Giro d'Italia (st. 14)
Andrey Amador (5th overall) honours Maglia Rosa with great sacrifice and technical ability, remains into GC podium fight with Alejandro Valverde (4th) as Steve Kruijswijk (TLJ) surges to claim pink jersey; Nibali (AST) now second at 41"
‘Il tappone dolomitico’ of this year's Giro d'Italia (210km from Alpago Farra to Corvara Alta Badia) demanded arguably the most important value in cycling from all competitors: the ability to suffer at extreme limits. That's easy to say, yet hard to explain when, wearing the Maglia Rosa, one sees how one of the biggest favourites' domestiques picks up the pace to impossible reaches into the Passo Giau (Cat-1), almost 10km at 9.4% average.
Andrey Amador, perfectly conscious about his physical strengths and quite far from sinking due to the pressure, brought another one to his virtues to the fore: courage, patience, agony. All those words collided into a marvellous descent, that brought him back to the favourites' group –led by Astana, with Valverde on his wheel, Chaves (OGE) and Kruijswijk (TLJ) hiding at the back- el ‘tico’ se armó de valor y enlazó de nuevo, acompañando al murciano en los momentos decisivos de esta 14ª de la ‘Corsa Rosa’.
Following five hellish climbs, Nibali (AST) launched a strong attack into the decisive one, Valparola, which only Chaves and Kruijswijk -who dropped the Italian later on- could follow. The Dutchman now wears pink as Chaves claimed the stage win to become 3rd overall, at 1’32”. The day's efforts leave the Movistar Team still with two chances –Alejandro, 4th at 3'06"; Andrey, 5th, 3'15" back- to keep fighting for the podium and stage victories, the squad's main goals for this Giro.
Sunday will bring a mountain TT up the Alpe di Siusi (10.8km), with a 2km false flat followed by 9km of constant climbing, 8.3% average. The start of a revenge for the Blues? Their fans can only hope so.
Andrey Amador (audio): "First of all, I'd like to thank all the fans who have been supporting us during this week, both in good and bad moments, yesterday and today. It was a tough day for us. The team was absolutely excellent. I struggled to keep the pace of the group into the Giau, but could bridge back into the downhill. Obviously, I had nothing left to keep chasing in Valparola, and I could just keep a steady pace to try and not too lose too much time. It was difficult for me, also for Alejandro, but we remain in overall contention – that's the only thing we must keep thinking of at this moment. It wasn't a course that suited me well, either. I know Bala will turn things around. We must forget about today, or just learn about what we did wrong so as not repeat it – tomorrow is another day to keep fighting."