Giro de Italia (st. 20)
Amador maintains historic 4th place in Giro overall after demanding Finestre / Sestriere climbing; Visconti suffers but ultimately conserves his Maglia Azzurra, just 24 hours away from Milan.
Though they weren't able to get into the mix for the stage honours, again awarded to Fabio Aru (AST) today, the Movistar Team conserved both merits they fought for the last few days at the final mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia, over 199km starting at Saint-Vincent and finishing atop the Cat-3 Sestriere via the Colle delle Finestre -this edition's Cima Coppi-: Andrey Amador's fourth place overall and the Maglia Azzurra, contested by Beñat Intxausti for many days and eventually won by Giovanni Visconti.
Following a tremendous effort the day prior as part of the early break, the Italian couldn't stay with the top contenders today to score any points that avoided a close competition after Finestre. However, and despite Mikel Landa (AST) getting to 4pt behind Visconti after his first place across the highest climb in the Giro, coming only 4th at the final ascent, combined with Steven Kruijswijk's (TLJ) fewer points, awarded the prize to Giovanni, who becomes the first 'best climber' jersey in the 'Corsa Rosa' for Eusebio Unzué's squads in almost four decades.
Up the road, Amador kept his usual, constant pace without following the attacks by the three podium finishers -joined by Hesjedal (TCG) and Urán (EQS)-, but he got extra help by a remarkable Intxausti, who pulled into his group and helped the Costa Rican reach the line only 2'34" back -close to Alberto Contador (TCS), who struggled up Finestre but kept his Maglia Rosa- and confirmed, barring any incidents tomorrow on his way to Milan, the fourth place, almost two minutes ahead of Hesjedal. A historic achievement which turns the 2015 Giro into a more than decent one for the Movistar Team, which keeps alive its love story with the Giro d'Italia.
REACTION / Andrey Amador: "We knew the podium was going to be really difficult to achieve, but we must remain happy about what we have accomplished. Just like in previous days, I kept using my technique or riding steady, without pushing too much, not to lose it all, with the difference that we had to give all that we had today, because there was no 'tomorrow'. It was a difficult day, in general: the pace was fast in the beginning, meaning that the stage was harder at the end; the pace through Finestre was strong, and that 'sterrato' forced us to keep a bit more attention, though it wasn't really humid and didn't make things even more complicated; finally, the Sestriere climb, which we spent into the pursuit.
"We lost time over the first ascent, but I was lucky to have Beñat by my side – he was fantastic, rode like a beast to the finish. He gained much time on the leaders and avoided Hesjedal putting us into trouble – Ryder was some minutes behind, but was becoming sort of a threat. I'm really thankful about what Beñat did. Without my team-mates, we couldn't have achieved this: having the whole team supporting me in the beginning of the stage, plus Intxausti into the final climb, was the key not to lose much time and keep the fourth spot.
"Cycling, sport in general, life… comes this way. Sometimes you need to become more mature to achieve this kind of success, or maybe reach an opportunity like the one I enjoyed during this Giro. I think I profited well from it. It's a massive boost of confidence for the future. It's true that a fourth place overall might not be remembered other than by the one who achieved it, but all in all, it's a step forward in my progression. I hope to continue this way, helping the team out and getting results
"This team has big leaders, like Nairo or Alejandro, but the rest of us always had a chance to shine. We got one into this Giro and I think we did well, but the key for us is working for them two. After Sunday, we will go back to Barcelona to recover for some days from the race's efforts and we will see how I feel before planning on the next racing schedule. Then, I'll know if I remain in Europe or head back home."