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"My dream is to win the Tour de France but it would not hurt to win the Giro.”

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

GIRO D'ITALIA

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
21.05.2016 @ 23:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) confirmed that he is ready to go for victory in the Giro d’Italia when he came out on top on a very dramatic queen stage of the race. Having made it back to Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) on the final climb, he caught early attackers Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) and Darwin Atapuma (BMC) before winning the four-rider uphill sprint. Kruijswijk finished second and moved into second while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) lost 36 seconds and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lost a massive 3 minutes.

 

We have gathered several reactions

 

Esteban Chaves: My dream is to win the Tour de France but it won’t hurt to win the Giro

Colombian Esteban Chaves produced a spectacular ride for Orica-GreenEDGE to win stage fourteen of the Giro d’Italia today, attacking repeatedly on the final climbs to distance his more fancied rivals and move up to third on the general classification.

 

After finishing fifth at last year's Vuelta a Espana, Chaves has made no secret about his and the team's ambitions for the Giro d’Italia and the 26-year-old chose the toughest stage of the race to make his move.

 

Distancing race favourites Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on the Passo Valparola, the last of six categorised climbs, Chaves continued to accelerate with Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) all the way to the finish before winning the sprint convincingly after executing a perfect approach to the line.

 

“After 5,000metres of climbing I’m tired but I’m really really happy,” said Chaves. “Winning the Queen stage at the Giro d’Italia is really special. This is not only for me but for the team who worked really well today. I want to thank everyone involved with Orica-GreenEDGE because this team is like a big family.”

 

Chaves continued to describe the key moments of the stage.

 

“Everyone was riding at their limits," he said. "Kruijswijk started his attack then I tried to follow. It was a steep climb and then we saw Nibali was dropped so we started to work together. There is a lot of this race left and this is great but we will see what happens tomorrow.

 

”To win a stage at the Giro d'Italia was my dream since I started my pro career with Team Colombia, based in Italy. I love this race! To win the hardest stage is even better. I thank all the people who have helped me reach this point. Thank you also to my sport director Matt White who gave me precious information from the car, which helped me win today.

 

"I’m really happy. Winning the queen stage in the Giro is really special. This is not only for me, but for the team, who worked really well today. All the guys, the mechanics, soigneurs, people away from the race at the office. Orica-GreenEdge is a big family, thanks to Shayne Bannan, everyone.

 

“Thank you all for being here. Orica - Greenedge has been like a family for me since I signed my contract. At the time, one of my arms was badly injured and a doctor told me that I’d never be able to ride a bike again after my accident. That’s why I raised it in the air when I crossed the line. This year my team-mate Mathew Hayman won Paris-Roubaix after breaking an arm too.

 

”I’ve always dreamt of winning a stage at the Giro. It’s wonderful that I’ve done it at the queen stage. It’s too early to say if I can win the Giro or not."

 

"It is a great happiness but there is still a long way in this. We need to move from day to day but above all, we need to recover. I keep my feet on the ground. Movistar has worked hard and paid for that. It’s cycling and that's what makes it so beautiful.

 

"My dream is to win the Tour de France but it would not hurt to win the Giro.”

 

2015 Tour de France stage winner Ruben Plaza put in a great solo ride from the early breakaway to claim the mountain's points on the Passo Gardena and the Passo Campolongo before slipping back to the bunch to let Chaves take over.

 

Sport director Matt White praised the great work by the team and the wonderful performance from Chaves.

 

“Esteban (Chaves) rode a very very smart race today,” said White. “It was probably the hardest stage you will see in any race this year and he waited brilliantly for the perfect moments to go on the attack.

 

”We definitely saw who the best climbers were because there was nowhere to hide out there today. Esteban has been feeling good and the team did another fantastic job of protecting and supporting him into the final third of the stage.”

 

“Ruben (Plaza) rode very well in the breakaway for us. It was a hard stage to plan for because everything can change on that kind of course but in the end it worked really well for us going into the final.

 

”We are in a great position now going into tomorrow’s crucial uphill individual time trial.”

 

Steven Kruijswijk: I expect to gain more time in the time trial

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk took the Giro d'Italia’s famed pink jersey after tough fight through the Dolomites today. The 28-year-old rider finished second in the queen stage behind Esteban Chaves (Team Orica – GreenEDGE) and moved into the lead by 41 seconds on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and 1’32" on Chaves.

 

The day started well for Team LottoNL-Jumbo. After an hour, a leading group formed with 36 riders, including Twan Castelijns and Primoz Roglic. The group thinned out on the first two climbs. A strong leading group with climbers gained nine minutes while Kruijswijk stayed with the classification riders. On the Passo Giau, team Astana went full-throttle to close down the lead. Kruijswijk managed well and attacked Nibali on the following climb.

 

"If I'm honest, we did not think this was the most ideal day to attack,” said Sports Director Addy Engels. "But everyone suffered and lost a lot of energy. Steven saw that and he anticipated, attacking at the right moment.

