Giro d'Italia (st. 12)
Basque climber from Movistar Team attacks with López (AST) into Montoso (Cat-1) ascent; profits from Sütterlin’s work in approach to Pinerolo; gains 28″ over main GC contenders before Friday’s first mountain-top finish.
Slovenia’s Jan Polanc (UAD) is the new leader of the 2019 Giro d’Italia after the first big mountain stage of the race, a 159km route from Cuneo to Pinerolo with the grueling ascent to Montoso -Cat-1, its central 6km at 11% gradient- as main judge of the day. Italian Cesare Benedetti (BOH) took the day’s honours into a 25-man breakaway which ammassed a huge 15′ gap over the peloton, where the Movistar Team waited for the main climb to start seeking for chances of success with their climbers.
Halfway through the climb, Mikel Landa responded to an acceleration from Miguel Ángel López (AST) and opened a gap over a selected group of favourites which always included a strong Richard Carapaz. The 40″ gap ammassed by Mikel and López over the top remained alive until the steep final, cobbled climb of San Maurizio -ramps up to 20%- thanks to the efforts from Boaro, Cataldo (AST) and also Jasha Sütterlin, who joined the early break then dropped back and took key turns to favour Landa’s chances. The gap at the finish ended up being 28″, a reduced margin which still rewards and shows the courageous spirit from Landa.
Friday will see the peloton tackle the first real mountain-top finish in this Giro at the Lago Serrù / Ceresole Reale (Cat-1; 20.3km at 5.9% average, last 6km at 9%), preceded by the Colle del Lys (Cat-1) and Pian del Lupo (Cat-2), with long flat sections in between, for a total 196 km.
DECLARACIONES / Mikel Landa:
“I’m so happy. It was important for me to see myself doing strong in the first big mountain of this race. Taking some time back, even if it wasn’t a lot, and finding these legs is so great for me. Halfway through the climb, seeing that riders like Miguel Ángel trying to move across to the break and the speed was decreasing in my group, I decided to take advantage and launch an attack to get to him. We had Jasha into the break, and I tried to profit from his situation to keep that gap high before the end. We might have a strong favourite in Roglic, with a big gap ahead of us, plus riders like Nibali, who knows this race well and is in optimal form, yet we won’t stop trying. The race should still remain quite open in this weekend, it will also be hard to control, and we’ll try to take advantage and make it enjoyable for the fans.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto