Whenever mountain points have been up for grabs Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) has been on the offensive to pick up as many of those as possible in the first days of the Giro d'Italia. Trailing Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) in the competition the Italian joined yesterday's 12-man move and at the end of the day he had finally moved himself into the jersey that he had marked out as a pre-race target.
The mountains competition in a grand tour is often a highly unpredictable one as it not only requires plenty of strength to come out triumphant. Luck is also a key factor as it is imperative to be part of the key moves in the big mountains. For example, few had predicted Matteo Rabottini's win in last year's Giro and even fewer had probably out some money on Simon Clarke as the king of the mountains in last year's Vuelta.
Prior to this year's Giro there was, however, one name that most mentioned when the blue jersey was discussed. Bardiani's Stefano Pirazzi has always been an aggressive rider but while he seemed to lack tactical insight and the strength to finish off his attacks, his performances during the last year had marked him out as a very likely candidate to succeed Rabottini.
Already in the third stage he made his intentions clear by picking up his first points and since then he has been on the hunt whenever points were up for grabs. Yesterday the race was set to climb its first category ascent and so Pirazzi made sure to join the day's crucial 12-man move.
Mountains leader Giovanni Visconti was also part of the break but Colombia's Robinson Chalapud ended up being the most dangerous rival in the battle for the points. However, Pirazzi came out triumphant on the first two climbs of the day and that was enough to put him in the lead 15 points ahead of the Colombian.
The Italian had also hoped to contest the stage win but he suffered from the cold and a lack of energy just as Maxim Belkov (Katusha) rode away. He was later picked up by the group of favourites and despite some initial disappointment he was overjoyed to take the jersey.
" Even before the Giro I had declared that this jersey was one of my goals and I am very happy to have taken it already at the end of the first week," he said. "I rode intelligently and tried to take as many points as possible by spending the minimum of energy because I also wanted to aim for a stage victory. Unfortunately, on the slopes of Valleombrosa, I started to get my first bad feeling and on the descent I had a cold and hunger crisis. It was too bad to miss out on the stage but this jersey is a reward for my efforts and is a great satisfaction. It will not be easy to keep it till the end but I will try to bring it all the way to Brescia."
Pirazzi faces his first big day of defence tomorrow when the peloton has to tackle two big category 1 days on the first day in the high mountains. Expect to see the Bardiani rider on the attack again as he continues his fight to be crowned king of the mountains.
Starting at 14.15 you can follow his exploits on CyclingQuotes.com/live.
|01.05: Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste - Team...|
|01.05: Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste - Youn...|
|01.05: Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste - Moun...|
|01.05: Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste - Poin...|
|01.05: Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste - Gene...|
|30.04: Tour de Yorkshire - Mountains class...|
|30.04: Tour de Yorkshire - Point classific...|
|30.04: Festival Elsy Jacobs - Team classif...|
|30.04: Festival Elsy Jacobs - Young rider ...|
|30.04: Festival Elsy Jacobs - Point classi...|
|25.04 - 30.04: Tour de Romandie|
|27.04 - 30.04: Gracia Orlova|
|28.04 - 30.04: Tour de Yorkshire|
|28.04 - 30.04: Festival Elsy Jacobs|
|29.04 - 30.04: 5éme Tour des Portes du Pays d...|
|29.04 - 30.04: UCI MTB MARATHON SERIES incorp...|
|29.04 - 30.04: UCI MTB WORLD CUP - DHI|
|30.04: 11th Annual Dana Point Grand Prix o...|
|30.04: Rytgerløbet 2017 en del af Øresunds...|
|30.04: Paris - Mantes-en-Yvelines|
32 years | today
26 years | today
29 years | today
|Cristian VILLANUEVA REGUEIRO|
37 years | today
|José Maria HERNÁNDEZ FERNÁNDEZ|
34 years | today