 

"The team worked well for him. Twan Castelijns and Primoz Roglic were in the break. We lost Castelijns, but Roglic was only caught on the Passo Giau. Enrico Battaglin rode strongly, too. He supported Kruijswijk the whole day. He kept him out the wind, and brought him food and drinks. So we are very pleased with how the team is performing and how the guys work for each other."

 

"All day, I felt very well," said Steven Kruijswijk. "I knew that after yesterday that this stage would be good for me. In the end, I could attack. I still power in my legs. Chaves joined and we worked well together, but I also knew that he would be the man to beat for the stage win. He also wanted to grab more time on the other classification riders and I was going for the pink jersey. It worked out well and I am very happy that I have it now!

 

"I was feeling really good. I asked my sport director if I should save energy for tomorrow's time trial or not. We decided that we wouldn't. I felt I was a little bit better than Vincenzo Nibali so it was the right day to take advantage of it. Luckily a strong guy came with me. It's an enormous satisfaction to take the Maglia Rosa, especially in such a wonderful setting as the Dolomites.

 

"I came here with big ambitions to go for good a good GC but getting the pink jersey is something else. I can't believe it but I'm really happy. 

 

"This morning we made a plan, and I said 'we'll try to follow Nibali and Valverde'. When Scarponi was making the hard pace i knew Nibali would attack, and I was really good behind him. Then I felt I could do something myself, I tried something, luckily it was the right time, and Esteban came with me and we worked together.

 

“I felt really good all day. I knew that this kind of stage would suit me pretty good, after the first mountain stage we had yesterday. Today, I could attack and really had some good power.

 

"In the end it's a wonderful day for me. I was dreaming of the pink jersey and today it happened. I'm really happy to be in this position.

 

"This is my sixth Giro d'Italia, my first was when I was a neo pro and ever since then, I loved this race and this style of racing. It's difficult every year but it's a special race."

 

"I think I'm at the same level as last year but the difference is that last year I lost a lot of time in the first week and then had to fight back and into the GC. I was expecting to be at same this year but I've perhaps learnt a lot about riding Grand Tours now and so I was more focused from the very beginning and I'm acting more acting like a leader in team.

 

"Holland is not great for training for mountains so I spend a lot of time in Spain. I quickly discovered I'm a good climber at the start of my career and that's why I love the Giro stages like today. I'm happy that I'm a climber when it's so tough.

 

"Today I knew Nibali would attack and I felt I could follow him. It wasn't easy but I felt pretty good, so I decided to try something and it succeeded. Then Esteban came with me and so it was a great chance to gain time. I was a good day."

 

Tomorrow, the Giro d'Italia continues with a 10.8-kilometre time trial up Alpe de Siusi.

 

"It's the third day in the mountains and I am confident that I will be good in the time trial," said Kruijswijk. “An uphill time trial is different from one on the flat, but I feel good.

 

"It is going to be really hard. I think I’m feeling confident, and it’s only the third day in the mountains, so I’m confident that I can have a good time trial. I think Esteban showed today, together with me, that he was one of the strongest in the race.

 

“We'll see what the classification looks like after the time trial. Nibali is really close and the big favourite but I'll give my best to defend the jersey.

 

"I hope to gain some time on him instead of losing time. This time trial is a very different time trial to one in Chianti. I'll go full and well see at the end."

 

"Last year my third week was really good and that's a good sign for final week and the big stages. Now it's not about seconds but minutes. I'm feeling good and hope to feel like this next week too.

 

“Last year I was in contention with Contador, Aru and Landa in the mountains in the third week but I had lost some time in the first week. I only lost ten seconds to Nibali in the previous time trial. If I do the same tomorrow, it’ll mean that I’ll keep the Maglia Rosa but I actually hope to gain time even though of course I’m tired, like eveyrone else.

 

"I knew this would be one of the most difficult stages of the Giro – the kind of stage that suits me better than yesterday for example. When I saw Nibali in trouble, I thought it was the right time to gain a little time. You never know when an opportunity to take time comes. Today there was one, I did not fail.

 

"I was hoping to be in the top 10 at this point of the race, but from the first day, I have felt very good. Every day, I remain very focused, my team around me works very well. I only have to finish the job. A hard day like today is perfect for me.

 

“I will wait until the rest day to make a plan.”

 

"Steven now rides with the best in the mountains," Addy Engels added. "Everyone was on the limit today and Steven has the pink. He was also fast in the other time trial a week ago. I am confident that he will do a good time trial."

 

Georg Preidler: I don’t know whether I should be happy or disappointed

After an hour of the stage a large group finally split off the front, containing over 30 riders with Georg Preidler amongst them for Team Giant-Alpecin.

