Giro d'Italia (st. 16)
Beñat notches up spectacular success -the team’s third in this year’s Giro- at Ivrea in a majestic sprint after late attack with Niemiec (LAM) and Kangert (AST)
PICTURES | Giro d’Italia gallery
Movistar Team’s superb performance in the 2013 Giro d’Italia seems not to come to an end. After the 2nd place in the opening team time trial in Ischia, the pink jersey by Intxausti in Pescara, Alex Dowsett’s amazing success in the Saltara ITT and the unforgettable triumph by Visconti atop the Galibier on Sunday, Beñat Intxausti crowned today the telephone squad’s festival with a resounding victory in Ivrea. The Blue team’s designated leader for the race claimed honours on stage sixteen, a long, 238-kilometer trek from Valloire in France, with a 22-man breakaway including Eros Capecchi and a brilliant José Herrada which initially looked set to contest the day’s win.
However, the bunch pushed in the finale and got closer to the escapees, the lead group splitting in the final ascent -Andrate (Cat-3), 18k from the end- with Herrada always at the front while the favourites’ group was reduced to only fifteen riders, with Intxausti always featuring prominently. The technical downhill and the flat leading to the finish saw a flurry of attacks that ended when Gesink (BLA) -left behind with a puncture-, Niemiec (LAM), Kangert (AST) and Intxausti went away with 5k remaining. The Basque rider played his cards with great intelligence in the final straight and outsprinted his two rivals in the final 250 meters to take his first win of the season -3rd as pro rider- and also the third in this Giro -15th of the 2013 season- for a Movistar Team that has shifted all expectations.
Wednesday will bring stage seventeen: 214km between Caravaggio and Vicenza, with a similar finale to today’s. Intxausti is now in 9th place overall, after Santambrogio (VIN) and Pozzovivo (ALM) took important time losses at the finish.
REACTION / Beñat Intxausti: “Today I can really say I enjoyed it; I didn’t believe myself when I took pink the other day. It seemed like the least appropiate day for me, because the break had huge chances to make it to the finish, and that makes it even more beautiful and special. There was a big selection into the final climb and the main favourites looked to each other into the downhill – that’s where I took advantage to escape. I knew Kangert was the most dangerous rider because he was always following our wheels. I kept my mind cold in the final kilometer and left all responsibility to Niemiec, so the Astana rider could get on his wheel. I saw them glancing for a bit with 250m to go and didn’t wait, jumped from the left side… and it all went well.
“As soon as I crossed the line, I screamed of fury and emotion… I really enjoyed it. The win was obviously dedicated to Xavi and my grandpa, but also lots of other people: all the team, because three quarters of this victory and theirs; my family, my friends, the people that is always there supporting me. We’re making an amazing Giro. We always said that the key of this group is the bond between all of us, the atmosphere into it. If you look at the roster’s depth, with riders able to shine in all terrains and how well we understand each other into the race, results are bound to come. Stages after a rest day are usually strange, and you could see how the likes of Santambrogio went through a bad day and lost time.
“As I stated before, making it to the front of the GC will be a matter of survival. I have personally felt well all day and that makes me even more confident for the lots of big mountains still to come. I hope to stay in my current place or improve it to close an outstanding Giro for me and the squad. After all, the goal here was raising my arms in victory, and I got it today. Last year, a flu avoided me finishing within the best ten, and I hope that health stays well for me to end up as high as possible.”