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"I would definitely not have won if Landa had been here. I would have been working for him on the stage as his gregario, and I certainly wouldn't have been in the break."

Photo: Sirotti

GIRO D'ITALIA

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
20.05.2016 @ 23:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Like he did it in the 2014 Criterium du Dauphiné, Mikel Nieve (Sky) saved the race for Team Sky as he claimed a marvelous solo win in stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia. Having bridged the gap to a large breakaway on the first of four climbs, he dropped his companions on the penultimate ascent and held off both a hard-chasing Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and the group of favourites. Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) lost contact on the final climb and was the notable absentee for the group that sprinted for third, meaning that Andrey Amador (Movistar) moves into the race lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Mikel Nieve: If Landa had been here, I would never have won this stage

Mikel Nieve took a fantastic solo victory on stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia to claim Team Sky's first win of the race.

 

The Spaniard attacked from the day's break 35 kilometres from home and, having quickly built a gap to a cluster of chasers, he never looked back.

 

Nieve held a solid lead of 47 seconds back to lone chaser Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) after he had crested the final climb and he dug in to claim the third Grand Tour stage win of his career at the end of a gruelling 170 kilometres, containing four categorised climbs.

 

After the stage a delighted Nieve told TeamSky.com: "It was a tough day out there. I knew that I needed to attack early, as if I didn't the peloton could easily have come back to us. I went from 35km out. I had a good feeling on the climbs and I managed to get down the descents without any issues. It went really well!

 

"I've been feeling good for the last few days and that was the same for today too. I really wanted to try something and that's what I did. It was a full gas effort and it was really nice to take the victory for the team.

 

"Everyone was sad to see Mikel (Landa) leave the race. Today is an important result for the team as our big aim now is to fight for stage wins. It's great for morale and hopefully we can keep that going.

 

"I'm very happy. It's been almost five years since I last won a stage at the Giro d'Italia [Gardeccia 2011]. Today's attack was kind of planned. To go on the attack for a stage victory was the only thing we could do after Mikel Landa abandoned. I went full gas. It's great that I've made it.

 

“It was a plan that after Mikel Landa abandoned we had the obligation to win a stage. Today it was possible and we tried full gas since the start.

 

"With Landa going, it was very disappointing. The team had a little lower morale, and we just wanted to win stages .

 

"After getting in the break I found myself in good form. I was climbing well, but the ascents were very complicated. Thankfully I was able to get out on my own, it's better than being with someone.

 

“We will try again. We won today, tomorrow is also hard, and we will try during all the mountain stages. Our priority now is to win stages.

 

"I would definitely not have won if Landa had been here. I would have been working for him on the stage as his gregario, and I certainly wouldn't have been in the break.

 

"We didn't think he'd been that badly hit. I knew he'd had a bad night on Monday but he seemed ok at breakfast. But in the end, it affected him very badly. He had a fever and when you're ill, there's nothing you can do.

 

"It was a very hard day and after Mikel abandoned, I spent all day in the gruppetto. Psychologically it was very hard, but physically, I've been feeling very good.

 

"It was important for morale to get a win after Landa's withdrawal. It gives us more tranquillity. And personally I'm very happy because I don't win a lot. To win another Giro stage after being called up at the last minute make me very pleased."

 

“I took the opportunity that presented itself to win a stage after getting in the long breakaway. I wasn’t scheduled to ride the Giro. I was entered at the last minute. Therefore it’s a great satisfaction to get a stage victory.

 

"All stages are important and we will continue trying until the end.”

 

The 31 year old had joined team-mate Sebastian Henao in the day's break and, with no GC contenders up the road, the peloton seemed content to let the group stay clear.

 

Nieve took full advantage and attacked at the bottom of the penultimate climb, with only Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) able to follow him.

 

The American couldn't live with Nieve for long though, and in the end it was Visconti who looked most likely to spoil the party.

 

He distanced Dombrowski and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r - La Mondiale) ahead of the final climb but wasn't able to eat into Nieve's advantage and the Basque star stayed away to seal a famous win.

 

After the stage Sport Director Dario Cioni told Eurosport that the team's plan played out to perfection.

 

He said: "It was a super day. We spoke this morning with everyone and said we wanted to get in the break. We talked about Sebastian Henao and Mikel Nieve as we knew we wanted to get them up the road.

 

"For us it was brilliant. Once they were in the move they didn't do too much work so they were nice and fresh towards the end. We knew it was better to sit back as it would be a smaller group towards the finish and that's how it played out. We're obviously disappointed not to have Mikel Landa here so we're just going to go out and look for stage wins.

 

"If you have good legs you can make something happen. Mikel had good legs today. It was difficult for him on the descents but he did a great job. There are plenty of options for tomorrow. Mikel has shown that we have a really good team for the mountains. We have several riders who can be up there and we're going to try again each day to win the stage."


Pink Andrey Amador: I am still here to help Valverde

Flying through the TT course in Apeldoorn, supporting Valverde on the 'sterrato' of Alpe di Poti, suffering under the rain in the Chianti hills, making a prodigious descent of the Pian del Falco... and today, in the prelude to the big Dolomites mountains of the weekend, Andrey Amador became the first rider ever from Costa Rica to wear the Maglia Rosa. Perseverance has been the key to the biggest success of Amador so far. Full consistency and commitment have brought the Movistar Team to the top of the Giro d'Italia, thanks to the rider they relied on when they signed them seven years ago.

 

Stage thirteen of the 2016 'Corsa Rosa' will not only be remembered by his overall lead, but also thanks to a fantastic performance from the Blues, which got three of their members into an early, massive breakaway (25 members) through the climb of Montemaggiore (Cat-1): José Joaquín Rojas, Jasha Sütterlin and Carlos Betancur. In the group containing race leader Bob Jungels (EQS), José Herrada suffocated any further moves, while Alejandro Valverde and Andrey Amador tested the legs of both the pink jersey and the Astana team. Both the Blues and Vincenzo Nibali's squad put Jungels' consistency in jeopardy until the Luxembourg rider cracked in the last climb, Valle (Cat-2). Ahead, Visconti – who got energies from nowhere to keep fighting, after a serious crash against Cunego (NIP) in Montemaggiore - fought to keep chasing Mikel Nieve (SKY) until the very end, finishing in 2nd place.

 

Back in the favourites' group, and with Amador virtually in pink, Nibali pipped Valverde over the line to take the last four seconds' bonus and overtaking the Spanish road race champion (now 4th, behind Amador and Jungels) before the Dolomites. The Queen stage of the Giro d'Italia  - 210km on Saturday, with six big climbs in the second part of the route from Alpago to Corvara - will see the Movistar Team wear pink, with two men fighting for overall glory and a reinforced lead in the teams' classification.

 

Andrey Amador said:

 

"It's a dream. And I wasn't even expecting to take pink on this stage, after I had attacked many times to seek for it during the week. I might not keep it for as a long as I'd have liked, but that's why we have Alejandro in the team: he's a super strong rider and we will support him with everything we've got, as it was our plan.

 

”We knew today's was going to be an important stage, the first real approach into the mountains. We were sort of expecting attacks when it came to the GC fight, yet we wanted to get into the break to stay calm, and both Visco, José Joaquín and Jasha fulfilled that task in the best possible way.

 

”Alejandro proved to be impressively strong on the climbs; I kept my own pace and always stayed with the main field, but on the final climb of Valle, I just lacked a bit of energy, a couple of kilometers before the summit, when I lost contact. Still, and knowing myself well, I knew I could bridge back on the descent to wear this jersey.

 

”I'm so happy to have got to this point. I'm not a pure climber by any means; that's why I consider this as a tremendous feat, which I'm really proud of.

 

"I'm delighted to have the Maglia Rosa. I'll do my best to enjoy this experience. The truth is that Alejandro Valverde is very strong and my move to the top spot doesn't change anything. He's our captain and I'm racing for him. We have two very hard days ahead. Tomorrow it'll be one of the queen stages. It's great to go into it with the Maglia Rosa.

 

”The most important thing for the team is keeping all chances intact with Alejandro for the overall. Tomorrow's stage will be one of the hardest in this Giro, the real key to the race together with Sunday's mountain TT. For the time being, we must remain thinking day-by-day, enjoy the moment and wear this pink jersey with pride; it's something massive for my career.

 

“That was our first approach to the mountains and the final climb didn’t really suit me, so I was a little bit further back. I was able to catch back up and defend by taking the pink jersey. Alejandro is in a good position, everything is intact, and now we move into the tough mountain stages and we will see what we can do.

 

“They have always supported me in Costa Rica so this jersey is dedicated to all of them.

 

“I didn’t have the legs I wanted to have today but Alejandro was very strong. I was just trying to get up the last climb steadily at my own rhythm and I am really happy I was able to make it back on.

 

“We came to the Giro d’Italia Alejandro as the undisputed leader. We know the phenomenal rider that he is and that the team is in great shape.  Nothing has changed, except that we unfortunately lost Javier Moreno in a crash and he’s normally a very important rider for us in the mountains. I’ll enjoy wearing the Maglia Rosa tomorrow and Alejandro would be a worthy successor.

 

“We’ve still got to think about tomorrow yet but I hope that Alejandro is my grand successor in the pink jersey. I know who I am and where I come from, so I have no problem dedicating myself to help Alejandro. I’ll give him 100% support and help him to achieve our goal of having the pink jersey on stage 21 in Turin. We’ve got it on the 13th stage and that is a great start.”

 

“I don’t think Visconti missed the win by much. He was very strong and then the other guys were there to help me and Alejandro. I think our tactics were good. We’ve got the jersey and Alejandro is well-placed, and so now the situation is the best it can be.

 

“I’m not a pure climber and I suffer after one or two attacks, so I followed my own pace on the final climb. I knew I’d lose some time but I also knew that I could get it back on the decent because I’m a good descender. Alejandro was also upfront to slow the pace and to help me get back on, so that I could become the leader by a few seconds. It wasn’t a super day for me but I managed to take advantage of it and get the pink jersey. Now, we’ll see what will happen tomorrow in the big, big stages.

 

“It’s true that it is an historic day for me and for my country. I’m not a favourite for the Maglia Rosa, but I have it after thirteen stages. Luckily I have the experience of last year’s Giro [fourth overall].

 

"Visconti is second in the stage, Valverde is in a good position and I have the jersey. Certainly the high mountains are still to come and I'll probably lose time but the important thing is that the team is present and we will fight until the end.

 

"The number 1 is Alejandro, without any doubt. He is better physically and has more experience. I think if I continue with this momentum I can help and collaborate and then we will succeed.”

 

Alejandro Valverde: I saw that Nibali was strong

“The team was phenomenal today. We were represented in all the breaks. We had Giovanni who was second and Andrey in pink so we are really happy,” Alejandro Valverde told Eurosport.

 

“We all had a good look at each other today. I saw Nibali was in a good condition. He ended up getting two seconds on me but the Giro won’t be decided on those two seconds.

 

"As a team we have worked to perfection and we are happy about it. There was a very high level, however, we were careful at all times."

 

Vincenzo Nibali: It made no sense to take any big risks

"We had to try to get into the breakaway and we did it with Andrey Zeits and Davide Malacarne,” said Astana’s Eros Capecchi.

 

"In this way, we forced other teams to work and we have allowed our two captains to be calm before the final climbs.

 

"The team showed its strength and led the race and Vincenzo Nibali has proven to be in a good shape,” commented sport director Alexandr Shefer.

 

"Tomorrow we will face one of the most important stages of the Giro with Dolomite climbs. It will be a very busy day, but I'm confident.”

 

"The final sprint went well for me in the end. There was a headwind and Alejandro went from distance but I timed my effort right," Vincenzo Nibali told Cyclingnews and Spaziociclismo.

 

"That's Valverde’s way of riding, I know that very well. We know that he's always raced like that, it's almost more a game of the mind than of the legs. I tried to attack on the last climb, a kilometre from the top, but everybody was very alert today. But it's still only the first mountain stage we've had, there's more to come."

 

"We tried to make the race by attacking on the penultimate climb. Scarponi laid down a very high rhythm there and again on the final climb, trying to make the race hard, but it wasn't easy.

 

"Amador wasn't as sharp today, he really suffered a lot. There was an acceleration from Valverde, and then I had a go myself, but it stayed together.

 

"After that, it was dangerous on the descent and there was even one point where I lost my grip a bit. But we were all watching one other and there was no point in taking big risks because you could crash and lose the entire Giro on a descent like that.

 

"I see Majka is going well, I see Kruijswijk is going well, I see Chaves is going well… So really everybody who came over the top of the last climb together is going well.

 

"Today we tried to do a good race. On the penultimate climb we attacked, with Scarponi who set a very high pace. Even on the last climb we tried to do the hard work, but it was not easy. "

 

Rafal Majka: The goal is still the podium

Four imposing climbs dominated the profile of today’s mountain stage. The first two would tire riders, while the final two would be a deciding factor in the race for the GC. After 170km riding with the GC contenders and with strong support from his teammates, Rafal Majka contested a sprint among his rivals, taking fifth position after a long and tough day in the mountains. Rafal ends the day holding sixth position in the GC standings, with eight stages still left to race.

 

More than thirty riders – including Manuele Boaro – made their way off the front, and due to the sheer numbers involved, were able to work together to draw out an advantage on the peloton.

 

In the peloton, Rafal Majka was looking calm and confident. He’d remained with his GC rivals throughout the stage, even as the Maglia Rosa and other GC contenders were dropped. Having dropped back from the break, Majka had teammate Manuele Boaro to protect him and work with him on the climbs. As the group hit the Cima Porzus and the road hit gradients of 16% on increasingly narrow roads, Majka looked comfortable and in control, with no signs of suffering even on the steeper sections of the route.

 

The support of the team has been a key feature in this year’s race, supplementing Majka’s strong GC performance, as Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman observed from the finish.

 

“Manuele dropped back after it started to heat up behind so he could help Rafal over the third climb and into the last one. It was good to have him there also to help Rafal stay calm. Rafal is definitely growing into the race - he started off quite nervous but he's more confident in himself now and he can keep progressing here after taking back more time on some in front on the GC today.”

 

Riding in support of Majka as well today was Evgeny Petrov, who had crashed on stage 11. While in some pain, Petrov  rode well and he stayed in the group with Rafal for a considerable length of time, supporting his team leader.

 

At the front of the peloton, the GC attacks started, first from Vincenzo Nibali of Astana. In his element on the final descent, the Italian rider was unable to shake Majka, who marked him perfectly and held his wheel on the twisting and technical roads, and as the terrain levelled out, the Tinkoff leader was still decidedly among the GC contenders.  Majka crossed the line in fifth position after a strong ride.


Hoffman was pleased that the stage panned out close to the team’s strategy.

 

“It was an exciting day today and a good one for us as everything worked out well. We wanted to get a rider in the big move early on either to go for the stage or to help Rafal later on and Manuele did this perfectly. Then behind the others were looking good with five guys still in the front split after the race exploded on the first climb.”

 

After the stage, Majka was pleased with his performance, and how his teammates supported him on one of the toughest stages of the race so far.

 

"It was a very tough stage but I think we did a very good job. I feel my form getting better each and every day and in the final climb I was really strong. The team overall and Manuele Boaro in particular did an excellent job and I would like to thank them for the effort they put in to support me."

 

Tomorrow's 14th stage is both long and challenging, with seven incredibly tough climbs over a 210km course. The first 95km ride steadily upwards, before climbing five categorised climbs in quick succession. With no time to rest before tackling the final two climbs, there’s a high chance of a late attack for time on the GC, before the descent into the finish in Corvara. Majka was looking ahead, both to tomorrow’s stage, but also the week still to come before the race’s finish.

 

“As I have been saying from the start of the Giro, it is a long race and we have to fight until the very finish in Turin. There are still a number of difficult stages ahead and we will adapt our strategy every day."

 

Ahead of tomorrow’s tough stage, Hoffman was looking for a repeat of today’s strategy, owing to the similarity between the two stages.

 

“Tomorrow is going to be another hard day, with a longer climb at the start but then later on it is quite similar to today, with a first and then second category climb, with a descent to finish. We will take a similar approach to today and be ready to race from the front.”

 

After a tough stage, Majka was still confident ahead of a final tough week of racing.

 

"The podium is the goal in this Giro but we face some strong rivals. Nibali and Valverde have shown they are in very good form so far and it will certainly be an exciting battle all the way through.

 

"I think I feel good and, as I always say, I have faith in the team. We have so many climbers, but I also want to thank them for what they have done today. Every day we will try to do something."

 

"I hope to get on the podium, I'll try as soon as possible. We must try to recover a few seconds on Nibali and Valverde, but it will be difficult, they are both very strong. Then there are also Kruijswijk, Chaves and Zakarin. We must see and be there every day. "

 

Stefan Denifl impresses with solo ride in Giro d’Italia mountains

Stefan Denifl notched up a splendid 6th place at the end of this first day in the mountains for the Giro.  Having escaped in the first hour of racing, Denifl, who comes from the Tyrol, managed to retain enough of his strength and energies to stay with the group of race favorites after the last mountain summit, and finished in the top-10.

 

“I really gave everything in the final in order to finish in the top-10,” Denifl explained, having been a member of the Swiss World Tour team since its inception.  “I’m happy, but I also have to give a huge thank you to my roommate and compatriot Matthias Brändle for heling me bridge up to the break.  Just like he did in the 2015 Tour of Switzerland, he sacrificed himself for me, which allowed me to manage my effort.  And I am ready to get back to work tomorrow, especially if I can recover well after this demanding day.

 

"I have to thank my roommate Mathias Brändle, he was the guy who brought me in the breakaway. Without him I wouldn't have been there. In the stage I was attacking on the first climb, since at the moment I'm not so confident in the downhills. I just wanted to have a little bit of an advantage. At the end of the stage was just everybody full gas.

 

"Finally it's a good race and it's the Giro, so that's nice. For sure if I have the legs again, I will try again."

 

Kjell Carlström, directeur sportif for IAM Cycling at the Giro along with Mario Chiesa, explained the situation. 

 

“During the briefing, we emphasized that we should put either Stefan Denifl or Marcel Wyss into the break.  Turns out it was Stefan who was able to get into the right group.  He certainly performed very well over the first two climbs.  Then he sat up a bit to be caught since there were 30 kilometers of flat to get through.  It was the best solution, and it allowed him to conserve some strength and still finish with the best.  In the upcoming days, we will continue to be on the offensive because our goal is still to win a stage.”

 

According to the RCS, the organizers of the Giro, Stefan Denifl is the first Austrian ever to win two categorized climbs in a row in the course of a Giro.

 

Stefan Denifl netted 826 euros for his excellent 6th place finish at the end of the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia.

 

Steven Kruijswijk: Nibali can’t make the difference he was hoping for

Steven Kruijswijk maintained his fifth place overall in the Giro d’Italia’s 13th stage today to Cividale del Friuli. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s leader relied on his team-mates through most of the stage and then fought with the other classification stars, closing seventh in the behind stage winner Mikel Nieve (Team Sky). Andrey Amador (Movistar) took over the pink jersey lead.

 

“The team did a great job,” Sports Director Addy Engels said. “We made the breakaway with Maarten Tjallingii and Enrico Battaglin, but it was too hard for Maarten to stay there. We survived the first climb with five riders, so Steven Kruijswijk was covered by four of his team-mates.”

 

Those team-mates delivered Kruijswijk to the foot of the penultimate climb, mainly supported by Primoz Roglic. Twan Castelijns gave him food and drinks on top of the second climb.

 

“The team gave Steven everything he needed today,” Engels continued. “And when it was his turn, he showed his superb level.”

 

“I was always in the right place,” Kruijswijk explained. “My team-mates helped me well when they could. Enrico Battaglin came back from the breakaway just at the right time. He was able to recover one moment and reacted strongly to an attack by Vincenzo Nibali afterwards. On a moment like that, you notice how important it is to have someone around you. In the final part of the stage, I was riding at my limit, but I think the others were, too.

 

“Nibali gives it all in his attempts to break away, but he doesn’t get the space he’s hoping for. That’s a sign. The six or seven of us are very close to each other when it goes uphill.”

 

On Saturday, the riders face six climbs during the queen stage of the Giro d’Italia.

 

“It’s going to be a very tough stage,” Engels added. “We’re familiar with this area, all those climbs are heavy. Steven is still in a great position and the differences between the top riders are only getting smaller. That means that the main competitors are very close to each other.”

 

Moreno Hofland abandons the Giro d’Italia on bad day

The only setback was that Team LottoNL-Jumbo sprinter Moreno Hofland abandoned.

 

“He was just having a bad day and wasn’t able to find a group of riders to get along with on the first climb of the day,” Engels said. “He quit his fight in the feeding zone and got in the car.”

 

Joe Dombrowski gets his chance to go for a stage win at the Giro d’Italia

"We wanted to keep Davide Formolo and Rigo (Uran) up there in the GC and protected but also try for the stage win. It was a good try," Joe Dombrowski explained to Cyclingnews.

 

"Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but you've got to go for it. The worst feeling is when you don't try. Because if you don't try, then you're just riding your bike in the peloton doing nothing. So you might as well try. Even if it doesn't work out, you can go home and be happy that you gave it everything.

 

"We had a plan and stuck to it but maybe we made a bit of a mistake because we opted for me not to go in the early break on the flat roads because there's always too much jumping around and you kill yourself like that. The idea was that I'd ride across to the move on the climb. I got away but I had to ride across a two-minute gap. I made it but maybe killed myself a little doing it."

 

Domenico Pozzovivo: Nibali and Valverde are a step above the rest

"I was a very tough stage, with climbs that hurt the legs,” Domenico Pozzovivo said. “The geelings are not bad, but I hope to be even better in the coming days, so I can try something. Today I was on my limit so I could just follow the wheels.

 

”The top 7-8 are at the same level athough Nibali and Valverde appear to be a step above. It seems really difficult to make differences, but tomorrow, the climbs are more ridable and the high altitude can make a difference.


"It was a stage with very steep ascents and descents where you had to be in position. I finished with the best and I am satisfied. Tomorrow, with passes above 2000 meters altitude, I hope to have an advantage." 

 

Teammate Hubert Dupont added:

"I went deep. When I crashed two days ago, I was afraid that it would end there. Tomorrow there's another big day, with a greater altitudethan today and that will make everything even more difficult. I really expect a very, very long day. " 

 

Cold takes Patrick Gretsch out of the Giro d’Italia

Patrick Gretsch abandoned during the 13th stage. The German rider has suffered from a cold for several days cooling. Despite treatment, he was not able to keep up with the peloton in the very difficult stage and was dropped very quickly. "It was not worth insistingm" said sports director Didier Jannel.

 

Esteban Chaves: I lacked the punch to make a difference

Esteban Chaves produced a fantastic performance on a tough stage thirteen of theGiro d’Italia today retaining eighth place on the general classification and gaining valuable time with more mountain stages to come over the weekend.

 

The 2015 Tour of Abu Dhabi winner was yet again in the thick of the action forORICA-GreenEDGE on the first of a trio of mountain stages that saw attacks come flying on the last two climbs of the day. Chaves matched every move without losing an inch of ground and crossed the line in 13th place in the middle of the favourites group behind breakaway stage winner Mikel Nieve (Team-Sky).

 

Chaves was his usual cheerful and upbeat self speaking after the stage.

 

“It was full gas all day” said Chaves. “The important thing is not to lose any time and stay with the other favourites and we showed again today that we can do that.

 

“I attacked once on the final climb to see how the other guys were and we were all together. The other guys did the same a bit later but it didn’t break up. Tomorrow is a really hard stage so we will see what happens.”

 

"Today was an important day, no one had enough power to create a gap. The favourites stayed together Astana and Movistar made the show. They are great great teams.

 

"I tried to attack once to see how they were but everyone was behind me. I lacked punch, but it was the same for everyone, including Nibali and Valverde. Everybody was there but everyone waited. Tomorrow it will be difficult, we'll see.

 

"It will be important to keep the energy for the Passo Giau which will be the most climb. We will need to have legs in the final. You have to avoid getting cold on the descents and keep drinking. Tomorrow is a long day, a stage of at least seven hours I think. "

 

Sport director Matt White was pleased with how the day went for ORICA-GreenEDGE.

 

“The team did a very good job of looking after Esteban (Chaves) today,” said White. “We were in a good position going into the last two climbs and then Esteban rode really well in a very select group on the category one climb near the finish.

 

“We are in a great position ahead of two incredibly difficult stages at the weekend. Tomorrow is without question the toughest stage of the race followed by a very important individual time trial on Sunday.”

 

“Esteban is riding very well,” continued White. “He is showing that day by day and the whole team is focused and very positive.”

 

Difficult moments for Ilnur Zakarin in Giro d’Italia mountains

Stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia from Palmanova to Cividale del Friuli (170 km) became a battle field for the pink jersey. The Friuli mountains provided the right spot for attacks inside the GC contenders group.

An attack of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the last climb of the day, Valle, followed by almost all favorites, including Ilnur Zakarin, left the pink jersey Bob Jungels (Etixx – Quick Step) behind. At the finish line Jungels lost 50 seconds to the favorites group. That was enough for Andrey Amador from Movistar to take the maglia rosa.

 

Team KATUSHA’s Ilnur Zakarin finished in the group of GC contenders at the 14th place. This result allowed Zakarin to hold his 7th place in the general classification, 2.01 behind new leader Amador.

 

”The stage was really hard with all these ups and downs and small roads. It was not easy to answer all attacks on the two last climbs, but I did my best to stay with the other contenders. I think everyone suffered today, but I am happy I finished in front. Tomorrow is another tough day. I hope to recover well for it,” said Ilnur Zakarin.

 

”We expected this stage to be hard, but in reality it was much harder than on paper with lots of climbs and downhills. The tactics were to help Ilnur as much as possible until the penultimate climb. So Ilnur always had riders with him until Astana increased the pace. Later Ilnur did his best. He had few hard moments on the top of the last climb but he was able to pass it through and to end the stage in the leader's group. Tough day, nothing to comment extra, but tomorrow will be another battle,” said sports director Dmitry Konyshev.

 

Bob Jungels: Now I will focus on the white jerey

As on the previous days, Etixx – Quick-Step came to the front of the peloton right after the flag dropped, setting the pace and protecting race leader Bob Jungels, who was wearing the pink jersey for the third stage in a row. The team kept the escape on a leash and rode hard when it mattered, in order to bring back Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), who was up the road at one point and was threatening Jungels’ top place in the standings.

 

Cima Porzus, the third ascent of the stage, signaled the start of the action in the bunch, as Astana moved to the head of the affairs and upped the pace, shaking off many riders on the 10% slopes. Despite the combined efforts of Astana and Movistar, Jungels managed to stay there and tackle the final test of the day with the other contenders. Then, Vincenzo Nibali attacked and only a handful of riders responded, while the 23-year-old Luxembourger, although distanced, didn't give up, fought hard, paced himself over the top of the climb and started a wild chase behind the GC men.

 

On the fast descent, Jungels pushed the pedal to the metal and made contact with numerous riders who were ahead, before being joined by Gianluca Brambilla, who put on another superb and valiant performance to help his teammate, just as he did on stage 10, when Jungels moved into the pink jersey. Together, they clawed back time in the closing kilometers, and even though they could not stop the maglia rosa slip off Jungels shoulders, they caught everyone's attention once again, proving the fantastic fighting spirit which drives Etixx – Quick-Step regardless of the race or situation.

 

"Everybody knew it would be a tough stage. Right from the start, a big break went and we all suffered. The team did an awesome job until Astana decided to speed it up the third climb. I was able to follow, but I suffered and on the descent I tried to recover. Then, on the last climb, I wasn't able to follow anymore, but still continued to fight, with the help of Gianluca, who came back on the downhill", said Bob Jungels, before going on to talk about his and the team's excellent run at this Giro d'Italia.

 

”I am extremely proud to be part of Etixx – Quick-Step and enjoy such good results in what is my first Grand Tour in which I am focused on the GC.

 

"The days spent in the pink jersey were the most beautiful in my career, but now I’ll turn my attention to the white jersey, as I have a nice cushion in the standings. It’s going to be hard, but I’m ready to fight for it. There’s still eight stages to go and I’m sure that the team will have a lot of things to say in the upcoming days.

 

“It was a really hard stage - right from the beginning but we were able to keep the breakaway group at a good distance. I was definintely suffering on those climbs. With my bodyweight it’s hard to keep up with those guys on those gradients. I was lucky enough to find Brambilla on the last descent then I just gave it everything to lose as little time as possible.

 

“I’m very tired but I have no regrets. My team and I gave everything to keep the Maglia Rosa. I tried to stay in the group of the best climbers but I suffered more than them on the second last climb and I didn’t manage to follow them on the last one. I still have the Maglia Bianca. I’ll try to hold it till the end of the Giro d’Italia. I have to recover from my efforts. There’ll be good days and less good days from now on.

 

“The thing is, I’m pretty convinced you can’t change your body. Either it comes with the years or I will continue like this. I consider myself a good bike rider and despite my weight I don’t climb badly.

 

“I’m not a defensive rider so you never know what I will do from now on

 

"I knew it would be a hard day today and it was. I think we all suffered through the day but the team did an awesome job until the Astana team upped the pace on the second last climb. I was able to follow but suffered a lot and then on the last climb I wasn't able to follow anymore. But we fought to the end and that's our style of riding.

 

"I'd be lying if there was no feeling of disappointment but things could be worse than going from first to second and still being in the white jersey. I'm really happy and proud to be part of this. As a first experience of the GC in a Grand Tour, this isn't too bad and wearing the pink jersey is the biggest moment so far in my cycling career.

 

"Davide [Formolo] is real good climber and I have quite a good gap but he's a contender, it's going to be a nice fight with him until Turin. There's a few more challenges for me in the rest of the race despite losing the pink jersey.

 

"I've seen in the last two year's that I've been good in the final week of racing in a Grand Tour, that's why I decided to come here and go for the GC. Now in the future maybe I could stay longer in pink.

 

"I might have surprised some people, some rival teams and some of my rivals in the peloton. You could see that they didn't know where to put me, they tried to drop me but I fought hard. There's always a new generation coming through in cycling and I hope to be part of this next one. That's my goal."

