Giro d'Italia (st. 11)
Basque climber 4th at exciting, demanding, rainy stage eleven of Giro d'Italia in Imola, joining Rubén Fernández on another victorious break. Lobato shows good legs, takes 10th; Visconti & Amador remain in overall top ten
In a difficult day for the Movistar Team expedition in the Giro d'Italia due to the decease of carer Garikoitz Baños' mother, the riders directed by Chente García Acosta and José Luis Jaimerena showed again magnificent form on the 153km stage eleven from Forlì to the Autodromo d'Imola, with three rated climbs as well as lots of small, non-categorized ascents.
Beñat Intxausti and Rubén Fernández made part of the day's early, ten-man break, which did not get more than three-and-a-half minutes over the bunch yet ended up grabbing the honours. Fernández's labour for the Basque climber helped him grab points into the first two summits -at the Trebbio (Cat-3), Intxausti led the break through and set himself 4pt away from KOM leader Simon Geschke (TGA); at the Valico del Frugno (Cat-3), he equalled the standings as second through the line-; after that, Rubén had to let himself drop back due to high pace into the overall circuit. Beñat, showing good legs all the way to the finish, kept pushing at the front until Ilnur Zakarin (KAT) attacked through the last climb of Tre Monti (Cat-2), where the two points added by Intxausti awarded him the Maglia Azzurra, while taking him on a hectic final pursuit.
The winner in Campitello Matese had to stay content with 4th place -behind Zakarin himself, Betancur (ALM) and Pellizotti (AND)- as Juanjo Lobato, who also proved strong with a move past late attacker and GC leader Alberto Contador (TCS), outsprinted the bunch for 10th place. The Andalusian will surely look for another chance tomorrow together with his team-mates over the hard slopes of the Monte Berico, end of stage 12 in Vicenza; Giovanni Visconti (7th) and Andrey Amador (9th) are still within the first ten overall.
REACTION / Beñat Intxausti: "When we saw today's profile, we had clear in mind it was a day really suited to breaks like the one we got it. There weren't many points available for the KOM classification, but for me it's important to build a lead over the favourites day by day, and if I was able to, also fighting for the stage win. This became more complicated: everyone was looking to each other, Zakarin jumped away in the penultimate lap… and to be honest, we can only take our hat off: he really proved to be much stronger. I had that sort of advantage or maybe lack of pressure, since I had already won a stage, but the Katusha rider surprised us, showing he was even comfortable in the finale, putting time on the rest. We didn't cooperate well into the pursuit group at the end and could not make it forward – it's sad not to be able to take another win, but we've got this jersey at least.
"The rest of the team is doing really, really well at the moment. Andrey is facing a beautiful goal if he's finally able to go after the overall classification; he's a strong time trialist and Saturday's TT is really good for him. We will see how he evolves after that one, as well as the mountains on Sunday, to think about what he can do next. We've also got Visconti there and even Ion Izagirre – he's a bit further into the overall standings but that should give him more room to search for a long break and try to get closer to top-ten places."