (Lampre-ISD), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale), Ignatas Konovalovas (Movistar), Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) and Christophe Le Mével (Garmin-Cervélo).

Despite the presence of Le Mével, who started the day in third place, just 1’19” behind Contador, the group was deemed acceptable by the peloton and its advantage began to grow.

Sensing that this was the break of the day, Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) and Tiago Machado (RadioShack) chased across, expanding the group’s number to eleven.

Contador's team takes control but doesn't want to close it down

As Betancourt led over the top of the Monte Vidon Combatte, the second climb after 73km, the group’s lead was up over two minutes. This made Le Mével the race leader on the road but, although Contador has said that he would happily let the jersey go, it’s unlikely that he’d want to lose too much time to the Frenchman; the Saxo Bank-SunGard team took the front of the peloton, for almost the first time in the race, and proceeded to limit the progress of the eleven riders.

With the gap fluctuating between 2’15” and 1’55” Agnoli and Betancourt accelerated on the climb of the Rapagnano, at the 91km point. The Liquigas-Cannondale rider led over the top, looking back too see what damage the two of them had done to the group. They had opened up a small gap, but sat up and waited for the rest as they started the descent.

With 50km to go, the eleven riders led by 1’50”, with Le Mével still well and truly in the race lead. Contador’s team was still in total control of the peloton, but the Danish outfit displayed no intention of closing the gap.

Perhaps Contador was happy to relinquish the jersey to Le Mével, or, more likely, his team was deliberately keeping the break within reach, and inviting the team of an aspiring stage winner to shut it down in the closing kilometres. The stage’s uphill finish seemed to rule out the sprinters, but there would be plenty of other riders that would like the look of it.

Saxo Bank-SunGard hands over control as the other teams chase the stage win

At 40km to go, the gap was still hovering around the two minute mark, fluctuating a few seconds either side, with Saxo Bank-SunGard still leading the peloton. The Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli team of Italian champion Giovanni Visconti began to move forward at this point though, in the company of Androni Giocattoli-CIPI and Astana.

Slowly, but surely, the group’s advantage began to fall, and by the 30km to go point it was down to 1’35”; Le Mével’s virtual lead over Contador was now just 16 seconds, and falling.

The eleven riders in front were still working well together as they climbed to the summit of the final categorised climb of the day, the Morrovalle, with 28km to go. There were to be several more lumps and bumps on the way to the finish though, with very little flat in the stage’s entire parcours.

The group splits up as the finish is in sight

As they neared the top though, the cooperation was shattered by an attack from Moreno; he was followed by Agnoli, but the Liquigas-Cannondale rider was unable to get on terms.

Astana led peloton followed over 1’48” back, with Moreno’s acceleration having opened up the gap once more.

On the descent it became clear that the Katusha rider had not just attacked for the mountain points, as he continued his solo effort. He passed under the 25km to go banner alone, 16 seconds clear of the rest; Stortoni was next on the road, then Kruijswijk, with the previous smooth cooperation apparently now gone.

Le Mével still apparently had designs on the Contador’s maglia rosa though, and the Frenchman was manfully trying to drag the rest of the group across. Kruijswijk had dropped back, but Stortoni was still pursuing Moreno alone; neither he, nor the group behind him, seemed to be making much progress though.

The breakaways all chase each other but surely their days are numbered

Behind them, Astana was still leading the peloton, with Androni Giocattoli-CIPI behind them, holding the gap at around 1’45”.

Shortly after they passed the 20km to go banner, Stortoli was caught by the chasing group, but Moreno was still 17 seconds clear and showing no signs of tiring.

Androni Giocattoli-CIPI was clearly aiming for this stage win though, as it had posted almost all of its riders on the front of the peloton. Astana’s presence suddenly looked token as the Italian Professional Continental team got the bit between its teeth.

Behind Moreno, the ten chasers were working well together once more, although there were noticeably more passengers at the back of the line. Apparently weary of the slow progress up to Moreno though, Nordhaug suddenly jumped away in solo pursuit; Betancourt soon followed, but Le Mével was determined and pulled Kruijswijk and Konovalovas across to him.

