Andrey Amador makes history again for Costa Rica and Movistar Team: takes over the leader's jersey in Giro d'Italia after resisting huge pace into favourites' group on first big mountain stage
Flying through the TT course in Apeldoorn, supporting Valverde into the 'sterrato' of Alpe di Poti, suffering under the rain in the Chianti hills, making a prodigious descent of the Pian del Falco… and today, in the prelude to the big Dolomites mountains of the weekend, Andrey Amador became the first rider ever from Costa Rica to wear the Maglia Rosa. Perseverance has been the key to the biggest success of Andrey so far. Full constance and commitment have brought the Movistar Team to the top of the Giro d'Italia, thanks to the rider they relied on when they signed them seven years ago.
Stage thirteen of the 2016 'Corsa Rosa' will not only be remembered by Andrey's overall lead, but also thanks to a fantastic performance from the Blues, which got three of their members into an early, massive breakaway (25 members) through the climb of Montemaggiore (Cat-1): José Joaquín Rojas, Jasha Sütterlin and Carlos Betancur. Into the group containing race leader Bob Jungels (EQS), José Herrada suffocated any further moves, while Alejandro Valverde and Andrey Amador tested the legs of both the pink jersey and the astana team. Both the Blues and Vincenzo Nibali's squad put Jungels' consistency into jeopardy until the Luxembourg rider cracked in the last climb, Valle (Cat-2). Ahead, Visconti –who took energies from nowhere to keep fighting, after a serious crash against Cunego (NIP) in Montemaggiore- fought to keep chasing Mikel Nieve (SKY) until the very end, finishing in 2nd place.
Back at the favourites' group, and with Amador virtually in pink, Nibali pipped Valverde over the line to take the last four seconds' bonus and overtaking the Spanish road race champion (now 4th, behind Andrey and Jungels) before the Dolomites. The Queen stage of the Giro d'Italia -210km on Saturday, with six big climbs in the second part of the route from Alpago to Corvara- will see the Movistar Team wearing pink, with two men fighting for overall glory and a reinforced lead in the teams' classification.
Andrey Amador (audio): "It's a dream. And I wasn't even expecting to take pink on this stage, after I had attacked many times to seek for it during the week. I might not keep it for as a long as I'd have liked, but that's why we have Alejandro in the team: he's a super strong rider and we will support him with everything we've got, as it was our plan. We knew today's was going to be an important stage, the first real approach into the mountains. We were sort of expecting attacks when it came to the GC fight, yet we wanted to get into the break to stay calm, and both Visco, José Joaquín and Jasha fulfilled that task in the best possible way. Alejandro proved to be impressively strong on the climbs; I kept my own pace and always stayed with the main field, but into the final climb of Valle, I just lacked a bit of energy, a couple of kilometers before the summit, when I lost contact. Still, and knowing myself well, I knew I could bridge back into the descent to wear this jersey.
I'm so happy to have got to this point. I'm not a pure climber by any means; that's why I consider this as a tremendous feat, which I'm really proud of. The most important thing for the team is keeping all chances intact with Alejandro for the overall. Tomorrow's stage will be one of the hardest in this Giro, the real key to the race together with Sunday's mountain TT. For the time being, we must remain thinking day-by-day, enjoy the moment and wear this pink jersey with pride; it's something massive for my career. Costa Rica is a small country, yet with a big heart. When there's only one 'tico' supporting me in a race, it feels as if they were hundred. This jersey is a tribute to all of them. They've always supporting me, no matter if results were good or bad, and I just hope this serves as a boost of confidence for all the youngsters in our country: we're talented enough to be up here with the top guys in Europe."