 

Giacomo Nizzolo frustrated to miss out on points after aggressive ride in the mountains

Stage 13 was the first of many decisive mountain stages as the Giro d'Italia heads into its pivotal second half. It was not a stage for sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo to flaunt his speed, more a tough slog over the four big climbs, but it was an opportunity to parade his new magglia rossa in front of his home country fans.

 

"It feels pretty nice," responded Nizzolo about his red jersey. "Of course, today was a tough day but racing in the red jersey helped on the climbs.  For the first sprint bonification, I was in the breakaway of 25 riders but was blocked ahead of the line and could not sprint.

 

"These eight points lost is not the end of the world, but still I was a bit disappointed because I had the feeling I could take these points. But, okay, this is what sometimes happens that you are blocked and cannot make the sprint."

 

The official withdrawal of Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) after stage 12 launched the resilient Nizzolo into the points competition lead. In the final eight stages, only two chances (stages 17 and 21) remain for Nizzolo to secure a stage win, cement the red jersey and fulfill his two big goals coming into this year's race.

 

"Today I tried to survive on the climbs. It was a really hard day, especially when you are thinking that tomorrow is going to be even worse," added Nizzolo. "I am looking forward to getting through Sunday and then Monday's a nice rest day."

 

With the race beginning its biggest mountains the general classification battle hit the throttle for the 170-kilometer stage 13.  While the large breakaway fought out the stage win, the GC favorites group quickly whittled to its best over the long, penultimate climb.

 

The next two stages will be very decisive and will say a lot – minutes can be won and lost in the next days so it is far from finished.

 

Ryder Hesjedal climbed with the select group until everything exploded under attacks on the final ascent.

Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) soloed to the win from the large escape group as Andrey Amador (Movistar Team) finished with the GC contenders to claim the new race leadership and the coveted maglia rosa. Ryder Hesjedal finished just over a minute behind in 24th place; perhaps a dent in his armor, but not more.

 

"It was nice to see Giaco in red," said director Adriano Baffi. "And Ryder climbed very well on the second to last climb, the steep and long one. Unfortunately, he couldn't stay with the favorites after that, and lost over a minute to them at the finish. The next two stages will be very decisive and will say a lot – minutes can be won and lost in the next days so it is far from finished."

 

Alessandro De Marchi: It was not the ideal break for me

The battle to be in the breakaway saw multiple attempts, before a large group of 30 or so riders, including Alessandro De Marchi, formed after the first intermediate sprint. A smaller group with Darwin Atapuma later bridged.

 

Alessandro De Marchi said:

 

“The first breakaway that I was in was the perfect breakaway. It was the perfect situation with just seven riders, other good riders, including Manuel Quinziato. But the peloton chased us back and then we had to start the fight again to get in the breakaway. The big group formed in the first sprint as quite a few riders contested it and the bunch let the group go. So this became the breakaway.

 

“When I saw such a big group I was happy to be there but I also knew that it wasn’t the perfect situation. There were too many riders and too many strong riders, some of whom weren’t very far down on GC. I was in the right position to go but we didn’t have the right conditions. I was feeling good. The most important thing is to first get in the breakaway so it was good to achieve this. But I need a perfect situation and that wasn’t what we had today. The legs are good but it just wasn’t the right situation.”

 

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director, added:

 

“Today was all about Alessandro as we knew that it was a good stage for him and he was really motivated as the stage was in his region. The guys were amazing because they were really aggressive. Daniel Oss attacked immediately, but was pulled back. It was a real shame that the first breakaway with Alessandro and Manuel didn’t succeed because this was a great move, and could have established a big gap.

 

“Darwin was also on our radar and it was an ideal opportunity when a couple of guys tried to bridge on that first climb, so we told him to go with them. This helped the situation in the breakaway by having two of our riders there. The team raced really well and exactly as we asked. With such strong riders in the big breakaway, it wasn’t the right conditions, and as we saw it was only Mikel Nieve and Visconti who succeeded from the breakaway. The rest were caught by the GC guys.”

 

Kanstantsin Siutsou still eyes top 10 despite time loss in Giro mountains

Despite the tough course that lay ahead, the peloton started the stage at a rapid pace. It took over 50km before the break of the day went clear and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had Jaco Venter and Johann van Zyl in the 25 rider break of the day.

 

Venter and Van Zyl rode well in the big break and reached the start of the penultimate climb, the category 1 Cima Porzus, with a 3-minute lead on the peloton. It was a beast of a climb though, averaging at more than 8% in gradient for 8.8km and this is where the decisive moments of the stage would take place.

 

From the break Mikel Nieve showed he had the best climbing legs on the day and rode clear by 30" from Visconti. The rest of the break, including the 2 South Africans were caught and passed by a flying GC favourites group. Kanstantsin Siutsou went over the summit just 20" behind the select group which contained the likes of Nibali, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Amador.

 

 

Siutsou was unfortunately not able to regain contact with this main group and went on to finish 26th, 2'46" behind Nieve. Despite losing a bit of time, Siutsou maintained his 16th position on the overall GC.

 

Sports director Jens Zemke said:

 

“Stage 13 was one of the most technical I can remember in world cycling. 4 extreme climbs and downhills on narrow roads so it was nearly impossible to pass the dropped riders with a car.

 

”Our boys did a fantastic job, Johann and Jaco were in a big move with between 25 and 30 riders and there were some very strong riders in the move. The winner came out of this group in the end.

 

”We protected our GC rider Kanstantsin and he did another good ride to finish just outside the top 20. We thought he moved up a few places on GC but in the end he kept his position which is still okay. We believe a top 10 is still in reach as there are many hard stages still to come.

 

”Also, Kristian [Sbaragli] had a pretty tough day being sick but we want to keep him in the race to have some options in the last sprint stages. Overall, it was a tough day.

 

Maxime Monfort ready to go on the attack in Giro queen stage

Maxime Monfort was the first Lotto Soudal rider to reach the finish, he was 27th at just over four minutes and remains 20th overall. 

 

"It is still somewhat the same story for me in this Giro,” he said. “I feel good but I lost some time by quickly finding myself alone in the final. Tomorrow is one of the toughest stages in this Giro. The riders in the break should not ride harder than those in the bunch. I have to seize the opportunity. "

 

Diego Ulissi: I aimed for the maglia rosa

Diego Ulissi had the virtual pink jersey.

LAMPRE-MERIDA's rider who has obtained two victories in this edition of the Pink Race, joined a breakaway of 32 riders which escaped after 40 km. He was with team mates Modolo, Mohoric (who had already tried an attack after 25km) and Koshevoy.


The composition of the breakaway changed during the first category climb of Montemaggiore and the descent: Ulissi, Koshevoy and Mohoric were still there
 

Thanks to the work of the blue-fuchsia-green riders on the climb of Crai (-90 km), the breakaway had a maximum advantage of 4' which was enough to give Ulissi the virtual pink jersey.

Ulissi was caught finish the race in 28th position at 4'14". In the overall classification, Ulissi is 15th (+5'18").

"Our goal was to try to join the breakaways in order to anticipate the pure climbers on the demanding climbs we covered today,” Ulissi explained. “When I joined a good attack, together with Modolo, Mohoric and Koshevoy, I aimed for the stage victory. However, considering the good conditions and the impressive support I received from my team mates, we decided that it could have been possible to try to achieve an even better goal, the pink jersey.
 

Unfortunatley, we missed this goal, however we're satisfied because we did our best to try to make this dream come true.”

 

Stefano Pirazzi suffers from cold in the Giro d’Italia

The first rider at the finish for Bardiani-CSF has been Stefano Pirazzi, 32th at 5’ from Nieve. The experienced Italian rider tried in the first part of the race to chase the breakaway but after a few kilometers he decided to continue with the group of the bess. On the final climb, he lost contact and decided to continue at a regular pace until the finish.

 

“Even if it was not a hard mountain stage, we knew it would be a difficult day,” said Pirazzi who is now 18th in GC at 7’46” from Amador. “I tried to chase the breakaway but they were riding really fast and I had to spend too much to close the gap. In the finale, there was not much to do against those champions. I decided to manage the final kms, there will be other chances in the next days. Now it’s important to recover energy and health - I’ve been suffering from a cold for a few days, I need to solve this problem as soon as possible.”

 

Damiano Cunego apologizes to Visconti after KOM sprint incident

Damiano Cunego and teammate Grega Bole was in the break and by scoring points on the first three climbs, Cunego retained the mountains jersey.

 

On the first climb, Cunego and Visconti hit each other which caused Visconti to go down.

 

“I was in the very end of the sprint and two masseurs on the right jumped out on my right so by instinct I moved to the left, thinking that I was alone,” he said. “Only in last moment did I see a Movistar rider coming and later I knew it was Visconti who went down. I want to apologize to him, I know very well how bad it is to crash. I hope he is fine, for sure later he did a great stage, I want to congratulate him. 
 

”Today I had a great stage, I’m very happy to have been active in 3 of 4 KOM sprints, taking very important points for the mountains classification. It is a great satisfaction for me and for all the team that stage after stage is honoring this Giro d’Italia invitation in a very good way.

 

Sports director Stefano Giuliani added:

 

“From a strategic point of view it was very good. Our riders have been good at paying attention since the very start, giving the chance to Damiano Cunego and Grega Bole to be in the escape of the day. It was very important to be active in first two climbs before the fight for pink was starting. Again there was no stage victory but the important goal of keeping the blue jersey was achieved. Now we have to recover energy because tomorrow is another big day.”

 

Difficult day for Giant-Alpecin in Giro d’Italia mountains

In the early stages of the race, Bert De Backer, Tobias Ludvigsson and Georg Preidler interfered in the battle to break away. De BAcker make it to the group of 33 riders that formed the break of the day, but had to let them go on the first ascent of the day.

 

Ahead of the second-last ascent, Georg Preidler and Chad Haga where still in the decimated bunch with all GC contenders being present.

 

They finished in 39th and 60th place, respectively, on the stage. Preidler is also the highest ranked rider from Giant-Alpecin in the GC, he is 31st after stage 13.

 

After the stage coach Marc Reef said: “Our goal for today was to go for the breakaway. We were involved in many attempts and Bert eventually made it to the big group. Unfortunately, the race exploded already after 50km, on the first climb. Only Georg and Chad could follow the pink jersey group. Georg did a good job by holding on to that group until the moment only 25 riders where left. In the end we lacked the result, but we’ll keep on trying in the days to come.”

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