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"For us, I am a little disappointed because Robert showed he was good in the first descent so I think he could have followed this attack of Quintana, Rolland and Hesjedal," Baffi says

Photo: Sirotti








27.05.2014 @ 21:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Trek were among the many teams to criticize the Giro organizers after today's confusing queen stage of the Giro d'Italia. Having been among the strongest riders on the first descent, Robert Kiserlovski would have had a good chance of following Nairo Quintana down the Stelvio if he hadn't believed the stage had been neutralized.


Rain at the start. Snow on top of the day’s second mountain climb. Then a treacherous downhill that resulted in what some called dubious race tactics. It was an epic 139-kilometer stage 16 and by the summit finish the maglia rosa lay on new shoulders. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) rode his way into pink after escaping with Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) on the long, cold and wet descent off the day’s middle climb - the highest point of this year’s Giro d'Italia - the Passo dello Stelvio.


It was this moment in the race that raised eyebrows. An ambiguous message reverberated that the downhill was either neutralized, or at the very least, under a safety precaution  - but not everyone got the memo.


“Robert was good in the first downhill, and he went away with 11-12 riders; he never pulled, he just stayed there since it was too far from the end still," sports director Adriano Baffi said. "Then at the top of the Stelvio there was a misunderstanding - most of the teams understood that the moto with the red flag was a safety car to not pass because of the snow. This did not happen, but what can you do? It’s like that.


"[Race leader Rigoberto] Uran lost the most because of this announcement from radio tour. For us, I am a little disappointed because Robert showed he was good in the first descent so I think he could have followed this attack of Quintana, Rolland and Hesjedal.”


After two weeks of racing, often in dismal weather, the riders faced three long mountain climbs today.  The first climb, Passo di Gavia, rose up soon after the start, a brutal beginning coming off the rest day, made more so by the cold rain and snow at the top.


It did not fetter Julian Arredondo, who bolted clear around the climb’s mid-point in pursuit of Robinson Chalapud (Team Colombia) to grab the second place mountain points. Arredondo increased his lead to 95 points in the mountains classification, but Chalapud jumped to second (69 points) after today. The blue jersey competition is far from finished with some tough climbs still ahead.


“We knew from a few days ago that this could be bad weather conditions, and it happened," Baffi said. "It was already a very hard stage without the weather and this made it three times harder than normal.


"The plan going into today was to score some mountain points with Julian and save Robert’s GC place. Julian suffered a lot today, but he did get second in the Gavia’s GPM. His race [today] was finished after this - he had to stop, as did a lot of riders, because of the cold to put on more clothes. After this he was in survival mode to the finish.”


Robert Kiserlovski, who earlier had joined a breakaway that slipped ahead on the descent before the Stelvio, fell off the pace of the 11-strong chase group on the final ascent, Val Martello. He finished in the same time as Cadel Evans for 11th place, +4’48” behind stage winner Quintana. 


Evans fell from second to third GC, and the time gaps within the top GC positions behind him shrunk significantly. Kiserlovski fell one spot to 10th overall (+8’02”) as Hesjedal’s second place finish on the stage moved him to 9th.


Tomorrow’s stage 17 is an opportunity again for the sprinters before the race hits three successive mountain stages that will certainly cement the final outcome.


“Despite all what happened today, with all the conditions, we finished with all nine riders," Baffi said. "Now tomorrow we will look ahead to win the stage with Giacomo.”



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