Giro d'Italia (st. 17)
Davide leads Blues’ performance as four from Telefónica-backed squad join winning break, with Carretero, Cataldo and Sepúlveda. O’Connor (NTT) takes the day’s honours.
/ Today’s route
Another big mountain stage in the Giro, and another long route -430km were to be covered between Tuesday and Wednesday-. Four big climbs on the day’s programme, with Forcella Valbona (Cat-1), the Monte Bondone (Cat-1), the Passo Durone (Cat-3) and the mountain-top finish of Madonna di Campiglio (Cat-1).
/ Weather report
It was a quite generous day, with no threat of rain and temperatures of around 14ºC in the valleys. The forecast was 2-3ºC at the top of Bondone and Forcella Valbona.
/ Keys to the race
- Right from the start, the Movistar Team’s combative approach to the race seemed to reach new, surprising heights. Already before the climb to Forcella Valbona, a leading quintet included Davide Villella amd Dario Cataldo, not allowed more than a slim margin. However, at the early slopes, a more significant move with 19 riders stuck, with the Telefónica-backed squad’s two Italians as well as Eduardo Sepúlveda and Héctor Carretero. Half the Blue roster and a fifth of a lead group which race leader Almeida’s Deceuninck – Quick Step squad gave a four-minute advantage at the top of the ascent.
- After getting through the Bondone, whose summit (-86km) had the breakaway holding a gap over seven minutes on the favourites’ group, Dario Cataldo started the attacks with a move in the last part of the descent. His move created sort of a selection in the break, even if less than expected: Héctor Carretero joined the Italian at the flat section before the Passo Durone, alongside Ghebreigzabhier, O’Connor (NTT), Dennis (IGD), Zakarin (CCC) and Vanhoucke (LTS). A second pursuit group, with De Gendt (LTS), Pernsteiner (TBM) and Davide Villella, bridged back to the front at the ascent; and another five riders, with Rodríguez (AST), Bouchard (ALM), Hansen (COF), Frankiny (GFC) and De la Parte (CCC), made it back before the last climb.
- The three Movistar Team riders paid, however, their efforts at the first part of the Madonna di Campiglio climb, left out of a final selection where O’Connor came victorious. Villella would complete a steady progression to finish in 7th place, just over 3′ from the winner. Behind, Antonio Pedrero also paid his efforts as we enter the third week and soon lost contact with a short group of favourites, where Almeida kept his Maglia Rosa. The catalan now sits in 16th overall, with Samitier in 15th.
/ Upcoming goals
Thursday’s stage 18 will be another huge test for the GC contenders, probably the Queen stage -after the modifications Saturday’s route has seen in the last few hours-, including this year’s Cima Coppi, the Passo dello Stelvio (2,758m), overcome before the Torri di Fraele (Cat-1) en route to the Laghi di Cancano.
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto