Saturday, 22 May 2010

How the Maglia Rosa was lost in the mountains

As the sun shone down once more on the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia, the peloton made it's way along the 202km route from Ferrara to Asolo. The route took them up a gruelling climb of Monte Grape at around the 140km mark. The 18.9km climb included 28 hairpin bends and rose to an altitude of 1675m. As the peloton reached the start of the climb Bisolti (CSF) pulled away from a break of 6 as Liquigas forced the peloton to work hard to keep him on a tight reign. The pounding pace saw several riders drop off the back as Cummings (Sky) tried to bridge the gap. For a brief while he had Bisolti but at 56km to go to the finish, he paid the price for his work as he was pulled back into the fold. As the peloton shrank to a small group of riders who could keep up with the pace forced by Liquigas, it was Wiggins who launched the next brave attempt to reach Besolti who remained alone out front.

With the high pace demanded by Liquigas, the current Maglia Rosa, Richie Porte seemed to struggle, putting Arroyo virtually in the lead for the overal race. With less than 10km to go to the summit of the climb, Wiggins was caught and it wasn't long before the chasing group caught a now struggling Bisolti. As the group approached the summit Nibali, Basso, Evans and Scarponi attacked. With 45km to go Vinokourov and Sastre kicked off the front to bridge the gap to the leaders out front. With the weather turned, and the summit approached Scarponi lead the group up to summit, pulling back some time in the GC. Evans however seemed to be stuggling at the back, and as they wound their way up to the top, Evans list connact with the leading group.

The change in the weather and wet roads lead to a tricky descent as Evans aimed to reach the group lead by Basso. Back at the summit Vinokurov and Sastre were just over a minute down on Nibali who had pulled away from Basso on the descent, as Porte stuggled over 4minutes down. Vinokurov worked hard to move away from Sastre who was caught on the final few kilometres of the descent. As they came into the urban streets of Asolo and with 5km to go, the gap ever increasing, it looked unlikely that Nibali would be caught.

With the chasers less tha a minute behind, Nibali took the stage, a third victory for an Italian rider. Vinokurov finished fifth, 1.33 down on Nibali, behind Basso, Scarponi and Evans, who came 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Porte lost the Maglia Rosa to Arroyo, having crossed the line well over 4 minutes down on Nibali, amd 39 seconds down overal.

Tomorrow the peloton will travel 218 km from Mestre to Monte Zoncolan for a mountain top finish in stage 15 of the Giro d'italia. The climbers will look to pick up more points in the tough stage that is sure to have further reprecussions on the GC.

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