 

The queen stage profile offered up six classified climbs, but the first decisive action came on the slopes of the Passo Giau, the fifth of the day. With one lone leader out front, Preidler was riding strong in the chase behind, which was down to just four. He was attacked by two as the gradients ramped up but he set about riding his own pace, passing the original leader and cresting the climb not far behind the two out front.

 

Preidler kept pushing on the descent and eventually caught the two and they started to climb the final ascent of the day. At the top of the climb there was again one leader, with Preidler coming cresting in third just as he was caught by two of the GC riders from behind. These four then set about closing down the break and inside the final 2km, the front of the race was back together and all was still to play for. With the road still rising all the way to the line, Preidler put in his move, distancing the others briefly but eventually was clawed back and out sprinted, leaving him in third on the day. The last rider left from the original break, and never giving up right until the finish, today was yet another strong ride at this race from Preidler, and one to be proud of.

 

“I dont know if I should be happy or disappointed since I was so close to winning the Queen Stage of the Giro,” said Prediler after the finish. “At least I am happy that I was the strongest of the breakaway group, but I’m also disappointed about the result because more was possible at the end.”

 

From the team bus, coach Marc Reef said: “It was good work from Georg to be in the big front group from early on. Initially he was not feeling too good but rode attentively and he was always at the front with the strongest when the splits happened.

 

“On the Passo Giau, Georg was third at the top, and then on the descent he fought back to the front, and they cooperated well. Then on the final climb Kruijswijk and Chaves returned and Georg managed to hang on. He rode an incredibly strong race, where he did everything well, but unfortunately he finished with only a third place to show for his efforts.”

 

Giant-Alpecin lead-out man abandons the Giro d’Italia

Bert De Backer (BEL) had to step off the bike on today's 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia, after suffering from fatigue and a minor respiratory infection for a short while now.

 

Team GiantAlpecin physician Chris Jansen (NED) told the team: "Bert was suffering from a minor respiratory infection from last Sunday's time trial. The last days he seemed to overcome it, but obviously it took energy, which you need in difficult days like these."

 

On retiring from the race, De Backer said: "For my feeling, I felt on the back foot from the beginning of the Giro after the crash on stage 3, and never felt completely fit. Sadly today I was simply unable to continue to fight."

 

"Unfortunately we lost Bert today, which is a setback for the team," said Team Giant-Alpecin's coach at the Giro, Marc Reef (NED). "On the uphills he has had some difficult days, and today it was just too much. Bert is a very valuable member of the team and specifically in the sprint preparation for Nikias [Arndt] so we are going to miss him here."

 

Darwin Atapuma: It’s devastating to be so close to winning the queen stage

Darwin Atapuma put in the ride of his life on the Queen Stage of the Giro d’Italia, launching a solo attack that looked set to make it to the line, only to be caught in the final two kilometers. Atapuma held on to finish fourth and crossed the line with nothing left in the tank.

 

Originally part of a 25-rider breakaway, the testing six climbs of the day slowly broke the breakaway apart, leaving Atapuma, Georg Preidler (Team Giant-Alpecin) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) on the final climb. Atapuma attacked with 30 kilometers to go and established a small but steady gap of 30 seconds over Preidler and Siutsou. The General Classification contenders were closing in on the final climb, with Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEDGE) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), joining Preidler and Siutsou, in the chase behind Atapuma.

 

With two kilometers to the finish line, Atapuma was caught and joined the battle to sprint it out to the line, where he eventually crossed in fourth place.

 

Darwin Atapuma said:

 

“To be honest I think I need a while to really absorb what happened today and reflect on the stage. To come so close, on a stage like today, is devastating. I felt really good throughout the stage, had good legs and good sensations, and it was going perfectly. I gave it absolute everything when I attacked on the final climb, I thought if I could just hold on to my gap in the descent, I could make it in those final kilometers.

 

“I’m exhausted both mentally and physically. It would have been one of the best wins of my career. I just kept hoping and hoping that I would stay clear. But on a stage like today, it’s rare that everything goes to plan. I hope I’ll have more opportunities in the next week of racing.”

 

Max Sciandri, Sports Director. Added:

 

“With today’s stage being all about climbing it was only natural that Darwin would be our guy. He’s showed already that he has the legs to be up there on the climbs and we knew that a breakaway would go and possibly make it to the line. We had hoped to get one or two other guys in there, but when the big group of 35 guys went, it was great to have Darwin in there.

 

“Today was almost a textbook execution of a stage. The guys in the breakaway were slowly being dropped but Darwin was up there and looked good. When it was down to him and a couple of others, we knew that he would have to attack solo to make it to the line. When they passed the false flat on the final climbs, that was the moment to attack, and he did it well. The gap was steady but really it was the chase of the GC guys that saw Darwin get caught. It was such an impressive ride and he deserved the win, but cycling isn’t always fair and we definitely saw that today. I’m proud of Darwin’s ride and it certainly shows his form at the moment.”

