Giro d'Italia (st. 11)
Andrey bested by Ulissi (LAM) at Asolo's finish, strengthens second place overall in 'Corsa Rosa'. Alejandro Valverde (10th), on the attack with Nibali (AST) and Chaves (OGE), remains in third GC
It was an incredibly exciting, closing twenty kilometers into an insidious finale on stage eleven of the Giro d'Italia, another long run (227km) from Modena and through the plains of the Po river towards the finish in Asolo, surrounded by several ascents. Andrey Amador (Movistar Team) took the day's second place behind Diego Ulissi (LAM), after making a challenging move that continued a previous action at the front by team-mate Alejandro Valverde.
The Spanish road race champion followed an acceleration by Vincenzo Nibali (AST) into the descent of the Forcella Mostaccin (Cat-4). The duo, joined by Colombia's Esteban Chaves (OGE), tried to open a gap over a second echelon of favourites, which Andrey briefly missed into the climb. As the GC contenders got back together with 13km to go, Amador upped the pace and went initially solo, then came joined by race leader Bob Jungels (EQS). At the final kick before the line, 4km from the end, Ulissi (LAM) launched a strong attack which neither Carlos Betancur nor Giovanni Visconti could follow despite trying their best. With Andrey and Jungels soon caught by the Italian, the Lampre rider's better top speed at the finish got the better from the Tico's courage.
Amador's second spot and Valverde's 10th, 13" back into the first main peloton, doesn't mean any real changes in the GC order despite the reformed margins: while Andrey takes some time back on Jungels to sit now at 24" -always in 2nd-, Alejandro now finds himself 1'07" down, 43" after his team-mate yet still ahead of Kruijswijk (TLJ, 4th), Nibali (AST, 5th) or Majka (TCS; 6th, more than a minute after the Spaniard). Gaps shouldn't change on Thursday as a pan-flat route is scheduled from Noale to Bibione (182km).
Andrey Amador (audio): "Reflecting on today's, I'm mostly happy about the result. It was quite a nervous stage, even if the opening 200 kilometers were basically flat. That big crash at the back of the group really showed what we could feel inside the peloton. Happily, the whole team had already passed and we could start the climb in good position. It was a short, yet demanding one, and Alejandro kept the focus to follow Nibali and Chaves into that move. Once I saw they were going to get caught, I tried to counter and take the others by surprise. Later on, Jungels showed up from behind – we decided it was a good break to keep alive and took all turns we could. It was a good chance to win a stage and gain some seconds – though it's still so early in this Giro when it comes to real mountains, such opportunities must not be missed. We must keep trying this way.
"Looking at we've done so far in this Giro, now that we're over halfway, we must remain satisfied. Leaving aside the abandon by Javi Moreno, due to that crash, the team is showing good compenetration, we're working really well and my position overall, as well as Alejandro's, is ideal heading into the weekend. The good atmosphere into the squad really becomes visible in finishes like today's."
Alejandro Valverde (audio): "Did it seem like I didn't cooperate with Nibali? That's not right. I did, at all times. The thing is, when he attacked into the descent and Chaves and I went after him, he took some meters of advantage which I had to make up on the flat. I had to breathe for a bit and once I felt recovered, I took all turns I had to. In any case, I race as I consider it's better for me; he does the same."
Eusebio Unzué (audio): "Alejandro? I saw him taking turns with Chaves and Nibali when they three attacked. I think it was a beautiful attempt from Vincenzo, which Alejandro and Chaves countered attentively. Even though it seemed like they could win some seconds at the finish with that cooperation, the GC leader defended himself well. The same happened when Jungels made his move; the other favourites did everything at their reach behind so we couldn't open a gap.
"Andrey first went on a solo attack and later profited of Jungels's move to keep the front. It wasn't a bad position for us to stay with the Maglia Rosa and win some seconds before the high mountain stages. Chances to claim a stage win were also on the cards, but unfortunately, Ulissi coming from behind made them impossible to fructify. For the time being, we're finding these chances to improve our overall result and we try to take advantage. I think the guys rode again very well today."