Visconti Soloes to Victory in Stage 15 of Giro d'Italia 2013
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) outsprinted Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) for second at 0:42. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) remains the maglia rosa.
As was the case with Stage 14, weather influenced the event. Because of snow, race organizers moved the finish from the summit of the Col du Galibier to the Pantani Memorial, which is 4.25 km from the summit. The first third of the stage was neutralized, and hostilities did not commence until nearly the top of the Category 1 Col du Mont Cenis. At that point, Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) attacked, and Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Visconti, Matteo Rabottini (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Miguel Rubiano (Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela), and Robinson Chalapud (Colombia) followed him.
The break was 1:38 ahead of the bunch when the latter arrived at the summit. On the descent, Weening attacked, and the Dutchman led his former companions by 0:30 with 80 km remaining. At this point, the peloton was at 2:22.
Weening sat up, and the rest of the break overtook him with 63 km left and the escapees leading the field by five minutes. The gap widened to 6:09 with 55 km to go.
Lotto-Belisol, which had missed the break, began to drive the peloton. The bunch closed to within 4:55 of the break with 40 km remaining and to within two minutes of it at the base of the Category 2 Col du Telegraphe (138 km).
Bongiorno set the pace for Pirazzi but fell away with 28 km left. Weening and Pirazzi dropped the other break members, but Visconti and Rabottini fought their way back to them. Visconti attacked and led his erstwhile companions by 0:42 at the summit. Behind, a seven-man group centered around Robert Gesink (Blanco) was at 2:04, with the Lampre-Merida-led peloton at 2:56.
In Valloire, at the base of the Galibier, Visconti was a minute clear of the rest of the break. Rabottini set out after the Movistar man, who was showing signs of fatigue. The Gesink group was at 2:15, with the peloton 2:28 in arrears.
The peloton scooped up the Gesink group, and Gesink's teammate Juan Manuel Garate attacked. With five km left, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took off, but Astana had the field on lockdown. No one stayed away.
In the last km, Fabio Duarte (Colombia), Betancur, Niemiec, and Rafal Majka (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) got clear. Visconti was well clear of the quartet and had plenty of time to celebrate his victory, but Betancur and Majka were in a neck-and-neck battle for leadership in the best young rider competition. Majka led the competition, but not after Betancur took the sprint for second, along with 12 bonus seconds. In Stage 16, the Colombian will wear the white jersey.
“With the years I’ve come to realize that I don’t ride well in the cold," Visconti said. "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. 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] in a tappaccia [a special stage]. I’ve never before felt what Vincenzo [Nibali] feels, riding these stages at the front. Today I felt it.
“In the final kms, you saw me crying, but for the last 3 kms I was crying inside. 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.”
In the overall, Nibali leads Cadel Evans (BMC) by 1:26 and Rigoberto Uran (Sky) by 2:46. Tuesday's stage 16 will not change this state of affairs. The 238-km run from Valloire, France to Ivrea, Italy will take the riders back over the Col du Mont Cenis and down to a rolling landscape. With 18 km left, the riders will breast the Category 3 Andrate. A break will probably win this stage. Who will be in it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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