 

Michele Scarponi: I did not expect Valverde to lose time

"On the Passo Giau we picked up the race,” commented Michele Scarponi. “And we held a very high pace so that some rivals for the final victory have lost many seconds.

 

"It has been a very tough race. But it was what we wanted. The first place in the team classification is a just reward for so much effort that all the team did.

 

"We wanted to do something good. We have taken half a step towards the jersey. We went all right."

 

"I hoped but did not expect Valverde to suffer. Every day can be difficult. We did not think that Amador and Valverde could miss something. We were able to gain on them, but there is a long week ahead. The downsides, of course, are the seconds lost to Steven Kruijswijk and Esteban Chaves who did very well in the finale.

 

Movistar will never be allies, but they will have to make the race. Today they lost some tim. Now they'll attack, but we will not let them go easily.

 

"Tomorrow will be fine, Monday will be even better with some rest. However in the time trial there will be minimum gaps. There is great balance and the real difference will be made on Friday and Saturday next week.”

 

Vincenzo Nibali: I had expected Valverde to be better

"I wasn't able to follow the changes in tempo and the acceleration that Kruijswijk made," Vincenzo Nibali told Cyclingnews and Spaziocislismo. "I sat up in the last three kilometres of the climb because they were laying down a very high rhythm, and I already knew that Valverde had been dropped and was losing time. In the finale, I had to do a time trial by myself, managing my energy.

 

"They made a nice attack and they managed their effort well. I don't know if they had some help from the guys in the break, but at one point I got very close to them. Riding alone it was very difficult, though, because there was a big headwind.

 

"It wasn't simple. They were always there in sight, but I could see they were exchanging turns regularly and working well together, so that made it difficult to get back up to them."

 

"I didn't really expect Kruijswijk to go so strongly and maybe we expected more from Valverde. I'm still quite satisfied with my day. This Giro will be won day by day, it's not going to be easy."

 

“He [Michele Scarponi] and all the team did a great job today. We’ve dropped Valverde, we’re happy about that and now we need to recover. I thought Valverde was better.

 

"The whole team was very strong. The gap to Valverde is also thanks to the team. Now we have to recover for tomorrow. Today was a very hard day.

 

"We'll see in the cronoscalata tomorrow what the gaps are.”

 

"The Giro is still open,” Nibali’s trainer Paolo Slongo told Rai. “Vincenzo is second in the standings, we made an aggressive race and we were the most active. Vincenzo had already made two attacks and even when he was dropped, he was strong. He showed his great experience. He lost very little. Despite being alone, he was good.

 

"The new pink jersey should control the race and we will be able to ride in a surprising way. Tomorrow there is an uphill Individual Time Trial and the winner will be the one who really has best recovered from the efforts of the last two stages."

 

Great ride allows Siutsou to move into the top 10 in the Giro d'Italia

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had an incredibly good day and specifically Kanstantsin Siutsou, who had a magnificent ride. After a really fast start, the break of the day took near on 50km to go clear and when it did, 35 riders were in the move. Siutsou was part of the escape and he had every intention of going all the way to the line.

 

The race defining action took place on the penultimate climb, the Passo Giau. Going over the top, just 2 from the break of 35 were surviving, Siutsou and Atapuma while Preidler was just a few seconds behind the leading duo as well. The peloton had exploded on the climb with Chaves, Kruijswijk and Nibali all riding away from the rest of the favourites.

 

On the final categorised climb of the stage, the cat 2 Passo Valparola, Atapuma went clear and Siutsou joined up with Preidler. Right at the summit though, Chaves and Kruijswijk joined Siutsou and Preidler with Nibali a further 25 seconds back. On the descent, Siutsou lost the wheel of the 3 chasers who had Atapuma at 25″ with 8km to go.

 

Nibali got across to Siutsou in the final kilometers of the stage and Siutsou followed the Italian champion's wheel all the way home to secure a fine 6th place on the stage for theAfrican Team. After spending 160km in the break, Siutsou was rewarded by moving up to 9th on the overall classification.

 

Sports director Jean Pierre Heynderickx said:

 

"The day went as planned, we had wanted someone in the big break and Kanstantsin was there. We moved up to 9th place in the overall and a top 10 in the Giro d’Italia is always a nice moment."

 

Sports director Jens Zemke added:

 

"For over 3 hours we were the virtual leaders of the Giro d’Italia and this was a really nice experience. We went over some climbs right at the front of the race so absolute respect to Kanstantsin, he was fighting like crazy for the stage win and a good GC result. "

 

Bike change on final climb costly for Ilnur Zakarin at the Giro d’Italia

Team Katusha’s Ilnur Zakarin was present all day long and finished 7th, 2’29” behind stage winner Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge). Steven Kruijswijk and Georg Preidler (Team Giant - Alpecin) finished second and third respectively. In general classification Kruijswijk has now 41 seconds to Vincenzo Nibali (Team Astana) and 1.32 to Chaves. Ilnur Zakarin is still 7th, 3.53 behind.

