Giro d'Italia (st. 19)
Huge break by Giovanni Visconti en route to Cervinia awards him KOM jersey with only Finestre and Sestriere remaining; Amador -helped out by Intxausti- struggles, conceeds more than 2' to stage winner Aru (AST) but stays in 4th overall
Cervinia, the mountain-top finish of stage 19 in the 2015 Giro d'Italia, left the Movistar Team a bittersweet taste at the end of a grueling ride over 236km, four rated ascents and restless climbing in the finale with Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Pantaléon (both Cat-1). At those two summits, an excellent Giovanni Visconti turned the KOM standings upside down as first over the line following several consecutive attacks. The Italian now has 125 points, sixteen ahead of previous leader Steven Kruijswijk (TLJ) who was baten by Beñat Intxausti into both sprints behind the day's original, early break.
As Visconti was caught with 10km left into the final climb, following a huge struggle against the wind, all Intxausti, Ion Izagirre and Dayer Quintana helped out Andrey Amador before the final kick uphill, where the Costa Rican suffered his most difficult day up to date in this Giro. An attack by Landa (AST) and the subsequent response by Aru (AST) forced Andrey, assisted by Intxausti -who sacrified his own KOM chances to support him-, to follow his own pace without being able to find his best legs.
Amador's final solo effort took him to 12th in the stage, 2’26” behind Aru and 1’08” away from the Maglia Rosa group, which doesn’t prevent him from keeping the 4th spot overall but does take him further -almost 3’ to Landa- from the dream of the GC podium. Amador and the Movistar Team will keep fighting to defend a historic place for cycling in his country tomorrow, over the decisive climbs of Finestre (Cima Coppi) and Sestriere prior to Sunday’s Milan finale.
REACTION / Giovanni Visconti: “Today’s stage was terribly hard. Winds were really gusty; when I was climbing with the mountain on the left-hand side and it blew on my face, the suffering was immense. I think I managed my energy well to keep the advantage alive over those two climbs, but as it usually happens, I wasn’t fortunate enough to escape on the day I should have done. Astana decided to ride this way, and one might criticize them or not, but they were right on riding like they did, as their stage win proves. This jersey is sort of a small compensation for me – well, probably not a small one since taking the Maglia Azzurra at the end of the Giro means a lot, takes a lot of efforts away from you and requires you to climb at the front on many mountains. I’ve got to look towards this prize as i’ve done during the last few years: with optimism.
“To be honest, I don’t think that ‘contesting’ the GC might have made things harder for me to chase the stage wins. If you think about it, I got into three breaks and GC-wise, even though I was into the top guys, I was quite a long way behind. There was no ‘stop’ signal to me from the real leaders if I decided to get into the breakaway, it was all up to myself. I took my biggest efforts into two important stages, Madonna di Campiglio and this one, and though I wasn’t really lucky, I had the legs. Tomorrow? Let’s see how much energy remains in my body when we wake up; it was a very demanding day.”