Giro d'Italia (st. 16)
Costa Rican from Movistar Team takes sensational 5th place in Aprica after impressive effort in one of Giro's hardest stages -featuring the Passo del Mortirolo-, sits now in fourth overall just 56" behind Aru (AST) after Italian finishes behind the 'tico'
He went over his limits again. When it seemed like the Passo del Mortirolo would be too much for the abilities of Andrey Amador (Movistar Team), the 'tico' surprised everyone one more time by using his strongest weapons: consistent downhilling skills, power to drill over gentle slopes and, above them all, courage and determination to never surrender.
The Costa Rican finished 5th in Aprica after a day to remember in the Giro d'Italia, over five big mountains in the 177km trek from Pinzolo, which brought lots of struggle, unexpected setbacks, comebacks and GC changes. Andrey now sits in fourth place, with Mikel Landa (AST) becoming the Alberto Contador (TCS)'s biggest threat after another stage victory, as Fabio Aru (AST) drops back to third.
Rubén Fernández got into the day's only real breakaway, an 11-rider move always under two minutes' distance of the bunch, caught on the foot of the Mortirolo ascent as some splits in the descent after the first climb of Aprica (Cat-3) forced Contador (TCS) to overtake many rivals after a puncture, a hectic pursuit which the Spaniard solved into a massive, solo effort.
Andrey digs deep until the end; Intxausti conceeds Maglia Azzurra by just one point
Ahead of Contador, Amador struggled into the steepest part of the Mortirolo to follow Landa, Aru (AST) and Kruijswijk (TLJ), but was able to keep his usual, steady pace and limit losses in his least favourable terrain -even leaving behing GC rivals like Damiano Caruso (BMC) or Leopold König (SKY)- to reach the summit in sixth place, 1'50" behind the leaders and a few seconds in front of a struggling Aru.
The downhill witnessed the start of a magnificent pursuit by the Costa Rican, with risky, efficient maneuvers to reduce the gap and strong pace into the 'false flat' of Aprica, where he overtook Ryder Hesjedal (TCG) and chased down Yuri Trofimov (KAT), ultimately conceding only 1'25" to the 'Maglia Rosa' across the finishing line -2'03" to Landa, who passed him for third place-. Amador also put 48 seconds on Aru, the Italian now just 56" ahead of Andrey in the overall standings.
KOM-wise, Beñat Intxausti fought to keep his jersey into the first climbs -he was 3rd at the Campo Carlo Magno (Cat-2)-, yet eventually lost it to Kruijswijk, by only one point -92 to 91-, as the Dutchman scored points in both Mortirolo and Aprica's finish.
REACTION / Andrey Amador (via Andrey's official website): "It was a tremendously demanding stage, probably one of those I was worried about the most with the Mortirolo climb. Still, I had no fear, and kept my own pace all the way to the summit to try and lose as little time as possible. With all the bad weather from the start, things got even more complicated, but we had to be courageous and not to surrender. I tried to defend myself with everything I could to keep the third spot, but we didn't succeed. Still, we must not stop taking efforts – I was clearly strong today and I must keep fighting until the end. I will give my absolute everything for the podium in Milan, but if I can't make it, taking a top-5 will be still great. I've got a strong team by my side."