 

“It was of the most important stages, and everyone gave all he had in the legs. I felt better than yesterday, so I tried to be in front all the time. On the last climb, when Nibali attacked, I was able to respond and later, after another attack, I just did my best. When you gave 100%, you can be satisfied. I think I would have been able to follow Nibali as our group was close. In that moment, however, I had to stop for a bike change. It took some time, and later I had to chase Rafal Majka and Rigoberto Uran. I caught them, but at that moment the gap to the leaders was already too big. Anyway, I think the fight will go on. Many important stages are still ahead. I will do it day by day,” said Ilnur Zakarin.

 

 

“Like everybody we expected this stage to be one of the most crucial ones. Our team did very well today. We sent Pavel Kochetkov, Rein Taaramäe and Egor Silin in the break. Later each of them provided some help to Ilnur, coming back in the group. Also our other guys did their best for our leader. Ilnur was strong today, he did a good race. It's a pity he had to change the bike before the top of the last climb. We lost some time there and later Ilnur spent some energy to come back to Majka and Uran. But anyway I am happy to see Ilnur showing a great fighting spirit. Let's see, what will happen next days,” said team director Dmitry Konyshev.

 

Tinkoff and Rafal Majka had expected more from Giro queen stage

After thirteen exceptionally difficult days of racing, the Giro hit its Queen Stage today. Going into the stage sixth in the GC, Rafal Majka had shown strong performances throughout the race so far, with huge efforts from the team keeping him safe and helping him move up the GC. After a hard day on a constantly undulating parcours, Majka crossed the line in eighth, holding onto his sixth spot in the GC.

 

At the stage’s finish, Sport Director, Tristan Hoffman, praised Majka’s commitment and spirited ride today.

 

“We hoped of course for a little bit more when Chaves and Kruijswijk went but Rafal and the others couldn't follow at this point. He was chasing at 30 seconds with Nibali for a long time but then had to set his own pace, but he kept fighting right to the end and only three riders from the peloton were stronger than him today.”

 

After the stage, Mahja looked back on his performance and looked to the coming final week.

 

"As said before, it would be a tough and long Giro with strong rivals. Today, it was a very difficult stage that required a huge effort and, unfortunately, I suffered a bit at the finale. I lost time to some GC contenders and gained against others. We still have a week ahead of us and we will keep fighting every day."

 

The Tinkoff leader’s ability as a GC rider came through strongly today, as Hoffman observed, riding hard and not making mistakes.

 

“He had a good gap on the guys from Movistar but they did a very good downhill and final kilometres so he didn't move up the GC, but he took time on some of those in front. It was a really tough stage, and Rafal didn't make any mistakes - he followed, ate and drank well and never gave up.”

 

Stage 15 is an uphill time trial. At 10.85km in length, the route is far from easy, climbing the Alpe di Siusi from Castelrotto. Starting with a gentle 1.8% section, the route quickly ramps up to an average of 8.4% before hitting slopes of 11% just as riders will start going into the red. The wide and well-paved roads will encourage fast times, but pacing will be the key here. Majka goes into tomorrow’s stage with just fourteen seconds between him and fifth in the GC. After a hard day today taking its toll on riders, the day is wide open and may even lead to a few surprises – and with a rest day on Monday to recover, some may go deeper than others.

 

After the toughest stage, Hoffman was looking ahead and waiting to see what Majka’s rivals would do next.

 

“We can look forward to the time trial now, and then the rest day. There's still a lot to come, and I believe those who lost time today will want to fight back so we will see what happens. Tomorrow's uphill TT is going to be really tough and I expect the same guys as today at the front. Rafal just has to go full gas but we have confidence in him and he's shown he's riding strongly.”

 

Domenico Pozzovivo: My level is to be in the top 10         

"One of the most difficult stages I have done in the Giro,” Domenico Pozzovivo said. “Everyone was at the limit. Currently, my level is to be in the top 10. I lost time with my crash and it's a shame, otherwise, I would be ranked higher. I thank Hubert Dupont who did a great job today.

 

"In the end it was made very fast on Giau. On Valparola I was a little on the limit and lost the good wheels. From there I tried to manage myself, having Dupont there and he did a great job. In the final, I worked with Valverde and I defended myself even though I did not have super legs.”

"It was a very difficult stage as there is every year in the Giro,” Dupont said. “This the kind of stage where I can express myself better. I am happy because I could be in Pozzo’s group and help him. That's my job and I'm happy. "

 

"Our riders have raced well,” sports director Laurent Biondi said. “Axel Domont and Hugo Houle were in the first breakaway. Domenico Pozzovivo failed to follow the best but he limited the losses. He is the tenth in the stage and eleventh overall, 25 seconds from the top 10. Tomorrow a lot can happen. 
 