As Moreno crossed the intermediate Traguardo Volante sprint in Recanati, with 14.3km to go, he led Le Mével’s group by 22 seconds. As they crossed the line at the brow of a hill though, Konovalovas attacked alone.

Contador's jersey secure once more, but what of the stage?

Androni Giocattoli-CIPI led the peloton over the line 1’14” behind Moreno, meaning that Le Mével was now less than a minute clear and Contador was back in pink.

Konovalovas was making progress on Moreno, who’d been out in front alone for 18km. At the 10km to go banner, the Lithuanian was just a handful of seconds behind; he caught the tiring Spaniard almost immediately afterwards and went straight over the top.

The remains of the breakaway group was now 26 seconds behind, with the peloton at 1’12”.

At 9km to go Moreno caught up with Konovalovas again, but was seemingly no longer strong enough to come through and take his turn on the front. Behind them Le Mével, Stortoni, Kruijswijk, Betancourt and Marzano looked for all the world as if they were waiting for the peloton to catch them; not content to do this though, Stortoni attacked on a rise and left the others behind and was joined by Kruijswijk in pursuit of the front two.

With 8km to go the peloton was still 58 seconds behind the leading pair; it looked as though Androni Giocattoli-CIPI had left it too late, although the sharp climb of the last 3.5km might prove otherwise.

Two in front with the strongest teams now chasing them

With 5km to go, Moreno had recovered sufficiently to work with Konovalovas; Stortoni was now chasing them alone, 33 seconds back, with the other four in the breakaway just behind him. Lampre-ISD, with the red jerseyed Petacchi had just taken over on the front of the peloton though, and the resulting raising in pace looked ominous for the now disparate fugitives.

Stortoni was caught by the group of four once again, and Kruijswijk attacked once more; it was going to take more than a solo effort to catch the two leaders though, as they hit the base of the final climb with 44 seconds in hand.

Sure enough, the Lampre-ISD led peloton swept up the chasers just as they were about to pass under the 3km to go banner; Moreno and Konovalovas still had 40 seconds on them, but it now looked like this would not be enough.

The seconds of their advantage tumbled as the two leaders entered the final 2km; Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago-CSF Inox) jumped off the front of the peloton in the false flat in the middle of the climb, but he couldn’t get far in front. As usual in this Giro, Lampre-ISD refused to let a lone attacker upset the pace that it wanted to set.

Under the red kite the leaders still have a chance

As Moreno and Konovalovas passed under the flamme rouge marking the final kilometre they still had 12 seconds; the favourites at the head of the peloton were gaining though, with Liquigas-Cannondale now at their head.

As the climb reared up again Moreno, who’d looked finished a few kilometres before, pulled some energy from somewhere and attacked Konovalovas. Although the peloton was not far behind the Katusha rider, it looked like he might have made it, but with less than 500 metres to go Gadret suddenly launched his move.

The French cyclocross specialist caught Moreno with 200m, as the climb was at its steepest, and the Spaniard’s resolve collapsed. Gadret though, had timed his move perfectly, and was able to sit up and celebrate his victory well before he reached the line

Rodriguez launched his sprint behind Gadret, but it was all too late and he crossed the line in second place with Visconti right behind him.

Despite spending most of the day looking as though he was about to relinquish his pink jersey, Contador’s fifth place on the stage means that he hangs on to it for another day. After spending so much time in the virtual race lead, Le Mével actually lost nine seconds at the finish and slips to fourth overall.

Result stage 11
1. John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
3. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli
4. Jose Serpa (Col) Ansroni Giocattoli-CIPI
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-SunGard
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana
7. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step
8. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
9. Pablo Lastras (Spa) Movistar
10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale

Standings after stage 11
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-SunGard
2. Kanstantin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad @ 59s
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale @ 1’21”
4. Christophe Le Mével (Fra) Garmin-Cervélo @ 1’28”
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD
6. David Arroyo (Spa) Movistar @ 1'37"
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana @ 1'41"
8. Jose Serpa (Col) Androni Giocattoli-CIPI @ 1'47"
9. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step @ 2'21"
10. Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM

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