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"In the last few days after the Aprica stage he has been fighting an illness while it continued to progress - he was on the road today with fever and bronchitis, but he never stopped fighting for his best possible result."

Photo: Sirotti

GIRO D'ITALIA

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ILNUR ZAKARIN

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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YURY TROFIMOV

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30.05.2015 @ 23:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

WorldTour Team Katusha had one more card to play in the final climbing stage of the 98th Giro d’Italia and that was to send stage 11 winner Ilnur Zakarin up the road another time to try for victory. It was an ambitious and courageous ride by the 25-year old Russian rider and saw him crest the Cima Coppi (highest point of the race) in second place, but with tired legs and others with more to gain, Zakarin lost his position on the final climb to Sestriere.

 

Instead it was Astana’s Fabio Aru who took back-to-back stage wins and cut almost two-and-a-half minutes into Alberto Contador’s race lead. However, it wasn’t enough to dislodge the Spaniard who looks positioned to win the 2015 Giro on Sunday in Milano by more than two minutes.

 

"Today we had a plan to go in the break to help Iurii Trofimov in the last km. So I attacked in the beginning of the race and was able to go in a good break. We never had big gap, but on Colle delle Finestre I had power to attack and to go solo. I thought maybe it could be a chance for a stage victory. But the climb was really hard and on the top I realized I lost a lot of energy. When Landa caught me on the top I tried to follow him on descent. When other riders joined us I understood it would be impossible to fight for the stage because I was almost empty. We decided I would help Iurii in the final km as we’d originally planned. I waited for him and did everything possible to help minimize his losses," said Ilnur Zakarin.

 

After he has dropped from the front group, Ilnur Zakarin helped Team Katusha leader Iurii Trofimov, who has struggled not only with the climbs but also with fever and bronchitis to finish the race as high as possible. So, Zakarin and Trofimov finished at 19th and 20th places, respectively, while Iurii Trofimov now is 10th in general classification.

 

"First of all I want to say a big thank to Iurii Trofimov who showed himself as a real fighter today. In the last few days after the Aprica stage he has been fighting an illness while it continued to progress - he was on the road today with fever and bronchitis, but he never stopped fighting for his best possible result. Finally in these conditions he was able to take 10th place in GC and that's good. I am also happy with the race of Ilnur Zakarin. It was impressive ride on Colle delle Finestre and later he was able to help Iurii Trofimov. He's gained great experience here in the Giro and I am sure in the near future he will get results from this," said team director Dmitry Konyshev.

 

Stage 20 began in Saint Vincent and ended Sestriere at 196 km. Along the way was the highest point in the race – the 2178 m Colle Delle Finestre, complete with dirt roads and plenty of cycling crazy fans on the sidelines. Zakarin had made the break of 9 riders and struck out on his own on the Finestre, looking confident and strong on his Canyon machine. It was only when Mikel Landa (Astana) attacked to distance Contador that Zakarin’s lead was challenged, but Landa was strong and went first over the Cima Coppi just in front of Zakarin. Attacks continued against maglia rosa Contador, but with more than four minutes in hand, the race leader measured his efforts and took his own pace to arrive at the finish line. He will ride into Milano on Sunday with no stage wins along the way but the clear victor in the race.

 

Tomorrow is the finish in Milano. With the GC all sewed up for Alberto Contado, much of the day will be a rolling party to celebrate the conclusion of a hard three weeks of racing. But one last stage win is up for grabs and the sprinters will have everything to play for on the Torino to Milano course at 185 km. And the word of the day is flat.

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