”I want to mention Hubert Dupont, who managed to be in the group the pink jersey and help Domenico in the finale.”

 

Alejandro Valverde: The altitude killed me

‘Il tappone dolomitico’ of this year's Giro d'Italia (210km from Alpago Farra to Corvara Alta Badia) demanded arguably the most important value in cycling from all competitors: the ability to suffer at extreme limits. That's easy to say, yet hard to explain when, wearing the Maglia Rosa, one sees how one of the biggest favourites' domestiques picks up the pace to impossible reaches on the Passo Giau (Cat-1), almost 10km at 9.4% average.

 

Andrey Amador, perfectly conscious about his physical strengths and quite far from sinking due to the pressure, brought another one of his virtues to the fore: courage, patience, agony. All those words collided into a marvellous descent, that brought him back to the favourites' group – led by Astana, with Valverde on his wheel, Chaves (OGE) and Kruijswijk (TLJ) hiding at the back.

 

Following five hellish climbs, Nibali (AST) launched a strong attack on  the decisive one, Valparola, which only Chaves and Kruijswijk - who dropped the Italian later on - could follow. The Dutchman now wears pink as Chaves claimed the stage win to become 3rd overall, at 1’32”. The day's efforts leave the Movistar Team still with two chances – Valverde, 4th at 3'06"; Amador, 5th, 3'15" back - to keep fighting for the podium and stage victories, the squad's main goals for this Giro.

 

Sunday will bring a mountain TT up the Alpe di Siusi (10.8km), with a 2km false flat followed by 9km of constant climbing, 8.3% average. The start of a revenge for the Blues? Their fans can only hope so.

 

"It was a hard day, it was a shock,” Valverde told Onda Cero. “Both Andrey and I did the best we could and so we have to be happy. We're no less motivated than before. We didn't have a good or bad day, we were just average. There's still a lot of racing to come and chances to shake things up, even if it's going to be complicated. We're three minutes back now and so we can only give it everything.

 

"What has affected me most has been the altitude, we have always been around 2000 metres and I think that is what has hurt me and weakened me. That's when I was in trouble. I had no strength to respond but then later I picked up my pace. We have recovered a bit and we were even about to catch Uran and closed the gap so what to Zakarin and Majka.

 

"Nibali was the one that caused everything but Chaves and Kruijswijk were better than him today. Much remains of the Giro and will have to try to do something later in the race. We'll see what happens.

 

"It's a pretty demanding time trial and I think I'll do well.”

 

Andrey Amador: I am sure that Valverde will turn things around

Andrey Amador said:

 

"First of all, I'd like to thank all the fans who have been supporting us during this week, both in good and bad moments, yesterday and today. It was a tough day for us. The team was absolutely excellent. I struggled to keep the pace of the group on the Giau, but could bridge back on the downhill.

 

“Obviously, I had nothing left to keep chasing in Valparola, and I could just keep a steady pace to try and not too lose too much time. It was difficult for me, also for Alejandro, but we remain in overall contention - that's the only thing we must keep thinking of at this moment. It wasn't a course that suited me well, either.

 

”I know Bala will turn things around. We must forget about today, or just learn about what we did wrong so as not repeat it - tomorrow is another day to keep fighting."

 

Aggressive ride by Sky in Giro d’Italia queen stage

Team Sky animated the queen stage of the Giro d'Italia from beginning to end, with Sebastian Henao and Mikel Nieve crossing the line alongside outgoing pink jersey holder Andrey Amador after Esteban Chaves had sealed a hard-fought triumph in the Dolomites.

 

Buoyed by Nieve's stage win on Friday, David Lopez and Nicolas Roche were both present in an early 37-man split, and then Lopez jumped clear on the second of six categorised climbs.

 

The Spaniard topped the Passo Sella on his own to win a prize in memory of Marco Pantani, and Roche was the second rider over that summit.The duo were caught by 11 riders on the descent which followed, and despite their best efforts, were eventually distanced on the Passo Giau.

 

All the while Nieve was keeping pace with the GC contenders on the day's hardest climb, and was one of only 12 riders left in peloton as they reached its peak. By the time they hit the final climb, Henao had dug deep to catch up with Nieve, who was riding alongside a resilient Amador (Movistar) and Hubert Dupont (AG2R).

 

That quartet stuck together until the finish and crossed the line three minutes and 52 seconds down on the triumphant Chaves.

 

Aggression pays off for Maxime Monfort in Giro d’Italia queen stage

Just like yesterday a big breakaway was formed. Lotto Soudal was represented by three riders: Maxime Monfort, Pim Ligthart and Tim Wellens. Monfort remained at the front the longest in the stage that crossed six passes in the Dolomites. The Belgian rode alongside king of the mountain Damiano Cunego for a while, behind a front group of four. Then Vincenzo Nibali attacked from the group of favourites and so Monfort eventually got caught. He finished eighteenth at 5’12” and gained fives places on GC and is now fifteenth overall.

 

"It's one of the hardest days I ever had on a bike,” he said. “I worked hard to join the break and finally after an hour of racing, I was in the right one with 35 riders. That made ​​the race all day and like my companions, I used a lot of energy. In the final, they were still three survivors in the lead and I was behind with Cunego. We were caught by the group of Nibali and then by the Valverde group shortly after. But I could not hang on and I finished at 5'. Nevertheless, for the GC, it is not bad. Tomorrow is the time trial. I feel very tired and I expect to lose a little more than expected but I will give everything. "

 

Bardiani climber crashes in Giro d’Italia queen stage

Bardiani played its chances riding in early breakaway with Sonny Colbrelli, Nicola Boem and Manuel Bongiorno. Colbrelli and Boem lost contact on Passo Sella while Bongiorno, due to a crash after Passo Gardena - he suffered contusions and bruises on the right side of the body – was caught by the peloton.

 

Stefano Pirazzi and Giulio Ciccone did their best to stay in contact with the best. Only on the last climb, Passo Giau, they had to give up. They finished the stage 19th and 20th at 6’21” from the winner.

 

“We tried to face this hard stage with an attacking spirit,” said team director Roberto Reverberi. “We were not really lucky with Bongiorno, but honestly it would be really hard anyway to keep the pace of the best.”

 

Bob Jungels: You don’t win the Giro in your first attempt

Starting the day in the white jersey, Bob Jungels had a simple plan for stage 14: to find his own pace and limit the damages once the GC teams would began putting the hammer down and go after the huge breakaway that at one point included also two Etixx – Quick-Step riders, David De La Cruz and Matteo Trentin.

 

On the 9.8-km long Passo Giau (average gradient of 9.8%) – the most visited climb in the history of the race – Astana brought four riders to the front of the pack and their fierce rhythm led to many riders lose contact with the group. Among those was also 23-year-old Jungels, who didn't panic and rode a steady pace on the penultimate climb, before cruising on the descent and starting the final test of the day, Passo Valparola, which took the peloton to an altitude of 2200 meters.

 

In Corvara, where the Corsa Rosa returned after 14 years, the Luxembourg champion, a former leader of the race, finished around 6 minutes down on winner Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), the new pink jersey, and now sits in 12th place overall, with a good chance of returning to the top 10 on Sunday afternoon, when the riders will face the last individual time trial of this edition, on Alpe di Siusi, a tough ascent with constant slopes of 8%.

 

On the plus side, following his spirited ride in the Dolomites, not only that Jungels kept the white jersey he is wearing since the opening week of the Giro d'Italia, but also increased his gap over the next rider to more than 11 minutes:

 

"I didn't feel too bad until they really went full gas on Giau, which was really hard. I remembered that climb since going over it in the U23 ranks and since then I noticed how harsh it is. I am content with giving it all today, on a day for the real climbers."

 

Riding a Grand Tour for just the third time in his career, Jungels views today's "tappone" as having a positive impact on his future development:

 

"I've never done more than 5000 altitude meters in a race, maybe in training, but that was all. At the end of the day, it was a good experience, which helped me find out how far I can push my body in a Grand Tour when things become really tough. I saw today that I can push it really far and I learned a lot about the way a race goes and how prepared you have to be from a mental point of view to take on such a stage. Now we'll just see how we will continue in the next days.

 

“I felt quite good, I have to say. But it’s been an incredibly hard day, something that I had never seen before. On the second last climb, I wasn’t able to follow. I just survived. I’m happy that I still have the Maglia Bianca and I’m not too far off in GC but it’ll take a while to recover from this stage in the mountains. You don’t win the Giro the first time you take part in it. You have to know the climbs. It’s really tough. I hope I’ll come back and win one day”.

 

Aggressive ride by Wilier-Southeast in Giro queen stage

It was another fighting day for the riders of Wilier – Southeast that were brilliant with Daniel Martinez and Matteo Busato in the breakaway.

 

The young Colombian rider couldn’t follow the rhythm of his companions on the second of the six climbs while his teammate, already in the break in yesterday’s stage, held on until the Passo Gia. The 26th place doesn’t give credits to his generosity but he promises that he will try againduring the third week.

 

There were also bad news as Liam Bertazzo had to abandon due to a cold.

 

Damiano Cunego: I decided to focus on the mountains jersey

Damiano Cunego retained the mountains jersey.

 

“Today it was probably the first really hard stage of the Giro d’Italia,” he said. “I was racing for the stage win, not only the Maglia Azzurra, but the changes of rhythm took their toll on me, physically and mentally, and eventually I switched my focus to the mountains points alone. I’m in good shape but the level is very high and the other riders are in good shape too”.

