Giro d'Italia (st. 15)
Spanish champion flies to 3rd in Alpe di Siusi, sits now 38" away from Giro d'Italia podium by Vincenzo Nibali (AST); Amador down to 7th overall as Steven Kruijswijk (TLJ) reinforces GC lead
There's always 'Bala' after the storm. Alejandro Valverde proved once again why he's a legend of cycling. It doesn't matter how many times he falls down: he will always get back on his feet. Today, other than breaking the clock on stage 15 of the Giro (10.85km mountain TT up the Alpe di Siusi), he made almost two minutes back on pre-race favourite Vincenzo Nibali (AST) to sit just 37" behind the overall podium.
Bala's exhibition already could be felt at the intermediate point, following the start of the 9km, 11%-maximum ascent, where Valverde took 18" on the Italian, who later suffered massive gearing failure. Combined with Alejandro's strength, everything that gone wrong into the first Dolomites stage was happily forgotten. The Giro is still alive: Valverde's back, and there's still one long week to keep dreaming.
On the other hand, Andrey Amador still struggled after wear and tear on yesterday's grueling ride. The Costa Rican hero now sits seventh overall –overtaken by Rafal Majka (TNK) and Ilnur Zakarin (KAT)-, at 5’27” from the Maglia Rosa, Steven Kruijswijk (TLJ), which reinofrced its lead after coming just a few tenths short of the day's victory by Alexander Foliforov (GAZ).
Riders will enjoy a well-deserved, final rest day on Monday before action resumes with stage 16, from Bressanone to Andalo, with 132km and three categorized climbs.
Alejandro Valverde (video): "Yesterday's stage wasn't neither really bad nor good at all – just a so-so day. I'm simply not used to staying riding at high altitude for so long. I wasn't feeling like myself. It killed me. My body felt so strange, I was a bit dizzy… it was really difficult to keep up. Today was a completely different situation. I'm happy again, satisfied to have returned to my real level. We're still up for the fight – there's a long way to go in this Giro, and gaps can be created everywhere."
Andrey Amador (video): "My legs weren't feeling as I'd have liked them to be. I haven't still healed from some flu I'm suffering from a couple of days ago – I just hope I can recover to keep helping the team. I think Valverde is doing great; let's keep supporting him for next few stages."
Chente García Acosta (audio): "I did imagine a day like this for Alejandro. Already this morning, when we went on a final recon of the TT course, he said to me he was doing great. Yesterday's stage was a bad day, in the worst possible scenario. It all turned grim for Alejandro: the length of the stage, the steep slopes, the combined vertical gain, and above them all, the altitude. I knew he would turn back good again. This result will be a big boost for his morale; I'm looking forward to seeing him doing great in the upcoming days."