Ulissi (LAM) wins in Montecopiolo after main favourites keep vigilance within themselves; Nairo Quintana takes 4th in uphill sprint, sits now in 8th overall
Cadel Evans (BMC) is the new leader of the 2014 Giro d’Italia after the first big mountain stage in the race, a 179km trek from Foligno to the summit of Montecopiolo (Cat-1) which also featured the climbs of Cippo di Carpegna (Cat-1) and Villaggio del Lago (Cat-2) into a restless, final 50k. The Australian profited from the struggled by countryman and previous ‘maglia rosa’ holder Michael Matthews (OGE), as well as the lack of real fight between the main favourites, a circumstance which allowed Nairo Quintana always keeping the front.
The Movistar leader had strong support from his team-mates until the final fifteen kilometers. Fran Ventoso, recovered from the blows produced by his crash yesterday, and José Herrada took the task of keeping the early, ten-man break not too far before the Carpegna ascent, where Colombian Julián Arredondo (TFR) made his move. At the summit, the favourites’ group of about fifteen riders including Nairo was less than two minutes adrift, thanks to insistent, initial work from Amador, Malori, Capecchi and Antón, plus a long pull from the AG2R squad, which lasted until the final climbs. Despite a long attack by Rolland (EUC), who reached and even dropped his break companion, and the lack of moves within the favourites, the bunch reeled the escapees back into the hellish, final slope in Montecopiolo.
There, the speed by Diego Ulissi (LAM) awarded him the victory against Robert Kiserlovski (TFR), Wilco Kelderman (BEL) and Nairo Quintana, who was protected by Herrada and Antón in the finale and eventually showed good condition by finishing 4th, taking two seconds on Evans. The new overall classification puts the Colombian in 8th spot, 1’45” behind Evans and 35″ after the third place -behind Urán (OPQ)- held by Polish Rafal Majka (TCS). Sunday will bring the last stage through the Appennines before the second rest day, with another hill-top finish in Sestola (Cat-2) after 17km that will include the Sant’Antonio (Cat-3) and the Rochetta Sandri (Cat-4).
REACTION | Nairo Quintana: “It was a serious race, one with big climbs, much nervousness and vigilance between the main favourites. Despite finishing in fourth place, the legs did not go well today – I don’t really know why. We pushed in the beginning because I wanted to give it a try, but I think the crash I had two days ago affected me today. That’s why I was only thinking about sticking to the main group in the final ramp, not losing time to anybody; I made a big effort so none of the favourites could drop me, and it went well. I hope it was just a bad day and the body to recover better tomorrow.”