 

Breakaway king abandons the Giro due to hypclemic crisis

Giacomo Berlato did a fantastic job for Cunego in the breakaway bu maybe he worked too much. He had to stop because of a bad hypoglycemic crisis 2 km from the top of Valparola. 

He was taken away in an ambulance but luckily he has been cleared by the doctors.

"Despite our repeated advice, Berlato didn't eat a lot in the race,” explains sports director Stefano Giuliani. “Wspecially in a race like Giro d'Italia you can not make these mistakes. In a stage like today with several kilometers at altitude, it is essential to eat. I'm sorry for "Berla", but I hope that this will serve as a lesson to avoid repeating stupid mistakes in the future. "

"I wanted to get on the podium of the Giro d'Italia to get the prize as the most aggressive rider. I love to attack and be in the break. I like the effort, but I made a mistake today and I finally just shut down. I apologize to my teammates, I'm sure they will do such a beautiful race and not repeat a mistake that is so stupid and easy to avoid,” Berlato said.
 

Ryder Hesjdal abandons the Giro d’Italia: It will take time for this to sink in

Trek-Segafredo received a big blow in stage 14 Saturday when Ryder Hesjedal climbed into the team car halfway through the 210-kilometer race, suffering from pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx) and tracheitis (inflammation of the trachea).

 

Hesjedal has been fighting off symptoms since the rest day, and while he desperately hoped he could keep it under wraps, there was no more hiding in the queen stage with six Dolomites passes and over 200 kilometers to pedal.

 

"Definitely not how I envisioned it, but it's how it goes," said an extremely disappointed Hesjedal. "It has already been since Monday that I wasn't feeling very good, but every day I have been trying to get through it, and I had seemed to be getting through, so I kept pushing. But today the body was not responding and I felt pretty bad all over.”

 

"It's unfortunate. I definitely don't want to leave the Giro like this, but sometimes it's out of your control. You can't just make things happen if it's not possible. I'd say it's a cyclist's speciality is suffering and pushing beyond what is capable most times.”

 

"I think it will take a while for this to sink in, and I am sure I will reflect more later," Hesjedal continued. "I will try and not get too upset, but it is not easy. It's how it goes – I will have to deal with it.  Life goes on."

 

Trek-Segafredo will tackle the final week of the race with six riders, and with the team's GC over, the focus will be centered on stage wins and securing the red points jersey. The direction changes slightly, but the motivation and fight remain the same.

 

Later, after reflecting further on what had happened, Hesjedal added:

 

"Today was basically a total nightmare. On a stage that is so beautiful and what I love most about the Giro, my body didn't cooperate with my mind. I wanted more than anything to do the best Giro I could for my team, family, friends and fans.

 

"As soon as we started climbing I knew something was not right. My body just didn't work anywhere near to the last days. I was struggling to hold the wheel in my terrain. Rapidly my body began to feel worse with a bad stomach - I had the feeling of the need to use the toilet, with a headache and dizziness. This was also concerning for the downhills as my balance was being affected. I have been fighting a respiratory ailment since Monday and the efforts this week I guess took its toll.

 

"I just want to thank everyone for their support and especially my team for giving me the opportunity to try in this Giro d'Italia."

 

Another aggressive ride by Diego Ulissi in the Giro, Niemiec abandons.

Diego Ulissi once again wore the virtual pink jersey. In the queen stage, Ulissi joined the main breakaway of the race as he had done on Friday: 36 riders escaped from the peloton and he was there together with his team mates Conti, Modolo and Mori.

 

On the long ascent of the Pordoi, Ulissi was virtually in the pink jersey. However, all the blue-fuchsia-green riders were caught.

 

Ulissi collected points for the red jersey classification: he’s 2nd, 24 points behind leader Nizzolo.

 

Meanwhile, Przemyslaw Niemiec withdrew from the race: in the toughest stage, the Polish rider faced the decline of his form.

 

”We are trying to make use of each of the stages of the Giro, interpreting them at the best of our ability,” explained sports director Orlando Maini. “Just like yesterday, we did well to be present in the first group when the peloton split, taking opportunities to be in the virtual pink jersey and bring home some points for the red jersey competition. 
 

”I'm sorry to have lost Niemiec. Przemyslaw knows what it takes to do the Giro d’Italia.”

 

Arnaud Demare out of the Giro: I lost two kilos in one day

Arnaud Demare abandoned the race.

 

"This morning I decided to start despite stomach problems that had become worse for three days but I finally had to give up because I had no strength,” he said.

 

"I think I caught a cold three days ago. It was a little better yesterday (Friday) but last night was very difficult. In one day I lost two kilos! It was not possible to continue like this. At 100% the stage would have difficult, but now ...

 

"I'm obviously very disappointed. I came to win a stage and I didn’t achieve that goal. I also had the goal of winning the red jersey and I did everything I could in recent days to get points. But when the health is gone...

 

“I think of the rest of the season with a clear head.”

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