Giro d'Italia (st. 20)
Young Colombian keeps Blues dreaming until very end of grueling Sestriere mountain stage, as Hindley (SUN) and Geoghegan Hart (IGD) tie in the GC standings with one day to go.
/ Today’s route
A course which could have well be legendary, yet due to circumstances alien to sporting and weather affairs, most of its epic ingredients were removed from the original route on Wednesday. It was still a very demanding stage, though, with 3,500 meters of elevation gain and 190km between Alba and Sestriere, a ski station that would see the race climbing to its roads three times (two Cat-1 ascents + one Cat-2 climb).
/ Weather report
A magnificent day considering the time of the year we’re at. Blue skies, just a breeze of wind and generous temperatures, with 15ºC at the ‘fondo valle’ and 7ºC at the top of Sestriere. It’s just awful the current circumstances haven’t allowed us climbing Agnello and Izoard…
/ Keys to the race
- 21 riders went into the early break, with the Movistar Team again sending a strong representation to the leading group. Einer Rubio and Davide Villella got themselves into a group with not so many climbers, which Astana initially kept within seven minutes’ reach of the peloton. It was only at the tougher part of the first Sestriere climb, with about 60km to go, when the INEOS Grenadiers started to push behind and make things harder.
- At the first descent, Ballerini (DQT) took a gap over a six-man pursuit from which Einer Rubio would go on the attack. 30km before the finish, the Boyacá native, who saw his chances jeopardised as the race exploded in the GC group -Geoghegan Hart (INS) and Hindley (SUN) leaving Kelderman (SUN) behind, just like in the Stelvio-, attacked solo seeking for the leader, who held a 2′ advantage.
- Rubio went alone in the end until the last 10km, when he was caught again by Ballerini and Pieter Serry (DQT), before the Tao / Hindley group brought them back. The Colombian climber from Movistar Team ultimately lost contact with 6km left and finished a brilliant 6th (+1’35”) from a leading group where Geoghegan Hart bested Hindley and tied with the Aussie in the GC standings, just 24 hours before the end. Sergio Samitier remained in 13th overall, with Antonio Pedrero in 19th.
Einer Rubio: “We did everything we could at this final chance. I wanted to go into the break and launch an attack from afar after joining that move, because we knew it was always going to be hard to contest the stage in a day where the GC riders would surely go all-out. I accomplished both goal, yet it wasn’t enough for me. There will surely be many opportunities in the future; we just have to prepare ourselves better for the next ones and profit from the knowledge and confidence we’ve gained over the last few weeks.
“I’m really happy with my debut in a Grand Tour and here in the Giro d’Italia. I learned lots of things that I’ll take with me in the upcoming years. As I said, now the experience and how we prepare for the next Grand Tours are the things I have to improve and hopefully bring with me to go for big goals at these races. This is another whole level: the best riders in the world, the hardest pace, it’s never easy to go on the breakaway – nothing is easy here. You need the talent, the skills, the intelligence, and work hard to acquire most of those.
“Now it’s all down to tomorrow’s TT, recovering a bit, enjoying the end of the season, tackling the preparations for next year with commitment and starting 2021 with excitement about what’s to come.”
/ Upcoming goals
The second Grand Tour of 2020 will take its curtains down on Sunday -already with winter time, a circumstance never seen at three-week stageraces- in Milan, where the riders will tackle a 15.7km ITT, completely flat, for specialists, to finish the 103rd edition of the Giro.
— Final TT start times: Torres 14.07, Carretero 14.34, Cataldo 14.47, Rubio 14.56, Sepúlveda 14.57, Villella 15.13, Pedrero 15.34, Samitier 15.40
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto