On perhaps the least expected day, in one of the toughest stages in this year's course, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) claimed a victory in the Giro d'Italia he always looked for.
The Movistar Team rider notched up a magnificent win atop the Col du Galibier (2,300m above sea level) on stage 15 in the 'Corsa Rosa', a 145km trek starting at Cesana Torinese and featuring the slopes of the Mont Cenis and the Télégraphe before the decisive ascent. At the penultimate climb, with 23km remaining, Visconti jumped from a break that formed on the descent of the Cenis, more than 80km from the finish, and started a real mountain time trial against his previous fellow escapees and the favourites' group, always keeping the gap over two minutes.
At the final 3km of the Galibier, under intense snow, the attacks from the main GC riders saw them approach Visconti, who struggled but managed to win in brilliant style. After eight days in pink during the 2008 race and having collected himself several good places in stage finishes, the Italian rider from the Movistar Team had to wait until his sixth Giro appearance to triumphantly raise his hands as he crossed the line. It's his first victory of the season and one that breaks a streak of bad luck and results after withdrawing from the Giro last season and only getting back to winning ways in July during the Circuito de Getxo.
"I still can't believe I won on such a mythical climb like this. It's been a really hard year for me and I took everything out of my heart for this victory. When problems like what happened to me come up, something that is not breaking a leg or an arm, it's hard to overcome. My mind did not let me give my best. I didn't have any energy left for the finale, but it was my mind which climbed through today. It's an honour for me to win in front of the Pantani monument. I was born on January 13 like him, and I'm sure he helped me a bit today. This is me, not the one you saw during the last one and a half years. All my team-mates and the staff were so happy for me because they know what I've gone through. [Team manager] Eusebio Unzué was always there supporting me and used to tell me a sentence I tried not to forget: 'The one who is strong will always remain strong'. I kept it on my mind for every single metre today. This is a proof of sacrifice paying off, giving you a reward sooner or later. I hope this victory to be a turning point in my career, because I'm the type of rider that works well with confidence. I hope not to be able to fight 'only' for national championships, but also other kinds of races."
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