Giro d'Italia (st. 11)
Costa Rican reaches 6th overall in Giro d'Italia standings after long, tough breakaway int he Appennines, supported by Rojas and Herrada; Nairo Quintana remains in 2nd spot behind Dumoulin
It was a very lively stage 11 in the Giro d'Italia -161km from Florence to Bagno di Romagna, with four categorized climbs along the way-, 24 hours after the demanding Foligno TT, as Andrey Amador (Movistar Team), 9th in Tuesday's individual effort, took advantage from excellent team-work to climb up the ladder and continue challenging the Blues' rivals in strategy for the remainder of the 'Corsa Rosa'.
The Costa Rican star joined team-mates José Joaquín Rojas and José Herrada into a massive 24-rider breakaway, formed up in the opening Passo della Consuma (Cat-2) over a bunch where Nairo Quintana always had support from his other five colleagues, while race leader Tom Dumoulin (SUN) often rode in solitude.
The Amador group, which FDJ and Trek always kept within three minutes on the peloton, had to bring back a strong early move from Landa (SKY) and Fraile (DDD) –Herrada and Rojas working hard to keep Andrey calm– before breaking into pieces as the stage was contested on the slopes of the decisive Monte Fumaiolo (Cat-2). At its summit, Andrey was 20" behind Rolland (CDT) and Omar Fraile; it was the Basque who took the day's honours, but contrary to what could be expected, it was with all remaining escapees reaching the line together after lots of moves and chasing.
In the end, Amador took 11th in the day -ammassing a 1'37" gap over the reduced group of favourites in the process; no success for attacks from Nibali (TBM) and Pinot (FDJ)-, the 'tico' now up to 6th overall at 3'05" from Dumoulin – and 42" from Nairo, whom he'll continue to support and play a 'double trouble' in this second half ot the race. Thursday, though, will be a task for the sprinters on another stage of wear and tear (229km) between Forlì and Reggio Emilia.
Andrey Amador: "We were focused on starting the stage at the front, because we knew that so many riders would like to have a shot at the day's break, and we also wanted to see how the leader's team-mates would react if we got some people into the moves. When the escape was almost gone for good, I jumped across with Kangert, we reached them down and the break was given green light. The problem was, many riders into the group did not take any turns, we were handed all responsibility from them at many times – that all made the gap not increasing really much.
"It was a pity not to be able to fight for the stage win either, but you can't go for everything when you've spent the entire day taking strong turns at the front. We're happy, though, because everything behind went OK with Nairo – our goal was to keep the race tense and nervous, make it fast and see how Sunweb reacted. They seemed to do just fine today. No big gaps at the finish indeed, but it was a tough day in the end for everyone.
"That terrain I was able to make up could become important from a strategical point of view, I think. I've somewhat become a dangerous rider GC-wise, and for what it could be worth in the team's tactics, I'm there. It's a good thing to have me up in the standings when it comes to our only goal, which is winning the Giro with Nairo. Let's hope my legs and all of our team-mates' continue to respond well, so we can remain by his side for as long as possible."
Nairo Quintana: "We didn't see that real weakness within the main GC contenders, but surely stages like these, with huge pace and all those climbs, will take its all on everyone. We continue to look forward, seeing how we can move and profiting from every chance. We took almost two minutes back with Andrey today, so I think our situation continues to improve. We'll get to Oropa on Saturday with already two weeks of racing on our shoulders, so it should be a more demanding finish which we will try to profit from to gain some more terrain."